Picking up the pieces

Hello friends, and most friends alike. The recent best of lists have just been great. But no list is complete with one’s own subjectivity, which is why I’ve decided to add on. I have no quarrels about any of those picks. In fact, I liked them so much I wanted to make my own.  These picks have been something I’ve listened to endlessly since the start of the year and feel would make other’s lives richer if they did the same. And this is where we shall begin.

Ladytron – Velocifero

One can only beg for an album like this. Ladytron’s previous work strived to be more electronic, and whilst this doesn’t fall far from the tree, they’ve managed to insert cute and catchy pop riffs into songs such as Ghost and Runaway. I fear for what their next work might be because of such a success like this. And by success, I mean something I couldn’t stop listening to for months. Incidentally, I saw them live before the cd even dropped in stores, so most of the songs on their set list where rather new. Their raw energy can not be matched on disc and such a fantastic light show can and most definitely will be compared with Pink Floyd. Yeah. I said it.

Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell

I wonder how old these guys can be. Their music, I’m sure, isn’t meant to appeal to someone of my age and stature, but it most definitely does. They sound like something 14 and 15 year old girls long to have in their life, but have not met one person who has appreciated their work as much as I have. When learning of their full length album coming out, I put their EP”s on repeat to get myself psyched. A lesson in crime and Smith have been worthy, but this trumps them both. As an added bonus you even get an extra disc full of a few remixed tracks when you purchase this cd. I’m sure few did though. I feel they are probably misunderstood on which direction to take their music. I mean, they must certainly want fans other than guys like me, right?

Sia – Some People Have Real Problems

I remember first learning about Sia. It was a cold, dark knight. Yeah, I spelled it. I was listening to a certain show my favorite radio station does for people like me who stay up past midnight. And one of her songs just popped right on it. I was thrust into spiraling emotions when hearing the sheer depth of her words. I was then put on a quest to find her music. Her cd had not yet been released in the U.S. Fuck, I though. It was ok, I got it eventually.  And then this came out. Her follow up to Colour the small one. I prefer the previous, but this just struck me in such a way I can’t explain. With tracks like Academia and Lentil, I just longed to listen to more. I even went so far as to buy her live album that came out between her last album and this one. Anything I could hear by this woman, I wanted. I missed a rare opportunity to see her live by waiting too long to purchase tickets. Apparently, I’m not her only fan as the single show I’ve ever seen her play in my region of the globe, was sold out. She is one of the few artists I would probably travel out of my town to see. And that’s saying a lot.

My Brightest Diamond – A Thousand Shark’s Teeth

One of my biggest obsessions is trying to remember how I found out about an artist. I discovered this wonderful little band in The Rolling Stone of all fucking places. They interviewed Colin Meloy of the Decemberists about something. This was a time when I would kill for new music, and once did, but that’s a different story. He mentioned My Brightest Diamond. He said it was a band he was listening to at the moment. Being really into the Decemberists at the time, I had no other option than to take poor Colin’s advice. And take it I did. I went through many hoops to obtain her first cd, which can still make a grown man cry. Whether that man is me, I can not say, but she has such a voice one can only dream about listening to. The kind of voice that makes you want to tell others about. Like I am now. When I gained covert information about a non-remixed follow up to her first cd Bring me the workhorse was coming out, I went ape shit. After months of waiting, this was the result. I always find it amazing when an artist touches my emotions perfectly with that one special song. On her previous album it was Gone away. On this fantastic record it was To pluto’s moon. I had the distinct pleasure of seeing her play this live. Even more impressive was the intro to the song. She used those things you wave around as a kid that makes those “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh” noises. They’re about a foot long, almost any color of your choice, ridges on the side. How amazing to use a childhood object to portray such a sadness that only an adult can feel. The only downside was her incredibly short set. Maybe 10, 11 songs. But no matter. Being able to catch her was a gift itself.

Health – Disco

Not too much to say about this band, because they don’t have much to say themselves. I find it hard to like a band with very few words in their music. Granted, they are a noise band, but I still feel that’s a little strange. What’s nice about this album is that this is most of their hits remixed by more vocal, lesser known bands/dj’s. Sadly, I prefer this cd to their only other one, Health. It’s probably a band’s worst nightmare to sound better remixed than their original recordings. But what can I say? They are a noise band after all. The remixes just add so much more… noise!

Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair

Probably the most baffling thing about the previous music blogs was not seeing this in there. With Crystal Castles and Cut Copy alike, Hercules and Love Affair takes such a bold move with their music by infusing it with little bits of disco and dance. I hate to categorize the music I listen to as dance, or disco for that matter, but this was a very danceable record. With hits such as Blind and Hercules Theme, one can’t help but get that tingly feeling in their leg. Which feeling is that? Well, it might be the feeling of an erection hitting your leg, which, for obvious reasons, I hope isn’t happening. Why, you ask? Well, the singer on a few tracks is Antony Hegarty from Antony and the Johnsons. Yes, that’s a man. Yes, that’s a very, very gay man. But, the tingly sensation I would hope you’d be getting is that of rhythm. A common feeling, yes, but one usually invoked when the music is good and the bitches are hot. While I know not of any hot bitches, it may be the good music. I can’t help but listening to this cd over and over. It’s a nice, fresh take on disco, which is such a worn out concept. Hopefully this band can sustain without the vocals of flamboyant male singers.

Lightspeed Champion – Falling Off The Lavender Bridge

Lightspeed champion isn’t anything new or original, but a very relaxing wave of rock. I don’t really know how else to categorize him. Recorded by Saddle Creek producer Mike Mogis. Saddle Creek, as we all know, also put out other great artists such as Bright Eyes, which Mike is a part of, The Faint, and Art in Manila. I imagine this was a very big change for singer Devonte Hynes, formerly of the english punk band the Test Icicles. He only played guitar for them. What made him branch and record his own album? Who knows? But I’m not complaining. I had this in my car for at least a month. I can’t tell you what it is about him that I just got addicted to, but I yearn for more.

Honorable mentions – Spoon, Morrissey, Atmosphere, She Wants Revenge, Vampire Weekend, and The Duke Spirit.

…For the rest of us.

HAPPY FESTIVUS!

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.

Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?

Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us

The script to “The Strike” episode of Seinfeld.

How you can celebrate Festivus.

How to make a Festivus pole.

But just remember…

…Festivus isn’t over until you pin me!

My Year In Lists, part two: We’ll be the man with the broom if you be the guts of the room.

“Everything that has a beginning has an ending.”

Do you remember how bad the Lord Of The Rings movies were? If you read the books (and loved them, because that’s what happens when you read those books, I don’t care who you are), you knew they, the movies, were shit. Also, if you had taste, you hated those movies too (but that’s just a given), but do you especially remember how bad the last one was? we stole the line from the theatrical outhouse that was The Return Of The King because here we are, bringing you the epic-ness of a fantasy trilogy, all packed into the second of two (we presume, but who knows?) mega posts looking back on music from this past year.

You cannot pass… this up! And here we are, ladies and gentlemen, bringing you:

THE Counterforce SUPER GINORMOUS CRAZY POWERHOUSE UBER-SEXY BEST ALBUMS OF THE YEAR OF OUR BLOG 2008 OR SOMEWHERE IN THAT VICINITY LIST!

part two

Oh yes.

We’re leaving this list un-ranked and from that you can just assume that if the album has made the cut with us thus far, it’s just awesome and that’s that, right? Right. So let’s do this thing, shall we?

Santogold, Santogold.

Lollipop Gomez: If your music is featured on Gossip Girl, then you’ve arrived, baby. This is a great scene because I hate Dan Humphrey and want him to burn in a fiery crash.

Marco Sparks: I’m embarrassed to be quoting Entertainment Weekly here (it’s the kind of thing that douchebag Dan Humphrey would do), but I will with their statement about how “the album is hardly flawless, but in era that retro-fetishizes rock whitewashed pop, Santogold feels both raw and real.” Also, “L.E.S. Artistes” is just a great fucking song (about hipsters and scenesters). And I don’t want to forget to mention that Top Ranking, her mixtape with Diplo, is pretty fantastic too.

Beach House, Devotion.

Marco: This is an album that I love, but in a deeply melancholy sort of way. You know when you hear about a doomed love affair, always looking back at the person that’s no longer in your life, describing them almost as if they’re a ghost who never left? That’s what this album feels like to me, only in the present tense, with the falling embers of future sadness landing all around you.

No Age, Nouns.

Marco: Just a nice, simple, and fun guitar album. Poppy when it needs to be and grungy when it feels like. This is the band performing “Eraser” on the Craig Ferguson show and this is Brittany Julious talking about the album wonderfully as she always does.

The Kills, Midnight Boom.

Marco: You know, it doesn’t escape our notice that there’s a lot of dirty, sleazy guitar all over this list. We’re somewhat ruthlessly cultured people and I promise you we don’t always sit around awash in soundtracks to dive bars, but hot and trashy will always have it’s naughty appeal. Watch this video for “Last Day Of Magic” and just try and tell me you disagree. Just you try.

Here’s Brittany Julious’ wonderful write up on the album.

Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours.

And in a double whammy of weird wildness:

Deerhunter, Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.

Atlas Sound, Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel.

Marco Sparks: Two things. Firstly, I feel like no review of a Deerhunter (Peanut posted one of their videos last week) or Atlas Sound album can seem to escape mentioning Bradford Cox’s Marfan syndrome, which greatly contributes to his somewhat offputting physical appearance (he looks like a walking, talking freak indie messiah, like he should be in a robe and baptizing people in a river with Devendra Banhart), which is cool because I feel like his appearance contributes to his overall presence. You look at him and his image screams “Outsider!” to you and you believe that even more when you listen to his music, so strange and weird and haunting and perfect in all those regards. Secondly, it’s totally and horribly unfair of me to bunch these albums together, both spearheaded by Cox, because they’re completely different and yet compliment each other so nicely. Both have elements of ambient shoegaze drifting in and out of them and both sound like could be epic tales of love and longing and loss, sung by ghosts. One’s just a bit more rocking.

Hot Chip, Made In The Dark.

LG: Made In The Dark was my favorite this year and as my favorite, it’s hard to say why. It’s a dance party in songs like “Ready for The Floor” and “One Pure Thought” and it’s the perfect 3 am and a joint sound with “We’re Looking For A Lot of Love.”

Shugo Tokumaru, Exit.

Marco: This album came out last year in Tokumaru’s native Japan, but didn’t make it’s way over to our shores and into my brain until this year, and I’m incredibly thankful it did.  This is the gorgeous “Parachute” which kicks off the album:

There’s something delightfully atmospheric about this quirky feel good album, sung entirely in Japanese, and definitely carrying a lovely foreign-ness to it, but still feeling wonderfully universal in it’s tunes and harmony. This is something wonderful to get lost in.

Portishead, Third.

Marco: If I had to distill my appreciation for this album down to a simple sentence, it’d be: Totally worth the wait. I’d compare this album to finding a long lost obscure book by your favorite author whose works you discovered years ago… and then you found this. It’s challenging at first, but wonderfully so, maybe not picking up exactly where the previous works left off, but carrying that signature voice. Beth Gibbons’ beautiful and sad voice in this case. I can’t say enough wonderful things about an album that starts off with a little magic, jumps into a car chase, and then pummels me with it’s machine gun.

TV On The Radio, Dear Science.

Marco: An album I had no real expectations of and maybe that’s why it took me personally by surprise? I mean, I only kind of liked their last album, and, well, I really like this one. I’m trying to avoid the cliches you’ve heard about this band and this already, things like “art rock with a face” and “Prince-like,” but they’re accurate. This is a fun album, a smart album, a good album, a rocking album, a sexy album, and an album that can be enjoyed for a long time to come. That’s just my opinion, but maybe I just feel that way because it’s safe for me to do so?

THE Honorable (and maybe not so honorable) Mentions: Peter Bjorn & John, Beck, Death Cab For Cutie, Stars, Fleet Foxes, Deerhoof, NIN, Let’s Wrestle, Gang Gang Dance, Fennesz, Department Of Eagles, Nas (I may be the only person who liked this album, sadly, but I’m okay with that)(also, his mixtape with DJ Green Lantern was awesome too), Shearwater, Wale (which I’m both amazed and pleased ended up on Pitchfork’s best of list), Gnarls Barkley, MGMT, The Notwist, Marnie Stern, Abe Vigoda, The Helio Sequence, BSS presents Brendan Canning, Paavoharju, Fuck Buttons, Basia Bulat, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, Moscow Olympics, Q-Tip, Sam Sparro, Jay Electronica (but that doesn’t really count since I only just discovered him this year), Annie, Mogwai, Wolf Parade, The Cure, Elbow, Kleerup (everyone loves the Lykke Li on this album, myself included, but I think I like the Robyn track even more), School Of Seven Bells, Fucked Up, The Verve, David Byrne & Brian Eno (“The Bush Era was not a particularly hopeful time for many of us, Byrne writes in the liner notes to Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, “so where did all this exuberance and hope come from?”), Max Tundra, Between The Buried And The Me, Kelli Ali, Be Your Own Pet, Empire Of The Sun, Black Kids, Native Korean Rock, Protest The Hero, The Sea And Cake, Brazilian Girls, Tokyo Police Club, Foals, The Vivian Girls, Bon Iver (mayb? yeah, sure), and of course, Guns N’ Roses. That’s a whole lot of covering our asses right there, isn’t it? :)

Moscow Olympics “Ocean Sign” (mp3)

No Age “It’s Oh So Quiet” (Bjork cover)(mp3)

Ringo Deathstarr “Starsha” (mp3)

Beach House “You Came To Me” (mp3)

The Notwist “Good Lies” (mp3)

Passion Pit “Sleepyhead” (mp3)

Before we leave you with your mind completely blown by our excellent listing skills here, here’s Stereogum‘s 50 mp3s of the year and their 20 albums they’re most excited about in the new year. It’s an interesting list, including The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Doves, U2, and Lily Allen, of course, but surprisingly not including the new Andrew Bird album, Noble Beast, which I’ve actually heard and enjoy quite a bit, nor the next offering from Metric. Take that, Canadians. Then, one my favorite end of the year lists, The Onion‘s least essential albums of  2008. On top of it, Kanye’s possibly been caught lip synching and here’s one couple’s list of rock stars they’re allowed to sleep with.

And now we will depart, slipping out your back door, or slipping in your back door depending on the mood, and we’ll do so while humming our jam of the year: