Diamonds From the Trough, Part 1

Throughout a year of high distraction and energy, much is missed. The first in a series, where we scour others' year-end lists in search of lost treasure.

Heaving in another year's haul, diamonds gradually reveal themselves as I trawl through lists and lists of the year's best music--people distilling a year of high energy and much distraction. It's being summed up with usual swish, swash, and style by Said the Gramophone right now. They and their kin do more than wave dimmed torches across now crackly and over-played records. The diamond filled troughs they fill this time of year set us up well for thrills and spills in 2009, bidding us Good Hunting!

Diamonds, an indie-pop band worthy of year-end honor-roll, sing of their namesake. "Diamonds" is carved by a whole generations' heartbreak sighs, from lungs that were great celebrated church organs in their day. Heavy words are echoed by light appreciative voice, tempered by dragging feet. Six tracks follow with brisker pace, much spirit, and a cosmic restorative power: sharp and proud tones of drum, voice, and charged strings. It all builds to the stunned power-up of "The Waking." But it all begins with "Diamonds" and that moment when the friends dozing in the backseats start to sing with you; by the end of the record they are right there, wrapping their arms around you and your journey, all watching the sun and the moon speed across the windshield. Get the record--It's free!--and see for yourselves.

I began the year by finding a diamond in the dirt: The Rollercoaster Project's electronica. Those diamonds were really made of ice, melting away as thaw came. A presidential election in a country I had just met and thoughts about climate crisis moved me in new directions.

Like the end of the Diamonds record, "The Waking" happened, and I got going. Arriving in December there's a lot I missed, a lot of good stuff to hear, so many diamonds being shined up for their final viewing as new, just dug up, bright things with an inner light will soon compete with them.

Sasha Frere Jones keeps his best of list updated all through the year--a marvelous way of doing it. Also crucial are people like Eric Harvey, who runs the Marathonpacks blog, reviewing records all year long, calibrating our sense of speed, gush of positivity. Amongst great fanfare--oh the joy of only reviewing things I like--temperance is virtuous.

I really like these list-bearers, not just for their voices, but for their heart and promise. They are prologue and talisman to a new year prime for good hunting for good things and, most importantly, for good people to share these things with--the old media can't match labor of love these independent voices sustain all through the year.

I'll continue gorging on these lists and try to dig up some more small diamonds before the year is out. But for now, just one observation regarding Elliot Spitzer & the diamond rated escorts: NASA (NASA!) got there first. "Spitzer's Eyes Perfect for Spotting Diamonds in the Sky."

TMN Editor Mike Deri Smith is no gourmet, he just has an abnormally large stomach. He lives in London. More by Mike Deri Smith

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