05
Dec
08

My Top 40 Albums of 2008: Numbers 32 Through 25

Okay, here’s the second installment of my Top 40 Albums of 2008. Before we dive into the countdown, I’ll jiggle your memory over some of this year’s releases in March and April. March came in like a lion with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, Billy Bragg’s Mr. Love and Justice, The Boxing Lesson’s Wild Streaks & Windy Days, The Young Knives’ Superabundance, Supergrass’s Diamond Hoo Ha Man and Hercules & Love Affair’s debut self-titled album. March seemed to go out like a lion as well with releases from Crystal Castles, Fuck Buttons, We Are Scientists, These New Puritans, Neon Neon, The Kills, The Dodos, Devotchka and The Raconteurs. This was also the month we saw the release of Elbow’s Mercury Prize-winning The Seldom Seen Kid and the hugely overrated Foals’ Antidotes (what happened to that math rock fad anyway?).

April saw the return of some heavy hitters like REM and Portishead in addition to sophomore albums from Frightened Rabbit, Jim Noir, Cut Copy, The Kooks (why in the name of all that is pure and sacred?) and The Long Blondes (“Couples” being one of my bigger disappointments this year). There were also releases from Clinic, Tindersticks, Polysics, Tokyo Police Club, The Indelicates, M83, The Black Keys, and Moscow Olympics. Lastly, there was also the release of a double disc from Apparat full of remixes by and of the German artist.

And so we forge ahead to the list…


32. Seventh Tree – Goldfrapp

This album was one of the surprises of the year when it released in February. Gone were the sleazy glam beats; instead, a gentle, vulnerable psychedelic-folk stood in their place. Perhaps it was a bit of a return to Felt Mountain, and it could seem like a regressive trajectory when most artists have started with psychedelic-folk before leaping headlong into glam, but it is a refreshing rebirth. With Alison Goldfrapp’s soaring, spine-tingling vocals and a warm, sensual beauty to the music, Seventh Tree still retains the ambient side of electro. Seventh Tree feels like climbing into an old, dusty wardrobe and finding yourself in a pastoral world full of speaking beasts and dryads or like slipping through the shivering surface of a looking-glass and revelling in a flower garden that can converse with you. It is innocent and frothy, yet it commands like a gypsy circus come to steal you away.

Clowns – Goldfrapp

A&E – Goldfrapp


31. Die Off Songbird – Maps of Norway

This is the Minneapolis band’s sophomore album and it is an incredibly efferevescent piece of post-punk, full of propulsive guitars and singer Rebecca Leigh’s dynamic vocals awash in a disorienting reverb. Leigh wavers from Debbie Harry to Elizabeth Fraser against an insistent moody background of driven rhythm and glacial accents. Often, Leigh’s vocals are exotically incomprehensible, but the cadences and tone make you not want to bog yourself down in lyrical detail. There is a patience to this album, a willingness to submit to a brilliant few bars and repeat them until they build into a monumental payoff of magic spell-like proportions.

Cage the Lions – Maps of Norway

The Runout – Maps of Norway


30. Hercules & Love Affair – Hercules & Love Affair

I was a little perplexed to hear that Antony Hegarty from Antony and the Johnsons would be helping to front a disco band. Then when I heard the result, I was sold. In fact, Blind should be one of the top singles of the year. Hegarty’s warbliness, which usually puts me off, transforms into a sorrowful soulfulness that works perfectly with the disco-influenced electronics. The combination of the other two vocalists, Kim Ann Foxman and Nomi, adds a breathier, funkier counterpoint to Hegarty. To me, this album is more about loss than celebration; at the same time, it pulses with a streetwise will to survive and to move on to a retro bassline. Hercules & Love Affair will definitely enter the mythology and pantheon of electronic music.

Time Will – Hercules & Love Affair

Athene – Hercules & Love Affair


29. The Devil, You + Me – The Notwist

It has taken this German band six years to follow up their indie hit Neon Golden, and it was worth the wait. It still has the moody shoegaze atmosphere to it that Neon Golden had, but it has shed the warm quirks for a metallic spinning. The record reminds me of a swiftly tilting planet, a balletic behemoth singing to itself as it makes its way through the vacuum of space. The lyrics seem more haunted and dwell more on the fallibility of people. The wobbly dissonance of songs like Where in This World projects an image of hurtling through frozen space and drifting through the grinding friction caused by the music of the spheres.

Gloomy Planets – The Notwist

Gravity – The Notwist


28. The Jade Motel – Zeigeist

Despite the fact Zeigeist has been rumoured to be connected to fellow Swedish electronic act The Knife, this album seemed to come out of nowhere for me, and it smacked me in the face. Pretty hard. It is just one of those perfect electro albums that mixes caustic, but sexy vocals with hard-hitting beats and buzzy synths. The unhinged performance of tracks like Tar Heart runs up and down your body like fizzy electricity, and tracks like Bunny make you feel like you’re trying to keep your balance in a funhouse. There’s a hint of violence and insanity about this record – something JG Ballard about it – and it makes you want to spend the night.

