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Below are my top 10 (or so) released this year, in no particular order. It's been a pretty good year for music. I've especially enjoyed the reverby vocals of Blitzen Trapper, and the fun vocal mishmosh of Fleet Foxes. Seems that there have been all these bands with "woodsy" themed names in the past few years, just recently reaching a fevered pitch. To wit: Grisly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Department of Eagles, Silver Antlers, The Mountain Goats, Donkeys, Gregory + The Hawk. Many bearded men.
I dug these records this last year:
Thirteen of my favorite songs from last year.
1. "strange overtones" :: Brian Eno & David Byrne (Everything That Happens Will Happen Today)
2. "killa soundboy" :: Fort Knox Five (Radio Free D.C.)
3. "bob" :: Otto (What's Happening in Pernambuco)
4. "the whistling song" :: the Pinker Tones (Wild Animals)
5. "policia" :: Pistolera (En Este Camino)
6. "nouveau americain" :: Brazilian Girls (New York City)
7. "i hold the mic" :: Meat Beat Manifesto (Autoimmune)
1. Maurizio Bianchi...Symphony for a Genocide...Hospital - Created as a testimony to the atrocities of the Holocaust. Bianchi's abrasive electronics comprised of synthesizers and tape loops are incredibly black and devastating, with wailing alarm sounds, mechanized and annihilating beats, and a few broken vocal samples. As disturbing as it is amazing.
2. Dino Felipe...No Fun Demo...No Fun - Miami-based musician dabbles in experimental mind-melting noise-rock. Jaded, damaged and surprisingly danceable!
3. Circle...Panic ...Ektro - Thank the Gods for more NWOFHM !!! Warning: apocalyptic hardcore hatred and defiance lies inside this high speed album of piss and mayhem! More, more, more.
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend Portastatic - Some Small History
Explorers Club - Freedom Wind All Girl Summer Fun Band - Looking Into It
Robert Pollard - Is Off to Business Boston Spaceships - Brown Submarine
Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster Oxford Collapse - Bits
1. Arthur Russell - Love is Overtaking Me (Audika, 2008)
2. Iron Curtain - Desertion 1982-1988 / Artifact (Pylon, 2007/8)
3. Das Kabinette - Spy Thriller (Minimal Wave, 2008)
4. VA - BIPPP: French Synth-Wave 1979/85 (Born Bad, 2006/7/8)
5. Betty Botox - Mmm, Betty! (Endless Flight, 2008)
6. The Lines - Flood Bank / Memory Span (Acute, 2008)
7. Hercules & Love Affair - s/t (DFA, 2008)
8. Portishead - Third (Island, 2008)
9. Gang Gang Dance - St. Dymphna (the Social Registry, 2008)
10. Alex Moulton - Exodus (Expansion Team, 2008)
Love is Overtaking Me, Arthur Russell (Audika)
Imperial Wax Solvent, The Fall (Narnack)
Tell Tale Signs, Bob Dylan (Columbia)
Congress EP, Bottomless Pit (Comedy Minus One)
Third, Portishead (Island)
Microcastle | Weird Era. Cont., Deerhunter (Kranky)
Hercules and Love Affair, Hercules and Love Affair (DFA)
St. Dymphna, Gang Gang Dance (Social Registry)
Singles 06-07 and Singles 08, Jay Reatard (In the Red, Matador)
Francophonic, Franco (Sterns Africa)
1. Arthur Russell -- Love is Overtaking Me
2. Hercules and Love Affair -- S/T
3. Barbara Morganstern -- BM
4. Gang Gang Dance -- St. Dymphna
5. Betty Botox...Mmm, Betty!
6. V/A -- Don't Stop: Recording Tap
7. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds -- Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
8. V/A -- Nigeria Disco Funk Special: The Sound of the Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-1979
9. V/A -- Bearded Ladies vol.1
10. Antony & the Johnsons...Another World EP
10. Eddie Floyd-- Eddie Loves You So
9. Cut Copy-- In Ghost Colours
8. V/A -- Don't Stop: Recording Tap
7. V/A-- Bipp: French Synth Wave 1979-85
6. Hercules and Love Affair-- S/T
5. Brazilian Girls -- New York City
4. V/A-- Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story 1980-1986
3. V/A-- Calypsoul 70: Caribbean Soul and Calypso Crossover
2. Lou Reed-- Berlin Live at St. Ann's Warehouse
1. V/A -- Nigeria Disco Funk Special: The Sound of the Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-1979
1. M83 - Saturdays = Youth
Nostalgia might be cheap, but Anthony Gonzalez pulled all the right strings with this one. There's something to be said for making you remember the pain and wonder of growing up while avoiding the traps of exageration and whimsey. Instead, through the layers of synths and reverb we get a longing for youth, and a celebration of everything good and bad about it: nothing more, nothing less, and completely earnest.
2. Why? - Alopecia
Few artists can be this honest on a record and get away with it, but Yoni Wolf opens up the darkest, funniest and most bizarre parts of his mind on every track. Like all great pieces of writing, you can take something different away from his lyrics each time you hear them. Little details that might be glossed over in the deluge of speak-singing on first listen become little gems that keep you coming back. Oh, and it also helps that Wolf and company write some catchy tunes to go along with those lyrics.
3. Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now Youngster
I'm pretty sure that Los Campesinos! is probably the bane of many musical tastes, including those of my fellow WXDUers, and part of me completely understands. If you let it get under your skin, this music could definitely be obnoxious. If you dare to let yourself roll with it, it's also a freakin' blast. So these guys a re a bunch of brats, sure, but they're brats with serious amounts of energy, willing each song to a higher level. Give them a chance and maybe you'll be banging your head to "Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats" too.
4. The Walkmen - You & Me
This album was subdued, murky and gorgeous. "In The New Year" is near the top of my favorite tracks for this year, and the rest of the album, while never reaching as high of an apex than this, doesn't really have a valley of declined quality to speak of.
5. Marnie Stern - This Is It...
After her debut album, it was a tossup as to whether I actually liked Marnie Stern or whether I was just gripped enough by her curious, quirky style to listen to her a few times. This album made my mind up for me. She may be over-hyped in terms of virtuosic geetar shredding (she can be kind of sloppy at times), but she certainly deserves all of the praise for doing something different and interesting.