Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jim's Best-Of (sort of)

The year is only two weeks from its end, and as such, it’s only logical that we’d have a best-of. Everybody’s doing it, right?


But honestly, as we don’t have any readers just yet, another ranked list from another random person would be kind of pointless, no? Besides, for anyone who reads music blogs, there are more than enough people out there who can tell you to listen to Fleet Foxes and Deerhunter (but both of which were really good, and both of which should be listened to by all. I couldn’t resist. TV on the Radio as well). So, while I will go so far as to say which album on this list is my favorite, the rest are all really enjoyable as well, and don’t really need any rankings.

Here are, in alphabetical order, quite simply ten albums (eleven, actually, counting both Los Campesinos! albums released) that I enjoyed this year, that aren’t all going to top various year-end lists.

*Be Your Own Pet – Get Awkward: It’s a shame that these guys (and girl) broke up after releasing this album, which was only their second. So, they sang songs about partying. We NEEDED songs about partying! It was nice that we had a couple of bands that were writing awesome songs about partying! Now, we can only look to the Hold Steady to pick up the slack.

(Note: everyone needs to listen to the Hold Steady album that came out this year too. Not that there aren’t enough people saying to listen to that either.)

*Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles: A friend of mine turned me on to this album earlier in the year, telling me that it sounded like “an army of pissed-off Game Boys.” I have yet to hear a more apt description of what’s going on.

Seriously, those are some pissed-off Game Boys, and, well, I enjoyed Game Boy back in the day. I’m sure you did too. A couple of angry Canadian misanthropes make loud music that’s fun to dance to. Isn’t that enough?

*Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords: Most of you probably know them. Most of you also think they’re as funny as I do. Surprisingly though, they actually have some musical chops. “New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo" can almost certainly expect a boost into the top three with this plug.

*Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight: Without a doubt, this is the album that I listened to most on this list. It’s filled with a lot of big ballads, but not in that “Coldplay-ballad-with-nothing-to-say” way.

(First shot at Coldplay! Swish!)

At any rate, this album just came so out of nowhere for me and got so much repetition that I would have to call it my favorite of the year, in a slight edge over Man Man. The major reason for that small victory wasn’t so much because of the music, but because I expected Man Man to continuously be great. By contrast, I’d never heard of Frightened Rabbit before I had this recommended to me. Highly recommended.

*Los Campesinos! – Hold on Now, Youngster/We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed: In general, I’ve always had a bias against double albums. For the most part, if you give me a double album, I could probably just cut off six to eight songs and give you a decidedly better single album. As if reading my mind, Los Campesinos decided to simply, umm, release two albums within eight months of each other.

A little bit of background on these guys: They’re a seven-piece band, and to make matters more confusing, they’ve all taken the surname “Campesinos!” (That’s right: Aleksandra, Ellen, Gareth, Harriet, Neil, Ollie, and Tom Campesinos) They’re from Wales (home of the… umm…), but their name is in Spanish. They have a song called “This Is How You Spell ‘Hahaha, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics.’” This all sounds ridiculous. And I’d pick one, but they both sound pretty close to me to justify only including it (slight edge to Youngster).

*Man Man – Rabbit Habits: As I mentioned earlier, this was right up there with Frightened Rabbit as my favorite. People have compared Man Man to Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, which means that the album sounds like a carnival gone horribly, horribly wrong… or a carnival that’s gone horribly, horribly right. Plus, it certainly doesn’t hurt that they hail from my hometown (go Phillies).

Also, if you ever get a chance to see Man Man live, I highly advise that you do it. I’m pretty much guaranteeing a more-than-entertaining experience.

*Plants and Animals – Parc Avenue: Right before I left for college, I went to see Wolf Parade in Philadelphia. I wasn’t really excited about having to stand through opening bands, but I was pleasantly surprised by the second opener, Plants and Animals. In fact, they were so good that I promptly forgot about them for the next year! Nice. But anyway, this is an excellent (sometimes) folk record. I suppose that it isn’t fair to call it that, as it bounces all over the place, sometimes within the same song.

Interestingly enough, when asking for similar artists on Last.fm, the first one that came up was, surprise! Frightened Rabbit! Way to back up your choices, Jim. *pat on back*

*Sons and Daughters – This Gift: This is a really fun little record with a good amount of edge that I don’t think a lot of people heard. It’s also making me realize that there’s a fair amount of “grrrrrrl power” going on in this list. Maybe next time, we’ll do nothing but misogyny.

*Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – We Brave Bee Stings And All: This album came out in January, and so by the end of the year, it would have been all but forgotten about. Honestly, the first word that comes to mind as I listen to it is “nice.” That’s not for lack of trying, and it’s not intentionally vague, but it’s an album that’s really pleasing to the ears. It’s also only 32 minutes long, so it’s short and sweet, and over before you know it.

*Why? – Alopecia: I have this feeling that this is going to be the album where should people try to download it on my recommendation, they will no longer value our opinions because they’ll be mildly creeped out by what goes on inside Yoni Wolf’s head. I’ve heard it described as a rap album, but that isn’t really fair. All I can suggest is that you listen to it for yourself. Also, a word of warning: a couple of the tracks are kind of disturbing. Not the most jovial album I’ve ever heard in my life.

And there it is. There’s a playlist at the bottom with a track from each, as well as one from the Hold Steady and Nick Cave. Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment