sand is overrated

all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 is overrated : albums of the year (1-5)

finally, on the very last day of the year, my five favorite albums of 2008...

click here for albums of the year 6-10
click here for tracks of the year 1-10
click here for tracks of the year 11-20
click here for tracks of the year 21-30

the midnight organ fight

frightened rabbit

fat cat, april 14, 2008

"backwards walk"
"the twist"

thanks to charles at heartache with hard work for turning me on to the midnight organ fight. after reading his recommendation back in april, i remember going over to frightened rabbit's myspace page and listening to "the twist", "the modern leper", and "head rolls off". i must have listened to those songs ten times that day before heading off to emusic to download the whole thing. the album's consistency is marked by the presence of two tracks on my favorite songs list, and there could have very easily been three or four more. there is just so much to love about this album: musically, the melodies rattle around in your head for days, the guitars are crisp and the strings forlorn, and grant hutchison's drumming is relentless. but, for me, the best thing about the midnight organ fight is the stripped-to-the-bone honesty and unabashed rawness in scott hutchison's lyrics and voice (with a scottish accent no less!), providing a description of feelings that are at once startling and yet altogether familiar. there is simply nothing about this album that i don't love.

með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
sigur rós
xl recordings, june 24, 2008

"inní mér syngur vitleysingur"
"heima" (japanese album)

sigur rós has always made beautiful music, but the release of með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust added a dimension that was previously unheard (at least by me)--joy. this newfound happiness manifested itself in the nudity on the album cover, the similar nudity in the first video released, and within the song in that video as well, "gobbledigook". in fact, the unfamiliar tenor of "gobbledigook", first released as a single in may, seemed so strange and unfamiliar that i at first wasn't sure quite what to think of it. but when the full album was released, and i heard "inní mér syngur vitleysingur" as track two, this joyous new dimension came across so convincingly and refreshingly that it was impossible not to love. there is plenty of the minimalism and ethereal beauty that have defined the band for years, but there is no mistaking that this album is a celebration, and by the time the half-way point of "festival" comes along, you'll be ready to lose yourself as well. the only adjective that i can summon at this point that seems to do this album a hint of justice is "glorious".

for emma, forever ago
bon iver
jagjaguwar, february 19, 2008

"re: stacks"
"for emma"

the backstory has been told many other places in much more eloquent ways than i ever could, but for emma, forever ago is the product of a catharsis. the gravity of the nine songs represent the deliberations and reflections of a man so longed steeped in sadness and loneliness that his mirrored reflection, perhaps once unrecognizable at the beginning of this pain, had probably become...familiar. but the songs are also a process, illuminating a path on which failure, disappointment, and heartache can be weathered, and by the end he's in a different place completely: "this is not the sound of a new man / or a crispy realization / it's the sound of the unlocking and the lift away". there will always be challenges in life, but learning how to let go of what can be let go, and knowing where to put the things that can't, is an endeavor of majestic proportions. and an album that is so purely reflective of that process is surely one of the best of the year.

3 rounds and a sound
blind pilot
expunged records, july 15, 2008

"3 rounds and a sound"

this was my favorite discovery of the year. there is a highly significant personal dimension to this album that has nothing at all to do with the quality of the music, as it played an important role indicating mutual interest in building what is now the most important relationship in my life. but that doesn't help you at all, does it? so know that lead singer israel nebeker's voice is as melodic and wonderfully expressive as any you'll find in indie rock. musically, acoustic guitars are strummed with purpose and combine with freshly brushed drums and horns that are, at times, dripping with sorrow, to create a mood that is somehow simultaneously laden with melancholy and consistently bright, recalling an acoustic jeff tweedy. and lyrical gems abound, with thoughtful lines that are capable of discerning the complexities of a life full-lived. in other words, regardless of the personal connection you may or may not have to this album, it is one that is definitely worth hearing.

you & me
the walkmen
gigantic, august 19, 2008

"if only it were true"
"four provinces"

i never got around to writing about you & me, and i'm really not sure why. it's one of those albums that i can come back to again and again, any time i'm in need of a solid, consistently great listen. i've been thinking about what attracts me to the album, and i think the best description i can come up with is an abstract notion that it occupies the space in between sunset and evening. after you've cut off work for the night but haven't yet had a chance to change out of your work clothes. when there's a strange combination of weariness and energy, of relief that the working day is done and anticipation for what comes next. especially when what comes next involves a me and a you. you & me encompasses all of that. hamilton leithauser's voice gives the band a working-class feel, brass sections give slower songs a weary quality that quickly gives way to the nervous vigor of songs like "four provinces", and all the while a sense of hope and excitement pervades throughout, infusing the album with the anticipation that "i know that it's true / it's gonna be a good year"


Blogger Charles said...

That Frightened Rabbit record really is amazing. As usual, we overlap a lot. Though I just cannot find myself particularly interested in that Bon Iver album. Everyone who has similar tastes to me seems to love it, but I can't do it. No idea why.

Blind Pilot is one of those records I've been meaning to listen to for a long time but still haven't checked out. On this recommendation, I'll give it a try.

Happy new year!

January 9, 2009 at 12:18 AM  

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all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

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