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Tag: Best of 2008

The Year in (Ick)Music – Gonzo’s List

It’s been a pretty solid year. Either that means there’s a lot of great music coming out these days, or I’m just too hip for my own good. I’m guessing the former. Nevertheless, Pete asked me to share my best from 2008, and I am happy to do so! Earlier this month, I posted the tracklist to my annual year-end mix (with notes) over at my own blog, and last week posted a companion podcast (with minimal overlap). My comments here may be minimal only to prevent redundancy, but please feel free to stop by Gonzo’s Music-O-Rama.
Also, these numbers do not necessarily correspond to rank.

Albums of the year:

1. MGMTOracular Spectacular ::This would have been on my 2008 cd until I found out it was actually a 2007. I later found out the digital edition came out in 2007, but the hard copy hit shelves in 2008. Ergo, it is an omission from my initial list for which I’ve been making atonement ever since.

2. SantogoldSantogold :: My pick for album of the year. Diverse, well produced and well executed. Comparisons to MIA are pretty superficial – their music for the most part is quite dissimilar, as evidenced by Santogold’s penchant for rock/new wave song structures.

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3. Jamie LidellJim ::Though less varied than Multiply, Jim is perhaps a more solid album. Jim‘s all-out soul revival gets the feet tappin’ and the fingers snappin’. My only concern is his next step – it seems to me you can only do the all-out retro thing for a very limited time and have it be interesting.

4. CSSDonkey

5. Erykah BaduNew Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War ::Possibly the most underrated album of the year.

6. Cut CopyIn Ghost Colours ::2008: New Order breaks up, Cut Copy carries the torch.

7. RatatatLP3

8. Pop LeviNever Never Love

9. She & HimVolume One

10. The Atlas SoundLet The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel ::I actually liked this better than the Deerhoof record.

Songs of the Year:

1. Ladytron – “Ghosts”
2. Crystal Castles – “Crimewave”
3. Cut Copy – “Lights & Music”
4. M83 – “Kim and Jesse” ::This is one that I admittedly got into only recently. The album didn’t grab me on first listen, but after some replays, it – and this track especially – are ranking highly in my book.
5. The Ting Tings -“Shut Up & Let Me Go”
6. Love is All – “Wishing Well”
7. Snoop Dogg – “Sensual Seduction”
8. Santogold – “L.E.S. Artistes” ::The entire Santogold album is great, and was the soundtrack for many runs this summer. While “L.E.S. Artistes” is a critique of the art/hipster scene, I have a Nike commercial in my head built around the chorus.

Cover Songs of the Year:

Santogold – “Guns of Brooklyn”

guns of brooklyn (doc and jon hill dub) – Santogold and diplo

Take one of my favorite Clash songs, have one of my favorite artists of 2008 sing it, and have Diplo produce. GOLDEN.

She and Him – “You Really Got a Hold On Me” :: I love covers where the artists really make the song their own. Such is the case here. The Miracles version is an undisputed classic, and perhaps the most famous cover (The Beatles) is stylistically true. Yet here we have She & Him fitting the song into the context of the album’s laid back, alt-country-pop style. It sounds so much more desperate and haunting in this version. I love it. They also do a great laid back rendition of The Beatles’ “I Should Have Known Better.”

Disappointments of the Year:

Guns n RosesChinese Democracy :: As Michael indicated, this may be an obvious choice. I guess this isn’t really a disappointment in that it met my very low expectations.

Gnarls BarkleyThe Odd Couple

We are ScientistsBrain Thrust Mastery

Best Live Show of the Year:

Chromeo: 9:30 Club, Washington DC 10/4/08 :: This what immediately came to mind when prompted for the best show of the year. Chromeo’s 2007 release Fancy Footwork was one of my favorites last year, and I knew I had to catch them live. They were great – performances were spot on, they were as cheeky and entertaining as you’d expect, and played the entire album. See my full review here.

Other shows of note:

Jamie Lidell Abbey Pub, Chicago 6/4/08
CSS – 9:30 Club, DC 12/20 [review forthcoming!]

Best New (to me) Artist:

The Mighty Hannibal ::Late in the summer, I was introduced to King Khan and the Shrines, a tongue-in-cheek garage band. I saw an interview where they hung out with The Mighty Hannibal, of whom I’d never heard. But I was curious, given my penchant for 1960s soul. I heard the album Hannibalism! and fell in love with it immediately.

The Birds :: No, that’s not a typo. The Birds were the first band Ronnie Wood recorded with. Great British garage/beat rock.

Bonde do Role :: More recent, a great Brazilian electro-funk outfit.

—-
Here’s looking to a funky 2009, Ickies!

