Best Music of 2008


Posting a 2008 “Best of” music list in February 2009 is some kind of life metaphor.       

Nevertheless here is the rationale: I wanted to register a domain and put it there. Then I decided that was well beyond my capacity and that I would simply put it at WordPress. However all of the good Usernames were taken (“Deliquesce”? Are you kidding me? On what planet does anyone use that word much less employ it as a Username?) That lead to a brief metaphysical reevaluation of whether I wanted to commit my limited free time to writing.       

Enough preamble, though. Salt Lake City is in desperate need of a good music blog, in the absence of which this will have to suffice. I hope this won’t be a one-off post without another missive until the fall or something similarly shameful. However it certainly will not be about DISCOVERING new music to anything but the casual consumer—I just don’t know very much frankly. So I’ll keep it to short posts with highlights of new music and the occasional live show. Not a real pioneering outlook but if I wait much longer it will be 2010.       

This is a fairly dramatic revision of a list I made in December in an unsuccessful attempt to win $25 from a local record store.       

Favorite albums more or less in order of preference       

1.  Hayden
– In Field & Town

Like most of my other choices, In Field & Town offers a cohesive album experience which I greatly prefer to singles. Each song is smoky, subdued, and tender-hearted. “Damn This Feeling” boasted the best lyrics I heard all year.       



2.  Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons       

Don’t know precisely why Slug’s song-pictures spoke so directly to a middle-class white guy but this was a huge grower for me. Maybe Obama is making me soft, but this really moved me as hip-hop social commentary.       


3. Lackthereof – Your Anchor     


One of a couple of 2008 releases that didn’t seem to get much traction, I loved every track from Danny Seim (Menomena) with the distinct exception of his ill-advised Nationals cover.       



4. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes       


No shame of the blog buzz here. Loved each inflection of CSNY, Paul Simon, and every other 60’s folk singer this apes. By the way, I didn’t really feel the Sun Giant EP; It was the full-length that got me.       



5. Pete and the Pirates – Little Death       


It is a mystery of the music industry (to me) how an album so clearly radio-ready like Little Death could fail to get an American release. The power pop import is dirt cheap so Google and buy.        



6. Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid       


Don’t know how you top Leaders of the Free World, and I don’t know that this does. However I will say Seldom Seen Kid really came alive after seeing Elbow perform live, a highlight of the year.        



7. Son Lux – At War with Walls & Mazes       

Honestly, Ryan Lott was THIS CLOSE to producing a game-changer with Walls & Mazes but for a paucity of musical ideas. A few redundant arrangements left me slightly disappointed, but check out Son Lux—another release I thought missed out on due acclaim.       


8. Crystal Stilts – Alight of Night     


Confession: Sometimes I’m not sure if I like an album because I truly enjoy it or because I know I am SUPPOSED to enjoy it. I am fairly sure—but not 100% certain— that Alight of Night is the former.       



9. Boris – Smile  


Although I was somewhat bitter to find the single, “Messeeji,” was homogenized from its Japanese version in the Southern Lord pressing, I still loved Smile. At times, it felt closer to Yo La Tengo than hard core/experimental.       


10. British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?       


Five years after The Decline of British Sea Power, I now feel compelled to defend BSP. The arena choruses of Rock Music stuck with me all year long.       



Almost as good as the Top 10 I mean
Seriously this is pretty arbitrary

Dr. DogFate
Neil HalsteadOh Mighty Engine!
SloanParallel Play
Jason CollettHere’s to Being Here
Robert ForsterThe Evangelist
Ida MariaFortress Around my Heart
The RosebudsLife Like
Kelley StoltzCircular Sounds
The Tallest Man on EarthShallow Graves

Biggest disappointment

The DearsMissiles. I may or may not have a mancrush on Murray Lightburn, but holy criminy this seemed really flat to me.

Some cool songs that I liked

Los Campesinos! – “Death to Los Campesinos!”  LC ends almost every song with an exclamation point! Also with a punk-populist shouted chorus, which is why I can’t entirely get into them!
Jack Penate – “Spit at Stars”  The most insanely catchy song I have heard in many years.
Chatham County Line – “Chip of a Star”  The second most insanely catchy song I have heard in many years.
Cut Copy – “Lights and Music”
De Novo Dahl – “Shout”
Air France – “No Excuses”
Ron Sexsmith – “One Last Round”  Ron is also responsible for the regrettably cloying Feist single “Brandy Alexander.”
Thao Nguyen – “Bag of Hammers”
Neil Halstead – “Queen Bee”

Best EP

The MuslimsThe Muslims EP

Best Live Show

Elbow – May 3 at The Depot. Not just my favorite performance of the year, but one of the best shows I have seen in many years.




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