The Best Music of 2008
I may have slacked writing about the new music in 2008, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t listening to it. You didn’t honestly think I’d miss out on my end of the year list, did you? Not to say the music that came out in 2008 wasn’t worth a listen, but I feel it was a lackluster year. This year there was no clear cut number 1. After careful evaluation, I feel we have a winner. That’s enough blabbing, let’s start this hush puppy.
#25: Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
I have a feeling I’m going to regret putting this one so low on the list. I just started listening to it the other day, and I already love it. I felt it had to be added, and in a month I will probably want it to be in the top 10, but for now it will stay down here. A very happy, mellow synth pop album.
Cut Copy - Feel the Love
#24: Wolf Parade – At Mt Zoomer
A decent follow up to the astonishing debut, Mt Zoomer doesn’t venture far from the original formula. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes this one sound different. More keys and less rock, maybe?
Wolf Parade - California Dreamer
#23: Vampire Weekend
One of the three overnight successes on the list, Vampire Weekend went from college radio favorite to SNL music guests in what seemed like a week. Very short, catchy, alternative indie rock. Though the album makes my list their concert was nothing short of terrible, which is honestly why I put them at the bottom. For months I was dancing around to this. Then once I saw them on stage singing their songs with about as much enthusiasm as a 90 year old man on an oxygen machine, I ran away and never looked back. I have seen well over 100 bands in my lifetime and I have never walked out on a show. Except this one. From the most horrifying Alkaline Trio set to the laziest drunken Conor Oberst masacre, I sat through the entire set hoping it would turn around. After 3 Vampire Weekend songs, I fought my way through the thick crowd as fast as I could before my ears bled. Do yourself a favor. Buy the cd, don’t buy the ticket.
Vampire Weekend - Campus
#22: Sigur Ros – Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
The Icelandic groups new direction towards poppy, radio friendly tunes is refreshing. Does it compare to their previous works? Not in the least. It is something completely separate from their older albums. While this album lacks the spacey drawn out climaxes it does have a lot to offer. It has some really good tracks. It also has some really boring ones. Pretty hit or miss.
Sigur Ros - Gobbledigook
#21: Crystal Castles
Super duper synth happy edge from Toronto. There is a line that gets crossed where there is too much synthesizers, making the album sound like its trying too hard. Crystal Castles go far beyond that line and I have no complaints. Pretty bad ass.
Crystal Castles - Alice Practice [Audio=http://www.ezarchive.com/original/moneymark/02AlicePractice.mp3]
#20: Ruby Suns – Sea Lion
If you live in a tropical humid climate such as New Zealand, these reggae-ish grooves are sure to make your day a bit breezy. Also works great if you’re trying to sell a crummy computer operating system (they sing the windows vista song)
Ruby Suns - There Are Birds
#19: Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster…
Los Campesinos (the farmers or the peasants) put out a hell of a good time debut album. First time we played it at the house, everyone made it about 2 minutes in before we all started dancing around the house.
Los Campesinos = You, Me, Dancing!
#18: Hazelwood Motel
A local Seattle lo-fi folk band. The lead singer has a kick ass daughter in my school. Really chilled stuff. If you put Bon Iver on your best of 08 list, you should listen to Hazelwood Motel.
Hazelwood Motel = Break Myself in Two
#17.5: Cloud Cult – Feel Good Ghosts
I was writing the review for #8 when I remember this album came out in 08. I didn’t feel like reordering the whole list, so Cloud Cult sneaks in at 17.5. Similar to 8, but not as emotional and powerful, Ghosts still features Craig Minowa doing what he does best. He puts together beautiful melodies crafted with his incredible words and voice. Last years #1 slides down a few notches, but not in my heart.
#17: No Age – Nouns
It was a warm summer day. I heard a song on KEXP that made my neck ache from my bobbing head. The DJ says the band is playing in the parking lot that night. I convince my roommate to tag along. We get right in front, and I swear to god I’ve never been to a louder show. You’d think the drummer guitarist duo would be old by now. Not with these 2 guys. They have such a dynamic sound, not to mention their noise punk is incredibly fun to listen to. One more reason to check em, they signed to Sub Pop.
