2008 : Artist of the Year

As I still work out my top ten list and get comfortable with more records that I once dismissed (e.g. Walkmen, Beck), I realized this afternoon that the artist of the year is a no-brainer. Having released a fantastic memoir, hosted a moving and educational PBS documentary on his father, and recently re-released the epic Blinking Lights and Other Revelations on a four-record package with accompanying book, 2008's artist of the year is Mark Oliver Everett, also known as E of the rock group Eels.

Although the Eels did not release a record of new material this year, at the age of 45, this may have been Everett's most impressive year thus far. Now years after the hit "Novocaine for the Soul", Everett has remained a low-key indie darling for years. But this year gave us an entirely new side of his art.

First and foremost came the release of his memoir, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, an honest, heartbreaking and insightful look at his his entire near half-century on Earth, including growing up in a household as a near stranger to his oft-cited "genius" father and the loss of his mother and finally his sister to suicide, Everett's life even outside of music seems to be the work of fiction. But it's his true life and this book is a look inside his days here and how his outlook and soul have developed and brought him to some sense of peace. And that's only a small portion of the book. We also see his years in music and dealing with an industry that had moved well beyond artist's of Everett's depth.

Second came Everett's journey to understand his father, Hugh Everett, and learning of his father's contributions to the world of physics in the PBS documentary Parallel Worlds. This fantastic special is a look inside both the minds and spirits of a father and son, so different while living in the same home, yet so similar in many senses when looking back.

And lastly, the arrival of the deluxe vinyl-version of the Eels' 2005 masterpiece (yes, I'm serious) Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. The vinyl is clearly top-of-the-line and the sounds coming from the needle to the speakers are astounding. In addition, the collection comes with a beautiful book and is signed by E himself.

It's been a spectacular year for Mark Oliver Everett, and no one in music or perhaps even the arts as a whole has delivered such a diverse and lasting collection of goods.

If you have good taste and wish to buy some music or the aforementioned book, head over here.

If you're interested in the documentary, head over to the NOVA page.

Finally, although it's a bit grainy, this is perhaps the best performance ever on Letterman.