Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Top 20 Albums Of '08

2008 was also a year in which we had the return of Metallica, My Bloody Valentine and a Britney Spears that isn’t completely crazy. It is also a year that has blessed us the “Rosa Parks” of getting girls to make out with each other, Katy Perry. Looking back on ’08, I can say it hasn’t been too bad.

Who knows if I’ll be writing this list anymore in the years to come because the album format is dying year by year. Chuck Klosterman wrote a very good review on Guns N’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy” and says that “Chinese Democracy” will be the “Last album that will be marketed as a collection of autonomous-but-connected songs and the last album that will matter more as a physical object than as an Internet sound file.” And its hard to agree with that, but for now lets look over, what I believe to be, the year’s best.

If you get tired of reading this there are always great year-end lists that require little reading like Smoking Gun’s Top Mugshots of the Year or the Douchie Awards given out by Hot Chicks With Douchbags and of course what could be the most important list of after mine: Mr. Skin’s Top Nude Scenes of 2008.

I present to you my totally biased view towards the year in albums. Really, a list isn’t a list unless you disagree with it. I expect people who read this not to agree but the number 1 album something I stand behind firmly. No Fleet Foxes here folk. Enjoy.

20. “Evil Urges” by My Morning Jacket
Just because this album is the bottom of my list doesn’t mean you should ignore it. “Evil Urges” was pretty close to being left off the list and being replaced by Chad Van Gaalen’s “Soft Airplane” but then I realized how much I love this album. In my opinion, this is the best “Southern Rock” album of the year; sorry Kings Of Leon fans – they aren’t making my list.

The album morphs from Southern Rock to a Prince cover band and the ends in a hazy, slow sounding mess. Craig Finn of The Hold Steady says that My Morning Jacket are the “American Readiohead” and even though I think he is way off I don’t dispute that this band makes some great music. You already know “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt.1” was one of my favourite tracks of the year. I can tell you that sounds like “I’m Amazed”, “Thank You Too!” and “Smokin’ From Shootin” make this album a well balanced and great listen.

19. “Bake Sale” by The Cool Kids
Last year I had 3 rap albums in my year end list, which is odd because as most of you know, I’m not really a big rap fan. What is even more odd is that those three album were all in my top 10 albums of ’07. This year is a much different story in regards to rap.

The Cool Kids’ “Bake Sale” is the ONLY rap album to make it on my year end list. Yeah, you read that right – No “Tha Carter III” in my top albums, Lil’ Wayne’s already locked down “Album of the Year” titles from Time and Blender. Wale’s “Mixtape About Nothing” almost made my list though.

Anyways, I was thinking about leaving this off because most of these songs came out last year but the greatness of these songs as a collective was too much to ignore. This is just a simple and fun rap record. Basic but catchy beats and clever and mostly nonsensical lyrics make this a 10 song album that you’re going to have great fun listening to. “88”, “A Little Bit Cooler” and “Jingling” are all stand out tracks whose topics range from race wars to boutique street wear. You really can’t hate the Cool Kids – they broke out Skee-Lo and Montell Jordan samples when I saw them live.

18. “Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains by Sebastien Grainger
In case you don’t know Sebastien Grainger use to be the frontman/drummer for a band called Death From Above 1979 , a short lived amazing music duo. This is his first solo album and it rocks. While, you probably may not see this album on any other year end list its no reason to dismiss it.

It is a mashup of rock sounds, ranging from that dance rock (Renegade Silence) to punk (Niagara) and even a live track (I’m All Rage). The songs that I find the best are the ones in which Grainger seems to has found his own style: “American Names”, (Are There) Ways To Come Home?” and “I Hate My Friends” display the best of what Sebastien Grainger has to offer. I look forward at what is to come from one of the most disappointing band splits from recent years.

17. “Saturnalia” by The Gutter Twins
A couple years ago I use to make fun of a friend because it seemed that the only bands he liked were bands whose band names started with “The”. This chum of mine then counteracted saying I have a fondness for 90’s rehashed supergroups (Think Audioslave and Zwan). I’ve grown out of those bands (I still like the first Audioslave album, though) but am in love with the pairing of Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli: A underrated, dark singer-songwriter supergroup.

Dulli’s Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers are both mind blowingly awesome and Lanegan sings on one of my favourite songs (In The Fade by Queens Of The Stone Age); is often compared to Tom Waits and is responsible for Kurt Cobain closing the MYV Unplugged set with “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”. As the moniker Gutter Twins suggest this is a dark and gloomy rock album. “The Stations” is an AMAZING opener; “Front Street” is a great dark and poetic closer and everything in between flows together perfectly. “Saturnalia” is a Roman Festival in which social roles are reversed typically slaves and masters switched places. This is funny because of two of the most under appreciated singers out there have their day and triumph with a beautiful album and your new rainy day mix.

16. “Crystal Castles” by Crystal Castles
My good friend Jordan Orava just quit reading this list after seeing this entry. Crystal Castles’ debut is the second and final CanCon album to make the cut.

Crystal Castles are total 80’s nostalgia: their music is comprised of 8-bit video game music (Original Nintendo Music, for those not in the know) and their name is taken from She-Ra’s fortress. And while it seems they get their attention because of this schtick or retro-ness, I think that their debut is much more then that – its an electronic/dance album tinged with a punk attitude that has pulled me into a type of music that I have all but abandoned since Prodigy’s “Fat Of The Land”.

“Magic Spells” and Vanished” have to be my favourite tracks followed by “Crimewave (Crystal Castles vs. Health)”; “Courtship Date” and “Knights”. Great background music and just as good if you’re listening to it in your headphones.

15. “Modern Guilt” by Beck
What would one of my year end list be without a spot dedicated to Beck? His “Modern Guilt”, which was produced by Danger Mouse, is a 35 minute easy, boppy listen that has tinges of the psychedelic. He has abandoned the upbeat dance style that saturated of this last two albums and tried something new. The first single “Chemtrails”, is a hazy and mellow gem about the conspiracy theories that surround jet streams from planes. “Youthless” and “Soul Of A Man” are reflections of a man growing up and “Profanity Prayers” I don’t have a clue about but it’s the second best track on the album.

In the end Beck crafted a short and easily accessible paranoia album for those who don’t listen to albums no more.

14. “Top Ranking” by Diplo And Santogold
Street Fighter, B-52’s, The Clash, Panda Bear and Of Montreal are all sampled on this joint effort between Diplo and one of my new favourite artists, Santogold. If I can declare that my number 10 album is funnest album of the year this can easily be the second.

“Top Ranking” is a cornucopia of sounds and samples. There is the great “Guns Of Brooklyn” which is a take on The Clash’s song of almost the same name. Then you have remixes of songs that appear on Santogold’s debut, the “Lights Out” and L.E.S. Artistes remixes are just as good as the originals. Then you have new and original songs that are pure ear candy. “Run-Hide” is super catchy while “Icarus” is a mellow and blissful track which simply has Santi’s voice over a harp. While “Top Ranking” isn’t literally top ranking on my list it is pretty close. (Lame ending line count: 1)

13. “Heart On” by Eagles Of Death Metal
On this album, Jesse “Electric Boots” Hughes and Josh “Baby Duck” Homme have perfected their aim to be The Eagles if they played ”Death Metal”. The one thing I don’t like about this album, is its title, “Heart On”, I don’t get it? It seems to be an incomplete sentence? Heart on, what? What exactly is the heart on?

Anyways, this album is a sexy rock gem that makes you want to pitch a tent in the middle of the desert and throw a party. You get songs like “High Voltage” that are straight up erect rockers and then you get mellower summer jams like “Now, I’m A Fool”. In the end, this is Eagles Of Death Metal’s most complete, cohesive and fun album. It was quite a boner of me that I didn’t go and see this band live when I had the chance.

12. “Viva La Vida…” by Coldplay
Yes, I like this album. Yes, I still have both of my testicles. Yes, I enjoy sappy love songs. Yes, I know how my opinion doesn’t matter as much after listing this album and not listing your favourite.

Most importantly though: Yes, this album is actually really good and a step in the right direction for a band that was headed nowhere (Not literally though – in terms of creativity) after “X&Y”. They hired acclaimed Brian Eno to produce their newest album and it looks like he instituted many different styles and sounds into the band. According to an interview I read Eno said that Coldplay was “Relying on too many of their old tricks” and “Viva La Vida” definitely changes Coldplay’s musical direction while alienating many of their fans – which really is a good sign.

Despite its Ricky Martin title and Coldplay’s ridiculously gimmicky stage theme and wardrobe the album is consistent from beginning to end. Chris Martin admittedly, said that he wanted this album to be short and compact and meant to be listened to on a subway or “tube” ride – not requiring much attention. Even though the death of album format is a sad sentiment, tracks like “42”, “Lost!”, the brilliant first single “Violet Hill” and the excellent closer “Death And All His Friends” make this album a fast, endearing and most importantly an enjoyable album.

11. “Little Joy” by Little Joy
The only way you’ve stumbled across this band is if you’re a fan of the Strokes. Drummer Fabrizio Moretti teamed up with a Brazilian by the name of Rodrigo Amarante and Binki Shapiro to form a trio that sounds like summer. That is the one bad thing about this album, the time of its release, it would probably rank so much higher if I had heard this in June instead of during the wintery grave of the North in November.

Little Joy’s name is taken from a cocktail bar in LA and the name is very telling of their sound. In what will be seen as hopping onto Vampire Weekend’s bandwagon Little Joy create a fun, poppy and simple atmosphere. Songs like “Brand New Start” will make you think you’re on a beach enjoying your life; “With Strangers” is a great campfire song minus the drunken guy who doesn’t know the lyrics and “How To Hang a Warhol” makes it seem OK that you’re an Art Major – even though it isn’t. Little Joy? More like A LOT OF JOY, as far as I’m concerned. (I’m here all week, folks).

10. “Feed The Animals” by Girl Talk
When I first started compiling my list in November (Yes, I give this shit too much thought) Greg Gillis’ lastest mash up of indie songs, Top 40 hits, rap anthems and old classics was at number 20 on my list. I couldn’t justify it being any higher because it is an album made solely out of samples. Then I remembered the Avalanches’ “Since I Left You” and Beastie Boys’ “Paul Boutiques” both sample happy albums that received high acclaim.

Now, why is this album so high for a guy who doesn’t like dance music? Simple, because it is a really fun album. I probably haven’t had this much fun listening to an album since Adam Sandler’s “Goat Song” in Grade 7. Girl Talk also was probably one of the most “fun” I had at a concert this year (The Hives come in second) and while the merits of Girl Talk’s music is questioned there is no doubt that his live show is a dance mix tour de force. Mixing Radiohead’s “ROC Boys” with Radiohead’s “Paranoid” Android” is awesome. Lil Wayne against Sinead O’Connor is shocking but works great and Metallica with Lil’ Mama is brilliant. This collection of 14 “songs” makes a great party album which Gillis gave out for free. Download it set it up on your comp and let it be your DJ for a fun night.

09. “The ’59 Sound” by The Gaslight Anthem
One of those albums that creeped up on me and got better and better with every listen. As a person who has seemed to have outgrown his “punk” tendencies (I wasn’t really a huge punk fan but was more open to it) I have a hard time giving anything relatively “punk” a chance. Now, punk fans who are reading this, I know that Gaslight Anthem, isn’t really punk but that is what it is getting lumped into.

Now, if you’re like me you probably won’t listen to this initially, just download it and keep it on your playlist or Ipod and hope that your shuffle will land on a song. Once one song catches on then the rest will follow. Really, this is more similar to Bruce Springsteen’s work then any other punk album I’m familiar with. “Film Noir” is foot stompingly awesome; “Miles Davis & The Cool” is a catchy anthem and of course you should know about my feelings about “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues” my 9th favourite song of the year. “The ’59 Sound” hasn’t got much exposure in many of these year end lists but they definitely deserve to be in my top 10 albums of the year. A consistent and emotional album that has wide appeal. Different then anything else I have on my list.

08. “Vampire Weekend” by Vampire Weekend
The caption to Spin’s January ’08 issue stated something like “This Year’s Best Band, Already?” and while Spin wasn’t exactly right, they were really close. Vampire Weekend is one of the most compelling bands to emerge onto the scene in 2008. With countless interviews, blog mentions and shows played its no surprise that many of these publications that hyped them have jumped off of the bandwagon. Really this has nothing to do with their music just how things are these days.

Vampire Weekend’s self-titled debut is great summer album, super catchy, poppy and synonymous with Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. I love the snooty literary-ness of the anti grammar song “Oxford Comma”; “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” was a track I overplayed too much this year. “One (Blake’s Gotta New Face) I thought was ridiculous the first time I listened to it, but so ridiculous I began to enjoy it. And “I Stand Corrected”; “Walcott” and “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance” are three of the best songs on this album that sadly bring Vampire Weekend’s debut to its conclusion. Lastly, the sale of boat shoes and Oxfords have shot up tenfold just because of this band’s existence.

07. “In Ear Park” by Department Of Eagles
I had the opportunity to check out Grizzly Bear three times this year and only managed to catch them once and while they were enjoyable they didn’t really blow me away. Department Of Eagles on the other hand did. I can’t really specify the atmosphere and sound that is created in this album but I can say how it is light and friendly and dark and complex all at the same time.

In my songs of the year list I proclaimed that “In Ear Park” could be best suited as an old school Disney soundtrack and I can stand by that. Songs like “Teenager” and “Herring Bone” to me, display the album’s Disney side. I made a mistake by not putting the boppy “No One Does It” on my year end songs list (for you Britney fans there is a catchy mashup of this and Womanizer at Hood Internet to download).

While scanning, I hypothesized with friends that Eagle shirts were going to be all the rave in ’09 and I think that Department Of Eagles is a precursor to this. “In Ear Park” is a great album that will eventually park itself into your ear. (Yes, I believe the count is at three now)

06. “Como Te Llama?” by Albert Hammond, Jr.
I’m pretty shocked that no other publication has listed this album on their list, this album is definitely deserving of your adoration. The Strokes guitarist’s sophomore album is the perfect mix of pop and garage rock. “GfC” was on my songs list; “Rocket” is a beautiful distorted mess and “Victory In Monterey” and “Miss Myrtle” are catchy pop ditties that will get stuck in your head.

Because of the awesoemness of Hammond, Jr. and Little Joy the next Strokes album has a lot to live up too. If the parts of the band are doing so great on their own we can only hope the Strokes' next album will be the best of the year. If the Strokes break up and we are left with these bands, the existence of Albert Hammond Jr's solo career softens the blow.

05. “Nouns” by No Age
A distorted, chaotic and beautiful mess of sounds is how I would describe No Age’s “Nouns”. In tradition of bands like White Stripes and Death From Above 1979, No Age is a duo that creates big and loud music.

The music on this album goes from 10 to 5 and then back to 10. The lulls in this punk’ish and garage sounding album are just as sweet. Every song is a 2 to 3 minute blast of energy that makes you want to relive the days you were still able to participate in a mosh pit. “Nouns” is a criminal lineup of loud, punk-pop inspired music, with offenders like “Eraser”, “Sleeper Hold”, “Here Should Be My Home”, “Ripped Knees” and my number 1 song of the year: “Teen Creeps”.

04. “In Ghost Colours” by Cut Copy
When I first downloaded this album I never thought it would be in consideration to make this list but when I started writing this I realized that I have been playing this album just as much, if not more, than any of the albums listed.

Cut Copy’s “In Ghost Colours” is a catchy, poppy and fun dance-rock record that you won’t be able to shake. It opens with two bangers (Yeah, I used that word) “Feel The Love” and “Out There On The Ice” that build up the albu. The middle of “In Ghost Colours” then begins to perfectly slow down with tracks like the beautiful and haunting “Midnight Runner” which is followed by “So Haunted” and the combination of “Voices in Quartz” and the blazing “Hearts On Fire”. Really this album is great all the way through and probably my favourite Australian export since Silverchair circa ’97. It would be a shame of me to not namedrop “Strangers In The Wind” as well. You may not catch on to this album at first but give it time, I certainly did and now its cemented into my CD player.

Before I get to my "Top 3" entries I'll say that there were many other good albums that came out this year that also deserve some praise. The first being Nine Inch Nail's giveaway "The Slip. Foals' "Antidotes" was the album that we wish Bloc Party would write again. MGMT wrote half of an AMAZING album. Passion Pit put out a great EP "Chunk Of Change", they are going to be '09's hyped band. "One Day As A Lion's debut EP teased a lot of Zach De La Rocha fans. The Killers put out an enjoyable album but it was pretty hard to top "Sam's Town". Elliott Brood's "Moutain Meadows is one of the best albums you haven't heard a lick about. Kings Of Leon's "Only By The Night" won me over. M83 put out a rnostalgic disco album which was entertaining. My respect for the Mars Volta has gone up with their release of "The Bedlam In Goliath". Some will say '08 wasn't a good year for music but you just have to try harder these days to find music you enjoy.

03. “Santogold” by Santogold
I was a little worried for most of the summer that this would be my album of the year. Now, I know that reads bad, but I’m a rocker and wanted a rock album to get the spot, this is not taking anything from Santogold though, she has really molested both of my year-end lists and I was pretty disappointed when she ditched Lolla to head out on tour with Coldplay.

Santogold’s debut album was your anthem of ’08, even if you don't know it. From hocking Mountain Dew to cars and Converse shows she has been everywhere and for good reason. She has got a brash and refreshing sound that can get the attention of many different types of music fans. The anthemic and anti-whatever “L.E.S. Artistes” is probably the best radio single of the year. The song is then followed by other ear candy tracks such as “You’ll Find A Way” and the M.I.A.’ish “Creator”. My favourite tracks are the songs in which she gets into a mellower and more chill style, like on the droning “Starstruck”, the almost Weezer’ish “I’m A Lady” and dark “Anne”. Santogold is my pick for favourite new artist of the year and should really be more popular then she is. Santogold is an example of really good pop music and being a fan of her's is nothing you should be ashamed about.

02. “Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.” by Deerhunter
Initially I didn’t care for this band at all and didn’t buy into the hype that came from their '07 releases. When I eventually gave this album a shot it kept on getting better and better with each listen – to the point it cemented a number two spot. To me “Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.” is a dream – a distorted, comforting, layered and awesome dream. I’ve fallen asleep to it many times and that’s not a bad thing.

The album begins with “Agoraphobia” and the almost Sonic Youth ripoff “Never Stops” – which is the perfect mix of shoegaze and pop. You are then lulled into a dreamy and euphoric state with mellower tracks like “Microcastle” and “Green Jacket” and then you should be blown away by the amazingly catchy first single “Nothing Ever Happened” (Which carries a massive chorus); the great “Saved By Old Times” and then you are jolted awake by “Neither Of Us, Uncertainly” and My Bloody Valentine inspired “Twilight At Carbon Lake”. The best thing is that you can relive this musical experience by popping in the bonus/hidden second disc “Weird Era. Cont” which is an added bonus to those who purchased the album. While Deerhunter’s crowning achievement is a great, great album it, and any other album on this list for that matter, do not hold a candle to this year’s number one.

01. “Dear Science” by TV On The Radio
“Dear Science” has already garnered “Number 1” album titles from Rolling Stone and Spin Magazine (Spin has given them this title twice in the last 3 years actually. Time and NME gave it their number two spots and it was Pitchfork’s Highest rated album of the calendar year. This to me is heartwarming and validates my often poor taste in everything.

I was worried because their first two singles. “Golden Age” and Dancing Choose” did not live up to my very high expectations. This is a band who wrote the amazing “Young Liars” EP and my number 1 song of '06, “Wolf Like Me”, I was expecting a lot from this band. A week or two after listening to this album, it was without a doubt my number one album of the 2008, shitting over everyone in its path.

Dave Sitek engineers a captivating atmosphere that mashes up elements of jazz, doo-wap, borderline rap and a darker shade of rock. “Halfway Home” continues the band’s tradition of amazing opening tracks. “Crying” is just as good as its predecessor and showcases Tunde’s Prince-like voice. “Stork And Owl” was an early favourite and was hastily put into the upper echelon of TVOTR greats like “Young Liars” and “Blind”. The hauntingly chill “Family Tree” is TVOTR going Coldplay and somehow succeeding. Then you get the scathing what seems to be anti-war track “Red Dress”, which is dressed with beautiful horns and a powerful chorus. “Love Dog”. “Shout Me Out” and “DLZ” rival any other three song runs on any other album I’ve ever listened to. And then you finally conclude at the beautiful and best TVOTR closer “Lover’s Day”.

“Dear Science” in short is about the current state of the world, it was inspired by the Large Hadron Collider, race issues, war and most importantly the hope for change. These may not sound like the most favourable of topics but it inspired hands-down the best album of this year. I can take you not liking any other entry on this list but this one is not arguable. TV On The Radio are one of the most compelling, experimental and important bands to be making music right now and if there is any band worthy to be deemed the American Radiohead its Brooklyn’s TV On The Radio.

No links here folks, or your local record store will help you with that.
See you next year, folks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Top 30 Songs Of '08

“The fight isn’t over whether you’re alternative or mainstream.
It’s how you tune the mainstream to a different frequency”. – M.I.A.

That quote sums up what I think about popular music these days. It seems that gap between what is considered “Underground” and what is considered “Mainstream” has been getting smaller and smaller with the progression of the internet and decline of physical sales of music. Music is more available to a wide variety of people and now it seems that everyone else has heard of any band you mention which makes it harder for you to recommend something to an acquaintance that they haven’t heard before.

In case you didn’t know holding my coveted “Number 1 Song of The Year” is quite the honour and carries with it a lot of clout and gusto. My number one song last year was Arcade Fire’s “My Body Is A Cage” it is now being immortalized on film, in one of my favourite directors new movie: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. In case you haven’t seen the TV spot you can check it HERE.

This year’s list seem to have a wide variety of types of songs ranging from Remixes and a cover song to Mainstream Pop to what I consider to be almost “Gangster Rap”. I always have to write this every year that this is truly “My” list – what I enjoy. I hope you enjoy them as well, of course, I’ve provided download links for your convenience. I realize that
You’re going to disagree with about half of the shit I’m going to write but the beauty of it is you’re going to recommend me songs as well and I’m going to be all the better for it.

Before you start reading (Or skimming, you ASSHOLE) you can click these two links and download the 30 tracks I’ve listed. The download should be completed by the time you finish reading this, unless you’re a mouth reader.
Download tracks 30 to 16 : HERE and tracks 15 to 1 HERE.

To start off the list is a song who’s beat is constructed solely on a “Mouth and a bell” And just an FYI they are F.L.Y. they squeaked in the list and beat out songs like: “The Stations” by the Gutter Twins; “The Perfect Plan” by Wale; and “Magic Spells” by Crystal Castles and Kim & Jessie by M83, my 30 spot goes to:

30. What Up Man? by The Cool Kids
Tick, tick, clap, tick, clap, clap, bass, bass, bass. Yes, very repetitive but you probably would not have noticed if I didn’t tell you. Yes, some of the lyrics and obscene but I think the amazing beat and the amusing lines that are spewed override that. The Cool Kids were one of most entertaining bands that I saw at Lollapalooza this summer.

29. Dying Is Fine by Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot, terrible name and definitely can be accused of jumping on the Vampire Weekend bandwagon but this song is a catchy little number. I enjoy the strings that can be heard in the background and this song somehow is quite cheerful despite its grim outlook on life. I really love this chorus.

28. Get It Up (Radioclit Mix Ft. M.I.A. & Gorilla Zoe) by Diplo And Santogold
When Santogold first hit the scene I read many articles and blurbs that commented on her similarity to M.I.A. so it’s quite interesting that they are together on this track. I love the tribal chants and think that the two mixed well together. I should have maybe made this entry higher considering I snubbed M.I.A. hard for not even putting “Paper Planes” in last year’s songs list. I feel in love with that song like 2 days after I posted that list, I swear.

27. This Is Your Life by The Killers
Considering that “Day & Age” recently leaked it is quite the accomplishment for a song to rocket straight into my 30 but this song managed to do it. t seems like I’m one of the 4 people that liked “Sam’s Town” which comforts me because the general population’s taste sucks, instead we got this 80’s infused, neon 80’s album.

Why is this song so special? Because it has cheesy 80’s movie written all over it. What immediately grabbed me about this song is that it reminded me of a song off of the third Ninja Turtle movie and after much searching I found that Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy” is the song I was thinking of. Take it as a bad sign or a good sign but The Killers killed it on this track. (See, what I did there? Har. Har.)

26. American Boy (Ft. Kanye West) by Estelle
OK, this is the ONLY entry Kanye West is getting in my lists this year. Actually maybe he’ll get a Hong-nourable mention but it’s a remix. Anyways, the female version of Ludacris’ “Area Codes” was really hard for me to put on the list because of its association with, damn a little piece of me died as I’m actually giving props to someone apart of my most hated band: Black Eyed Peas. Great beat, catchy chorus and if you would have asked me this summer maybe a Top 10 Song Of The Year. Blasphemous I know, how can you take anything I write with a grain of salt? If you remember last year’s 15, you should not be surprised.

25.Strawberry Swing by Coldplay
Yeah, I followed up Estelle and Kanye with a Coldplay song. I know I’m going to lose a lot of people after 5 songs but I think that Coldplay made a really good album and tried out a new sound. And while that alienated a lot of their fans I think that this song is a song that all Coldplay fans can agree on. The lush drums and the acoustic guitar create a nice soothing atmosphere within the song and sometimes that I all I really want. I’m comfortable with my sexuality to write that I like Coldplay if you are still using that joke you’re an unoriginal asshole unless you are using that joke in an ironic way.

