Wednesday, 3 December 2008

A Large List of Music I Enjoyed in 2008

Why so early with a Best Of list? I've still got a lot of albums to check out properly, and yet here we are, partially because my hand was forced leading me to post this elsewhere first (though without the lovely YouTube videos), and also because my piece of shit TyTn phone crashed yesterday meaning I lost absolutely everything on it, including yet another Week in TV post, so I've got to reconstruct that from scratch, something I could have spent today doing but instead I stupidly farted around trying to figure out how to append .srt files to .avi files (here's the short answer; you can't because vobsub_vd.vdf and textsub.vdf files are more slippery than the King of Eels and never seem to work even when added to VirtualDubMod plugin folders, meaning you waste hours and hours installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling programs and all you get is much misery).

Where was I? Oh yeah, music. As you can see from my top fifteen album list, it's been another good year (though there is much carping across the internet that dammit, those musicians didn't excel themselves this year, how selfish of them). There are several albums I'm still getting into, and many more I've not even heard at all. As usual, I expect to find more out as soon as I hit Publish (last year I damned The National with faint praise and then realised Boxer was a masterpiece), but for now, let this stand.

Albums of the Year:

1. Re-Arrange Us - Mates of State
2. April - Sun Kil Moon
3.= The Family Afloat - Bound Stems
3.= Lay Down In The Light - Bonnie "Prince" Billy
4.= Real Emotional Trash - Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
4.= Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
5. Microcastle - Deerhunter
6.= Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust - Sigur Rós
6.= Narrow Stairs - Death Cab For Cutie
7. This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That - Marnie Stern
8.= Gift of Screws - Lindsey Buckingham
8.= Who Killed Amanda Palmer - Amanda Palmer
9. For Emma, Forever Ago - Bon Iver
10.= Only By The Night - Kings Of Leon
10.= Sea Lion - The Ruby Suns

Disappointments of the Year:

Heart On - Eagles of Death Metal
Seventh Tree - Goldfrapp
Caught In The Trees - Damien Jurado
Stay Positive - The Hold Steady
Everything That Happens Will Happen Today - David Byrne and Brian Eno (Yes, I know I blogged about it before, but it never got any better than the first listen.)

Possible Contenders That I've Not Yet Listened To Enough:

Something for All of Us... - Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning
Dear Science - TV On The Radio
The Stand Ins - Okkervil River
Untitled - Nas
Hold On Now, Youngster... - Los Campesinos

I know, that video's been around for a year and a half but it's so great it needs to be seen as often as possible.

Worst Album of the Year/Decade:

The Bedlam In Goliath - The Mars Volta (Having been forced to listen to a lot of Mars Volta this year, I have to ask: what the fuck is the appeal of this band? It makes me turn into an old fart complaining about the racket, which earns it extra hate points. HATE!)

Best Use of Autotune to Confound Squidbrains Album of the Year:

808s and Heartbreak - Kanye West

Best Posthumous Release of the Year:

Leucocyte - Esbjörn Svensson Trio

I Don't Get What The Big Deal Is Album of the Year:

In Ear Park - Department of Eagles (The hipsters love it but it reminds me of cloying 60s pop filtered through an Americana mindset and as such depresses me greatly.)

Why Isn't This More Popular Album of the Year:

This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That - Marnie Stern (The woman is a musical genius, and has the requisite cute-hipster look to appeal to all of the douchebags. She should PWN the world by now.)

Underrated Album of the Year:

Only By The Night - Kings Of Leon (Yes yes, stadium rock etc. But it's a grower, and even if it's not as good as Because of the Times, it's partially because that was the best rock album of the decade and it's hard to top. Two more albums like this and I might change my tune, though.)

Best Classical Music Album of the Year:

Video Games Live - Jack Wall/Slovak National Symphony Orchestra/Crouch End Festival Chorus/David Temple (I only just found out about it! Tron Medley? Halo? Civ 4? I never knew you cared enough to make this, world.)

Songwriter of the Year:

Amanda Palmer, whose commitment to brutal truthtelling shocked and thrilled me.

Lyrics of the Year:

Gardenia by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Richard Avedon. Richard Avedon would. Richard Avedon would surely approve.

Overrated Album of the Year:

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (While I love the first half of the album, the second half is just nothing. I cannot remember a single thing about it and I've heard it about 30 times.)

Best Soundtrack of the Year:

Lost Season Three OST - Michael Giacchino
Plus, I've not heard it on CD, but the soundtrack to Snow Angels was lovely, and would probably swipe this spot.

Best Comedy Album of the Year:

Flight of the Conchords OST - Flight of the Conchords

Most Overdue Return of the Year:

Harps and Angels - Randy Newman

Most Welcome Return of the Year:

Mountain Battles - The Breeders

Most Career-Rehabilitating Return of the Year:

Forth - The Verve (Not technically a good album, but even in semi-FAIL mode it's infinitely better than Richard Ashcroft's solo work.)

Most Reputation-Destroying Return of the Year:

Snowflake Midnight - Mercury Rev (They discovered technology! And made an embarrassing hash of it. Bring back David Baker and Suzanne Thorpe.)

(Interstellar space orgy featuring Ron Jeremy! That's more like it. These days it's all neuroses and overthinking. Very disappointing.)

Most Surprising Return of the Year:

Third - Portishead

Most Underwhelming Return of the Year:

Songs in A&E - Spiritualized®

Most Frustrating Return of the Year:

The Hungry Moon - Tindersticks

Production of the Year:

Mark Nevers, traditionally tied to Lambchop, worked wonders on Bonnie "Prince" Billy's Lay Down In The Light, the best Will Oldham release since Master and Everyone. Whereas that was minimalist, and The Letting Go was dour, this is playful, funny, and even catchy. The addition of a few new and unusual instruments to the usual array of Americana staples unleashes Oldham's quirkiness, and the result is a pure joy. Of course, I can't find any online evidence of this, so here's Runs In The Family by Amanda Palmer, produced (brilliantly) by Ben Folds. A lot of work went into getting this terrifying and dizzying run-on rant together.

Albums From Previous Years That I Properly Fell In Love With This Year:

Boxer - The National
Kala - M.I.A. (Both of these albums would get on last year's list, pushing two others out)
Tusk - Fleetwood Mac
Bring It Back - Mates of State
Source Tags and Codes - ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Singles of the Year:

1. SEX ON FIYAH!!! - Kings of Leon
2. Get Better - Mates of State
3. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - Beyonce aka Sasha Fierce
4. Death Cab For Cutie - No Sunlight (Well, it's not out as a single yet, but it will be soon. If not this, then Cath...)
5. Time to Pretend - MGMT
6. That's Not My Name - The Ting Tings
7. I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked - Ida Maria

8. Gardenia - Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
9. A-Punk - Vampire Weekend
10. Bruises - Chairlift

Synapse-Frying Hyper-Uplift Single of the Year:

Við Spilum Endalaust - Sigur Rós

You Upset My Cats And Have Thus Upset Me Single of the Year:

Creator - Santogold

EP of the Year:

Water Curses - Animal Collective

Album Tracks of the Year:

1. The Re-Arranger - Mates of State
2. Sugar City Magic - Bound Stems

3. Moorestown or Tonight In Bilbao (can't decide) - Sun Kil Moon
4. Wait For You - Lindsay Buckingham
5. Manhattan - Kings of Leon
6. Where Is The Puzzle? - Bonnie "Prince" Billy
7. Ruler - Marnie Stern
8. Never Stops - Deerhunter
9. Tane Mahuta - The Ruby Suns
10. Change is Hard - She and Him

Insanity-Generating Brainworm of the Year:

Ragged Wood - Fleet Foxes

OMG Seriously WTF You Can't Say That Album Track of the Year:

Oasis - Amanda Palmer

Perplexing Omission of the Year:

Why is If You're Into It missing from the Flight of the Conchords OST?

Missed opportunity there.

I'm still working on a film list, which will come later this month, and Canyon is cooking something up something music-related. Stay tuned (and buy Amanda Palmer's album or, if you're a skinflint, check out the series of videos she made for it on YouTube).

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