I thought I could take a week off, but here I am. What would the end of the year be without my semi-predictable picks for the best records of 2008? Let's take 'em from the top:
10. Motorik - Klang
One of my favorite way-under-the-radar (read: CD Baby) bands of the whole year, and I'm exposed to plenty. This Seattle three-piece sounds like they're from 1993 in the best possible way. I've been driving myself crazy trying to figure out who they remind me of, but I don't give a shit anymore. "Or So I Thought" is one of the best songs I heard all year.
09. Coolzey - Soixante-Neuf EP
I first met Zach Lint many years ago, when he was on tour in Portland with his former group, the Sucka MC's. I was in a group that was opening for them. We didn't talk a lot that night, but we've stayed in touch through the magic of the internet. So, yeah, he's a friend. But that doesn't make this little 15-minute romp any less fun. His beats are getting better and better with each release, and his lyrics are still a blast. When he rhymes "I don't give shit" with "a shot of Glenlivet," you know he means business.
You can listen to "Funk #69" and get some more info here.
08. Mokadas - Mokadas
This was another CD Baby band that I fell for hard. These dudes are from Sweden, and they play the best modern-Doors garage-y rock I've heard in ages. Their lead singer's voice is strong as shit, and just when you think they're going to fuck it up and deteriorate into some Dandy Warhols lameness, they pull it out and just get weird. It's a great, great record.
07. Black Francis - Svn Fingers
Basically an EP continuation of 2007's Bluefinger, this one keeps the weird rock coming, which still feels like a welcome change after some of the mellower Frank Black stuff of late. It's a stripped down sound that feels uncomfortable at first, but grows into some really likable tunes, thanks in part to him going back to the odd lyrics that made us all love him in the first place.
"I Sent Away"
06. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
It's not hard to see why there's already been a substantial backlash against these guys: the hype was huge, and they come off as some easy-to-loathe preppy boys. Too bad the songs are so good. I thought I would burn myself out on this record, but it has yet to happen. Comparing them to Talking Heads should stop now (I was initially guilty of this), because that's lazy. We should instead focus on why it takes two weeks to get "Oxford Comma" out of your head, and how it was the best video of the year.
05. Beck - Modern Guilt
This isn't Beck's best album, but it's a Beck album that was perfect for 2008. He's both subdued and focused, and the songs are both pretty and hammering. He's been so good at writing lyrics for so long, that gems like the ones included here get overlooked. The same could be said for his melodies, which are brilliant throughout this one. My only complaint: at around a half hour long, it zips by.
04. Supersuckers - Get It Together
In the grand scheme of my life, I have been listening to the Supersuckers longer than I haven't been listening to the Supersuckers. So, I always look forward to their releases, and I'm probably willing to cut them some slack when they let me down a little bit. This is a great record, featuring what some might call a more "mature" side of the 'Suckers (aside from the tremendous fun that is "I'm A Fucking Genius"). My beef is that a handful of these songs were included on the Paid EP last year. Their live shows always make me forget my woes.
"What It Takes"
03. Paris - Acid Reflex
Paris had me, then he lost me, and now he's got my full attention again. After a few uneven releases, he busted this bad boy out last month and I can't get enough of it. "Blap That Ass Up" is vintage P-Dog, angry and festering over a thick beat that sounds like the darkest part of the Bay. "The Hustle" is one of the best anti-theist songs I've ever heard, and Chuck D's guest spot on "Rebels Without Applause" seals the deal.
"Don't Stop the Movement"
02. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
I really didn't think these guys could get any better after their last album. And then they did just that, proving again, that (and I know you've heard enough of this) they're one of the most important bands making music right now. When Tunde Adebimpe sings "in the days of old, you were a nut/ now you need three bumps before you cut," on "Dancing Choose," I think all the Eazy-E fans know who their favorite experimental rock band is.
01. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash
For my money (and time), this was it for '08. If there was ever any worry that Malkmus could pull it together and make a brilliant post-Pavement record, it's safe to say the naysayers got squashed when this one hit. Say what you want about the extended solos and the classic rock dalliances, nothing could stop the sheer force of just how incredibly fucking great these songs are. They're huge in scope and meticulous in detail, and the title track was hands down the song I listened to the most all year.