2008: Music in Review


1. Son Lux - At War with Walls and Mazes

For me, listening to this album has become a religious experience. It was recommended to me by Amanda Edgerton and quickly became the only thing I listened to this summer. Ryan Lott (aka Son Lux) was a composition major who married a dance instructor. He began creating electronic compositions for her studio early on, and by word of mouth and the passing of burnt cds his popularity grew among the dance community, and eventually earned him a recording contract. I have no words for the music itself, because it is beyond my own words to express, but i highly suggest you take a sabbath to reflect and to bathe and bask in this album. It will haunt you and guide you and bring you joy.  


2. John Mayer - Where the Light is  

The latest from one of Rolling Stone's top 3 guitar gods alive, this work has to be the best engineered live album I have ever heard. The mixing is quite literally perfect on every song, and that in itself is worth attention. And although most of the material on the album is not new, each song on the record is extremely well performed. Breaching all of his styles, Mayer lays down three sets, the first simple and acoustic, followed by a blues performance with his trio (complete with improvised solos), and ends with a set from his full band. What I admire most about Mayer's songwriting ability is that most up-and-coming bands could only dream of writing a pop song close to one of Mayer's worst, and every song on this album (in my opinion) could be a single. The king of the airwaves has done it again, and he heads into the studio this year.


3. Coldplay - Viva la Vida, or Death and All His Friends (Prospekt's March Edition)  

I will be honest, when this album originally dropped it was a huge disappointment for me. After three years of anticipation for one of my favorite bands to release ANY new material, I received the less-than-forty minutes that is Viva la Vida, and although I loved the album immediately, and although I was enthralled by the new direction they had taken, it felt empty. Of all the directions I felt like they could have gone in, i realized only some appeared on the album, and I selfishly wanted more. But when the Prospekt's March EP was released, it all came full circle. Anything I felt like was misrepresented, or not at all, on the album came to light with the EP. Therefore, considering the packaged release of what I consider the full release of Coldplay's most recent work, the Prospekt's March Edition takes the bronze for 2008.  


4. Vampire Weekend - self titled  

Vampire Weekend got plenty of attention this past year in the blog-world, and to be honest it was well deserved. To loosely quote blogger Anna Apocalypse, what was new and fresh in January of last year, is just as refreshing and new in January 2009. The album never disappoints the listener, and was very well pieced together. The pop anthems are catchy, and the occasional african drumming is a nice touch too. The lyrics don't always make sense, but this album was an instant indie classic, and for that, VW gets my respect as well.  


5. The Rescues - Crazy Ever After  

I am addicted to this band. A guy and two girls, with gorgeous three part harmony, soaring over a rich acoustic landscape. Most of my friends know I'm a sucker for all of the above, so there is no surprise I fell in love with this album. The hints of folk and country are slight and inescapable, but it only breathes more life into the album. I pray this is the new direction of pop music, because I cannot get enough of this album.  


6. Fleet Foxes - self titled

This is my bad. I should've gotten into this album a LONG time ago. I was just listening to so much, I missed it - and that is my mistake. By far one of the better albums of this decade. The five part harmony makes you feel like you're on the mountain with this band. You want an adventure - you'll find it here.


7. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight 

The Midnight Organ Fight is a folk-rock journey on the Scottish countryside tapped into the emotions of living life and fighting your demons, whatever they might be. Its sorrowful but angsty, and not an album you would mind getting stuck in your car radio the next three months. There's a lot here to like, they never stick to only one idea or one sound. Much to look forward to lyrically and musically with this album.


8. The Dodos - Visiter

   The duet of thrashing acoustic guitar and drums, the dodos make for great driving music. I fell in love with this album on the highway before anywhere else. Every song is well orchestrated, sometimes with a glockenspiel, and the album never gives up until the end.


9. Jack's Mannequin - The Glass Passenger
I grew up on Something Corporate, so it will be quite difficult for me ever to not like what Andrew McMahon does. In the wake of his battle with leukemia, which peaks its head a few moments on the album, this latest work was a long time coming, and despite a few discrepancies with shallow lyrics or awkward melodies, his California Piano Rock style continues to thrive. Generally a great album, and a constant favorite for driving at night with the window down.  


10. My Brightest Diamond - A Thousand Shark's Teeth

Shara Warden, alumni of University North Texas's opera program, is a brilliant singer. Her music is icy cold and chilling, listening to her album is often diving to the freezing depths of the sea. My favorite effort of hers to date. Also check out the four remix projects (notable mentions DM Stith and Son Lux remix albums) and her performance from this album on Daytrotter!


Honorable mentions:  

+ The Welcome Wagon - Welcome to the Welcome Wagon  

This might as well be the latest from work from Sufjan Stevens, considering he produced the album and orchestrated the songs as well. The Welcome Wagon is a welcomed (sry) fresh face on the "baroque pop" scene, that started in this Brooklyn pastor and his darling wife's own living room, performing for friends, and the music has not lost its religious potency, nor its unique tone. I am quite glad this band has found a home with Asthamtic Kitty. 

+ Noah & the Whale - Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down  

This album did not get a lot of love from pitchfork, but I found it to be darling. It's folky, it's up beat, and frankly - it is fun. I have nothing but "love love love" for this style, this band, and this album.

+ Land of Talk - Some are Lakes  

A more recent project out of the great up north, I learned of this band when I saw them open for Broken Social Scene this winter. I enjoyed their set, I found their album, and was pleasantly surprised to learn their live work sounded identical to the album. I also recently learned it was produced by Justin Vernon, of Bon Iver (currently my favorite band), so again, no surprises here that I would enjoy the album. The three-piece work is led by the cute indie songstress Elizabeth Powell (frequent member of the BSS) and the music is full of distortion and flavor.  

+ Thrice - The Alchemy Index, Vol. III & IV 

One of the most admirable recordings of the year, i truely hope this EP specifically is the direction Thrice hopes to pursue.

+ Girl Talk - Feed the Animals 

Mash-ups! Rap music! Oldies! At the same time! great for running.

+ Ingrid Michaelson - Be OK 

It's a girl her sings intelligently cute songs and occasionally plays the Uke. If you don't like that, you won't like her. That said, she is one of the best pop singer/songwriters in the past five years.

DM Stith - Curtain Speech EP  

This EP is fully of haunting - well orchestrated music, and is something very promising from Asmatic Kitty's new effort.


LIVE ALBUMS of 2008:  
1. John Mayer - Where the Light is 
2. Sara Bariellis - Between the Lines 
3. John Legend - Live from Philadelphia  
4. Underoath - Survive, Kaleidoscope  
5. Paramore - The Final Riot!

No comments: