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|Mendigo's 2008: Songs|
My 30 favorite songs of 2008. More or less, that is. The albums will follow soon. And yeah, you don't really have to read through all that. But it would be kinda cool.
|1|| ||Kayo Dot|
The drums setting in before the climax of Symmetrical Arizona is the defining point of "Blue Lambency Downward", the moment towards the whole albums seems to build up to. Until the closer Kayo Dot abandon their typical long crescendos and build ups in favour of awkward soundscapes. And then suddenly a simple bluesy guitar takes the lead in an album that almost completely lacks any prominent guitar playing to that point. The ever-so-emphasised drumming is absent and the familiar melody lines the guitar spins seem stranger in the context than anything Kayo Dot came up with before. The already mentioned drums setting in and the following climax fit as perfectly well as they did with the greatest of Kayo Dot's songs. Together with the unusual outro it catapults the song on one level with the very greatest of Toby Driver's work, next to modern classics like The Manifold Curiosity and Girl With a Watering Can.
|2|| ||United Nations|
Say Goodbye to General Figment of the USS Imagination
The wonderfully titled closer of United Nation's self-titled debut starts off like every other of the album's song: amazingly raw and heavy, but not without a certain tad of melody. Until not even two minutes into it a moment of unbelievably obscure beauty arises, when after 20 minutes of ear-blasting screams and thrashing riots a tenor-saxophone forces its way through the raw guitars and performs a heartfelt and powerful solo. Without seeming forced at all, it lifts up the sound the album has created and changes the atmosphere about 180 degrees around, turning an already wonderful album into a masterpiece.
|3|| ||Deathspell Omega|
Chaining the Katechon
As I don't have a lot of Black Metal, saying that this is the greatest Black Metal song I've ever listened to doesn't have the kind of forcefulness I'd prefer. Chaining the Katechon is the definition of a musical tour d' force, an insane expedition through some of the heaviest and darkest realms of music imaginable. 22 minutes long, this insanely well produced (!) epic goes through more stages, changes and breaks than I could give an account of here. What is left when the song is over is a perplexed and baffled mind.
|4|| ||Son Lux|
A drum cascade rolling by, flickering electronics in the background, then more cascades of drums, toppling over each other and diving further and further into chaos. Then a sudden halt, silence, some lonely piano notes, thickening to underline Ryan Lott's lines: "Where have all the wicked gone? / Is there no one left to break you down?". Break kicks off the amazing debut of Son Lux with a mixture of grace, elegance and loneliness I haven't often heard like that before. It constantly builds and fades and builds again always on the edge of breaking apart, but it manages to maintain its fragile beauty and manoeuvre it all the way through to its very last notes.
Broken Lungs isn't only my favorite song from the Alchemy Index series, but my favorite Thrice song in general. They are a great band with a huge portion of talent, but they never used it to such a great effect as this time - it doesn't even come close to showing off, but you can feel the immense talent of everyone involved, though they hold it back to never let it outshine the song itself. The build up is genius, from the distant first notes to the setting in of the drums, over the guitar explosions, always oscillating between aggressive and calm parts, movements that are perfectly captured by Dustin Kensrue's vocal performance, as well as by the lyrics: "A fire burns beneath Manhattan / Still we breathe with broken lungs"
|6|| ||The Drones|
I Am the Supercargo
"Once i was a supercargo / My own V.O.C. / The great white God of great white goods / With shoes upon my feet" - It could easily be that Garth Liddiard is the best lyricist in rock music today. And if his genius wasn't enough, his poetry is delivered with a powerful vocal performance and backed up by an amazing band. It's hard to describe the emotional impact The Drones' songs have on me and the only reason this list isn't filled with them is that I cannot make my mind up which too include and which to leave out. And including all of them wouldn't leave any place for anything else, so I just sticked with what is my favorite song at the moment. - "And they build airfields in the jungle / That no plane can land on / They take pain and superstition / And then they call it something else"
All Sweet Things
It seems hard to believe, but one of the greatest songs Steven Wilson has ever been involved in, is a calm Pop number. Though Pop doesn't tell even half the story: the opener to the wonderful "Schoolyard Ghosts" contains most of the albums' ingredients compiled into one song, that still ticks in at over six minutes, but feels much, much shorter. All Sweet Things has the repetitive build up of Post Rock, the melody lines of Pop music and an extremely rich and layered sound, that nevertheless never gets thick or over-produced, but always maintains its focus on guitar, piano and Tim Bowness' soft vocals. And I forgot to mention it has the most effective and beautifully simple glockenspiel melody that suddenly emerges out of nowhere and brings the song to perfection.
|8|| ||Son Lux|
With lyrics consisting of only two lines - "Put down all your weapons / Let me in through your open wounds" - it is hard to describe the deep emotions this song conveys. The production is flawless, the sound amazing, the shifts seamless and the vocals perfectly fit into the overall structure of Weapons. Still there is something else, something I cannot quite pinpoint, that turns this into one of the greatest songs of an album filled with masterpieces.
|9|| ||Extra Life|
This Time finds the perfect balance between Extra Life's highly experimental side and a more easily accessible approach. It creeps along for its first half, slowly, quietly and ominously, to build into a rushing crescendo and culminating in a surprisingly upbeat climax, with Charlie Looker repeating the words "I know what I want / But what I know won't stop me" like a mantra and breaking with the depressing tone of the album.
