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On a cool and desolate autumn evening last weekend, Seattle welcomed back Portishead for the first time in fourteen years, the season and the setting perfect for the murky UK act. Their most recent release, 2008’s minimal and stark Third, is already three years old -- this alone made the wait seem like a near eternity before remembering that I last saw the band a few months after I first moved to Seattle, in December of 1997 (and that performance at The Paramount left me thoroughly impressed.) With this in mind, even though over a decade had passed, I still had high expectations... and this time around the band was once again in top form. Time has not aged this group whatsoever, and I was left reeling from their outstanding performance the moment the lights were turned back on in the theater.
It has now been 2.5 years since I moved out of Seattle for the Golden State. I've slowly drifted out of the NW music culture, so sometimes I wonder if I know what to say on TIG these days.
Combine that with the fact that I was so distracted from music for a lot of 2008, this year's "best of" lists were especially difficult. Heck, I don't even think I can make a Best of NW music list this year, not because there was insufficient music, but because I just missed so many of those important-but-not-well-known releases that make these lists. I did enjoy Fleet Foxes, Common Market, Colin Meloy live, Malkmus and the like, but really, that isn't a "Best of the NW" list but rather a list of albums I liked that happened to be from the NW.
That being said, I did get a last minute music revival for the year. Maybe it was the election being over (and the good guys winning), maybe it was finally getting a faculty position after many years of trying (lets just say Erik will be moving east in 2009), maybe 2008 just didn't mesh with me musically. Who knows? However, there was a lot of great music anyway, and here are my top 20 (for your praise or fist shaking). Feel free to read the full commentary.
In news that makes me sick with glee, NME reports that Portishead will perform live in 2008. Not that I'll be there, but maybe, just maybe, it means that they will finally release that long-awaited followup to 1997's Portishead. Heck, it's been 10 years now and each year I read 'Portishead is working on their follow-up.' The anticipation is killing me ...
Here's a video bit from their 1997 Roseland, NYC performance: