Greats of 2008, part 3

I was thinking of having a post about all the non-music things that I saw or got into this year, but I realized that it would involve a lot of research and memory. Plus, I haven’t seen too many movies this year, and I’m not used to reviewing plays, so I’m sticking to music.

Missed ‘Em

Here’s some music that I’ve seen on some best of 2008 lists that I’d like to spend more time with.

  1. Beach House – Devotion: I liked their last record, but I didn’t even realize that they had a new one this year. That’s what I get for paying more attention to NPR than Pitchfork.
  2. No Age – Nouns: Even Rolling Stone had this in their top albums. I can’t let Rolling Stone get the best of me.
  3. The Walkmen – You & Me: I have liked their stuff in the past (namely their Pussycats cover record), but they seem a little too macho. Like old school, sloppy “We’re dudes in a band! Let’s party!” types (The Hold Steady is another example). But I heard a couple songs from this album and really liked the mood they set.
  4. Deerhunter – Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.: I get all the “deer” bands messed up and I think I thought this was Deerhoof, who I do not like, so I skipped it. But then I happened to hear a song and was impressed. It was an acousticy number, which I find myself almost exclusively attracted to these days.
  5. Santogold – Santogold: So far not what I expected. Love that.

Nearly Favorites

And now, working up to my top 10, here’s the albums that didn’t make the big list. These are albums I did spend time with, or saw on tour, but didn’t really get obsessed with.

  •  M83 – Saturdays = Youth: This is not my typical musical taste. I hate synths. I can’t stand most 80s/New Wave songs…it’s all so unorganic sounding. But for some reason — maybe it was the mystery each song leaves you with, or the fantastic trip the entire album takes you on — but this album was my work soundtrack for weeks. It sounded very familiar to me, but not trite, and that’s hard to accomplish.
  • Stephen Malkmus – Real Emotional Trash: I think Malkmus keeps getting stronger and stronger both as a songwriter and as a guitarist. This is no Face the Truth, but it says a lot that I actually love the long guitar solos on this record. Just good, raw guitar rock. Janet Weiss was a perfect addition to the Jicks. This might also be the only worthwhile Matador album of 2008. What’s up with them?
  • She & Him – Volume 1: I debated on not including this in any of my lists since Paste named it their album of the year. As I commented on Stereogum, I think this album is a step backward for music. I know M. Ward doesn’t mean it this way, but the idea of the album reeks of Ike backing Tina Turner or Phil backing Ronnie Spector. I suppose Zoey needed someone to legitimize her foray into music. She does have a great voice, and her songwriting chops are commendable. But it gets boring. It’s a step backward in music. It’s not like Fleet Foxes who have taken the folk history of rock and turned it into something beautiful and important for today. It’s just a bunch of simple songs that sound good. Lots of people can do that.
  • Magnetic Fields – Distortion: It was thrilling to hear the Magnetic Fields electrified, but then the novelty kinda wore off.
  • Sigur Ros – Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust: I respect and admire Sigur Ros more than I actually enjoy listening to them. I love hearing the music, but it’s sometimes emotionally draining to hear it repeatedly. Even the happy songs feel draining. I’m glad they made a poppier record that remained true to themselves.
  • Spirtitualized – Songs in A+E: I was very briefly obsessed with this one, I guess because it’s so stark and depressing. But listening to it weeks later made me feel icky, which I think is intentional. The creepy romanticism I’ve always associated with him doesn’t work for me much any more.
  • REM – Accelerate: Thank God that one turned out all right.
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