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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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

Getting back on track

Back on Track

So, I’ve been in a bit of a music funk lately. Not sure why, but nothing caught my attention and I couldn’t really get in the mood to write any new reviews. I suppose this happens to everyone, but I’ve slowly been attempting to reboot and get back on track.

I was going to post a new top 10 from my iPod, but it is a mess right now. I mean, of the Top 20 songs right now, 8 are from the new Girl Talk album, Feed the Animals, which I recommend to everyone, everywhere (heck, you can download for a price of your choosing). I’ve also been quite fond of the new Fleet Foxes album, but it doesn’t even register on my iPod playcount because I listened to the physical CD while working in the lab (a real CD? Go figure). My other recent acquisition that has gotten a lot of playing is the Silver Jews Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea.

Oddly, the late spring releases, on the whole, have sort of disappointed me. I was really looking forward to the new Islands record, Arm’s Way but it fell flat. Death Cab for Cutie’s Narrow Stairs just hasn’t stuck, but then again both Transatlanticism and Plans took a few months to sink in. El Perro Del Mar’s From the Valley to the Stars was just a little too laid back to the point of narcolepsy and the Long Blondes’ “Couples” was a disaster compared to the treat that was their first album. Maybe this has been why I’ve been unable to stay focussed on music lately: too much disappointment.