Top 10 Tracks I Listened to in 2008 (According to Last.fm) January 25, 2009Posted by reidmix in 4AD, Best of 2008, FatCat, Free MP3, Indie, K Records, Labels, Lists, Marriage Records, Memphis Industries, Music, Reviews, Slender Means, Song Reviews, States Rights, SubPop, Tomlab.
Tags: allmusic, beach boys, brian wilson, brill, carole king, cowboy junkies, daytrotter, frenchkiss records, illeana douglas, kimya dawson, last.fm, mazzy star, microsoft, myspace, phil spector, pitchfork, post-punk, stereogum, vagrant records, vimeo, wikipedia, youtube
Continuing in the info-porn that is my stats-madness of play-counts of last year’s 2007 Top Tracks, here is my top 10 songs of the past year according to last.fm. What I like about this list is that the songs don’t need to stay within the confines of the year, I just needed to have listened to them on a device that scobbled them in the past 12 months.
01. A Song for Ellie Greenwich by Parenthetical Girls
Clearly one of the stars of Entanglements, the oompa of wind instruments and oboes polka over the percussion and wind-up of the ever-present glockenspiel. The chorus hearkens back to The Carpenters (yeah, but somehow more perverse): “Just like me / They long to see you / On your knees” and presumably is a nod to Spector singer-songwriter mentioned in the title. Her story reminds me of the faux-Carole King biopic Grace of My Heart, and is as big and sweeping as Illeana Douglas’s eyes. Still, the song lyrics remain impenetrable, winding rhymes that are hard to shake, orchestral in their presentation leaving you wishing you were in on the secret, and loving them more for all the mystery.
02. Fire by Valet
A surprise that this song topped my list, I discovered Valet on the 2nd Marriage Records comp. Sounding like a mix of psychedelia of Mazzy Star, the quirk of Silje Nes, and twang of the Cowboy Junkies, “Fire” is epic even against Honey Owen’s whispered delivery. The space between the words and the notes of the guitar are as wide as the Grand Canyon and the two lay on top of one another in sedimentary layers until the end: “Fire, keep me room.” The rest of Owen’s album, Naked Acid, is slow and deliberate as the Colorado river and takes you on a journey that is outside of the mainstream.
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[Marriage][States Rights]
03. In Ear Park by Department of Eagles
The wait for Department of Eagles latest album left me listening to “In Ear Park” quite a few times. A labyrinth of acoustic guitars intertwining over Rossen’s voice create the atmosphere that will forever be linked to the cover-art dark forest lit by strange lights on the album by the same name. “If you listen / You’d hear the waves.” The request is somber and beautiful and the harmony is crisp in its refrains, like another favorite of mine, Herring Bone [Live on Daytrotter], the songs feel out of time, remembering things long gone and in stowed forever in the past. In Ear Park’s “We all forgot him / We can’t forget him” vs. Herring Bone’s “When you’re gone / You are gone / Those nights you wandered all night / You won’t get to relive them.”
04. Wrong Side by French Kicks
I discovered French Kicks this year with their latest album Swimming. Unlike most reviewers of the album, I was more receptive to it than their previous releases, the album is shiney and clear in its conception and execution. Clear like a spring day that is shaking off the nostalgia of winter. To my surprise, the 1st song off the 1st album and the 2nd song of the 2nd album, Also Ran, were at the top of my last.fm. Both share a post-punk approach, graffitied with stripped down guitars and flourishes that pull you into Matt Stinchcomb’s vocals giving fair warning “I got you on the wrong side of me / Went and had my mind made up so suddenly” Truer words were never uttered.
05. Spark by The Breeders
All of you waiting for another Last Splash, well, too bad. Mountain Battles was a Tanya Donelley-era Breeders in the fashion of Albini-produced Pod, the one which ole Pixies-fucks like me fell in love with and waited for since we first set ears on Gigantic. Of all the songs on Mountain Battles, I thought the reggae-punk of Bang On would rank highest, but Spark stands strong. It has the same sound as “Iris” (When Iris sleeps over) and a lyric symmetry on par with “Oh,” “I am chewing on power lines / Spraying the yard in spark / Clouds were bruised when the day broke”. Thank you Kim Deal for drawing on your roots and giving us an amazing album and fuck you to all the Cannonballers.
06. Drown by Silje Nes
Alas the albums that come out in December, 2007 that is. The only reason Silje Nes didn’t sit at the top of this list was because she played in my car for the first half of the year. Ames Room, her debut album and title song, is filled with the bend of melody and clank of glass-marbles, water features and wind through the chimes and oh glorious static and bright-noise of percussive delights. The darkness of “Drown” only features her wispy child-like vocals against the pluck of electric guitars, but where Icelandic contemporaries like Múm are precocious and cold as stratus, Silje performance is organic, rooted in dischord, creating off-kilter harmonies and warm loops.
07. What Do You Think Will Happen Next? by Final Fantasy
I have two confessions. The completist in me cannot bear to buy any of Tomlab‘s Alphabet Series (note the evil Sold Out, below.) If I were to buy any, it would have been Final Fantasy’s appearance on the letter X. Second, the b-side is my ringtone, it’s genius. The YouTube is a great example of how Owen Pallett layers on each voice of a song, playing an orchestra of a one-man-band. The crux of the song is simple, “If you let the heirarchy tax your sex / What do you think will happen next?” Palette’s build up of violin melodies, plucking, and castanets reach a crescendo of anger-sex. He sings, quite well now, “Turn your scream to a shout / Yes I can / Yes I can can can can can!”
Listen:[YouTube] Sold Out:[Tomlab]
08. Scuby by Little Wings
A friend of mine has cursed me with the idea of the single, I’m an album man. But on Soft Pow’r, Scuby is the only song I love. Its a common curse of Little Wings, gems of song strewn about compilations and albums (see: Next Time on K Records’ Invisible Sheild, a Kimya Dawson inspired dream, for sure). Scuby is a soft rattle of piano and footpedals, accoustic strumming and double vocals, one whispered and ambient, and one longing for seashells and lighting pumpkins. “Scuby of the canyon / Once you find again the coast is clear / At door you you went but hesitated / So his name is ringing in my ear / Scuby’s gone again.” This is the only song you need to come back to.
09. Sleepyhead 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 Best Week Ever with Paul F. Thomkins on VH1. Maybe I can link to some remixes. I could go on about “Cuddle Fuddle,” my fave song from the EP, which makes a nursery rhyme sound dancable, “Let down your hair / Let down your hair / Rapunzel, Rapunzel / Let down your hair.” Go buy the album.
10. Look Out SOS! by The Ruby Suns
If I didn’t hate Microsoft enough, they’re using The Ruby Sun’s “Oh, Mojave” as their newest marketing campaign. I suppose the upside is that the Auckland, New Zealand based band is probably making bank. Each of their albums sound like a world tour, covering parts of Polynesia and Africa (listen to Tane Mahuta) without loosing any of it’s indie appeal. Folksy and popsy, “Look Out SOS!” has all the musicbox qualities that I love so much in music. Layer in some xylophone/mirimba, some Flaming Lips sound effects, some prettyboy vocals to the indie guitars and you’ve got the magic. Oh, hello, static noises and banjo, glad you could join the party. (Stop saying Beach Boys! We’ve evolved past them. Sorry, Brian Wilson.) The Ruby Sun’s 2008 album, Sea Lion, was definitely a star in my sky and soared beyond much of the other indie/folk/pop acts out there today.
Listen:[last.fm] Buy:[SubPop][Memphis Industries]
Next a look (back!) on my last.fm bands of 2008.