More staff lists: Trey Spencer, Nick Butler, Jared Dillon, Nick Greer, Andrew Hartwig, Daniel Incognito ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hello, Sputnik. What a fucking year.
I present you my list for 2008, a stripped bare and simple recount of another fantastic year in music that, for this critic's money, was one of the best. Burial may have taken 2007 but he defined 2008 the best: It's all about the music, man.
The Week That Was- The Week That Was
The Week That Was' critically lauded debut is one of the most criminally overlooked gems of the year. It is indie pop as designated by prog rock and some heavy-serious stuff, but in the process the band creates a remarkably involving pop record.
Flying Lotus- Los Angeles
Los Angeles makes static expansive and the shifting soundscape adds up to one of the smoothest instrumental hip-hop records in years.
The Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Grave
I could overexplain why I like Kristian Matsson's folk compared to some other folk marvels but truthfully I just think it sounds good. That goes without saying but that's why I said it.
Young Widows - Old Wounds
A late entry on this year's list. I saw these guys in early November but never expected the impact to translate well to recording. But Young Widows' brand of original hardcore is enthralling with an obvious lasting appeal.
Subtle embraces pop (pink melodies and a hook) but never relieves the tension. There's a brooding hip-hop record, born from Subtle's distinct alien ramble and it grows under all that fuzz.
Off Minor - Some Blood
Off Minor continue to set standards in a genre whilst remaining raw and personal.
Why? - Alopecia
Indie pop by a bunch of white guys who like rap and Yoni. Alopecia will hit a nerve for a certain type of teen from middle-class suburbia, one framed by Yoni Wolf's gruff stream-of-consciousness and crass pop.
Fennesz - Black Sea
Sonic bliss. I've yet to even fully crack the surface.
Krallice - Krallice
Krallice continues the streak of successful USBM and betters it.
Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill's melancholy might appear static and unwavering on the outset, but Grouper's acoustic shoegaze layers start to peel after multiple listens, rewarding patience with heartbreaking ballads caught in the eye of the storm.
TV on the Radio - Dear Science
TV on the Radio create a labyrinth of Prince-inspired pop, hip-hop and indie rock to create one of the most important records of the year. In the wake of an election and a terrifying economic crisis, Dear Science's cynicism is belied by its ever-present feeling of hope. It's damn catchy, too.
Ohana - Dead Beat
Dead Beat's no-frills emo sets up a template and Ohana explore it thoroughly, creatively skewing convention at every turn.
The Drones - Havilah
The Australian group turn Gareth Liddiard's lyrics into gripping stories, and the best rock record of the year.
Shugo Tokumaru - Exit
When I first began raving about Exit over a year ago, I praised it for its simple and infectious blend of traditional folk, electronica and pop, but Shugo Tokumaru is a more skilled songwriter than that. Exit is full of depth and innovative brilliance, transcending its language barrier to create a life-affirming masterpiece. Brilliant, glorious and awesome.
Deerhunter - Microcastle
A minimalist classic, a snapshot of '50s rock and indie rock experimentalism. An emotionally gratifying and genuine career-defining performance that positions Deerhunter as one of the best bands working today.
See you in 2009.