24. My Drive Thru by Santogold. Pharrell & Julian Casablancas
Remember like 3 or 4 years ago when Justin Timberlake did that really LAME McDonalds song and Nelly sang about Air Force 1’s? Those songs probably were the pinnacle of music’s marriage with commercials. These days you have corporations or brands acquiring and renting songs to make their product/company seems cool. Commercials and Television shows are the new MTV and MuchMusic.

“My Drive Thru” is probably the BEST song I’ve heard that has been written specifically for an advertising campaign for Converse. Aside from Pharrell’s lame “Uhhhs and Awws” this song is almost flawless. Amazing beat, Julian sounds really clean and the parts he sings are the best and even a semi decent video. It’s the best thing Julian has been a part of since “Room On Fire” yes, I rescind every positive thing I’ve said about “First Impressions Of Earth”. It’s a terrible album.

23. Video Tapez (Ft. Del The Funky Homosapien) by Amplive
AmpLive’s “Rainydayz Remixes” was embroiled in some controversy before it was released on the web. Seems like its getting harder and harder to sample songs and even though Radiohead practically gave “In Rainbows” away for free and AmpLive was going to do the same with these remixes suits still almost found a way to mess it up. Probably my favourite track from the album (Videotape ) is remixed with Del The Funky Homosapien rapping over it. Great re-work if you love the original you should like this.

22. Feel The Love by Cut Copy
You can drop your Virgin Mobile phone and listen to this great and catchy song that opens Cut Copy’s “In Ghost Colors”. This is a dance-rockish track that has steadily grown and grown over the year. It mixes robot voices with acoustic guitars and Euro-beats. You’ve probably heard this song before but don’t know who it is. Think last year’s “Pogo” by Digitalism. Damn, I want to bake me a cake and buy a Blackberry.

21. Phantom Other by Department Of Eagles
This song is a stark contrast to all of the pop, dance’ish tracks that have so far made my list thus far. It has an orchestral feel; it’s mellow and beautifully composed. Think of a Disney song, not new-school Disney, but Disney when they were blatantly racist, this is the atmosphere I get from the song (Minus the racism part). The song is really just basically a 3 minute and 49 second buildup to an AMAZING conclusion. That buildup is still good in of itself though.

20.Wild International by One Day As A Lion
In a year where the Chinese get democracy and pigs can apparently fly we FINALLY get new material from this year’s number 2 anarchist (Joker being number 1): Zack De La Rocha. Even though we only get 5 songs it was still great to hear. Even better that he teamed up with an AMAZING drummer Jon Theodore (Formerly of The Mars Volta). Zack doesn’t change up his style at all but the backing track is really different with a keyboard synth replacing a bass line. Interesting lyrics and an amazing return from a long time favourite of mine, lands this track at the 20 spot.

19. Agoraphobia by Deerhunter
“Come for me/ Cover me/ Come for me/ Comfort me” is definitely the best use of alliteration I’ve heard in a song this year. This is a very dreamy and poppy song and is the best and most comforting song about an anxiety of the outside world I’ve ever heard.

18. Electric Feel by MGMT and the Justice Remix
MGMT blew up this year and Electric Feel and “Time To Pretend” are the two songs that have seemingly ushered the duo into the mainstream (It was ridiculous to try and watch their set at Lollapalooza) . There are so many things I can write about this song but I get the feeling that everyone has heard this already. It is super catchy, the lyrics are ridiculous to the point of accomplishment and the little bass line has you head bopping constantly. The tough part is not deciding whether you like the song or not. It is deciding if the Justice Remix is better then the original. As much as I want to hate this hippie band they have won me over, well half one me over.

17.I Stand Corrected by Vampire Weekend
Probably the most overly hyped and talked about band this year has to go to Vampire Weekend but they back up that hype with tracks like this. A short two and a half minute apologetic pop song accompanied by simple drums and very simple lyrics a contrast to many of the more bombastic songs on the album. This is definitely a song that will float into your ears and drill into your memory.

16. Gamma Ray by Beck/Jay Reatard
This gem by Beck (And awesomely covered by Jay Reatard) is probably the best and grooviest songs to ever be written about global warming. While Beck’s version seems hazy and borderline psychedelic Jay Retard’s cover is a minimalist punk song, they both reeled me in as a listener. The plucky guitar and catchy bass line make this one of my favourite tunes of the year.

15. Halfway Home by TV On The Radio
I’m not going to front, this song can easily be higher on this list but I put it at 15 because its title fit into the halfway mark of this list. Yes, it seems that this cheeky moves reeks of lack of integrity but you the reader would have to assume I have integrity to start with,

Anyways, TV On The Radio continues to kill it on opening tracks and this song is no different. The borderline jazz/doo-wop atmosphere of this song mixed with the handclaps pace TVOTR’s letter to science. I love Tunde’s voice and it really soars on this song, 4:19 and onward, to me, is auditory bliss.

14. Anything ‘Cept The Truth by Eagles Of Death Metal
Eagles Of Death Metal perfect their shtick on their latest album and this is a prime example of it. This is a pure sexed up and 80’s tinged rock n’ roll song. Maybe I have a fetish for opening songs that are accompanied by handclaps but there was no way that this song could not make the list.

13. GfC by Albert Hammond, Jr.
If you are not a fan of the Strokes, it is safe to say, that you probably have not heard of Albert Hammond, Jr. Well, its really time to change that because since the Strokes’ last album he has put out two really good albums that are compromised of amazing pop-rock songs and GfC is one of them.