The Year in (Ick)Music – Michael’s List

Like Pete I spend a good bit of time finding ‘new’ artists that are not exactly new so parsing out the records that are truly from this year takes a bit of doing. But using iTunes and last.fm I was able to do pull the data together that is the basis for my year end list. It’s not entirely scientific, but this list is truly representative of my favorites of 2008.

But hey, enough of my yakkin’.  Whaddaya say, let’s boogie! – Michael

Albums of the Year:

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1. Jason MrazWe Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.

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2. Kings of LeonOnly by the Night

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3. Ra Ra RiotThe Rhumb Line

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4. TV on the RadioDear Science

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5. Girl TalkFeed the Animals

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6. Ayla BrookAfter the Morning After

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7. EstelleShine

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8. Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend

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9. Kanye West808s & Heartbreak

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10. Black KidsPartie Traumatic

The Rest…

Kensington Prairie – Captured in Still Life
Incognito – Tales from the Beach
The Great Outdoors – Spring, Summer, Fall
Counting Crows – Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings
Coldplay – Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis – Two Men with the Blues
Q-Tip – The Renaissance
Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It
Nine Inch Nails – The Slip / Ghosts I-IV
Paul Gilbert – Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar

Songs of the Year:

1. Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire” (from Only by the Night) :: This track is, in a word, undeniable. The Followill clan have grown into the sound that the areas they play demand. Just one listen will implant the tune deep in your subconscious and have you wanting to hear it again.

2. The Roots – “Rising Up (feat. Wale & Chrisette Michele)” (from Rising Down) :: It’s rare that I’ll actually use the repeat function but this track has spent many a spin back to back. The D.C. Go-Go backbeat combined with Chrisette Michele‘s heavenly vocal hook serve as a dynamic bed for Black Thought and Wale to drop a vicious set of verses. Black Thought professes “The best is that which I accept and nothing less” and provides nothing short.

3. Jason Mraz – “A Beautiful Mess” (from We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.) :: Jason Mraz has built his career around mind bending metaphors served over a bed of light, airy and sun kissed acoustic pop. For the closer to his We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. he offered up a humble assessment of a relationship that I think everyone can relate to in some form or another.

4. Hot Chip – “Wrestlers” (from Made in the Dark) :: Attentive readers will know this one made my Valentines Day Card to my wife this year. The sentiment of “It’s me versus you in love” plays out over a sparse and simple (for Hot Chip, anyway) arrangement.

5. Adele – “Chasing Pavements” (from 19) :: An unrequited love song for the ages, Adele delivers with a soul much older than her nineteen years on this earth.

6. Ra Ra Riot – “Too Too Fast” (from The Rhumb Line) :: I’m still a bit puzzled as to why more folks are not all over the indie pop of Ra Ra Riot. This track is as good (albeit not as twee) as anything on Vampire Weekend‘s record.

7. Black Kids – “Hurricane Jane” (from Partie Traumatic) :: Internet taste-makers be damned, this is one of the best Prince tunes of the last 10 years.

8. Jamie Lidell – “Another Day” (from Jim) :: A few bars short of a straight up gospel barn burner, this bit of blue eyed soul raises the roof to one of the more underrated records of 2008.

9. Ayla Brook – “Leave Anymore” (from After the Morning After) :: A stark and lovely recording, the kind where you can hear the creaking of the floor and rattle of the snare is exactly why this record made my Top 10.

10. Alan Wilkis – “It’s Been Great” (from Babies Dream Big) :: Hi-Fi for the Lo-Fi set, “It’s Been Great” is a testament to the talent that is Alan Wilkis. Sure, you may not have heard of him yet but I’m certain that you will be hearing plenty from him in the future.

The Rest…

Estelle – “American Boy (feat. Kanye West)”
Kensington Prairie – “Photographs”
Katy Perry – “I Kissed a Girl”
Raphael Saadiq – “Staying In Love”
Duffy – “Serious”
R.E.M. – “Supernatural Superserious”
Panic at the Disco – “Nine in the Afternoon”
TV on the Radio – “Halfway Home”
Q-Tip – “Dance on Glass”
Coldplay – “Viva la Vida”
Kanye West – “Heartless”
Santogold – “Shove It”

Cover Songs of the Year:

Prince – “Creep” (from Purple Storm in the Coachella Valley) :: There was no lack of oddity to Prince‘s turn as headliner at this year’s Coachella Festival. Be it the fact that he could not seem to pronounce the namesake properly to the disjointed but funky as hell set list it was by all accounts an amazing experience capped off by his brilliant take on Radiohead‘s “Creep”.

