Monday, December 29, 2008

Best Albums of '08 (Part 1)!

First, you'll notice that my list is probably a bizarre mix of small, local Toronto stuff, Canadian stuff, and then some big swingers. This is, as you may have noticed based on my post on Saturday, probably of the idea that I should recognize some of the big "blog" bands this year (who I actually like), while still giving attention to local artists who I think are really good/interesting/deserve to be heard.

Second, some records that didn't make the cut (that I think are worth listening to because, ya know, we probably don't have exactly the same taste in music)...

Too energetic: Woodhands Heart Attack, Winter Gloves About A Girl, Cut Copy In Ghost Colours, D'Urbervilles We Are The Hunters
A couple of great singles, but generally too uneven: Elliot Brood Mountain Meadows, Forest Fire Survival (but, it was free, so, that's good...)
I'm not a hippie: Dr. Dog Fate, Plants and Animals Parc Avenue
Disappointments: Ben Folds Way to Normal, TV on the Radio Dear Science

Albums that would've got much more consideration if I had started listening to them before this week:

Lightspeed Champion Falling Off the Lavender Bridge - maybe its just because they're British, but they kind of sound like a stripped down version of Bloc Party (whom I don't care for). I like them better... I'm just not sure how much better, but I suppose better enough to mention them.

Dodos Visiter - I like a bunch of the songs, could do without some of the extended jams, but some kool folk stuff that reminds me a little bit of the Acorn... but on waaaaaaay more drugs. I guess that kind of thing happens in San Fran... maybe that's why my Niners suck so hard...

M83 Saturdays = Youth - I think that I thought M83 was a lot like Prefuse73, RJD2 (maybe it was the combination of numbers and letters that confused me), but, turns out it isn't. Or, it is, but there's singing and stuff ... and that makes it much more interesting to me. Given more time, and a few more spins I suspect this record would've made it somewhere on the list... let's call it 27b.

With that - and I'm not saying that everyone is wrong, so much as they're just not right - the definitive 27 best records of 2008.... unless I've missed something... which is, as always, entirely probable.

Oh, and PS my list is ranked, but, not in order... just to spice things up...

27a. Provincial Parks (Toronto, On) Iron Ponies EP
Maybe a little on the overproduced side, but some beautiful harmonies and they certainly are taking a step toward making teen and tween-aged girls swoon in a city near you.
Song: "Young Bride"
Winner of: The John Mayer in Group form Award.

23. Flight of the Conchords (Wellington, NZ) Flight of the Conchords
I can't say that I ever listened to the *air-quotes* album, but they are really, really funny.The TV show... also funny.
Rob crosses his fingers that the "Formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo" doesn't stink it up in Season 2 of their show...
Song: It was hard to pick against the most beautiful girl in the room song, but"Bowie"
Winner of: most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo

9. Fleet Foxes (Philadelphia, PA) Fleet Foxes
This will be on everyone - or almost everyone's year end list - and that's because, well, its very good.
Song: They're all kind of the same, but "Your Protector"
Winner of: Most Homeless looking Band to Sing Harmonies Something Like the Beach Boys.
14. The Acorn (Ottawa, On) Heron Act
No, its not new material, but the Ottawa band is just outstanding - both live and recorded - and this is both (live, and recorded on CD, or, MP3 I guess)! Also, I'm a sucker for a good cover, and their cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Good Enough" was awesome - although I've never heard the original.
Song: "Crooked Legs"
Winner of: Best Response to Someone Shouting At Them On Stage (click on the link and scroll down to the bottom of the post).

1b. Chad VanGaalen (Calgary, USA) Soft Airplane
He's a weird dude... I've often described him to friends as the Tim Burton of singer-songwriter music, dark, weird, but this album is pretty accessible. If it doesn't win the Polaris next year... well, I don't know, I'll be upset. Just an outstanding album and this video that B passed along of him playing in a French laudromat was awesome.
Song(s): At various times "Willow Tree" "Molten Light" "City of Electric Light"
Winner of: The Let's Hope He Leaves His Basement to Tour in Canada in 2009 Award.

