Monday, December 15, 2008

Best of 2008: Songs

Once again, several NQL contributors (and one recent guest) offer up what they respectively consider to be some of the best songs of 2008. There was no set stylistic format, and the order of the songs as set out by each contributor should be rather self-explanatory. So, if you're looking to not even come close to impressing that one girl, you know, the one who has absolutely no interest in you whatsoever...take notes on what you read below...make her a playlist...creep her her away forever. Works every time. Top albums of 2008 coming soon.

Ryan Bigg
1. MGMT – "Kids"
2. Albert Hammond – "GFC"
3. Ra Ra Riot – "Ghost Under Rocks"
4. MGMT – "Time to Pretend"
5. Blitzen Trapper – "Furr"
6. M83 – "Kim & Jessie"
7. TV on the Radio – "Halfway Home"
8. Okkervil River – "Lost Coastlines"
9. Glasvegas – "Geraldine"
10. Islands – "Creeper"

Silver Jews
Alex Crisafulli
10. "Bruise" by Chairlift

9. "So Everyone" by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy—A song that's best not taken literally.

8. "Sequestered in Memphis" by The Hold Steady—I first heard this song last May and was particularly underwhelmed. But it lingered, and by mid-summer I couldn't get enough of it. Probably the best summer anthem since the "Thong Song" drove us all wild back in 2000.

7. "Singer Songwriter" by Okkervil River—Only one I-slept-with-that-hipster's-wife lyric away from being the greatest dis track laid down since "Hit ‘Em Up."

6. "Nowhere’s Nigh" by Parts & Labor

5. "Sweet Talk" by Spiritualized

4. "Suffering Jukebox" by Silver Jews—Next person who tells me they don't like this song is getting two shoes thrown at them in rapid succession.

3. "The Modern Leper" by Frightened Rabbit

2. "In the New Year" by The Walkmen—After already snagging the coveted "Boilermaker" Award, the accolades just keep coming for "In the New Year." I saw the Walkmen last January at Schubas well before You & Me came out and I remember they played a new song that I had never heard but it still left me in awe. It was this one.

1. "Time to Pretend" by MGMT

(Other songs I liked: "Conquest" by Tapes 'n' Tapes, "Northwestern Girls" by Say Hi, "Rivers" by Destroyer, "Soldier's Grin" by Wolf Parade, "Fools" by The Dodos, "Dragonfly Pie" by Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks.)

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Jim Hanke of Kid, You’ll Move Mountains
(10 [+3] great songs from 2008 albums that aren't on my list):
Mates of State - "The Re-Arranger"
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!"
Able Baker Fox - "Stuttering"
Throw Me The Statue - "Your Girlfriend's Car"
MGMT - "Electric Feel"
Cadence Weapon - "Real Estate"
Spiritualized - "Sweet Talk"
The Raconteurs - "Consoler of the Lonely"
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - "Glue Girls"
Man Man - "Hurly/Burly"
R.E.M. - "Living Well is the Best Revenge"
Bon Iver - "re: stacks"
The B-52's - "Funplex"

Los Campesinos!
Matt Farra
10. "Graveyard Girl" (M83): My second most-favorite song ever to have a spoken-word interlude.

9. "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ" (Titus Androticus): After I learned that this wasn't another Mr. Oberst side project I was able to open myself up to one of this year's best breakthrough albums. This is my favorite song ever to have a spoken-word interlude. I have also been to Mahwah, no big deal, back in the late 1980s. Mahwah happens to be the home of both Foxy Brown and Les Paul.

8. "M79” (Vampire Weekend): One day, about one year ago, I made a couple of clicks on my keyboard and strangely came across a free copy, in digital format, of Vampire Weekend’s eponymous debut. Yet, for some reason, my copy didn’t have "M79." The first time I heard this song was when they played it on that Kristin Wiig show, which was before I ever saw this, which made me do this, followed up by this, before deciding to meet this guy on a beach. Anyway, the moral of this story: When borrowing music from the internets, make sure it’s not some two-bit production piece.