I don’t have a clue what GfC stands for but the starting of the song reminds me of a lullaby and seems that the song really won’t amount to much and then suddenly a little bunchy guitar kicks in with an “Oh” followed by a killer chorus and then really you have no chance not to be hooked on this tune. There is a nifty little guitar solo at the end too, for you heroes out there.

12. (Are There) Ways To Come Home? By Sebastien Grainger
R.I.P. DFA1979. While the bass half, Jesse Keeler, went on to form MSTRKRFT and abandon all of rock and roll tendencies and focused on dance music, Sebastien Grainger slowly crafted a rock based comeback. This is not really comparable to DFA1979 but that is not a bad thing. It seems Grainger has found his sound and this track displays it. I really can’t find anything I dislike about this song. The “Sleeping alone can feel….” line with the crashing cymbals and Grainger’s yell and enough to make this one of my favourite songs of the year.

11. Tape Song by The Kills
This track shot up my list the last couple of weeks. A great musical duo that I very unfortunately have to leave off of my albums list but this track scores big points. “Tape Song” reminds me of “Fever To Tell” Yeah Yeah Yeahs, it is a raw but somewhat poppy punk song, of course, fronted by a female vocalist. Listen to this three times and you won’t be able to get the song out of your head. What they could have improved on though is the musicvideo, pretty lame for such a kick ass song.

I guess I can take a little time here to drop a couple “Hong-nourable” mentions here before we move onto the top 10. DJ Earworm’s mashup of Radiohead’s “Reckoner” and Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” is perfect. I hate myself for enjoying the Black Kids’ “Hit The Heartbreaks” enough to put them in here. “Goodnight, Travel Well” by the Killers is probably the best closing track I’ve heard this year but not good enough to claw its way into the list. Little Joy’s “Brand New Start” and Does This Offend You, Yeah?’s “Let’s Make Out” were close as well. Okkervil River’s “Lost Coastlines” was awesome. I just got into Passion Pit and the song “Sleepyhead” has been getting a lot of play and Jack White’s and Alicia Keys “Another Way To Die” is really good as well. I know there are more songs that I really liked that didn’t make the list but I’m tapped out right now. Download the Hong-nourable Mentions HERE.

10.An Animal In Your Care by Wolf Parade
Probably the most hyped Canadian album this year was Wolf Parade’s sophomore effort (Sorry Nickelback fans). Anyways, one of the reasons why I love this song is that it reminds me of my childhood. Why? Well, I’m a first generation Canadian and the music I had in my household was anything but popular. Instead I had really lame and annoying traditional Chinese music, you know with the high pitched singing and the sparse xylophone? Well, if you don’t its OK, but this song DEFINITELY reminds me of the music I was raised with.

This song starts off slow then builds but when the keys come in at around the two minute mark with the accompanying guitar sounds a couple seconds later you know that this song is building and getter stronger and stronger. At first I thought this song was, like 87% of popular music, about girl troubles and I was trying to figure out a metaphor in which the guy is the “Animal” in a girls care but when it comes down to really listening to the lyrics the song is really just about someone lamenting on their pet’s death. A weird number 10 but I stand by it.

09. Echoplex by Nine Inch Nails
If you have seen Nine Inch Nails on tour this year you will know all about the visual that goes with this song and how it revolves around this drum track. The beginning of this video shows NIN rehearsing it and this is the visual I got to see live. The guy yelling Vanna White was a nicely added touch.

Anyways, this song breaks the tradition of NIN album closers as the only songs to make it onto my year end lists (Right Where It Belongs and Zero Sum made the ’05 and ’07 songs lists). “Echoplex” immediately caught my ear when I downloaded it (After Trent gave away “The Slip” for free) and was the song I wanted to hear live the most off of the new album. If you like NIN you’ll like this song, if you don’t like NIN you should still give it a shot just because of the awesome “La La La La Las” that are in the background of this track.

08. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues by The Gaslight Anthem
Props go to my BFF Chris MacGregor for introducing me to this band. I’m a stubborn asshole and rarely take recommendations from anyone but I was really urged to download this “The ‘59” Sound”, I never listened to it and then one day this song popped up on random and I haven’t stopped listening to it since.

It’s basically punk mixed with Bruce Springsteen story telling. You know songs about “Sandy, Johnny or Mary” getting older but not growing up, something that really hits a cord with me right now (Listening to All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem also gives me this same feeling). It would be cheap to compare it to last year’s seemingly token punk song “Thrash Unreal” by Against Me! but they are both great songs that tell very relevant stories with killer fuckin’ choruses.

07. Big Ideas by LCD Soundsystem
First off, I want to state that listing “Al Of My Friends” at the 27th last year was criminal and maybe it’s why I’m ranking “Big Ideas” so high. While the horrible blackjack movie “21” unleashed “Time To Pretend” by MGMT to the mainstream, the movie’s soundtrack also gave birth to James Murphy’s attempt to make a stadium rock song rooted in electronic dance music. “Big Ideas” is the result of that experiment and it is safe to say he pulled it off. It has a super catchy chorus that you won’t get out of your head, a nice little “Woohohohoooo”, its similar to “AnimaL In Your Care” in that this song is a builder and comes to an amazing finish.

06. L.E.S. Artistes by Santogold
Yes, this is Santogold’s third and final entry on this list. She straight up dominated this year and this is the track that started it all for me. This is an amazing pop song and while some may look at Santogold as a guilty pleasure and not worthy of such high acclaim, I beg to differ. She actually writes her own songs and takes tries many different sounds.

It seems that I don’t have any other descriptive things to say other then “killer chorus” but the term is appropriate for this as well. She has been compared to M.I.A. and Gwen Stefani but I think she’s similar to Karen O and this was probably my song of the summer.

05. Touch Me I’m Going To Scream by My Morning Jacket
When I first downloaded “Evil Urges” I could not get pass the second track because I kept this song on repeat. “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt.1” is definitely deserving of the 5 spot and for a brief time I was considering it to be my favourite track of the year.

Jim James has an amazing voice and it is beautifully layered on this track, My Morning Jacket uses a didgeridoo on this as well. What I love most about this song is the subtle bass bopping and the yearning in James’ voice when he sings this chorus a moving song that has dominated my Ipod in ’08.

04. Shoot Me Down (Ft. D. Smith) by Lil’ Wayne
If it weren’t for Axl Rose, Lil’ Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” would be the most hyped album in ’08, it definitely already wins the best cover art of the year and two publications (Blender and Time) have already named it their number 1 album.

Anyways, Weezy has had a monstrous year and while “Lollipop” was a huge single and “A Milli” has been played to death I think that this mellow track is the lynchpin to Wayne’s latest album. After watching the heir apparent on SNL, guitars should have a restraining order against him but I’ll let him near a guitar note on this track. Really, the lyrics are nonsense and unrelatable but the guitar tinged beat; the brooding bassline and D. Smith’s hook make this one of my favourite tracks of the year. I drank Lil’ Wayne Kool-Aid.

03. Closer by Kings Of Leon
As soon as I heard this song I immediately knew that it was going to be on this list somewhere. I was never really a big fan of Kings Of Leon but this track won me over, the song has a dark atmosphere and seems to be written for a disaster movie.

I love the sonar sound and the distorted guitar that are the base of this track. Followill’s voice is amazing as well. For a band that is likened to a Southern version of the Strokes it’s a pretty fuckin’ dark song, nothing like the singles that have come from this album. While some people did complain about the polished sound of KOL’s new record I think it’s perfect especially when a polished sound is necessary for such a precise and vast song.

02. DLZ by TV On The Radio
The only band two have two entries on this year’s list is Brooklyn’s TV On The Radio. Now, this song and the next song could be tied for my favourite song of the year but “DLZ” has a lot to live up too because TV On The Radio have already won my ’06 song of the year with “Wolf Like Me”. I think because of that I had a hard time making this track number 1. Think about it like Dirk Nowitski getting his MVP even though Steve Nash deserved it more – he had already won the two years prior but that worked against him more then help him.

Things I love about this song: Tunde’s voice on this is amazing. Dave Sitek engineered a great atmosphere. The dreamy “La La La La La Las” carry this song. I adore the sparse horns that remind me of Radiohead’s “Kid A”. And the aggressive way that this song is sung make it a perfect song and this year’s bridesmaid. “DLZ” is a song that I instantly loved and I really have no idea what it is about. I assume it’s about Enlightenment or absence of it in this day and age. To me, it sounds like the end of the world and if this is the end I got to say that the rapture has a money soundtrack.

Sorry no number 1 fake out this year, folks.

01. Teen Creeps” by No Age
You know when you hype something up to a person and usually they end up disappointed and don’t like what you have hyped to them? I get the feeling that this is going to happen to this track.

No Age’s “Teen Creeps” is simple, it’s just a 3 and a half minute noisy, loud and distorted punk/garage rock song. Why is this number 1 and why does it rank higher then the more complex and catchier songs on this year’s list? That is hard to answer especially since I gave a litany of reason to why I loved this year’s 2.

To me this song is just perfect in its archaic and distorted simpleness. I love how the song comes straight out of nowhere and pummels the listener with sound; it reminds me of Blur’s “Song 2”. They were both short and simple but amazingly effect rock songs. I love the little “Dada doo doo doo” sound the guitar makes before kicking into the verses and even though I’m a young adult I can still someone enjoy a song most likely about “Teen Angst”. This song may not be in a movie trailer next year but, in my opinion, it encapsulates all that was great about music in 2008.

So that was my year in song, I hope you enjoy. This blog was 8 pages single spaced in Word, I fucking wrote an essay. If you’re a stressed out student who needs a witty, self-deprecating and somewhat entertaining essay to be written for you AND you have some extra cash you know who to email. My top albums of the year will be up in a week or so. Peace.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Passion Pit's "Chunk Of Change"

This is a band you'll probably be reading about, if you haven't already. Passion Pit are another one of those dance rock bands probably liken them more to something like Cut Copy then Does This Offend You, Yeah. The lead singer's voice does stick out but if you don't midn it I'm sure you can get some joy out of this EP.

I probably would not have downloaded it if it didn't get props in's year end list. Anyways, I pretty sure that one of the songs on here is on a Canadian PSP commercial. I would research this further but I've got to run. I'll be upping the new Common as well. And check back in a week for my Top 30 Songs Of '08 and then a week after that for my 20 Favourite Albums of '08.

Check Passion Pit out HERE.