Posted By: Coco Buchanan
15. She & Him, Volume One
This was definitely a pleasant surprise, for most people I’m sure, especially in comparison to the retardedness that was Scarlett Johansson’s vanity project album of Tom Waits covers (which was, to be fair, very well arranged and produced-she was the worst thing about it, which is pretty pathetic). Unlike Johansson, Deschanel has a unique voice, style, and interpretation. It’s been said before, but it really seems like Deschanel just stepped out of another time. My favorite track, a cover of Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got A Hold On Me,” was the one that most frequently made repeat appearances on my various “I’m sad about a boy” itunes playlists, as did “Take it Back.” In slightly more optimistic (but still super emo) moods, I was more inclined towards “Black Hole.” Aside from satisfying my 14-year old girly histrionic tendencies, I think this album has mass appeal to all ages, and if nothing else, establishes the fact that M. Ward can really do no wrong.
14. M83, Saturdays = Youth
I saw M83 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in the spring, and though I thought my drunken state would sort of ruin the experience, the music somehow transcended the dumb, fumbly drunkyness and totally entranced me. This feeling somehow, totally translated to the album. My favorite track by far is “We Own The Sky.” It’s serene and energizing at the same time, making it a good track to play while doing yoga-hence the meditative qualities. Many reviewers have noted that this album is sort of like a John Hughes movie. Nowhere is that more evident, I think, as in tracks like “Graveyard Girl” and “Kim and Jessie.” As much as I liked the latter track a one point, I’m actually kind of sick of hearing it at Forever 21 constantly. Not that I shop there.
13. Hercules & The Love Affair (self-titled)
Yes, yes, a big year for real disco. There is so very much to say about this band. Who knew Antony could party? Who knew that Nomi would pretty much be THE sex symbol of 2008? Lots of exciting things here to unpack. But above all else, the actual music itself is fucking fierce. “Blind” was obviously the favorite track here. It kind of reminded me of that Oscar Wilde quote that was something along the lines of “I may be in the gutter, but I’m looking up at the stars.” For me, this song was both an anthem of hope, being driven, and a big ‘ol “fuck you” to judgemental assholes. And the best part? You can fucking DANCE to it. This is exactly why disco is so amazing. I can’t help but think of my friend Liz Wight of Love Grenades, who came out with the deliciously subversive “Tigers in the Fire”– definitely the feminist “fuck you” danceable anthem of 2008, not to mention that it’s sexy as hell. Anyway, other tracks of note on the self-titled Hercules & The Love Affair were “Raise Me Up” and “You Belong.” The latter especially makes me wish I was a hot drag queen.
12. Hot Chip, Made in the Dark
If for nothing else but “Ready for the Floor” is and always will be one of my all-time favorite dance songs EVER. I can’t tell you how much me & my roommate jumped around like lunatics to this song. As someone on Pitchfork (shut up) mentioned, “Ready for the Floor” blurs the lines between bridge, verse & chorus-which is pretty brilliant and makes for a very complicated yet catchy-as-fuck song. The rest of the album was good, but this track particularly blew my mind this year.
11. Girl Talk, Feed the Animals
I suppose there’s an issue with this being on any top-whatever list, because of the genre of this type of stuff. But whatever. All I know is that I danced my ass off at his October show at Terminal 5, and when I hear Radiohead, Sinead O’Connor, The Band, Jay Z, Mary J Blige, and hooks like “Throw some d’s on that bitch,” I am a happy little fucking camper. It’s just plain fun and awesome, OK? And it totally made my year.
10. Vivian Girls (self titled)
I saw these girls on a boat-a cruise around lower Manhattan at the very beginning of fall. I obviously have a soft spot for very stripped-down all-girl bands, and though these girls were Bratmobile-reminiscent, they sort of more remind me of the Beach Boys. The way their voices and instruments intertwine so perfectly, and yet imperfectly. “Where Do You Run” is most illustrative of this, and probably one of their more down-tempo songs that is almost 60s pop girl group-esque. I also really enjoy “All The Time” and “No,” which are more traditionally punk rock-ish. Fun Fact: The band is named after the Henry Darger novel/painting characters.
