smitch’s top albums and tracks of 2008
5. You & Me by The Walkmen
After solidifying my top four, I thought long and hard about which other album deserved to crack the list, and I kept coming back to these bastards. While their 2005 masterpiece Bows + Arrows is a cleaner record, You & Me has moments that rival Bows’ best and preserves its basic essence start to finish. Which is to say, it’s awesome.
4. Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend
When this album first came out, I couldn’t get enough of it. Almost every song is unbelievably catchy, and the band aimed for a specific niche and nailed it. They’ve got a talent for writing/performing engaging music that explodes out of every song. My initial craving for Vampire Weekend was so intense I wanted to inject the music directly into my bloodstream. Alas, as with so many other things that enter the body intravenously, I overdosed on it, and it’s forever been relegated to awesome-but-infrequently-enjoyed status. And I gotta disagree with mgdistrict on the standout track – see my top songs list below.
3. Dear Science by TV On The Radio
I’ve still yet to crack TVOR’s perplexing exterior and find the rich creamy center, but ever since 2006’s Return to Cookie Mountain first clicked with me (it took several listens), I’ve had a thing for these guys. I loved Dear Science from the first time I heard it. Lots of really good, eclectic songs, with a heavier dose of catchy riffs than in past TVOR efforts I’m familiar with. The title’s awesome, too.
2. Visiter by The Dodos
Clocking in at just under one hour, this was one of the most interesting and creative albums of 2008. Lots of hollow, low-production-value percussion, almost like the band picked up whatever was lying around the house (pencils, chop sticks, washboards, driftwood) and used it for drums. The songs meander back and forth from catchy phrases to melodic acoustic guitar numbers to psychedelic chanting sequences, but never wander too far from a generally coherent structure.
1. For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver
This was my favorite album of the year early on, and nothing ever managed to knock it from the top spot. It’s soothing, melodic, creative, and tight, with a handful of just really great songs. Everything about it – the tracks, the cover, the back-story – paint the picture of reflective isolation, of a guy in a cabin somewhere cold making beautiful music about the good times that are now behind him and the fact that he’s okay with that. You know what, Bon? I’m okay with it too.
10. “Modern Mystery” by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
9. “Furr” by Blitzen Trapper
8. “Red and Purple” by The Dodos
7. “Love Dog” by TV On The Radio
6. “Far Away” by Cut Copy – 80s synth-pop revisited… in a good way.
5. “Red Moon” by The Walkmen
4. “Through the Night These Days” by Jason Collett – LOVE the little piano riff throughout.
3. “Out of Reaches” by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
2. “Lump Sum” by Bon Iver
1. “Oxford Comma” by Vampire Weekend – Even though I do give a fuck about them, I loved this song, which threads the needle between catchy and original.
… and other good stuff from 2008
ALBUMS THAT ALLLMOST MADE IT Here’s To Being Here by Jason Collett; Furr by Blitzen Trapper. If I hadn’t procrastinated in getting my hands on Blitzen Trapper, this one might have made the list. Their album Wild Mountain Nation was one of my favorites of last year, and this one’s damn good too. Just didn’t have enough listens to be totally sure. Maybe next year, guys.
ALBUMS I PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO AT LEAST ONCE At Mount Zoomer by Wolf Parade; Oracular Spectacular by MGMT. I loved Wolf Parade’s 2005 album Apologies To Queen Mary, but just never got around to buying their latest. Probably had something to do with the fact that it’s not on eMusic, and it was released on the same day as (and was therefore overshadowed by) the Coldplay album. Definitely at the top of the list when I inevitably get an iTunes gift certificate in my stocking.
MOMENTOUS WORLD EVENT Since this is a music blog, not a political one, I’ll just give you a hint: it rhymes with “the first plack bresident.”