Susanna and the Magical Orchestra – “Condition of the Heart” (from Controversy: A Tribute to Prince)
Soweto Gospel Choir – “Pride (In the Name of Love)” (from In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2)
Doveman – “Almost Paradise” (from Footloose)

Disappointment of the Year:

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You know it’d be easy to call out The Chinese Democracy as the Disappointment of the Year, but I can’t say that I’ve even heard all of it. I have, however, heard the live record that Prince included with his 21 Nights coffee table book and can say that I would have expected much more from a run of 21 nights (plus all those aftershows), than the mere morsel provided by the man himself.

Best Live Show of the Year:

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Photo Courtesy of B.Rosen

Dave Matthews Band at Hartford, CT June 14, 2008 :: When word came that keyboardist Butch Taylor would not be joining Dave Matthews Band for their 2008 summer tour I wasn’t sure what to think. While not an original member of the band he had been a fixture since 2001 and had put his fingerprint on the band’s live sound over the last few years. With stunt guitarist extrordinaire Tim Reynolds in his space I was moved by the reinvigorated band that I saw. Alive with an energy that I had not seen in years. It is bittersweet for me that this would be the last time I would get to see Leroi Moore perform. On more than one occasion I recall turning to my wife and saying “I can actually hear Roi’ again” during the show.

Best New (to me) Artist:

Incognito :: I was on a huge Acid Jazz trip late in the summer and it was discovering Incognito that kicked it off. Under the uncompromising leadership of Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick the band has consistently produced some of the best Jazz Club fusion over the last 29 years.

Chrisette Michele :: Had her record I Am been released in 2008 it would have been at the top of my list. I was introduced to Miss Michele via her spot on The Roots track “Rising Up”. Her voice shined so bright that I felt compelled to track back to pick up her record.

The Year in (Ick)Music – Pete’s List

It always takes some work on my part to parse out what was released this year, because I’m always discovering great music from years past too. But I’ve done it (and thrown in some pre-2008 tunes – I’m sneaky that way).

So without further ado, here’s my list! – Pete

Albums of the Year

1. Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend :: The hipsters give this band a lot of shit – why, I’m not sure. But I’m not a hipster, I’m just a dude who knows a catchy, original album when I hear it, and Vampire Weekend’s debut was one of my top albums of the year. “A-Punk”, “Campus”, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”. Mansard Roof”, “Oxford Comma”… this album is full of great songs.

2. My Morning JacketEvil Urges
:: I love variety, and these guys bring it with every album. On ‘Evil Urges’, we get Jim James’ best Prince impression (“Highly Suspicious”), and some deep down and soulful grooves that reach back to 70’s soft rock and soul. Standout tunes: ‘Touch Me, I’m Going to Scream, Part One”, “Thank You Too!”, “The Librarian”, “Smokin from Shootin”.

3. What Laura SaysThinks and Feels :: It was refreshing (and surprising) to be so blown away by a local band. Tempe, Arizona’s What Laura Says is on the rise. Their label debut, ‘Thinks and Feels’ is retro psychedelic indie rock. With influences ranging from late 60’s psychedelia to Simon & Garfunkel to Dr. Dog and Ben Folds, this is an album I can play straight through 10 times and find something different every time. Beautiful harmonies and melodies, and a lot of surprises.

4. Cadence WeaponAfterparty Babies :: Edmonton rapper and former Pitchfork writer Rollie Pemberton aka Cadence Weapon has one of the most unique sounds out there. On ‘Babies’, Cadence lays down his quirky rhymes over techno grooves.

5. Okkervil RiverThe Stand Ins:: Led by my favorite of the bunch, ‘Lost Coastlines”, this album has not left my iPhone/iPod since I bought the album.

And growing on me fast:

Fleet FoxesFleet Foxes :: Appalachian church / folk music. You’ve undoubtedly seen this album on a bunch of top album lists. Initially, I wasn’t blown away, but this is an album that creeps up on you. Standout tune: “White Winter Hymnal”.

Songs of the Year:

1. “Strange Overtones” (mp3) – David Byrne :: “Joyous” is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this song. I first heard it on one of Radio Free Wohlman‘s podcasts earlier in the year. And then I saw Mr. Byrne come out on stage in Austin, he and his band dressed in white, and perform the hell out of this song in the show opener. This tune gives me goosebumps and doggone it, it makes me happy.

2. “Get Better Soon” (mp3) – What Laura Says :: An outlaw country shuffle of a tune. Great opening line: “Don’t worry about me, it’s you that needs the help”.

3. “Thank You Too!” (mp3) – My Morning Jacket :: My favorite from their ‘Evil Urges’ album. Laid back, smooth – exuding that late 70’s rock n’ soul vibe.

4. “Sausalito” (mp3) – Conor Oberst :: Like MMJ’s Jim James, Conor’s another one of those younger prolific MF’ers, and I really enjoy what he has to offer. “Sausalito” has that country roots feel I love so much, and it’s a pretty damn infectious tune.

