14 January 2009

top albums of 2008, part 2

here continues the list of album joy and fun! scroll down for more info about 10-6, but to recap without spoiling everything if you're just joining us:

10: emiliana torrini, armani and me
09: the dodos, visiter
08: q-tip, the renaissance
07: deerhunter, microcastle
06: sigur rós, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

and now, for the conclusion:

05 girl talk, feed the animals

lots has been written about this album, about what it means for Big Important Issues like Music and Art and...Copyright Law. (i assume this is how the editors of time and rolling stone think about and enjoy music). but while i'm not sure how stitching musical sources across 50 years, sometimes one second at a time, is any less original that writing a song that goes G-C-D and then...wait for it...Em-Am for the bridge!, i honestly don't care about the implications and what it all means for The Future of the Industry. (i like how the logical extension of my not using caps for my own thoughts is to use caps excessively for ideas i want to make fun of. makes sense to me!). what i do care about is the way this album is a party on my hard drive, or the way the guitar solo from "bohemian rhapsody" comes on over the jackson 5, combining two of my favorite songs into something not just interesting, and not just danceable, but truly moving. if you haven't heard this yet, forget everything you've read, and just enjoy the ridiculous rush you'll get.

highlights: play your part (pt. 1), what it's all about, play your part (pt. 2)

04 mgmt, oracluar spectacular

an interesting quirk the internet age of easy music acquisition has brought about for me personally is that, since it's so easy to get music, i usually only read about 2 paragraphs about a band or hear one solid recommendation from a friend before i check it out. so (despite the fact that i also read an awful lot of internet news and information about bands) i often hear bands out of their particular context, and for example in this instance i hear a band without the knowledge that these guys are probably kind of tools. because these guys are probably tools, everybody. but this album--dang! this album has a couple of my favorite songs from this past year (regardless of release year), and hearing them helped me through a particularly crappy stretch of life last year wherein my grandpa died in the middle of what my classmates and i will probably remember as the worst 3 weeks of medical school, and i didn't have much besides the first 30 seconds of "time to pretend" to be happy about. as a whole, i feel like the album's a little uneven and gets a little light on the back half (for which reason it's not higher), but half of this album is an incredible debut, regardless of how much makeup these guys wear, or how much stupid stuff they manage to cram into an interview.

highlights: time to pretend, electric feel, kids

03 tv on the radio, dear science

track 1 isn't the same total mindjob that "i was a lover" brought last time out, but it is a completely engaging opener that had my headphones stuck in my ears until the last song faded out. in fact, i think it's safe to say this whole album isn't as good as cookie mountain. most people say this album is their best at approximating their live experience, but since i've only seen them play once, when their young liars EP had just come out (i think it's safe to say they've evolved a bit since), i can't really comment on that. but i DO know that this album feels packed tight with ideas, styles, and energy, and most notably and importantly, a total confidence and assurance while playing and developing a completely unique sound and voice. that's the thing about these guys--they have an identity that is solid, distinct, and they aren't afraid to throw it around a little--they can play a prince-y kind of song and not sound like someone trying to do prince, because they still sound like tv on the radio. even the ballads, which should have made this sort of uneven and a bummer, are some of my favorites, and one of the album's biggest surprises for me was how they could still sound so big and powerful and so...like them, while playing such subdued and quiet stuff. ok, it's true--i'm a fan, and even when i admit an album's not as good as the last one, it's still a favorite. i admit it, and i can't wait to hear what's next.

02 frightened rabbit, the midnight organ fight

where would art be without love? the english language would probably not be where it is today were it not for shakespeare's sonnets, and spain wouldn't have had an edad de oro if it weren't for bécquer's "rimas" (well, and a host of other incredible pieces about lovers' eyes and arms and fingers and etc), and needless to say there wouldn't have been any of that without lovers, and therefore without love. but pop music has found an even more fertile ground than being in love: not being in love anymore. sure, the beatles wrote "and i love her", but they also wrote "for no one", and is there really any debate which song is better? (no, there is not). and so we come to this album, a broken-hearted, defiant, grieving, love-lorn, blood-and-guts-honest break-up record. while i really enjoy some of the lyrics here (ex: "should look through some old photos/i adored you in every one of those/if someone took a picture of us now/they'd need to be told that we had ever clung on tight/and maybe not with arms at night/'i'd say she was his sister but she doesn't have his nose.'"), i can't say that what he's saying brings me back to painful breakups in my past or anything like that. but on a level of meaning and understanding that doesn't have anything to do with words, i feel the loss and grief and bitterness and healing, and beyond that the need to feel life and humanity, and to be human.

highlights: good arms vs. bad arms, the twist, poke

01 department of eagles, in ear park

there are lots of ways to enjoy music, and lots of responses to its enjoyment. list-making, and/or attempts to objectively evaluate music relative to other albums or on its own, is one small part of that world of music enjoyment/appreciation that maybe gets too much emphasis, especially when compared to purely visceral responses that the right song (or words, or melody, or just 2 seconds of sound) can at times elicit. (this is, by the way, more or less the idea mitchell and i were trying to get at with this year's PSA). this album, for whatever reason, made all kinds of moments just like that for me--the first notes feel to me like being immersed in some new wonderworld where everything's simultaneously old and incredibly new, like the first sounds you've ever heard. it feels like i always imagined lucy felt, emerging from the back of the wardrobe--it's all mystical and strange but somehow also familiar. it's just a snowy wood, but it's a snowy wood that you found in the back of a closet. and then there's a talking animal, and even though it seems like you're dreaming, it also feels super...real. i suppose i ought to talk about what about the production makes me feel that way, or how the lyrics evoke such fanciful things, but here instead: my mouth-gaped response to a really fine album.

highlights: no one does it like you, teenagers, herringbone

so that's my list. it was a tough task this year, and one i did with less certainty than in previous years: if i'd made this 2 weeks ago, it would have been very different--half of these might not have been here, and i have no idea what would have been #1. but here it is, for all internet eternity: my favorites of 2008.

1 comment:

aaron wk said...

aww YEAH! DoE domination! we shall discuss this. i like how we are supporting each other's comment sections so fanatically.