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Top 10 Tracks I Listened to in 2008 (According to iTunes) January 10, 2009

Posted by reidmix in Best of 2008, Free MP3, Indie, Lists, Music, Reviews, Slender Means, Song Reviews, States Rights, Tomlab.
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So I’ve consolidated my iTunes onto one computer this year, but as it is with the nature of music, my listening mode has changed.  I’ve begun digging into the past for history and inspiration, and expanded on favorites with re-issues and deluxe editions from the 60s through the 90s.  Despite that, most of my top tracks over the year remained in 2008 territory.  3 tracks that weren’t came from 2007.

Compare with my top 10 albums of 2008 and, for many, this is not a surprise! Since I pretty consistently blog these end of year lists and they are the most popular, I’m giving them a little more meat, especially since this is the one time of year I bring up some of these bands, I want to be able to give them more of their due and love.

01. Blue Imelda by Final Fantasy
Love. Love. Love. A dream of steel drums shared with Beirut in the imagined land of Spectrum.  The song is filled with chirps and lush beats that introduce us to “Blue Imelda / She is the saddest bitch of Spectrum.” This song comes on high from a West Side Story rumble “Oh Spectrum” and the switch to the Caribbean flavor is seamless.  The song sets the mood for the whole EP which is counter-point to Plays to Please (see below), another Final Fantasy EP released at the same time.  Every song on the EP is a winner, but Blue Imelda gets you in the door.
Listen:[YouTubeBuy:[Blocks Recording Club / Blue House]

02. Man’s Heart Complaint by {{{ SUNSET }}}
I believe Bill Baird’s {{{SUNSET}}} may be one of the most underrated bands to come out of 2008.  This song is a great introduction to the layers and whispers of his surf psychedelia, but certainly is not the limit of it.  He also goes into that steel drum territory on Bright Blue Dream, along with more esoteric experiments like “Mobius” which can play indefinitely looped upon itself.  Here is another artist who released two albums, the second This Glowing City, in the same year along with a slew of limited edition tapes (Eternally Dead, Pink Clouds), I look forward to hearing more from Baird.
Listen:
[mp3] Buy: [Autobus]

03. Head Spins by High Places
Coming in multiple versions and remixes, the original is my favorite because it is direct and cuts to the core of their take on tribal electronica and musicbox rhythms. Yes, steal drums make another appearance in this self proclaimed “Hawaiian / Hardcore / Chinese pop,” I like this moniker because it hints at the bands eccleticism.  The lyrics have a UFO-like sageness while constrast has a childlike-wonder: “The words he spoke that night / They struck a chord / He struck a chord / We talked about all kinds of things / Like dinosaurs and seagull wings / And where the ocean meets the forest.”  Certainly all the songs from this eMusic EP are cast in the mold and are full of joyful whimsy, addictive pop-hooks and static.
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[Thrill Jockey]

04. Sleepyhead by Passion Pit
Unless you were in the Bostonian inner-circle (of CD-Rs), this was most of our introduction to Michael Angelakos’ Beegees-esque gem (read: Castrati vocals) and certainly this track stands apart from the others in it’s ethnic beats, but as an addendum on the Frenchkiss release, it finishes of the EP strongly.  The songs were originally composed as a valentine to his sweetheart, you can get an understanding of that from the syrupy lyrics and dance beats that feel like a warm hug. Sleepyhead begins to trek away from the intimacy of those first songs but makes such a strong statement in its 8-bit glory.
Listen:
[mp3][YouTube] Buy:[Frenchkiss]

05. In Ear Park by Department of Eagles
Was it a Grizzly Bear spinoff with Daniel Rossen in the band?  This song certainly sounded like it with spare Beatles-esque harmonies and acoustic guitars.  But after waiting months (without any knowledge of their prior releases as Whitey on the Moon UK’s “The Cold Nose”), this song gave to something not quite Grizzly Bear, half of Grizzly Bear.  The jangly folk and percussive freakouts that make their appearence on the sometimes sparse songs following In Ear Park infer Fred Nicolaus’ glee that is easily heard on the first album, and perhaps he is the missing part of the equation that make Department of Eagles work so well and stand apart from it’s counterpart.
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[4AD]

