Thursday, January 01, 2009

Top Ten Songs of 2008

Hey. It's 2009. That means 2008 is over. 2008 was an awful year for movies, but an outstanding year for music. Here were my faves. Go buy all of them.

1. Blue Ridge Mountain - Fleet Foxes

Seattle’s much ballyhooed Fleet Foxes brought us the year’s most gorgeous song, which seems to fuse everything from folk to the Beach Boys. Much has been said about the groups’ role in resurrecting “mountain music” (whatever that means), but I’d rather just consider the group on its own terms.

2. Who’s Gonna Save My Soul? – Gnarls Barkley

With a howl reminiscent of a cross between Sam Cooke and Eddie Vedder, Cee-lo delivers the best vocal performance in many years. While the album occasionally veers into self-indulgence, it does so in a manner that averts the nihilistic predictability of today’s pseudo-rockers and sissy-Brits.

3. Dig Lazarus, Dig! – Nick Cave

When he is not bent on creating the most evil songs imaginable, Nick Cave ranks among the best songwriters of this era. That said, “Dig Lazarus Dig!” sounds like a JLP blog set to music. Featuring the best riff of the year, the track resurrects Lazarus present day New York, only to recommend he retire to his coffin.

4. Bleeding All Over You - Martha Wainwright

Women seldom sing about obsession with the opposite sex, but Martha Wainwright pens the year’s best lyric, which also serves to name her latest album, “I Know Your Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too”. BAOY contrasts Wainwright’s past dalliances into maudlin rage, and comes across as a genuine love song that sets the pace for the album’s remainder.

5. Human – The Killers

I viscerally despise the cheapo KDWB-Abercrombie-ized version of this song, which eschews the complicated percussion tangents in favor of a pedestrian techno beat. The beauty of this song is that it flirts with danceable riffs, only to surprise us with a burst of densely arranged melody. The Killers have moved beyond ironic-retro, or are incorporating it more seamlessly these days.

6. Jerk California – Halloween, Alaska

Recommending a single from their forthcoming album allows me to pimp my favorite local band twice, but seriously, they’ve been promising the thing for ages. Get on it.

7. Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon

Lead singer Caleb Holliwell claims to be a virgin. If so, on the basis of this histrionic number, he’s setting himself up for a let-down. With their latest, Kings of Leon prove that so-called “arena rock” needn’t be hackneyed and stale. I’m looking at you Coldplay.

8. Painting – Atmosphere

Minnesota-based Atmosphere largely eschew samples on their latest, and “Painting” sets the dark poem of an alcoholic to a luminously plaintive riff that carries the song through it’s three minute run time. The idea that ‘Lil Wayne has anything on these guys is absurd.

9. Festival – Sigur Ros

This is what Sigur Ros sounds like when they try to make accessible music. The result? Inaccessible. But awesome.

10. Blue Bicycle – Hauschka

Sort of like Rachel’s meets an indie film score about childhood, Hauschka’s Ferndorf is a wordless album that communicates more than any talky emo-Nickelodeon musical theater reject conveys in volumes. If you like your mood music cohesive and well-crafted (or if you like Erik Satie as much as I do), you can’t do much better than Hauschka.


Blogger Memphis Evans said...

Hey, what's a good Satie CD with all the Gymnopedies? Please be as specific as possible.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Satie: Gnossiennes & Gymnopedies by Reinbert de Leeuw

1:18 PM  

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