No Age - Eraser
#16: French Kicks – Swimming
Swimming is an energetic, melodic indie rock album that is a great listen from start to finish.
French Kicks - Abandon
#15: TV on the Radio – Dear Science,
Brooklyn in the house again. What do you call it? Art rock? Punk? Jazz? Indietronica? Experimental? When it all boils down, TVOTR rolls everything into another grand album. Don’t get caught up in the buzz though. Although Dear Science seems to be an unanimous choice for album of the year from likes of The LA Times, The NY Times, Rolling Stone and Spin, there are definitely better all around albums out there.
Tv on the Radio - DLZ
#14: Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Overnight success number two and another popular choice for #1 makes it surprisingly low on my list. Bon Iver hits really close to David Gray’s “Lost Songs” on his debut album. He made it in 4 months secluded in a cabin in the middle of Wisconsin. His hit “Skinny Love” was the first thing to catch my ear. Before I even had a chance to enjoy it, I was hearing it everywhere. Shopping malls, commercial radio, and the worst… Grey’s Anatomy. And yet, I still listen to it. It has yet to get old for me. A very somber, quiet album with well written lyrics, For Emma is sure to hit the heart.
Bon Iver - Skinny Love
#13: Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing
If Explosions in the Sky traded in their guitars and bought synths and keys, this is what it would sound like. This experimental noise album completely took my by surprise. You wouldn’t think that an album with distorted screaming and abrasive droning would have beautiful melodies with it as well. A great listen from start to finish. A killer opener in “Sweet Love for Planet Earth”.
Fuck Buttons - Ribs http://www.ezarchive.com/original/dtaggerty/02RibsOut.mp31
#12: Atlas Sound – Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
What a great year for the Atlanta singer Bradford Cox who has the honor of making my list twice this year. I’m sure somewhere he is extremely happy. First with his solo project Atlas Sound. Cox reserves his more emotional side for Atlas Sound, where he portrays his inner self amidst a battering of drones, synths, melodies and beats that are just as addicting as his words. The ambient electro album is breathtaking. From the glockenspiels in the opener and closer to the chilling ice picks in “Cold as Ice” and mesmerizing bass line in “Bite Marks”, ‘Let the Blind’ is a truly emotional album.
Atlas Sound - Recent Bedroom
#11: Black Kids – Partie Traumatic
I love Black Kids. I want to marry Black Kids. I love the way their hair is all over the place. I especially love their sound. Their happy voices. The way they make you want to move your body none stop. The way they want to party all the time. The way they love fried chicken. That’s all I can say, I love Black Kids. Oh, the band is pretty good too.
Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You
#10: The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely
If I remember correctly, I swore to never right another review praising Jack White. So until he disappoints, I’m gonna stick to my word.
The Raconteurs - Five on the Five
#9: The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead
The Portland band breaks away from their electronic mold and dive head first into the indie scene, and succeed. This album came into my life at just the perfect time. I especially enjoyed the first track. Here it is.
The Helio Sequence - Lately
#8: The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
Since I moved to Seattle, I have met over a dozen people from Minneapolis. All of them are either; 1. alcoholic party animals. 2. in love with music. 3. Minnesota freaks. or 4. alcoholic party animals. Which might explain why The Hold Steady are the perfect background noise to any house party or bar. Love him or hate him, Craig Finn can rock the roof off of any venue in the states. With his fast paced Springsteen tracks to his slow, moving ballads, you can’t help but sing along. Especially if it’s a block party in the middle of Capitol Hill and PBR’s are only $2 a pop. The new album keeps the good times rolling.
The Hold Steady - Sequestered In Memphis
#7: Fleet Foxes
Seattle band makes it big with their Sub Pop release. Very rustic and almost poppy at times, the 5-some offer harmonizing folk at its best. Move over Crosby Stills and Nash.
Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
#6: M83 – Saturdays=Youth
I was at a party with a bunch of Natropathic Doctor students. The macbook was hooked to the stereo, and the house was playing really good tunes. Costello, Mingus, Pixies, they were going all over the board, in a good way. Curious Dave walks over to the laptop to start looking around. I respect the dudes playlist, but snoop through it to see if I can sneak in a song or two without them noticing. He has some 80’s tunes coming up. Once they came on everyone started dancing, so i thought this would be my opportunity. I sit there and wait for the perfect time. I can’t remember what I worked it in between, but I threw “Kim and Jesse” on. The guy comes over, “Dude, don’t mess wi…. Who is this?”. I’m like “It’s M83, let the one song play and I’ll walk away”. He let me have my moment.
When you name your band after a spiral galaxy, you have an astronomical shoe to fill (maybe I’ve been working on this too long, but I thought that was hysterical). Saturdays=Youth is mind blowing. The whole album is gently spoken lyrics on top of long bits of droning instrumentals. It’s the definition of the genre shoegaze, and after you get past the moments of Tears for Fears similarities, something will happen and you’ll go head over heels (ok, it’s a proven fact now…I’m funny). It’s a can’t miss for 2008.
M83 - Kim and Jesse
#5: Hot Chip – Made in the Dark
I first discovered this band at Coachella 07. My friends and I had never heard them, but we wanted to see Peter Bjorn and John who was playing after them on the same stage. We lit a spliff and waited to see what they were going to sound like. After the show, all of our jaws were dropped. Astonishing. Sadly I forgot to grab their album when I got back. That is until this bad boy came out. It rekindled everything I had experienced at Coachella. Dreamy, dance electropop with a touch of heart. If you’re not dancing all over the living room, you are chilled out singing along with Alexis Taylor’s magical voice. Pick it up.
Hot Chip - Shake a Fist
#4: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
He wasted the hype he built up for himself a few years back by drinking himself into a stupor. Now, he’s trying to save face. Fortunately for him, he went above and beyond saving face. His experimental folk album has sparked a new hope that Miles just might be all he was cracked up to be. His words, his voice, and his melodies are perfectly executed throughout the entire album. The first track is by far the most powerful, not to say the rest of it is a waste. He follows his power ballad with a few more energetic tunes, then cools off to reveal his smooth side. Was a tough contender for a higher spot. Here is the first track.
Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - Buriedfied
#3: MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
Overnight success number 3 on the list. I was fortunate to have KEXP show me these guys. I was spreading the wealth of Electric Feel to everyone I know, and everyone ate it up. Then bam, these guys are on every festival circuit, every late night tv show, and all over every radio station. Sometimes, that can be enough to make one sour up to a band. However these guys are too addicting to hate. Their psychedelic, electronic synth pop is hard to resist. They are the songs you find yourself whistling in the bathroom or singing out loud on the bus with you headphones on. You can’t resist. And unlike a different overnight success mentioned…buy the album AND the ticket. What a show.
MGMT - Pieces of What
#2: Deerhunter – Microcastle
Bradford Cox makes his second appearance on my list with his shoegaze minimalist garage rock band Deerhunter. It was extremely difficult to give this album the 2 spot. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a toss up. Alas, I have to pick one. It has so many amazing songs to offer. So many in fact, that it didn’t leave my stereo for months. Which is why I made it number 2. The number one album still hasn’t left my stereo. Both are in heavy rotation on a continual basis, however as much as I listen to Microcastle, I listen to #1 even more…
Deerhunter - Never Stops
#1: Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight
This hard working Scottish indie band gets the nod at number 1 spot. The album starts off with a huge bang in “Modern Leper” and doesn’t let up. Every song has a line or two worthy of quoting. I’m losing my steam in the final stretch here. Midnight Organ Fight is a very dynamic, intelligent album. In a year of mediocracy, it was nice to have such a stand out album from a band I’d never heard of before.
Frightened Rabbit - I Feel Better
That takes care of that. I swear I’ll try to get on here more than once in 2009. Hope you are all doing well where ever you are. Take care.