5. “Oh Please” (mp3) – Jon and Roy :: Jon and Roy are one of those great under the radar singer/songwriter talents. They call Victoria, British Columbia home, and sometime this year, I must have got an email, and I stumbled across “Oh Please”. I love this tune. Simple. Soft. Real.

Cover of the Year

Creep” (video) – Prince – Live at Coachella :: Prince has done some cool covers (Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”), and some not so cool (‘I Can’t Make You Love Me”, “Everyday Is A Winding Road” – a Sheryl Crow cover on a Prince record? Come on dude..), but his version of Radiohead’s “Creep” was something fresh and exciting to hear – even with the re-worked lyrics that changed the feel of the song. I would have loved to be at this Coachella show, or, as Prince calls it, “Co-A-Chella”.

Disappointments of the Year

John MellencampLife Death Love and Freedom :: I gave this album a few serious tries. I’m a big admirer of Mellencamp, and I was really looking forward to it, especially after hearing the lead single “My Sweet Love”. But I found it too dark, and too in need of hooks and melodies, which JM is surely capable of. It’s a rootsy, bluesy, morose record, and has received some stellar reviews. It’s John’s “dark” record. But truth be told, it didn’t do a thing for me. For dark Mellencamp, I’ll take “Jackie Brown”.

No Boss in Phoenix :: I’m still at a loss as to why Bruce’s Magic tour, with two full U.S. legs, totally skipped Phoenix, Arizona – the 8th largest metro area in the USA. Granted, most of the time I feel like I’m in a cultural wasteland with no soul, but that’s beside the point. I did travel to Anaheim for a show, though, and got to see Tom Morello shred it up with Bruce on “The Ghost of Tom Joad”.

Best Live Show of the Year

George Michael, June 22, U.S. Airways Arena, Phoenix :: Say what you will, but George’s show here in Phoenix was my live highlight of the year. Ol’ George is now back to his old ways (amphetamines and public toilets and whatnot), but as anyone who saw this tour can attest to, George was in prime form. His 80’s classics, his humble and genuine stage presence, his stage setup (Giant Screen!), all made for a show that ranked 10 out of 10 in my book. I was riding a GM high for weeks after this.

Band of Horses, September 28, Austin City Limits Music Festival :: After discovering the greatness of Band of Horses in January, I was looking forward to their ACL set from the moment I saw it was scheduled. I lingered around the stage all afternoon and made my way front and center when it was time for their set. I was not disappointed. Ben Bridwell and company rocked out with great tunes like “The Funeral”, “The Weed Song”, “No One’s Gonna Love You”, “Is There a Ghost”… And just as cool, the next morning at the Austin Airport, I met Ben Bridwell and told him just how great his music is.

Other great shows this year: Los Lobos, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Citizen Cope, Erykah Badu, John Fogerty, Gogol Bordello.

Best New (to me) Artist/Song:

Band of Horses :: 2008 was, for me, Year of the Horses. It took me until January 2008 to discover their incredible two albums, ‘Everything All the Time’ and ‘Cease to Begin’. In September, I got to see them front and center at Austin City Limits Music Festival. Ben Bridwell (above) is one of my new musical heroes. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in the future (right now, they’re recording their third album in Muscle Shoals, Alabama).

Jenny Lewis :: I may not dig Jenny as much as my five year old daughter, but I was happy to discover her music this year – particularly her album with the Watson Twins, ‘Rabbit Fur Coat’. This video to “Rise Up With Fists” is what initially reeled me and my daughter in.

Missed the Boat” (mp3) – Modest Mouse :: “While we’re on the subject, can we change the subject now…” Another of my most listened to songs of the year. I love Isaac Brock’s voice, and on this tune, James Mercer pops in for some sweet backup vox as well. Great song that I didn’t hear until this year.

Just Can’t Forget” (mp3) – Jonny and Josh :: I stumbled across it on MySpace early in the year. Someone had it streaming on their profile. Jonny and Josh are singer/songwriters in the Denver area, and they wrote a song here that connected with me immediately. Dark and melodic, with a rhythm and hook that sticks with you.

Nobody Knows” (mp3) – Faces :: I’ve discovered a lot of the Faces catalog this year, and this song is one of the best. Rod Stewart and Ronnie Lane (I believe?) share vocal duties here.

“Diner” – Martin Sexton :: Quick and catchy, with that old timey feel.

“Lover’s Waltz” – A.A. Bondy :: A warm, pleading, gentle tune.

“The Story” – Brandi Carlile :: I heard this about a gajillion times during the Olympics, but it didn’t get old. Really a great pop song, and a great voice.