06. Four Words by Parenthetical Girls
I have a fanboy crush on the Parenthetical Girls.  “Four Words” opens the latest installment and first Tomlab release, Entaglements, which I refuse to believe is “The most disappointing album of 2008,” as posted on the (((GIRLS))) website.  The song is rich, layered, textured, symphonic, joyful, a Gordian knot of rhymes and meanings that are as impossible to unwind as are the best Kate Bush songs.  And that’s what the “Four Words” reminds me of, the most complex and revered songs like “Sat in Your Lap” and “Get Out of My House” which express themselves as smart, bizarre and difficult to put down.
Listen:
[YouTube] Buy:[Tomlab]

07. The Onliest Thing by Idol Fodder
“The Onliest Thing” snuck onto my charts from last year via Tomlab’s Alphabet Series and later on Bäbytalk, from the wonderful Pregnancy Series.  Heavy cellos on a deep loop open up this EP to the evolving refrain, “When your lonely / I will hold you / I guess you are only / Little baby.”  Only to be met with harmonized response of “But the onliest thing is that is that you need me / And the onliest thing is that I love you too,” matched with scratchy guitars and echos from any ole CBGBs friday night. The EP continues this formula of repetitive lyrics on the backdrop of looped world-instruments , giggles and post-punk guitars.
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[States Rights][Slender Means Society]

08. Touched Something’s Hollow by Of Montreal
Although, there are 15 songs on Skeletal Lamping each song modulates through many moods, it feels like 70 songs from start to finish to create a composite of shiny little mirrored squares that it could be a disco ball.  I don’t know how “Touched Something Hollow” snuck onto the scene, a torchsong that asks, “Why am I so damaged, girl / Why I’m so much poison, girl / I don’t know how long I can hold on / If it’s going to be like this forever.” It’s the closest that Georgie Fruit (Kevin Barnes’ alterego) comes to meeting Ziggy Stardust and is a ballad untouched by any modulation, underscored only by essential piano that’d make Hedwig swoon.
Listen:[last.fm][YouTube] Buy:[Polyvinyl]

09. Skinny Love by Bon Iver
I feel lucky to have seen Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver perform, even on his worst day (he had a cold!) and probably the only reason this song ranked so low is that it played on repeat in my car for months at a time.  There are so many jewels on For Emma, Forever Ago, it doesn’t seem fair that this song gets the spotlight, but it does for good reason.  The song is so rich and full-sounding, it’s hard to believe the instrumentation comes down to a few guitars and light percussion. Vernon can sing the high and low parts, “Now all your love is wasted? / Then who the hell was I?” It’s the emotion of the song make “Skinny Love” so good.
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[4AD][Jagjaguwar]

10. Ultimatum by Final Fantasy
I typically remove songs from the same album from these lists, but Owen Palette produced two different EPs this year, including this Pregnancy Series EP, Plays to Please, full of covers from Deep Dark United.  “Ultimatum” features the whistling magic of Andrew Bird while it gallops with piano and string instrumentation as if running along the Santa Anita racetrack.  And the Alex Lukashevsky’s lyrics are wicked, “You want him ’till I tap your tits / He’s gonna caution your clits” and they couple nicely with the next amazing song, “Moodring Band,” like: “Penis pokes pussy.”
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[Slender Means Society]

I’ll leave you on that note.  Next: my last.fm song stats for 2008.

Comments»

1. Top 10 Tracks I Listened to in 2008 (According to Last.fm) « reidmix - January 25, 2009

[...] by Passion Pit Not much more I need to say about Sleepyhead that I didn’t say in my last post.  I don’t think Passion Pit needs much to get some cred. My god, it was featured on the last [...]


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