Best Albums of 2008 – #20-11

Two days left in 2008 and I’ll finally start posting my best of 2008. I also want to mention a late-arriving honorable mention, that being the Crystal Castles self-titled album. I only got it about a week ago and I quite like it. Look for #1-10 tomorrow and my 2008 mix to go with it. Anyway, on to numbers 20 through 11 for 2008:

20. Reefer: Reefer – This year, Islands released their follow-up to Return to the Sea, and wow, did Arms Way stink. However, Nick Thornber, who left Islands before Arms Way, released what could be seen as the real heir to Return to the Sea. Bizarre, laidback and somewhat unfocused, it is just far more entertaining that Thornber’s former band’s release.

19. Coldplay: Vida La Vida – Bite me. If anything, Coldplay is catchy as hell, even if they are just U2.1.

18. Kanye West: 808s and Heartbreak – Now presenting: Kanye West’s Postal Service’s Give Up.

17. Maus Haus: Lark Marvels – A real darkhorse for the top 20, this album is something like Modest Mouse without the arena rock metamorphism the Mouse has experienced. Well worth your time to check out.

16. Shearwater: Rook – Really intense and full of atmosphere yet oddly familiar sounds. Almost impossible to describe this album except “haunting”.

15. Bonnie “Prince” Billy: Lie Down in the Light – Speaking of haunting, Will Oldham (aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy) has become much less haunting and much more accessible since his days in Palace. This album is definitely the alternative folk rock that doesn’t bland you to death.

14. Silver Jews: Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea – Maybe not the best Silver Jews’ album, but definitely the most focused since American Water. One of those truly underappreciated American bands.

13. Bloc Party: Intimacy – OK, so, a lot of people dissed Bloc Party’s Intimacy. I’m not entirely sure if it was because (a) Bloc Party is no longer cool in their eyes; (b) the sophomore album A Weekend in the City was a disappointment; (c) Intimacy is kind of schizophrenic or (d) all of the above. Whatever the reason, they are wrong. Sure, Bloc Party suddenly finds itself maybe a little too enamored with their synths and yes, maybe they’re just the 00’s version of Jesus Jones, but, well, those are two things that I am susceptible.

12. Xiu Xiu: Women as Lovers – Jamie Stewart is the patron saint of tortured electronic geniuses in America today.

11. Ratatat: LP3 – The most nuanced Ratatat album thus far, it brings in a lot of diverse sounds – both energized and relaxed. Now, they just need to release another hip-hop remix album.

Look for #1-10 tomorrow!


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The return of … music?

So, the election is over.

Baseball season is over.

And suddenly, Erik is feeling music again.

What happened? Well, I think that should be pretty obvious. A lot of tension was lifted from my mind after Barack Obama won the presidency (can you dig it?!) I’ll have more to say about this, but right now I’m a little too busy trying to get ready for a weekend field trip and an interview, so instead I’ll post my first iPod top 10 in months. Enjoy!

  1. “Like This” by Girl Talk
  2. “The Menace” by Mongrel
  3. “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay
  4. “Shame on a Nigga” by Wu Tang Clan
  5. “Blind” by Hercules & Love Affair
  6. “Freiwild” by K.I.Z.
  7. “Flux” by Bloc Party
  8. “Dance Wiv Me” by Dizzee Rascal with Calvin Harris
  9. “Mumtaz Khan” by Ratatat
  10. “I Lost You” by the Walkmen

Oh yeah, music and such

I haven’t written much about music in ages. Not entirely sure why beyond the fact that it seems that 2008 has been a pretty uninspiring year for me, new music-wise. Yes, there have been a few great albums – Portishead, Fleet Foxes, Shearwater, Vampire Weekend – but nothing has really grabbed my attention and kept it. Ah well.

On that note, I will post my latest Top 10 from my iPod, for your amusement. Maybe visiting Amoeba in Berkeley this weekend will help alleviate my malaise.

  1. “Rubicon” by the Blistering Suns
  2. “Like This” by Girl Talk
  3. “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” by Vampire Weekend
  4. “Holle” by K.I.Z.
  5. “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon
  6. “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay
  7. “Ready for the Floor” by Hot Chip
  8. “Strange Victory, Strange Defeat” by the Silver Jews
  9. “Mumtaz Khan” by Ratatat
  10. “Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo” by Jens Lekman
And for the fun of it, a song that might make the top 10 soon … and it is in German!
“Du Much Auch” by Die Fantastischen Vier

Back from Canada …

So, I’m back from my lovely conference in Canada. Vancouver is a real nice city, I have to admit it. If you ever go to Vancouver, be sure to do the Grouse Mountain Grind if you enjoy deathmarches up mountainsides.

I had a chance to see Tullycraft live in West Seattle last week and you should see them live, too! They’re a heckuva a lot of fun. I also got to go to some real record stores, so I purchased to my heart’s content. What did I purchase? Good question!

(Loosely ranked by how much I’ve liked them so far)

  • Shearwater – Rook
  • Hercules & Love Affair – S/T
  • Ratatat – LP3
  • Tilly & the Wall – O
  • Coldplay – Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
  • Sigur Ros – Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
  • Wolf Parade – On Mount Zoomer
  • Dan the Automator – 2K7

Anyway, I will be starting my Erik Gonzalez 100 this week, so stay tuned for that!