07 November 2009

The Decade List: Albums/Singles (2008)

The lesson I've learned about myself in going back and reassessing the best music of last year is that a year is about the length of time it takes for me to catch up. I posted a half-assed list in December of last year, naming Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree, still a great album, the best. While Seventh Tree certainly improved upon the duo's previous dance floor oriented albums, it was not the best of the year. With an additional eleven months to play catch up, I finally got around to picking up Deerhunter's two albums and gave both Fleet Foxes and Hercules and Love Affair the chance to grow on me (while Lykke Li began to grate).

This doesn't make the eventual 2009 Music list, of which I already have quite a few favorites, look too promising... but we'll see. While some might argue 2008 was Beyoncé's year (and, yeah, it kind of was despite releasing the horrible "If I Were a Boy" as the first single off I Am... Sasha Fierce, though I always give kudos to the proper use of the conditional verb tense). While "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" cemented her occasionally wobbly position in the ranks of pop greats (the following singles, even the ludicrous "Diva," are all quite good), 2008 in retrospect made me appreciate Bradford Cox, lead singer of Deerhunter and the man behind Atlas Sound, providing three of the year's best albums.

It's quite possible that the include of Foals' Antidotes on the best albums of the year list is where skepticism comes in. Like nearly every band that consists of young straight-ish dudes with expensive haircuts, I'm never able to separate myself from enjoying the music to really look at it objectively and critically. Maybe it's the Daydream Nation guitar work on "Big Big Love (Fig. 2)" or the sadness that's matched in Yannis Philippakis' vocals. I've always been a sucker for melancholy dance punk. If you remove "dance" from the equation, Vivian Girls' self-titled works in the same way. An honorable mention to Lindstrøm's Where You Go I Go Too, which missed the cut only out of my forgetfulness in including one of the top 5. The 20 albums (I placed the two Deerhunter ones together) are listed in vague preferential order.

Deerhunter - Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
No Age - Nouns
Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair
Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls
M83 - Saturdays = Youth
Beach House - Devotion
Grace Jones - Hurricane
Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna
Portishead - Third
Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
Tindersticks - The Hungry Saw
Brian Eno & David Byrne - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Foals - Antidotes
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing

Assorted James for the Year 2008

I really tried to find a different song to place at the top of the singles list, but I couldn't. I also tried not to include MGMT on the list period, but despite the fact that I never find the desire to listen to them any more (or really after last summer), "Electric Feel" was a blinding flash in that pan, so it stayed. My iffy attitude toward Lady Gaga, respectable on several levels and lame on just as many, didn't prevent her from showing up in the additional 100 tracks, but I typically consider a night on the town where I'm not forced to hear her a successful one.

As for the great videos of the year (I'm debating coming up with a Decade List for music videos, but I may be even more out of the loop on that subject than simply music... plus Pitchfork's Music Video Decade list covered a lot of the greats), check out Sigur Rós' Ryan McGinley-inspired "Gobbledigook," that particular Beyoncé song that pays tribute to Bob Fosse, Alison Goldfrapp as Goldie Locks in "A&E," the two Flight of the Conchords videos which are naturally taken from their TV show, Eagles of Death Metal's "Wannabe in LA," No Age's "Eraser," all of the Hercules and Love Affair ones, Grace Jones' "Corporate Cannibal" (really, eat your heart out, Lady Gaga), Air France's "Collapsing at Your Doorstep" and Crystal Castles' "Crimewave" if only for the odd use of clips from Bruce La Bruce's Otto; or Up with Dead People. The Top 35 are in order of preference, the remaining 100 are not.

