All We Want For Christmas Is My Morning Jacket

mmjxmas375We have certain Christmas traditions at MAGNET: Drinking too much egg nog and making inappropriate comments to the underage interns. Dreading having to tip the delivery people. Watching holiday-themed porn. But as great as all that stuff is, our favorite tradition around the MAGNET fireplace (OK, so it’s actually an ashtray) is pulling out our well-worn copy of My Morning Jacket’s Does Xmas Fiasco Style. We’ve played it every Christmas since it was released in 2000. It’s a six-song EP featuring three great originals (“X Mas Curtain,” “I Just Wanted To Say” and “Xmas Time Is Here Again”), covers of Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller’s “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” (in the Elvis Presley style) and Nick Cave’s “New Morning” and an untitled bonus track. So tomorrow, return that H&M T-shirt from your mom that’s gonna shrink and be unwearable after you wash it once, and pick up a copy of Does Xmas Fiasco Style. And if you live in Chicago or New York, go see MMJ in concert. Jim James and Co. remain one of our favorite live bands. Tour dates after the jump.

Happy Holidays from your friends at MAGNET! And please check back here every day for more about the best music of 2008, as well as breaking news. We update the site multiple times daily, seven days a week.

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The Year In Eels

eels360While eels didn’t release a proper record in 2008, the year was chock full of activity for the always engaging Mark Oliver Everett. (He likes to be called “E,” but we’ll stick with “Mark,” since “E” makes us think of that guy on Entourage.) He published a book. He released a greatest-hits CD (Meet The Eels: Essential Eels Vol. 1 1996-2006), a rarities CD (Useless Trinkets: B-Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities And Unreleased 1996-2006), a live CD (Live And In Person! London 2006) and a boxed set (a deluxe edition of Blinking Lights And Other Revelations). He was joined onstage by Pete Townshend in January, then returned the favor in November. He wrote a play with Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine (Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing). He and his family were the subject of a moving, thought-provoking, award-winning documentary (Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives). And he closed out the year by being all over the soundtrack for the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man. (OK, so you can’t win them all.) So, here’s to you, E, er, Mark, on a year well spent.

MAGNET checked in with Everett a year ago. But instead of telling us about all his plans for 2008, he seemed more concerned about a rumor that he once stuck a gerbil in his ass. Read about it here.

Where’s The Street Team?: Year-End Edition

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Well, color me surprised! In 2008, I listened to more new music than would normally be expected from a rock writer in his mid-30s (none of us actually seeks out new music on our own accord, as the dynamic changes drastically when new music is forced upon us for the purpose of adding another byline to the portfolio), especially from one who’s been missing that perfect combination of “asshole,” “smartass” and “heart” in the same column for almost six years now. Wow, what the hell was that last sentence? The framed mantra in the think-tank room at Apatow Productions? Yes, I genuinely obsessed over a lot of 2008 releases: Fucked Up, Geisha, Neil Hamburger, the beginning of the Oneida trilogy/triptych, Disfear, Destroyer and Crystal Stilts, to name a few. But the year was predictably marred by albums and movements that genuinely irked me. I suppose it would be a mild head-fuck to populate this column with albums I love, but it wouldn’t pack the soft, short-sighted punch of what’s written below.

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John Petkovic Returns With J Mascis, Cobra Verde

“Most bands aren’t proxies for suicide hotlines,” says John Petkovic, frontman of Cleveland glam-rock outfit Cobra Verde. But it turns out that Petkovic’s latest project—an as-yet-unnamed band with J Mascis, Witch bassist Dave Sweetapple and Cobra Verde guitarist Tim Parnin—provided an emotional and creative lift when he needed it the most.

“2007 was a total catastrophe,” says Petkovic. “My mom passed away from bladder cancer in December, and it was grueling. I had insomnia for about a year and didn’t even pick up a guitar for five months. I would just drive around the block. I was like a mental patient without a hospital.”

In December 2007, Petkovic got in his car to clear his mind and started heading east on I-90 with no particular destination. He ended up at Sweetapple’s home in Vermont. Mascis, who lives in nearby Amherst, Mass., soon arrived to commiserate, and the three friends hatched plans to make a record. Inspired by this turn of events, Petkovic returned to Cleveland and wrote 25 songs in two weeks; 12 tracks were eventually recorded in Cleveland and at Bisquiteen, Mascis’ home studio.

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