Monday, December 01, 2008

My Top 10 for 2008

Pretty good year for music. A lot of familiar names on my list, but that may be because I didn't discover as much new music as I used to (unfortunately didn't have time). But the familiar names put out some great material!

10. Beck - Modern Guilt - Beck's vocals, rhtythm and melodies over Danger Mouse's beats. What's not to like? Sounds a lot like Gorillaz with Beck's magical touches. "Orphans" and "Gamma Ray" lead this album.

9. Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires - "One day, we're gonna live, in Paris." You hear them sing it, and you beleive it. Fantastic dance rock (if we are alowed to use that term any more) - kind of a happier The Rapture. And FF put on some much talked about CMJ shows too.

8. Coldplay - Viva La Vida - A welcome return to the harder rock sound of Rush of Blood that will allow us to thankfully forget the watered down X&Y. Glad to see that Chris Martin and co. can provide epic guitar rock without sounding like complete wimps. And I love the fact that the title single "Viva La Vida" is about the Crusades...

7. Thievery Corporation - Radio Retaliation - always consistently good, Thievery delivers yet another excellent world beat, downtempo gem. Although it doesn't feature the heavy hitting guest vocalists from their previous effort (such as Wayne Coyne and David Byrne), Radio contains solid lounge/ragga/dub tracks from start to finish.

6. The Daysleepers - Drowing In a Sea of Sound - So glad to see this group's debut album drop, after two excellent EPs. Similar sound (shoegazey dream pop with flourishes of The Cure thrown in for good measure - especially on the track "Summerdreamer" below), but the LP seems to lack the drive as those releases - unnecessarily slow in parts. Overall it's quite good though - "Twilight Bloom" and "Run" are must have tracks.

5. School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms - I was a big fan of a few of On! Air! Library!'s songs, and was pleased to see the Deheza sisters resurrect in the form of School of Seven Bells. SVIIB is a nice combo of shoegaze, laptop rock, and downtempo grooves, with the sisters' perfect harmonic vocals. "Half Asleep" and "Conjurr" are worth the price of the album.

4. The Cure - 4:13 Dream - Some very good stuff here. Not brilliant, and not Disintegration, Pornography, or even Wish, but overall a good album. With Porl Thompson back in the fold, this album harkens back to some earlier Cure stuff. Robert's voice, however, is starting to strain (as if it wasn't before). Not sure how much longer he can hold out. "Underneath the Stars" and "The Hungry Ghost" are the standouts.

3. Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul - Solid effort for the Gallagher's and Co., and pretty much follows the standard Oasis guitar rock form, with some bluesey and psychadelic aspects thrown in for good measure. The singles "The Shock of the Lightning" and "I'm Outta Time" were well chosen. And both "Falling Down" and the Chemical Brothers' remix of that track are probably the best things that came out of this album.

1b. The Verve - Forth - Such brilliance on Forth. This album harkens back to A Northern Soul and certainly starts where Urban Hymns left off. Richard definitely needed the rest of the band to make good, powerful rock songs (his solo albums started to drag into whining drivel), and McCabe's touches are all over the album. So many great tracks here - "Sit and Wonder," "Love Is Noise," "Rather Be" and so forth. Their live "reunion" show was fantastic as well - the MSG Theater show was one of the best live performances I've ever seen.

1a. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours - Pure electro-awesomeness. While Bright Like Neon Love had many great moments, In Ghost Colours shows the musical maturity of Cut Copy (Lead vocalist Dan Whitford summed it up perfectly - "The album is a lot more realized than the first one. I think all of us, when we think of the first one, we agree we sort of got half way there. But on the new one we got a lot closer to the sort of sounds we're after."). Great tracks from start to finish, including "Feel the Love," "Out There on the Ice," "Far Away," and "Nobody Lost, Nobody Found" (bonus teack "Sands of Time" is a key pick-up as well). And they put on the best live shows out there - how can one not jump up and down when CC hits those keyboard crescendos? Excellent remixes from this album abound too - especially Knightlife's Sun Soaked Reprise of "So Haunted", which just features the best parts from the original track - starting with the rising keyboard hits around the 3 minute mark. Nothing in 2008 made me want to move more than this album.

I couldn't decide if I liked Forth or In Ghost Colours better - resulting in a tie for my favorite of the year!

Other great music from 2008 - Glasvegas' "Geraldine", MGMT's "Time To Pretend" (not a fan of the album, but I love that song), the Fred Falke remix of Whitest Boy Alive's "Golden Cage" (possibly the greatest electro track ever), Booka Shade's The Sun & Neon Lights, and Little Boots' "Stuck on Repeat."

Disappointments - Portishead's Third - no samples, sparse, and kinda blah. I know a lot of people are putting this on their "best of" lists, but to me the album pales in comparison to the two previous efforts. Although there are a few decent songs, I don't feel as if I'm in a 1960's noir spy film as I did with their previous efforts. Bloc Party's Inticamcy - the elctronic driven effort from Bloc Party was very underwhlming. A few good tracks, but overall it's such a tumble from the classic EP and Silent Alarm.

Oh and some old gems that I rediscovered this year included - Swervedriver's Mezcal Head, Daft Punk's Homework, Orbital's II, Sing-Sing's The Joy of Sing Sing, and Swayzak's Loops from the Bergerie.