7. "Smokin from Shootin" (My Morning Jacket): Music critics lived large this year after shreddin and shittin on the Louisville band’s fifth album. And while there may have been ample reasons to support such a bashin and flushin, "Smokin from Shootin" incorporates all the influences that this band so desperately and consciously tries to evoke with a sound that had echoes and remnants of The Tennessee Fire.

And now my top 6 for the year…which can stand alone.

6. "Never Stops" (Deerhunter)
5. "Walking" (The Dodos)
4. "Better" (Guns n’ Roses)
3. "Slapped Actresses" (The Hold Steady)
2. "The Age of the Understatement" (The Last Shadow Puppets)
1. "You! Me! Dancing!" (Los Campesinos!)

Vampire Weekend
Travis Newman
Honorable Mention AM Radio Songs of the Year – "Furr" – Blitzen Trapper; "Rooks" – Shearwater

10. "Better"– Guns n’ Roses
The first song I heard off the leaked Chinese Democracy and the perfect way to reintroduce Axl Rose to the world, as the bizarre disguised opening vocal gives way to the inimitable howl absent from our world for nearly seventeen years. (Yes, the song from End of Days doesn't count).

9. "Kids" – MGMT
I choose to believe this song is about hipsters in tiny clothes who like to dance and get sweaty, not "Kids" like the ones from which NQL contributor Jim must stay 500 yards away.

8. "Gamma Ray" – Beck
"Come a little gamma ray/standing in a hurricane/Your brains are bored
Like a refugee/From the houses burning/And the heat wave's/Calling your name"…okay…but it sounds good.

7. "Touch Me I'm Gonna Scream 2" – My Morning Jacket
Magical is a word seldom used in the description of songs. This song is no exception. What it is, however, is an excellent closer to a wildly inconsistent album.

6. "Son the Father" – Fucked Up
So Dicky Barrett joined a hard rocking indie band, critical praise and the best opening track of the year followed.

5. "Age of the Understatement" – Last Shadow Puppets
The perfect song to listen to when making a microfiche dead drop in Bratislava in 1962.

4. "Slapped Actress" – The Hold Steady
No truth to the rumor that this song is about Mickey Rourke's girlfriends from the 80s.

3. "GFC" – Albert Hammond, Jr.
Underrated Criminal = Dr. H. H. Holmes; Criminally Underrated = This Song

2. "Eraser" – No Age
Thank you No Age for all the looks I received while driving in my car and screaming along "Watch Him Die."

1. "Kissing the Beehive" – Wolf Parade
(In honor of Don LaFontaine, the movie trailer guy, R.I.P.) In a world where indie music critics are ready to pounce on a band who defies the punk aesthetic with adjectives like "self-indulgent," "bloated," and "pretentious," one indie darling dared to record a closing track that nearly broke the eleven minute mark.
And this was eleven quality minutes, no three minute bleeps and static bridge. All this song was missing was a drum solo (though you've earned it, Arlen Thompson). Despite this, "KTB" rambled its way to being my favorite song of the year.

Jim Powers
(In no particular order):
"The Age of the Understatement” - The Last Shadow Puppets
"In the New Year” - The Walkmen
"Wishing Well” - Love Is All
"Cassius” - Foals
"Death to Los Campesinos!" - Los Campesinos!
"Why Do You Let Me Stay Here" - She & Him
"Viva La Vida" - Coldplay
"The Beginning of the Twist" - The Futureheads
"The Rip" - Portishead
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" - Vampire Weekend

Okkervil River
Audrey Wen
10. "Kenya Dig It?" the Ruby Suns
9. "White Winter Hymnal" Fleet Foxes
8. "Skinny Love" Bon Iver
7. "Army of Ancients" Dr. Dog
6. "Murder in the City" the Avett Brothers
5. "Cherry Tulips" the Headlights
4. "Fools" the Dodos
3. "Get Better" Mates of State
2. "Lost Coastlines" Okkervil River
1. "Kids" MGMT


Anonymous said...

Really? Graveyard Girl? The spoken word bit in the middle is a catastrophe. That song would be awesome without that though.

Brian said...

I don't know that I'd call the spoken word bit a catastrophe. It's definitely awkward (most likely on purpose), but not a catastrophe. Plus it fits the tongue-in-cheek tenor of the song: how crises are magnified by youth, the melodrama of alienation, etc.

I have a hard time separating songs and albums, and I don't tend to latch on to individual tracks. However, I did obsess over "Fools" by the Dodos, "The Rip" by Portishead (song of the year, imo), "Shout Me Out" by TV on the Radio, and "Gettin Up" by Q-Tip.

Alex said...

I already have problems with my list and it has been less than 12 hours. If I could do it again, the Parts & Labor song would be much higher and "Constructive Summer" would replace "SIM" as the token Hold Steady song.

Jim P. said...

Wow, I'm an idiot. Somehow, I forgot to list my number one favorite song from this year (and the last few years) on my list. I guess that's what I get for putting them in no particular order (due to laziness). It's Kissing the Beehive. The rest of my list can be in no particular order after that.

Anthony Berbiglia said...

I would have put Skinny Love in my top ten as well as For Emma, Forever Ago in my albums but I had them in there last year and that would have been like the fact that Pitchfork has House of Cards in it's best singles because the physical album didn't drop until Jan. 1, 2008, even though the digital album was released in september of last year. Ok, not exactly the same, but if you sub "leaked" for "released," it works a little better.

Audrey said...

My, my our readers keep us on our toes. If we were to play by your rules, then MGMT would not qualify for our 2008 picks either and we are all releasers not leakers. Either way, I'm sure Ben Goldwasser's tendrils don't lose any curl over this, nor does Bon Iver sing any lower.

Travis said...

@ Brian-

I'd agree about the album/tracks separation problem, especially with an album that is so cohesively excellent from start to finish, like You & Me. Every one of those songs ostensibly could make my top ten, but I chose to save the Walkmen kudos for elsewhere. Uh, Spolier Alert.

@ Anonymous, Brian
- I have to agree that M83s mid-song dialogue solos usually ruin it for me. Maybe kind of cool the first listen, but it just kills the replayability, like the end of Sleepaway Camp.

Alex said...

Brian, give me a break. You didn't hear a song this year and think, "Wow, that's one of my favorite songs I have heard this year."? Oh, wait, you did as "The Rip" was your favorite song of the year. Lemme give you some advice on how to separate songs from the album: The album name is usually written on the front of the record, typically alongside or near the band name. The songs are often listed in numerical order on the back of the record. Although exceptions to these rules are always abound.

Brian said...

I said I did, smartass, but it's in the context of an album 95% of the time. Sorry I'm not a spaz who can't sit through a whole album without jumping to something else. Sheesh.

Alex said...

Oh, help me Rhonda. I guess my point is that from your earlier comment it sounded like you......hold on for a sec..............................................................................sorry had to change CD's......alright, it sounded like you couldn't hear a good song, or "separate songs from albums"..whatever that means. What makes an album good in the first place is usually a collection of good songs. And admitting a fondness for a song doesnt' necessarily make one a sucker for this instant gratificatin "singles" culture that iTunes has brought on us.

Brian said...

Then you totally misread what I said...and I admitted fondness for particular songs. In both comments. Although my second one should've read, #Sorry I'm not a spaz who can't sit through a whole album without jumping to something else.#

Alex said...

Every single one of my comments should probably be surrounded with #.....#'s.

Anthony Berbiglia said...

Brian makes a good point, if an album has one great song surrounded by shit, that is a great album, because you can't separate the two. Sort of like Weezer's "Make Believe", that album would have been terrible without "Beverly Hills." However, with its addition, the album went on to be a classic.

Alex said...

Sounds like the issue has been resolved. Thanks, Tony B.!

Anthony Berbiglia said...

Pitchfork revealed their entire top 50 albums of the year today. Wow, a point has been proven. That point is that Pitchfork's entire rating system is completely arbitrary. Fleet Foxes was their number one album, an album that garnered them a 9.0 for a review. No Age was #3 with their album, Nouns, with a rating of 9.2. Do what now....????

Jim P. said...

Tony B,

I have trouble knowing when sharks are being sarcastic, but the rating is one writer's opinion while the end of year list is more of a staff-wide thing. Also, I give you a 5.6.

Anthony Berbiglia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Travis said...

After the year-end material, is a discussion of Cut Copy in order?

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