Circle is a frightening, yet beautiful introduction to a frightening, yet beautiful album. Ticking in at an epic length of over 20 minutes, it thunders through many different parts and movements, each one more crushing and mesmerizing than the one before - even a jaw dropping guitar solo is included. Actually it does start off in quite a handsome, beautiful way, and takes its time to reveal its dark and heavy sides, but when they unfold they are all the more effective.
|11|| ||Son Lux|
War could be seen as the album's title track, featuring the album title "At War With Walls and Mazes" in its lyrics. Ryan Lott is making perfectly use of vocal overdubs, creating strange collages with his voice somehow standing next to himself. Like throughout the whole album, the production is again flawless, and the way it drowns the song in noise and then switches to minimalist mode just a second later never stops amazing me.
Machine Gun is an insane experience, the melting of that extremely disturbing repetitive drums simulating machine gun fire with Beth Gibbon's voice at her most beautiful and fragile, delivering haunting lyrics like: "There is no other place, no one else I face". The song is simultaneously punching the listener in the face and gently stroking his chin - adding up to the year's greatest Single release.
The Untouched Dew
It begins dark and atmospheric, and takes more than two minutes for the first notes of the piano to enter. From then on the song builds up momentum and grandeur until it reaches its peak in a marriage a wonderful flute melody, steady choirs and chaotic percussions, before it fades out into ambience.
Incorporating Progressive Rock elements into Death Metal has always been Opeth's main formula. However, Burden sounds closer to bands like King Crimson or Uriah Heep than anything they have ever done before, actually it doesn't have anything to do with Death Metal anymore. Next to the usual splendid work on the instruments the song also includes mellotrons, a proggy keyboard solo and one of Mikeal's greatest clean vocal performances going hand in hand with surprisingly catchy melodies. As if that wasn't enough to put one or another metalhead within their fan base off, they decided to add an acoustic outro, during which the guitar is constantly detuned, and which is abruptly ended by insane laughter. However has seen one of their live shows already knows that Opeth have more than just a share of humour, but they have never incorporated it into one of their records. Until now, that is.
Winter. Snow. Ice. A warm fireplace. A mouthful of hot tea refined with rum to keep us warm. Those are more or less the mental pictures Truenorth awakes during its 12 minutes. Backed up by the London Session Orchestra it moves along gracefully and develops more and more beautiful facets the longer it lasts, until it ends with a strange but fitting electronic drum scheme. "You survived another winter / You survived where nothing grew."
Nothing Ever Happened
With a steady, driving beat and a dynamic verse/chorus structure Nothing Ever Happened starts like a straightforward rock song, before the band moves into an awesome instrumental jam for the last half of the track, which evolves into the album's highlight as it goes on and on.
The Space for This
The clean opening chords, the kicking in of the band, the manipulated vocals, one of the most awesome guitar solos I've heard in a very long time, everything constantly changing, never staying the same for more than a few seconds. A perfect melting of heavy metal and more calm, melodic influences, without seeming forced. Every movement is amazing and added up to one complete song they are even better and turn The Space for This into the best thing Cynic have done to date.
A Winter Quest for Fantasy
A Winter Quest for Fantasy starts like one of Envy's atmospheric Post Rock songs, beautiful and calm, but the longer it lasts, the more it builds into an amazing crescendo that explodes - really explodes - into a Post Hardcore finale featuring amazing musicianship as well as pure emotion. Yet the song as a whole really has a winter feeling to it.
|19|| ||Off Minor|
Practice Absence is a departure from Off Minor's usual tone without completely forsaking it. The multilayered guitars, the wonderful vocals, the unusual drumming, the constantly repeated bass line, everything works for the song and turns it into one of the best, if not the best, Off Minor have done so far.
The Reptilian Brain
The Reptilian Brain is an epic song in every meaning of the word. Not only its length of over 16 minutes, but also the structure, being divided into five parts (entitled Sleep, Eat, Shit, Fight and Fuck) and a build up that turns it more into an individual little instrumental album within "Prehistoricisms" than into a part of it. As it moves on, it combines jazzy elements as well as eastern sounds into the band's Post Metal structure. Like the whole album, also The Reptilian Brain builds a lot upon the splendid bass playing, and rightfully so. Still the rest of the band shouldn't be forgotten, as everyone of them gives an amazing performance here.
|21|| ||Have a Nice Life|
The epic closer to an epic album, Earthmover is a massive piece of music. Disoriented, bleak and hopeless. It's probably the most Post Rock oriented song on "Deathconsciousness", and with over 11 minutes running length, the longest as well. Seldom does lo-fi production work so much in favor of a song as with Earthmover's distorted shoegaze and its droning soundscapes, the vocals often seemingly coming from far, far away and giving it an even more epic touch. "And when their earthern mouths will open up / Just what words should come out? But / 'We wish we were dead'."
Viva la Vida .
It doesn't happen often, but every now and then a major mainstream hit crosses my way that I can truly enjoy. Viva la Vida is such a song, the best hit to be played non-stop on every possible radio station in a very, very long time. And no lawsuit could be ridiculous enough to harm the song's naive charm and its overwhelming catchiness.
|23|| ||The Felice Brothers|
Heavily influenced by The Band, you will hardly find a song that is more pure fun than Frankie's Gun! this year. Vocal harmonies that are slightly out of key, lyrics including pieces of wisdom like "Bang! Bang! Bang! went Frankie's gun / He shot me down, Lucille." or "Sha nay na sha nay na na na" and life leaking out of every pore. And when it ended in some kind of yodelling there is no other possibility left than to turn it on once more. Had this been recorded back in the late 60s, it could easily have become a classic. "I think I know the bloody way by now, Frankie / And turn the god damn radio down, thank you"
|24|| ||A Silver Mt. Zion|
After the three heavy and rude monsters that precede it, BlindBlindBlind has an almost angelic feeling to it with its much lighter and more beautiful attitude. The passion that manifests itself in rawness more similar to Punk than Post Rock during the rest of the album is still there, and Efrim Menuck still sounds as out of key and all over the place as he can, but the song has a completely different, more optimistic feeling to it. And the crescendo building with distorted guitars and violin towards Menuck repeatedly singing/screaming "Some / Hearts / Are / True" is one of the best moments A Silver Mt. Zion have ever created.
|25|| ||Animal Collective|
One of the calmest songs Animal Collective have ever done, Street Flash is quite different from the rest of their output. The production is tense and full of details and effects - like you'd expect from an Animal Collective song, only a tad more intense. It turns the song into a very moody experience, vocals sounding like recorded under water, distant screams, everything combines to something that sounds like the 21st century's equivalent to 60s psychedelic rock.
|26|| ||Von Hertzen Brothers|
Bring Out the Sun (So Alive)
The opener to Von Hertzen Brother's latest album awakes memories of the biggest bands of 70s Prog Rock scene, like Pink Floyd or King Crimson. The use of a big variety of instruments, as well as a steadily building crescendo define the first half of the song. Halfway through it goes into full prog-mode, using driving drums, organs and layers of guitar work to form a broad and huge wall of sound, as if coming directly out of the 70s.
On the American and European versions of "Smile", Message got stuck in the middle of the album. However, on the Japanese version a rawer recording of the song functions as the opener, and it is there where the greatness of it becomes obvious. Fuzzy electronics and violent guitar outbursts, a deep bass riff and the wonderful "doo dooo"-vocals make this one of my favorite Boris songs so far.
|28|| ||Mesa Verde|
Post-Youth is one of the best attempts at marrying Screamo and Post Rock in quite a long time. Unlike other experiments of that kind, it cannot be devided into different parts, with some of them being calm and some heavy, but it mixes characteristics of both genres into one cohesive sound. 13 minutes long, it is by far the lengthiest song on their debut album "The Old Road" - and the best as well.
|29|| ||Jóhann Jóhannsson|
The title track and opener of Islandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson's "Fordlândia" drowns the listener in a gradually building broad string section, including sparse but effective piano and guitar work. The music seems to be floating somewhere above the village of Fordlândia, huge and majestic, yet minimalist and unboastful. The album as a whole almost suffers from the grandeur of the first track, outshadowing the other tracks.
|30|| ||TV on the Radio|
Halfway Home opens TV on the Radio's fourth studio album with the album's highlight. From the wall of sound of the opening bars over the soulful vocals and the amazing chorus, this is one of the most perfect Alternative Rock songs in a long time. Influences from My Bloody Valentine as well as the Beach Boys seem to crash into each other and form this hugely enjoyable piece of music.
it looks slightly better there.
|Disagreed about the vocals in 14, I think the vocal performance in the whole album is pretty sub-par for Mikael|
|Nice list dude. I would've chosen a different TVOTR song, but Halfway Home is still really good, I just prefer Crying and DLZ (Crying is actually my favourite song from this year). Symmetrical Arizona is brilliant, the only truly worthwhile thing on Blue Lambancy Downward, although I don't get the climax you're talking about, there really isn't one. I really need to listen to Have A Nice Life.|
Also, I think I'm the only one that seems to be really annoyed by Machine Gun, I really like Third, but that song gets on my nerves.
|I think you could describe the explosion of melody after the drums setting in as a "climax" in Symmetrical Arizona.|
|wow damn good list. I haven't heard half of these, but te ones I have are great. Especially 16 and 21. Oh, and of course 26.|
|Great list. A decent amount of these are favorites from their respective albums.|
|yeah, that's a valid argument.|