Sunday, December 14, 2008
Top 30 Tracks of 2008
Here are 30 of the best songs I have heard this year. Love em or hate em, they got rotation in my ears and stood above the rest. My Last.FM playlist is currently rocking all 30 tracks. Some you can stream, some were unavailable. Regardless, check them out!
30. The Black Angels - "Doves" - I've just become acquainted with this track, but it's got me hypnotized. The drum beat, the guitar splashes between repeating chords and in-and-out shakiness and the reverb laden vocals induce a nostalgic rock feeling. Utterly enrapturing.
29. School of Seven Bells - "Face to Face on High Places" - The twins from On!Air!Library! and Benjamin Curtis, formerly of Secret Machines, grouped up for a beautiful shoegaze track that is dreamy and ethereal.
28. Crystal Castles - "Courtship Dating" - One of the coolest tracks of the year. the 8-Bit swirls will get you dancing and get your brain pulsating. The bleeps and bloops will dig deep into your skull and swirl inside your cranium. The synthetic sounds will pierce your ears and you will beg for more.
27. Saviours - "Mystichasm" - Apparently when Rick Rubin told Metallica to record "Master of Puppets" again, the memo go to SoCal metal heads Saviours instead of Lars and James. Here we get a blisteringly fantastic metal song that hearkens back to the 80's era of heavy metal. This is how it's done, Metallica.
26. Death Cab for Cutie - "Bixby Canyon Bridge" - For some reason, I could not ever fully get into Plans. This opening track from Narrow Stairs has some great rocking guitars and is easily one of my favorite tracks from Death Cab since Transatlanticism.
25. The Raveonettes - "Aly, Walk With Me" - A song that demands to be listened at full blast, the Dutch Duo pound their listener into submission. It will have you seeing sparks as the feedback builds in all it's beauty.
24. Torche - "Grenades" - A band know for their sludgy thunder rock wrote one of the best hard rock songs that could have easily launched them into popularity. It won't be getting much rotation on modern rock radio, but my word is this song leaps and bounds more awesome than the stuff a lot of rock bands are churning out these days.
23. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!" - With the swagger of Iggy Pop & Mick Jagger, Lazarus comes back from the dead in an amazingly campy, yet pointed track care of the Cave and the Bad Seeds. The titular track to a fantastic album. It's catchy as hell.
22. Islands - "Creeper" - Home invasion has never wanted me to get on the dance floor. But that's why Islands are a cut above the rest. The fantastically simple guitar line is punctuated by a basic drum beat and a super catchy guitar hook. The strings and woodwinds that come into action definitely give the track some more depth.
21. M83 - "Kim & Jessie" - Dreamier than any dream I've had, "Kim & Jessie" have a secret world that this track brings me to. It rises your ears above it all and creates a great atmosphere that is sumptuous and haunting.
20. Portishead - "The Rip" - Almost as long of a wait as the latest garbage from Guns N Roses came the 11-year wait for the next Portishead record. This psych pop song of dream turned nightmare is enrapturing and has one of the coolest mid song changes I've ever heard. From a simple guitar plucking into a pulsating synth arpeggio, the direction the song takes the listener is perfection.
19. Ratatat - "Shempi" - I expect this song to be playing on a futuristic merry-go-round. One that has mirror balls spinning, strobe lights pulsating and has you riding the wings of strange future beings. It's a perfect dance track that has as many interesting nuances as any other song in Ratatat's library.
18. David Byrne & Brian Eno - "Everything That Happens" - Electric gospel. That is how Byrne and Eno describe it. The track is a religious experience in itself. No percussion. Just beautiful melodies, harmonies and some of Byrne's greatest lyrics.
17. M83 - "We Own The Sky" - A trance like beat gives way to dream pop vocals. M83 has channeled some of the best elements of 80's pop music on their latest record, unlike most bands that stick to new wave cliches. This is the material of 4AD Records. It sounds nostalgic and relevant all at once.
16. Lemons Are Louder Than Rocks - "Keep My Bag" - A whimsical little campfire sing-a-long by Philly area freak folkers. It's not as much a song that will change the face of music as much as a song that will change the expression on my face.
15. The Mars Volta - "Goliath" - Easily one of Mars Volta's best tracks, "Goliath" is nothing short of huge. Bombastic guitar solos, cacophonous drumming at light speed and laser pitched vocals lead to one of the years best epics.
14. Electric Six - "We Were Witchy Witchy White Women" - A single riff repeated and pummeled into the listeners mind has lead to one of the catchiest E6 songs since "Dance Epidemic." Nothing short of absurd, this track is constantly ready to reel out of control due to Dick Valentine's lyrics, but the riff keeps the track in order punctuated by strange rhythm and a wicked awesome outro guitar solo.