The Top 35

Beyoncé - "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" [I Am... Sasha Fierce]
Deerhunter - "Agoraphobia" [Microcastle]
M83 - "Kim & Jessie" [Saturdays = Youth]
Crystal Castles - "Crimewave" [Crystal Castles]
Atlas Sound - "Recent Bedroom" [Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel]
Fleet Foxes - "Blue Ridge Mountains" [Fleet Foxes]
Fuck Buttons - "Sweet Love for Planet Earth" [Street Horrrsing]
Portishead - "Hunter" [Third]
Grace Jones - "Well Well Well" [Hurricane]
Antony & the Johnsons - "Another World" [Another World EP]
Deerhunter - "Saved by Old Times" [Microcastle]
Vivian Girls - "Never See Me Again" [Vivian Girls]
Foals - "Big Big Love (Fig. 2)" [Antidotes]
Hercules and Love Affair - "Time Will" [Hercules and Love Affair]
No Age - "Teen Creeps" [Nouns]
Sébastien Tellier - "Pomme" [Sexuality]
M83 - "You, Appearing" [Saturdays = Youth]
Aeroplane featuring Kathy Diamond - "Whispers" [Whispers single]
The Magnetic Fields - "The Nun's Litany" [Distortion]
Lykke Li - "Little Bit" [Youth Novels]
Sigur Rós - "Ára bátur" [Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust]
Goldfrapp - "A&E" [Seventh Tree]
Gang Gang Dance - "House Jam" [Saint Dymphna]
Beach House - "Wedding Bell" [Devotion]
TV on the Radio - "Halfway Home" [Dear Science]
Ladyhawke - "Back of the Van" [Ladyhawke]
Brian Eno & David Byrne - "Strange Overtones" [Everything That Happens Will Happen Today]
Jenny Lewis - "Pretty Bird" [Acid Tongue]
MGMT - "Electric Feel" [Oracular Spectacular]
Cat Power - "Ramblin' (Wo)man" [Jukebox]
Santigold (formerly Santogold) - "L.E.S. Artistes" [Santogold]
Cut Copy - "Nobody Lost, Nobody Found" [In Ghost Colours]
The Black Angels - "You on the Run" [Directions to See a Ghost]
Tindersticks - "Come Feel the Sun" [The Hungry Saw]
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - "Seafaring Song" [Sunday at Devil Dirt]

The Other 100

Gang Gang Dance - "Vacuum" [Saint Dymphna]
The Black Ghosts - "Some Way Through This" [The Black Ghosts]
Santigold (formerly Santogold) - "Creator" [Santogold]
Foals - "Red Socks Pugie" [Antidotes]
Deerhunter - "Operation" [Weird Era Cont.]
Flight of the Conchords - "Business Time" [Flight of the Conchords]
Hercules and Love Affair - "Athene" [Hercules and Love Affair]
The Bug featuring Warrior Queen - "Poison Dart" [London Zoo]
Goldfrapp - "Eat Yourself" [Seventh Tree]
Cut Copy - "Lights & Music" [In Ghost Colours]

Kaki King - "Life Being What It Is" [Dreaming of Revenge]
Air France - "Collapsing at Your Doorstep" [No Way Down]
Fleet Foxes - "White Winter Hymnal" [Fleet Foxes]
Janet Jackson - "Feedback" [Discipline]
TV on the Radio - "Golden Age" [Dear Science]
Jamie Lidell - "All I Wanna Do" [Jim]
Adriana Calcanhotto - "Seu Pensamento" [Maré]
The Magnetic Fields - "Please Stop Dancing" [Distortion] (sorry for the vid)
Crystal Castles - "Vanished" [Crystal Castles]
Lykke Li - "I'm Good, I'm Gone" [Youth Novels]

Beyoncé - "Halo" [I Am... Sasha Fierce]
Invisible Conga People - "Cable Dazed" [Cable Dazed / Weird Pains EP]
Department of Eagles - "Phantom Other" [In Ear Park]
Eagles of Death Metal - "Wannabe in LA" [Heart On]
Hercules and Love Affair - "Blind" [Hercules and Love Affair]
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!" [Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!]
Lil Wayne - "A Milli" [The Carter III]
Sébastien Tellier - "Look" [Sexuality]
Hot Chip - "Ready for the Floor" [Made in the Dark]
Atlas Sound - "River Card" [Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel]

No Age - "Eraser" [Nouns]
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - "Come On Over (Turn Me On)" [Sunday at Devil Dirt]
Grace Jones - "I'm Crying (Mother's Tears)" [Hurricane]
Crystal Castles - "Magic Spells" [Crystal Castles]
Spiritualized - "Soul on Fire" [Songs in A&E]
Poni Hoax featuring Olga Kouklaki - "The Soundtrack of Your Fears" [Images of Sigrid]
Neil Halstead - "Oh! Mighty Engine" [Oh! Mighty Engine]
Vivian Girls - "Tell the World" [Vivian Girls]
Flight of the Conchords - "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)" [Flight of the Conchords]
Erykah Badu - "Me" [New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)]

Antony & the Johnsons - "Shake That Devil" [Another World EP]
Estelle featuring Kanye West - "American Boy" [Shine]
Fleet Foxes - "He Doesn't Know Why" [Fleet Foxes]
Amadou & Mariam - "Sabali" [Welcome to Mali]
Kanye West - "Love Lockdown" [808s & Heartbreak]
Atlas Sound - "Quarantined" [Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel]
Solange - "Sandcastle Disco" [Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams]
Passion Pit - "I've Got Your Number" [Chunk of Change EP]
Shearwater - "The Snow Leopard" [Rook]
The Black Ghosts - "It's Your Touch" [The Black Ghosts]

