Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Best music of 2008 (featuring top 10 albums)

Oh, music. When I took a recent five-day excursion into the wilderness of the Aleghenny National Forest in Pennsylvania in late November, with only a large pack on my back filled with food and essentials, I wondered exactly what I would miss, being away from civilization for the better part of a week. Turns out the only thing I truly missed was not my cell phone, computer, Internet, newspaper, books, or anything like that, but music. This, of course, did not come as a surprise to me, but as I was reunited with my iPod for the long drive home, I found myself appreciating my music even more.

I was fortunate enough to see three concerts in the second half of 2008: Wolf Parade performing in Pontiac, MI at the beginning of July; The Hold Steady at the same venue later in the month; and Minus the Bear in Columbus in mid-October — three great shows. Wolf Parade gave a particularly impressive performance, and Minus was just sublime, performing some tracks from their new acoustic EP as well as some old favorites.

My Top 10 Albums of 2008

  • 1: TV on the Radio - Dear Science
    Deep, diverse, funky, elaborate, passionate and energetic yet wholly chill. Innovative beats AND lyrics (when evaluating music I put a lot of weight on lyrics). The poetry of "Dancing Choose" is striking (my favorite lines: "A palette blown to monochrome" and "In my mind I'm drowning butterflies"). Dear Science is less raw and rough as their 2006 LP Return to Cookie Mountain (also an amazing album), which is, I suppose, both good and bad. The album has found mainstream fans, being named album of the year by Rolling Stone and Spin. To me, TV on the Radio is to the '00s what Television was to the '70s. At least TVOTR is receiving the accolades they deserve, while Television really haven't been fully credited for their contribution to punk rock.
    Favorite song: "Halfway Home"

  • 2: MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
    Fun, energetic, electro-poppy, psychedelic.
    Favorite song: "Time to Pretend". Just so much fun. "Kids" and "Electric Feel" also very representative of MGMT's sound.

  • 3: Deerhunter - Microcastle
    Read a good article about this album, including an interview with man-behind-the-magic Cox, here. Anyone who enjoys Microcastle should check out other Deerhunter albums, especially my personal favorite, Cryptograms.

  • 4: Portishead - Third
    Excellent electronic/trip-hop. Sucks you into the music, where you go from there is up to you...

  • 5: Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
    Sweeping, earthly "indie" folk.
    Favorite song: "Your Protector". One of the best songs of the year.

  • 6: Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
    Kevin Barnes' follow-up to Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? may not live up to the 2007 album's glory, but it is an interesting, sometimes abstract work of psychedelic pop. Barnes and the gang often include several short compositions in every one of the album's 15 eclectic songs; each song jumps about. A sexual, playful, personal album (e.g. the chorus "When we get together/It's always hot magic" from "Wicked Wisdom"; "We can do it softcore if you want/But you should know I take it both ways" in "For Our Elegant Caste"; and plenty of others), Skeletal Lamping has its intelligent moments too ("Technology makes such an ugly mother" in "Mingusings"), though it is in no way as clever as Hissing Fauna. Of Montreal is known for churning out quirky neo-psychedelia and while Skeletal Lamping is a fine piece of work, I hope to see another album on par with Hissing Fauna within the next few years.
    Favorite song: "Women's Studies Victims".

  • 7: No Age - Nouns
    An intense, experimental-ish rock album.

  • 8: Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

  • 9: Sigur Rós - Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
    Beautiful music; I can't think of anything more perfect to listen to as I fall into a dreamy, peaceful state.

  • 10 (tied): Beck - Modern Guilt
    Some people weren't pleased with Beck about this album, I, however, view it as a solid entry out of this year's top albums.

  • 10 (tied): Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
    High-speed pop. I have to be in the right mood to listen to Girl Talk, the stage name of Gregg Gillis. But when I am in an upbeat mood, ready to be bombarded with little snippets of pop, hip-hop, and whatever else Gillis decides to mix into his mashups, Girl Talk is a thrill to listen to. The music is not serious; its just a blend of some of the more popular beats ridin' the airwaves, except Gillis is able to make them sound good. If the average poppy pop song has 20 seconds of catchy beats, Gillis fishes those 20 seconds out and mixes it with complementary beats. Listen and you'll understand.

    Honorable mentions: the albums that just barely made the top 10
  • The Dodos - Visiter

  • Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs

  • Beach House - Devotion
    Dream pop for those quiet afternoons.

  • The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
    Darn good rock & roll. Saw these guys in concert over the summer.

  • Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty
    I personally don't enjoy this album as much as 2006's Robbers & Cowards, but Loyalty to Loyalty is a decent album. Cold War Kids' sophomore work is an evolution of the band's soulful tunes, but I do have greater expectations for them in the future.

    To see all major music magazines' top album lists, see the Metacritic best of 2008 page.

    Currently, my two favorite musical artists are Elliott Smith and The National, followed by TV on the Radio (a more recent love) and Radiohead (a long-time favorite).
    If you're interested in what I've been listening to lately, feel free to check out my profile.


    Mark said...

    Thanks for the love!

    Mark from Fishpork

    Mark said...

    by the way, I'm wearing an Elliott Smith t-shirt right now!