Luke's Best of 2008

I realize that we're nearly to the third quarter of 2009 already, but I hope that you will forgive me the ridiculousness of posting my favorite albums from 2008 and just go with the entire process.

Jameson is on to something with these quick, youtube heavy posts, so in that vein I present you with my 'best of' 2008, as well as a solemn promise that I will do more posting in the very near future.

And in descending order we go:

10 - This is Ivy League - S/T

Over the last several years I have learned a great deal about my changing musical tastes... among the most important of these lessons that I am a sucker for straightforward rock. Perhaps it's a soft spot for no-nonsense music, but to be honest, I think that it's quite possible that the most difficult album to record in these days of diversified and beatles/radiohead-inspired creativity is a simple pop-rock album that is actually good.

This is Ivy League is phenomenal simply because they play instruments and channel the 1960s in a way that makes you smile and want to sip a beer from the end of a row house porch in Liverpool on a hot summer day.

9 - Friendly Fires - S/T

I have to admit that Friendly Fires was a complete unknown to me until June of 2009, so I suppose it's a lucky stroke that I didn't write my best of '08 until now.

Though I am usually somewhat aversed to dance based music, Friendly Fires have just the right amount of rock, dance, and too-cool-for-schoolness to make me get up and shake my surgically repaired knee.

If you don't like the video below I pity you:

8 - Fleet Foxes - S/T

Although I still don't think that they are quite as good as My Morning Jacket were in MMJ's vintage days of corn silo(gh?) recorded alt-country, it's impossible to deny the harmonies and overall loveliness of such a talented band.

On the MMJ front, by the way, Jim James is releasing a solo EP under the name of Yim Yames (that's right) that consists only of covers of George Harrison to include The Ballad of Sir Franky Crisp and Behind that Locked Door among other classics. Can't wait for it, though I wish that The Art of Dying were included somewhere.

7 - Vampire Weekend - S/T

It's Paul Simon's Graceland sung by preppy boys with polo shirts from America's best universities.

Seriously... it is... listen to Graceland.

Hell of an album, though.

6 - The Week that Was - S/T

What is it with self titled albums this year?

You all know I love me some Field Music and the brothers that are the core of the band, Peter and David Brewis, have gone solo and they've both managed to create albums that are not only unique, but ridiculously so.

This is Peter's album, which is phenomenal, but not as good as David's, but which includes a better video, as you will see below (got it!?). Look out for the David Brewis cameo in the video, complete with rapid-type action!

Check them out... I'm tired of asking

5 - Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul

Alright... it's a bit of a homer pick, but go read my previous review (drunken though it was) and you will see that it's worth checking out.

Seriously... Oasis is still really damned good.

4 - School of Language - S/T

Here's the other half of Field Music. David's album is better, but his video is not.

Centered around multiple versions of the same song, the School of Language album is, quite honestly, ridiculously fantastic. He takes the Field Music aesthetic of disjointed beats and sounds and marries them once again to devilishly catchy melodies.

3 - The Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead

Just the right combination of shoegaze and pop-rock to tickle my fancy.

Think Ride mixed with Spoon and what you get is an amazing album with among the most catchy melodies of the year.

2 - Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

This is not a pick based on my, or my wife's, own personal love for the band or on previous albums.

The Seldom Seen Kid is, to be perfectly honest, a masterpiece. Every note is specifically chosen and placed in its appropriate place with incredible care.

It's an album that doesn't sink in right away, but which takes time.

Have a listen to the opening song, "Starlings", which, I know, seems awkward at first but which is among the most controlled uses of sound and vocal ability I have ever been exposed to.

It's essentially a song that maps out the highs and lows of the feeling of falling in love in both sound and lyrics. Guy Garvey's voice is the best on Earth and, let's be honest, you have to have recorded a pretty fucking good album to win the Mercury Music Prize and have the BBC Concert Orchestra devote an entire night to playing your album.

Additionally, the below video features the greatest lyric ever written:

"You are the only thing in any room you're ever in"

1 - Maupa - Run Run Sleep

How do you beat an album that I would consider nearly perfect?

Know me!

Well, it helps, but Maupa are my album of the year not because I happen to correspond with them, but because they have crafted a gem.

It's an album that will continually catch you by surprise and which runs the gamut. It's one fucking hell of an album.

There's a reason that NME gave them a review including the phrase "one step away from genius", though I'd argue that NME is missing something and that the album is, truly, genius.

As they would say in Accrington (or so I'd like to believe)

"'Ave a listen, mate"


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The Dirty Projectors: Avant-Garde that an oxymoron?

Well, we are almost at the half-way point of 2009, and somehow avant-garde (indie) rock band, the Dirty Projectors, are responsible for two of the best pop singles of the year. Prior to 2009, the band, while gaining some critical accolades, was certainly an acquired taste with their obtuse, art-rock arrangements and David Longstreth's bleating croon singing style. However, somewhere in the time since the band's 2007 release, Rise Above (an experimental re-telling of Black Flag's, Damaged) it appears that Longstreth and company have picked up a pop streak. We are all better off for it.

Exhibit A: "Knotty Pine" - Springy guitars hop along to a stomping beat. Fluttering piano fills out the chorus. Oh yeah, David Byrne is on the track.

Exhibit B: "Stillness Is The Move" - More intricate guitar burst over a heavy beat. Chorus could be played (over and over) on mainstream radio. Track is both singable and danceable.

First, Animal Collective. Then, Grizzly Bear. Now, the Dirty Projectors. Mark 2009 as the year that all the experimental indie rock bands went pop. No complaints here.


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(Bad) News: The Everybodyfields break up.

In a message posted on their website this past Friday (6.5.09), the Everybodyfields announced they were calling it quits. The two core members of the band, Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews, both plan to take a shot at solo careers. A spectacular alt-country band, the Everybodyfields, have reportedly finished recording a fourth album, that appears to be shelved for the time being. While it was a very depressing album, Nothing is Okay (the band's third), was one of the best albums to come out of 2oo7 (looking back...what a fantastic year that was for new music: Boxer, Marry Me, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, In Rainbows, Person Pitch, The Stage Names, Friend and Foe, Let's Stay Friends, Sound of Silver, The Shepherd's Dog, Plague Park, The Reminder, Nothing is Okay, Spirt If, Cassadaga, The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse, Cease to Begin, Neon Bible, Strawberry Jam). Anyhow, the Everybodyfields will be missed. Check out this live version of Nothing is Okay track, "Lonely Anywhere".


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Japandroids - "Young Hearts Spark Fire"

You can keep tomorrow. After tonight, we're not gonna need it....

Oh yeah! Oh yeah!


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