17. Lykke Li (Stockholm, SWE) Youth Novels
There are a lot of very catchy singles on this album "Dance Dance Dance" "I'm Good I'm Gone" "Little Bit", but it also has some neat, more artistic moments. Plus, all the cool live stuff she's done... the cover of ATCQ "Can I Kick It?", Black Cab Sessions, and doing "Dance Dance Dance" with Bon Iver...
Song: uhhh... maybe "Breaking It Up"
Winner of: Coolest Indie Rock Chick of the Year

4. Bon Iver (Somewhere in Northern Wisconsin) For Emma, Forever Ago
... is the new Sufjan Stevens... not so much in a musical sense, but more in a no one I know actually knows how to pronounce the name. Oh, and it is a really haunting kind of album that I've listened to approximately a thousand times this year. Along with Fleet Foxes this is the album that just about everyone can get behind... it'll be interesting to see how the new one (due out sometime in January) will play out now that he's had some success and doesn't have a break-up to fuel his creative juices...
Song: All of them. Every one.
Winner of: I Bet This Girl Really Regrets Breaking Up With This Guy Award

6. Bowerbirds (Raleigh, NC) Hymns for a Dark Horse
I described them before as a more American version of the Acorn, which may not be helpful if you don't know the Acorn, but, you should, so - not really my problem. A lot of great songs to sit under a tree (possibly a Bur Oak tree?) in the summer and have a picnic to.
Song: "In Our Talons"
Winner of: Best Blogotheque Video of the Year

19. Hayden (Toronto, On) In Field & Town
Remember back in January when I said I wouldn't forget about Hayden... no... no one was reading this... huh... anyways... Its certainly more upbeat and jaunty (yes, I just used the word jaunty - but I think its appropriate) and, as an added bonus there are no songs - as best as I can remember - about being mauled by a bear, or driving a car into a lake.
Song: "The Van Song"
Winner of: Probably the Best Show of the Year Award - Hayden and Basia Bulat at Aoelian Hall, London ON (complete with videos - thanks Liz!)

5. Black Hat Brigade (Brampton, On) Black Hat Brigade EP
There was a little reaction back in... the Spring?... when I not only compared the Black Hat Brigade to Wolf Parade I said that they were like Wolf Parade, but way better. Well, I stand by that, and will suggest to anyone who likes Rock Music that this is a band to watch. I think they're recording a new album now, which I expect will be pretty awesome ... I hope...
Song: ... really difficult to choose, but "Swords"
Winner of: Band Rob is Acting as an Unofficial Cheerleader For

15. Why? (Oakland, CA) Alopecia
This album I think is a lot like Entourage (or it was at first) I didn't think it was very good, but still, I kept going back to it. Then, unlike Entourage, it got better (not worse) and better to the point where its been a go-to album for me this fall.
Song: "Good Friday" for the opening line "If you grew up with White Boys who only look at black and Puerto Rican porno 'cause they want something that their Dad don't got..."
Winner of: Most Bizarre Looking (Rap) Group and Inexplicably Weird Album Cover

18. The Rural Alberta Advantage (Toronto, On) Hometowns
I've seen this band more than anyone else this year (twice! - yes, I'm THAT adventurous) and they've been terrific both times. They are starting to pick up a little steam and hopefully that will roll over into a new album, more shows, etc. in 2009.
Song: "Sleep All Day"
Winner of: Band Most Likely to Become a "Blog Band" Next Year

To summarize, what we have so far:
27b. M83 Saturdays = Youth
27a. Provincial Parks Iron Ponies EP
23. Flight of the Conchords Flight of the Conchords
19. Hayden In Field & Town
18. The Rural Alberta Advantage Hometowns
17. Lykke Li Youth Novels
15. Why? Alopecia
14. The Acorn Heron Act
9. Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
6. Bowerbirds Hymns for a Dark Horse
5. Black Hat Bridage Black Hat Brigade EP
4. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
1b. Chad VanGaalen Soft Airplane

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