Hot Chip - "One Pure Thought" [Made in the Dark]
Brendan Canning - "Churches Under the Stairs" [Something for All of Us...]
French Kicks - "Said So What" [Swimming]
Hercules and Love Affair - "You Belong" [Hercules and Love Affair]
Foals - "Balloons" [Antidotes]
Mariah Carey - "Touch My Body" [E=MC²]
Cut Copy - "Hearts on Fire" [In Ghost Colours]
Sigur Rós - "Íllgresi" [Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust]
Lykke Li - "Melodies & Desires" [Youth Novels]
Animal Collective - "Street Flash" [Water Curses EP]

of Montreal - "Gallery Piece" [Skeletal Lamping]
Lady Gaga - "Poker Face" [The Fame]
R.E.M. - "Supernatural Superserious" [Accelerate]
Friendly Fires featuring Au Revoir Simone - "Paris (Aeroplane Remix)" [Paris EP] (again, sorry for the video)
Portishead - "The Rip" [Third]
Adem - "Bedside Table" [Takes] (This Bedhead cover is the only one I care for on Adem's cover album)
The Dodos - "Fools" [Visiter]
Poni Hoax - "Antibodies" [Images of Sigrid]
Cat Power - "Metal Heart" (Jukebox Version) [Jukebox]
Terry Lynn - "System" [Kingstonlogic 2.0] (Beware of the video; it's really unsettling... but the song is awesome)

Fleet Foxes - "Your Protector" [Fleet Foxes]
Beach House - "Gila" [Devotion]
The Verve - "Love Is Noise" [Forth]
Ladyhawke - "Paris Is Burning" [Ladyhawke]
Ray LaMontagne - "Meg White" [Gossip in the Grain]
DeVotchKa - "The Clockwise Witness" [A Mad & Faithful Telling]
Cold War Kids - "Mexican Dogs" [Loyalty to Loyalty]
The B-52's - "Pump" [Funplex]
Robin Thicke - "Magic" [Something Else]
The Virgins - "Rich Girls" [The Virgins]

The Walkmen - "In the New Year" [You & Me]
Jenny Lewis - "Acid Tongue" [Acid Tongue]
Chairlift - "Planet Health" [Does It Inspire You]
Women - "Black Rice" [Women]
MGMT - "Weekend Wars" [Oracular Spectacular]
Crystal Castles - "Alice Practice" [Crystal Castles]
Beyoncé - "Ego" [I Am... Sasha Fierce]
Beck - "Gamma Ray" [Modern Guilt]
Does It Offend You, Yeah? - "Being Bad Feels Really Good" [You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into]
French Kicks - "Carried Away" [Swimming]

Vivian Girls - "I Believe in Nothing" [Vivian Girls]
The Pussycat Dolls - "When I Grow Up" [Doll Domination]
The Radio Dept. - "Closing Scene" [Freddie and the Trojan Horse EP]
Poni Hoax - "Wanda's Loving Boy" [Des jeunes gens mödernes Compilation]
Emmanuelle Seigner featuring Brett Anderson - "Les mots simples" [Les mots simples Single]
Sigur Rós - "Gobbledigook" [Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust]
Vampire Weekend - "A-Punk" [Vampire Weekend]
Cat Power - "New York" [Jukebox]
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - "Stop" [Cardinology]
Antipop vs. Asia Argento - "Vampy" [Antipop vs Asia Argento, Archigram & Friends] (It's actually kinda terrible/kinda wonderful)

And a very special mention to one of the worst songs of 2008, Madonna's "4 Minutes" featuring Justin Timberlake, produced by Timbaland. The song, which has Madonna uttering the offensively stupid lyric "Sometimes I think what I need is a you intervention" and Justin repeating "Madonna" as if he were on an episode of Wayne's World, and the video, which features Madge and JT (slowly) running and (poorly) dancing away from The Nothing from The Neverending Story, are both dreadful... but it's that trainwreck I can't look away or cover my ears from. Agh.


Chazz said...

Agree with this list mostly entirely, except for the conspicuous and inexplicable absence of Why?'s Alcopecia in your Best Records of 08 section. Glad to see Lil Wayne made the list *somewhere* and Fuck Buttons love is always heartening. Good assessment.

Joe said...

Y'know, I haven't listened to WHY? even though I know I should have.

Will rectify that soon.