13. The Jet Age - "Maybe Love's a Transmission" - A posthumous love song from across the ocean is an interesting idea. A spirit yearning for the one he loves after he gives his life for an idea. It helps that the song just flat out rocks. A very refreshing tune.
12. Ladyhawke - "Magic" - This is what Katy Perry should sound like. This is what The Killers should sound like. Pure, unadulterated pop. Just wait as Ladyhawke is going to explode. This tune just reeks of New Order and in the best possible ways.
11. Black Mountain - "Queens Will Play" - Amber Webber brings a haunting vocal performance over a spooky, otherworldly drone of guitars and mellotron organs. The build up is nothing short of spectacular. This song builds a great atmosphere.
10. The Sword - "Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians" - Pummeling riffage sent down from on high plows through at full force. This is proof that great metal epics don't need to be 7 minutes long, a note Metallica needed to heed during the Death Magnetic sessions. Hell, even Lars Ulrich said this was his favorite album of the year. Also wins dumbest song title of the year. That doesn't detract from how kick ass it is.
9. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - "Midnight Man" - Hypnotic is a word I've used for many tracks this year. This track is definitely one of those tracks that creates a soundscape and leaves the listener in a haze of musical beauty. The flurry of guitar and organ sounds amid a droning bass and catchy percussion section is recipe for addiction.
8. Secret Machines - "The Walls Are Starting to Crack" - One of Secret Machines most outstandingly grandiose tracks, this hearkens back to Pink Floyd a la Meddle. Unlike the last album where songs were more lyric centric, the newly reformed Machines have restated their sound with epic beauty. The mid-way wave of sound comes as a jarring psychedelic turn that quickly reforms back into the songs main riff.
7. Danava - "Where Beauty & Terror Dance" - Definitely one of the most played tracks of the year and one of the best live songs I've heard, Danava came back with their second full length chock full of great prog-glam. If the bulk of the song sounds pretty standard, wait for the outro that will catapult you into the stars.
6. TV On The Radio - "Crying" - For me, the most memorable track from TV On the Radio yet, this funkadelic anthem comes with soaring Prince-like vocals and definitely dark lyrics. The music is dancey, the horns that come in punctuate the sound well and the progression of sounds that come in and out keep it one of the most refreshing songs of the year.
5. The Raveonettes - "Dead Sound" - When played at loudest volume, this song shows it's true colors. I see how that sounds absurd as a song doesn't really show any visuals, but the utter haze that washes over in the nuances of feedback and melodies produced by Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo makes it a cinematic song.
4. Portishead - "Machine Gun"- Maybe the most memorable song of the year and one of the most literal titles ever. This song pierces your ear drums, shatters your senses and will leave you exhausted. Only the melody behind the vocals and the last 40 seconds of synthy additions try to cut through the menacing industrialized drum beat. Harrowing yet gorgeous.
3. David Byrne & Brian Eno - "Strange Overtones" - In stark contrast to "Machine Gun", Byrne & Eno created one of the most beautifully melodic pop songs of the year. It bounces with life and with hope. Even though "these beats are twenty years old" they sound fresh and new. When two mad geniuses buckle down and bring something so simplistic yet awesome, it's a real surprise. Not what I was expecting from their return after years of non-collaboration.
2. Black Mountain - "Tyrants" - Epic Win. Nothing short of awesome. From it's opening pummeling guitars and drums to the swirling synths and mellotrons, to the dual vocals harmonizing and taking leads here and there, this track will remain one of my all time favorites.
1. Beck - "Chemtrails" - Here's the scoop. Beck is easily one of my all time favorite artists. Top 3 easy. Has been for ages. He has tons of recorded songs, whether bootleged, b-sides or other rarities. I have easily 400 different Beck songs. This song is his best yet. It took me a while to admit it, but this stands a top the rest. The start of the track is a beautifully ambient melody backed by Beck's falsetto vocals. This picks up for the chorus where a lightning fast rhythm section reminiscent of The Who breaks through the piano and synthy ambiance. The vocals stay falsetto, only to drop for certain lines. The drums and bass back off for the verse again and again break through at full force with some of the most impressive drumming and bass action on any Beck track. The track whirls and swirls and slwoly fades out just to fade back in "Helter Skelter" style to unleash a furious guitar rush and come to an abrupt halt. Lyrically, Beck brings some of his darkest imagery. Staring at an ocean filled with dead bodies isn't quite the sloppy, slack lyrics most people expect of Beck. Instead it's a harrowing vision of pollution and death. Something straight out of a Cormac McCarthy novel. It's a visceral view of the world shrouded by ambiance then chaos. If you strip the song down to it's non-rhythm elements, it's a very simple track. It is a lasting song and definitely the best track of 2008.