9. Santogold (self titled)
Much has been said about Santogold this year. For one, I get the whole MIA comparison, but Santogold is more pop, less rap, more rockin’, and more chill. I love when she ventures into dub reggae territory-it gives me license to indulge my Southern Californian laid-back-edness without feeling like a total tool who listens to nothing but Sublime and Bob Marley (who I both listen to, incidentally, ha ha). Also, did you know that she wrote songs for Ashlee Simpson? Wow, Ashlee Simpson must be THAT fucking horrible such that I’ve never been unironically drawn to her. Obviously, “Lights Out” is definitely THE pop song on the album, along with the subversive “LES Artistes” which has sadly (IRONICALLY HAHA) been, like, cross-subverted (?) by hipsters. Other tracks of interest: “Anne” (love that howly thing she does), and “You’ll Find a Way.” Also, I totally heart the 2 side dancers she brings with her onstage–yes I went to that coveted, sweaty Summer Stage Show at Central Park.
8. Crystal Castles (self titled)
I never liked this band until this summer, when I saw them at the Popped Festival (Vampire Weekend headlined) in Philly. Which was outside-not the Crystal Castles natural habitat at all. But I have to say that I was impressed by them the most out of everyone, including Vampire Weekend (Crystal Castles is like the anti-Vampire Weekend). I don’t care how self-consciously tantrum-y and dark Crystal Castles is, I just think there must be something real in all that energy. I was TRULY OBSESSESSED with, like, could NOT stop listening to for like 5 months, “Crimewave” and “Vanished.” “Untrust Us” and “Courtship Dating” are pretty haunting, and “xxzxcuzx me” makes my head want to explode in the best possible way. Fun to listen to at the airport for some reason-“Good Time.” Perhaps because of all the old school video game noises Crystal Castles tap into childhood memories or something, but it all just fucking works.
7. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
Yes, I was one of the 5 million girls at the Bowery Ballroom show this fall to be wearing a plaid shirt. More specifically, I was one of 4 girls in my immediate 5 foot vicinity wearing a specifically red and white checked shirt. Regardless of the obviously widespread appeal to every schmuck with a woodland fetish, I really loved this album. The best track for me is “Creature Fear”-so much emotion and power that builds and builds. Practically every one of these songs is pretty and emotionally moving in a similar way, so I don’t even know if I should mention that “Skinny Love,” “Flume,” “re:Stacks,” and “For Emma” are amazing. At the show, I was pretty impressed with the power of “Flume” in comparison with the album recording. Since this came out last February, I always wished it came out at the beginning of the winter, because along with Fleet Foxes, this should definitely get you through the lows of an seemingly interminable and freezing winter (for this Southern California native, anyway).
6. Fleet Foxes (self-titled)
I think my feelings about “White Winter Hymnal” have been fairly well documented. Give me your beards and your plaid!! “Ragged Wood” is also another good one for a playful romp in the hay. “Meadowlarks” and “Your Protector” basically render me a drooling, useless pile of girl. How lame am I? I disgust myself. But yes, though this album tops like, everyone’s top-whatever list, there’s a fucking reason for it. Did I mention the lead singer is only 22? WHAA???
5. Vampire Weekend (self titled)
Probably the band that is the most argued-about this year. Though I saw them play Glasslands in the summer of 2007, they didn’t really hit “the scene” as it were, until this year. Yes, they’re the band most reminiscent of a JCrew catalog, but dammit if I don’t enjoy it. They’re performance on SNL in sweaters was proclaimed the death of rock by New York Magazine, but I disagree. Honestly, how can you not have fun while listening to “A-Punk”? How can you not chuckle when listening to “Oxford Comma”? How can you not want to have a 17th century style tea party listening to “M79”? Or wish you played the cello after listening to “Walcott”? I wholeheartedly love every single song from beginning to end of this album, feeling rewarded with something (even if silly and/or fleeting) after each track.
4. Of Montreal, Skeletal Lamping
I really don’t understand why this album was so hated/got bad reviews. I thoroughly enjoyed this album. I dunno, I like and can relate to Kevin Barnes’s highs, lows, and desire for 5 trillion alter-egos (even I have a black she-male alter ego, for fuck’s sake). Does this make me coo coo? Maybe. But dude, if nothing else, this album was just FUN in spite of the drama. “Plastis Wafer”? You can’t NOT want to dance and laugh to that (another one bitten by the disco bug of this year). “Touched Something’s Hollow”? It’s SOOO Queen! It’s so Hedwig and/or Bowie in the early years. So epic and deliciously dramatic!! I dunno, I’ll never get sick of Kevin Barnes’ in-your-face playful sexuality. Also, they put on one THE HANDS-DOWN BEST show I saw this year at Roseland. I got VIP tickets and sat next to Jens Lekman, but honestly, that was the least of the exciting things to happen there. Also, another Henry Darger reference here– the cover maybe?
3. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular
As much as this was the most obvious thing in the world to put on a list, you have to admit, these guys were pretty much THE band of this & last year. I remember “Kids” was the first song I heard by them, which really impressed me. Then, “Time to Pretend” became super popular, and I think this was the video that featured that cat, right? “Electric Feel” was totally the dance track of the Spring/Summer, and I still thoroughly enjoy the Prince-meets-classic rock like vibe, as also exemplified by “Youth” and “Of Birds, Moons, and Monsters” (the latter is so America (the band)!). Lately, though, my favorite track has been “Weekend Wars,” which I think captures the band’s sort of psychedelic/mellow and yet very of-the-moment-ness the best. And yes, I did used to have the poster of this album cover in my room until the McCarren Park fiasco.
2. Cut Copy, In Ghost Colors
It was a tough to not give these guys the top spot on my list. I think I ate, breathed, and slept Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colors this entire year more than anything else here. This is another one from beginning to end, I truly savored every song, and therefore, it’s sort of ridiculous to highlight specific tracks, but here it goes: “Feel the Love” (love that little electronic voice part!), “Lights & Music” (my FAVORITE TRACK EVERRRR! Hands-down the best thing to dance to this year), “Unforgettable Season” (James Spader and Robert Downey Jr flash before my eyes), “So Haunted” (the most simultaneously melancholy, powerfully rockin’ and yet danc-y on the album), “Hearts on Fire” (electrically exciting music made to make out to), “Far Away” (I recall rocking out to this at Bar Reis while my friend G-G-G-G-G-Ghost was DJing, and definitely my 2nd favorite song to dance to on this album…fucking irresistible not to dance to!), and “Nobody Lost, Nobody Found” (I like listening to this track first before all the others for some reason). All in all, this pretty much has everything you’re looking for, and can accommodate almost any mood, but especially if you like to lose yourself in dancing like an insane person.
1. Lykke Li, Youth Novels
Yes, my girlfriend Miss Lykke Li gets the top spot. She encapsulates all of my young adult angst, urges and feelings so fucking well, it’s truly scary. “Dance, Dance, Dance” is simply amazing-both the lyrics and the cowbell-and-sax-driven music. I was about to almost write “sex driven” music, which is pretty much the biggest Freudian slip of all time. “Little Bit” truly captured one of the craziest (and best) moments in time for me this year, as has been expounded on here. “I’m Good, I’m Gone,” “Let It Fall” (lyrics like I like it soft, I like it wet, I like my makeup in a mess…and I won’t stop until my tears are all shed” -BRILLIANT!) and “Breaking It Up” are other great tracks. However, “Time Flies” is the track I’m in totally head over heels in love with at the moment, for both obvious and not obvious reasons that have to do with the events of my life at the moment. I get chills listening to her voice that is amazingly and simultaneously sweet, sexy, and sincere here more than on any other song on the album. Seriously, if you haven’t checked her out yet, do it now. And if you have listened to her and aren’t thrilled, you need to give her another chance, because I promise you that you WILL fall in love.
- Cat Power’s cover of “New York, New York”-it has sentimental value.
- The Diplo/Santogold collaboration album
- Justice’s “DVNO”
- Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
- Jens Lekman, Night Falls Over Kortedalia— honestly, I forget if it came out this or last year, but goddamn if I don’t love those Swedes. Didn’t like this album as much as You’re So Silent Jens, but “Friday Night At the Drive-In Bingo” was pretty sweet.
- Bright Eyes/Conor Obert’s Cassadega– I think I might be the only one who liked this, but “Four Winds” is awesome, dammit!
Stuff I Was Disappointed with:
- Duffy– had high expectations for this, but I honestly was so incredibly not impressed, enough that I would venture to say I’m writing her off as “crap.”
- Goldfrapp– one of the most boring shows ever at Radio City (I was more entertained by Martha Wainwright’s “Bloody Motherfucking Asshole”), and one of the biggest disappointments this year, because I really have loved them and all their permutations in the past. “Cologne Cerrone Houdini” was ok I guess.