full life

The Giant 2008 Music Post

I think 2008 was a bit of a down year in terms of music, at least when compared to 2007; nothing really knocked me out like The Forms and LCD Soundsystem did, and as I look at the rest of my 2007 Top 10 I see that I'm still head over heels with all of them.

Looking over the numbers, this kinda jumped out at me: in 2007, I added 122 albums to my inventory, 58 of which were released that year. In 2008, I added 124 albums to my inventory, but only 37 came out this year.

Anyway.

Biggest Disappointment of 2008
  • Del The Funky Homosapien, "Eleventh Hour"
Highly Regarded Albums I Couldn't Get Into No Matter How Hard I Tried
  • Portishead, "Third"
  • TV on the Radio, "Dear Science"
  • Black Keys, "Attack and Release"
  • Beach House, "Devotion"
  • M83, "Saturdays=Youth"
  • Elbow, "The Seldom Seen Kid"
Best 2007 Album that I Finally Got Around to Hearing in 2008
  • The Field, "From Here We Go Sublime"
Best Not-New Albums I'd Been Meaning to Get and Now Finally Own
  • The Kinks (Something Else, Muswell Hillbillies, Arthur, Village Green, Lola v. Powerman)
  • Sly & The Family Stone (Fresh, Stand, There's a Riot Goin' On)
  • The early U2 albums
  • The complete R.E.M. (thanks Kath)
  • Wu-Tang, "Enter the Wu-Tang"
  • Notorious B.I.G., "Ready to Die"
  • Nas, "Illmatic"
  • Miles Davis, Complete In A Silent Way Sessions
  • John Coltrane, Complete Africa/Brass Sessions
Best Not-New Albums/Artists I'd Never Heard Of But Was Prompted To Get And Now Totally Love
  • Arvo Part
  • Cymande
  • The Final Solution ("Brotherman" OST)
  • The Books
  • Jimmy Giuffure 3
Band That Didn't Put Out an Album in 2008 But Nevertheless Rocked My Freaking World
  • The National
Albums That I Just Acquired Within The Last Week And Haven't Fully Digested And Maybe I'll Make A Special Award Section in 2009 For Them, Because They Certainly Appear to Be At Least Pretty Awesome
  • Wolf Parade, "At Mount Zoomer"
  • James Blackshaw, "Litany of Echoes"
  • Department of Eagles, "In Ear Park"
  • Fireman, "Electric Arguments"
Songs By Bands I'd Never Heard Of Before Playing Them in Rock Band 2, And So Now I'd Like to Maybe Check Out Eventually, Even If They Didn't Come Out in 2008
  • Maximo, "Girls Who Play Guitar"
  • Silversun Pickups, "Lazy Eye"
Best Songs of 2008, in no particular order (and you'd better believe I'd like to put some sort of mp3 mix together)
  • R.E.M., "Living Well is the Best Revenge"
  • Black Keys, "Strange Times"
  • Tokyo Police Club, "Your English Is Good"
  • Death Cab, "Cath..."
  • Bon Iver, "Re: Stacks"
  • Blitzen Trapper, "God & Suicide"
  • Sigur Ros, "Gobbledigook"
  • The Big Sleep, "Pinkies"
  • French Kicks, "Abandon"
  • David Holmes, "I Heard Wonders"
  • Dosh, "Wolves"
  • The Dodos, "Walking"
  • Vampire Weekend, "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"

Best Albums of 2008

10. Death Cab for Cutie, "Narrow Stairs"
DCfC haven't made a truly great album since... well, I'd argue since Transatlanticism. I think Narrow Stairs is actually somewhat forgettable, but there are 3 songs on it that have become some of my favorite, and it's because of my intense love for "Cath...", "Long Division" and "Your New Queen-Sized Bed" that it makes the cut. (Told you it felt like a down year.)

9. Beck, "Modern Guilt"
Speaking of favorite artists who haven't made a great album in a while, here's Beck at #9. I actually liked this record quite a lot and was quite surprised to see nobody talk about it. Danger Mouse is an interesting choice of collaborator for someone like Beck, and there's something about his production that gives this album an edgy, almost claustrophobic feel; see a track like "Replica" for what I mean.

8. Flight of the Conchords, s/t
What I like about FotC as opposed to Tenacious D is that these guys are actually pretty good songwriters; they kinda remind me of Ween, actually. Anyway, I liked this record far more than I thought I would, although maybe it's a little too high at #8. But again, as I said, it was kind of a down year.

7. The Sea and Cake, "Car Alarm"
Without a doubt the strongest album they've made in quite some time, which is a funny thing to say since at first glance it doesn't appear to be any different than their last few albums. This record doesn't meander, though, the way the last few did; there's something confident in their songwriting this time around; it has a sense of purpose.

6. The Police, "Certifiable (Live)"
I bought this on a whim over Thanksgiving, and boy am I glad I did; I missed their reunion tour and I'm still kinda kicking myself about it. This double album sounds fucking fantastic, and the new arrangements give the songs some surprising vitality. It's nice to hear Sting with some balls, again, and it's entirely because of Stewart Copeland.

5. Girl Talk, "Feed The Animals"
One of you had been talking about "Night Ripper" for a long time, and I could never track it down, and so I never understood that he was the ultimate mash-up DJ. I recently got my hands on both Night Ripper and Unstoppable, and they're both pretty terrific, but Feed The Animals has been my go-to party record for most of 2008. I first listened to it during a break at a recording session I was in, and we were all astonished at how musical it was, when we weren't bursting out laughing as we figured out what samples he was using. Busta Rhymes + The Police = win.

4. Fleet Foxes, s/t
I love it when a heavily hyped record actually turns out to be as good as advertised; it stops me from being too cynical. The vocals on this record are as astonishing as you've heard, and the songs are just absolutely gorgeous.

3. Deerhoof, "Offend Maggie"
These guys are just ridiculous. I don't know how to talk about Deerhoof without sounding like a raving lunatic; they're one of my favorite bands and they are absurdly prolific and I have absolutely no idea how to describe what it is they do or how they do it, and this is probably their best and most accessible album yet.

My choices for 1 and 2 have been flip-flopping in my head for about a month; might as well make it a coin toss. (flips coin, best of 3 5 7 9 aww fuck it)

2. Tokyo Police Club, "Elephant Shell"
I seem to perceive a bit of a backlash in the blogosphere against these guys, presumably because their first full-length could never pack as compact a punch as their ass-kickingly good EP, "A Lesson in Crime." I disagree - a full-length means there's more to love. I spent a few months this summer trying to write Tokyo Police Club songs; I never came close. There's some fantastic songs on this album, and while I currently feel too old to ever write and play with this much excitement, it somehow makes me feel like it's not a totally impossible dream.

1. Blitzen Trapper, "Furr"
I was totally caught off guard by this one; I kinda liked their last one but was already well on my way towards forgetting them entirely until I heard a few advance tracks at the beginning of the year; I was immediately taken aback by their maturity and depth. The album itself is stunning; top-notch songwriting from top to bottom. Kinda reminds me of a Southern Supergrass, if that makes any sense.

I need to get the last Sea and Cake and that Fleet Foxes album.

I liked the last My Morning Jacket a lot as well as the last Kaiser Cheifs and Killers (guilty pleasures).

Also I need to pick up the reissues of REM "Murmur" amd Pavement "Brighten the Corners"...
Also you should check out the Duke Spirit; pleasant surprise opening for Supergrass, Jim Noir, Kings of Leon, Secret Machines (redeemed for their last). Stephen Malkmus, Travis (remember them?). the Walkmen and Spiritualized.

Oh and the biggest reissue in years Rhino reissuing the Sire Replacement albums; Tim and Pleased to Meet Me beign the most important.

Sorry I meant to just add in then I started remember the albums I dug.
I definitely need to get the Brighten The Corners reissue, and I've heard great things about the Malkmus.

I didn't like what I'd heard of the new Secret Machines, and I've never liked the Walkmen. Very good friends of mine say I'm crazy for not liking the Walkmen, but what can I do? I didn't hear what was so great about their new album, or how it was any different from the last 2 or 3.

As for those Replacements albums: I think a case could be made that if you never got into them back in the day, you'll never get into them. At least that's the case for me. I've listened to those classic albums and they've never done anything for me.
Great post.

I couldn't get into Portishead's "Third" either, although I was never that big on them back in the "Dummy" days.

Glad you got into the Books; I did a very Books-esque solo EP earlier this year under the name Absenter that I've been YSIing to people who I think would be interested in it.

You're totally right about Flight of the Conchords, too; they do write much better songs than Tenacious D. I only really care for the D on abjectly silly songs like "Jesus Ranch"; stuff like "Fuck Her Gently" just seems moronic to me.
I would absolutely love to hear your Absenter EP, if you wouldn't mind sending it my way.
I find myself getting more and more into that stuff also - the majority of music I listened to this year was older and less indie-band-y. 2008 was a really strange year.