Tar Heart – Zeigeist

Wrecked Metal – Zeigeist


27. The Stand-Ins – Okkervil River

I hadn’t really gotten into Okkervil River until this year, but I’m so thankful that I have. They aren’t just straight-ahead folk – there’s an unexpected wit and propensity for expansive pop-rock sensibilities. Their latest album is just as amazing with its variety of bitter ballads and humourous upbeat tracks. The itchy impatience of Lost Coastlines is a fantastic piece of storytelling, depicting the mental state of someone unsure of the future. Its music canters about in unpredictable, yet familiar, ways as vocals switch back and forth. And songs like Singer Songwriter are worthy of Morrissey or Luke Haines in their articulate barbs: “You come from wealth/Yeah, you got wealth/What a bitch, they didn’t give you much else/I heard cuts by The Kinks on your speakers/I saw Poe and Artaud on your shelves/While The Last Laugh’s first scene on your flat panel screen/Lit Chanel that you’ve wrapped around yourself/You’ve got outsider art by an artist you arguably kidnapped to pin on the wall/Your designers have slyly directed the eye down pink lines here and your well lit pawn.” It speaks for itself really.

Lost Coastlines – Okkervil River

Singer Songwriter – Okkervil River


26. Evolutionary Sunset Call – stanleylucasrevolution

I was thrown off guard by this truly independent album from California-based Sean Robertson’s enigmatic project stanleylucasrevolution. It manages to compress self-loathing, self-belief, courage and fear into an uncomprising, truly experimental album. It’s difficult to pin down the style as Evolutionary Sunset Call blends elements from country, spaghetti western, electro, trip hop, glam rock and psychedelia while adding vocal samples. Expertly stitched together with musical interludes, it tells the story of living in the shadows, but longing for change and a way out without succumbing to the safety of sliding back in. It’s a bit like witnessing someone come to terms with him/herself after several bouts with the broken mirror.


25. Oracular Spectacular – MGMT

I tried to ignore MGMT for a very long time – the hipster hype behind them was overwhelming (already beginning last year), which always sets off warning bells for me. After an inadvertent listen to Time to Pretend, I had to admit they had one good song. Then after a begrudging listen to Electric Feel, I had to acknowledge they had two really good songs. Then after a more open listen to Kids, I came to see that they had three great songs. Finally, later this year, I realized they had a rather splendid album. There’s something both wide-eyed technicolour dreamer and prococious glam slut about Oracular Spectacular. At the same time, it struts along with a self-assured funky falsetto and a hippie LSD sway. It’s an album that the youth of 2008 will look back at and remember with fondness.

The Youth – MGMT

Kids – MGMT


The honourable mention for this post is Midnight Boom by The Kills. It’s a punchy, raw album with short blasts of bolshy, fuzzed-out songs and minimalist ticking tracks. While Alison Mosshart’s vocals range from tough to breathless, the yelps on one of the best songs of Midnight Boom, Tape Song, are interestingly reminiscent of Tegan and Sara. With this record, The Kills are everything The Ting Tings wish they could be.

What New York Used to Be – The Kills

Stay tuned for next Friday’s rundown of numbers 24 through 17. And thank you for all of your comments thus far.

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3 Responses to “My Top 40 Albums of 2008: Numbers 32 Through 25”


  1. 1 Baron von Wasteland
    January 23, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Hi! Some really good choices you’ve made here. My name’s Baron von Wasteland. I know the owner of Stanleylucasrevolution’s label, Stroboscopic Records. He’s a pretty nice guy, and has given my band Distant Neighbor some much-needed and -appreciated support. Anyway, Stanleylucasrevolution’s pretty great, I agree. Well, that’s it. If you’re so inclined, please feel free to drop me a line at myspace.com/distantneighborhood. Take care.

  2. 2 Baron von Wasteland
    January 23, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Hi! Some really good choices you’ve made here. My name’s Baron von Wasteland. I’m a MySpace friend of Ian’s, the owner of Stanleylucasrevolution’s label, Stroboscopic Records. He’s a pretty nice guy, and has given my band Distant Neighbor some much-needed and -appreciated support. Anyway, Stanleylucasrevolution’s pretty great, I agree. Well, that’s it. If you’re so inclined, please feel free to drop me a line at myspace.com/distantneighborhood. Thanks, and take care.


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Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

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Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

Photobucket

So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

Photobucket

Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head

Photobucket

Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

Photobucket

Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

Photobucket

Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

Photobucket

You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

Photobucket

I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding

Photobucket

You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black

Photobucket

Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

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Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

Photobucket

Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

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Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Photobucket

And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

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My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

Photobucket

Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

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We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

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Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south

Empty

Running on

Bravado

As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different

Photobucket

LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

Photobucket

Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

Photobucket

You must let her go

She's not crying

Photobucket

Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't

Photobucket

So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need

Photobucket

The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest

Photobucket

Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

Photobucket

No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

Photobucket

All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

Photobucket

Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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