This is not a top ten, nor does it represent what are definitively the best records of the year. These are simply my favorite (11?) records of 2008. You don't have to read any of it, just look at the pictures. Hopefully my HTML coding works?
Carload of Whatever's Favorite Records 2008:
Times New Viking – Rip It Off (Matador)
Short, noisy pop-punk tunes that sound like they are played through a broken AM radio at the bottom of the ocean. Even when you turn it down this is loud. The EP was good too!
No Age – Nouns (Sub Pop)
While the L.A. Smell scene has been generating great records for years, the release of Nouns made everyone else realize what is going on there. This one lives up to the hype. It is the record I wish that I could make.
Vivian Girls – s/t (In the Red)
This record proves you don’t necessarily have to blaze new musical trails to be prolific. Maximum fun. Drunk-beach-punk party. Brooklyn proves it is still really cool.
The Music Tapes – Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes (Merge)
Julian Koster was a founding member of Neutral Milk Hotel, and that is pretty much the only thing I can connect this record to. Along with an eerie mesh of saw and banjo are some really compelling (and weird) songs.
Abe Vigoda – Skeleton (Post Present Medium)
This was their third release, but it acted as a debut for most people (myself included). While the guitars do most of the work, it is the drumming that stands out for me here. L.A. Smell.
Deerhunter – Microcastle (Kranky)
This is a fantastic record. 2008 seemed to lack in the big, universally enjoyed releases from the last few years. Microcastle seems like one of the few releases that could fit into that category.
Atlas Sound – Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel (Kranky)
This is an ambient record that is secretly a pop record. Bradford Cox makes Ableton Live sound natural and organic.
Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer (Sub Pop)
Instead of loading their songs with hooks, this record buries them at the end of each song. You have to be patient, but this is the perfect follow-up to massive success of Apologies to the Queen Mary.
Ecstatic Sunshine – Way (Cardboard)
This record introduced a third member to do live electronic manipulation while recording. The result is an ambient drone record with sporadic bursts of guitar melodies.
ii – Landlakes (Feral Media / Dizzy Donor)
Jon Tjhia gave me this record in the summer when he was in Victoria with his other band Aleks & the Ramps. I assumed it would be a quirky Australian-esque pop record like the Ramps, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a weird, ambient instrumental record. Highly recommended.
Women – s/t (Flemish Eye)
This record was exactly what I wanted to hear this year. It is loud and eerie, with long drone sections, complex guitar work and psychedelic pop buried under the mess. All hail Calgary.
I told Renegade Radio this was my favorite of the year.
LAST MINUTE END OF DECEMBER RELEASE!
Pavement - Live Europaturnén MCMXCVII (Matador)
Holy shit...a long lost live Pavement record that was never released. Recorded in 1997, Matador just released it as a limited edition vinyl bonus for those who pre-ordered the Brighten the Corners reissue. With less than two weeks to go in 2008, I had to squeeze this in here. If you didn't do the pre-order, go look for a download of it. Live Pavement!
Videohippos - Unbeast the Leash (Monitor / Wildfire)
This came out at the end of 2007, but we got it in at CFUV the first week of 2008, so it missed my favorites list last year. Lost in the void of CFUV’s calendar, this was a 2008 record for me, and was definitely one of my favorites. Part of Baltimore-mania from last year.
Old Life Records Comp (Old Life)
It seems like cheating to put a comp in the list, especially when half of the songs are by friends. Still, this was really good and I listened to it a lot this year, so I’ll put it here.
Almonds, Cohen & The Macadamia Brothers – Travel a Fair Distance (Old Life)
Like the Old Life Comp, this seems like cheating, so it goes here. Some of these are older songs, and it wasn’t really a proper release, but the disc has some of my favorite songs by both artists, and Macadmaia Scott’s production on the Almonds, Cohen songs adds a lot.
Stefana Fratila – Victory Square (Self-released)
I don’t know when this came out, or if it was just made for her Victoria show, so it goes here as well. This has really great lo-fi pop tunes. Stefana and her band are still in high school. Keep an eye out for them in the future.
Favorite Non-2008 Purchase:
Hair Police – Blind Kingdom (Ultra Eczema): Released April 2007
Hair Police started as a joke for me. When I was 16 I saw them open for Sonic Youth and it was so loud I almost threw up. Later that night Thurston Moore said one of my favorite music quotes I’ve ever heard: “Hair Police are perfect.” Since then I have been fascinated by this Lexington, Kentucky-based noise band. I found this limited-edition, vinyl only, Belgian import at Rotate This in Toronto and after spending two anxious days thinking about it, I realized I had to have it. The record was originally recorded as a special for Radio Centraal in Antwerp. The album art is fantastic, one side is laser etched, and the screaming noise is toned down into more of a drone hypnotism. This is a scary record, but it quickly became one of my favorites in my collection.
Japanther – Tut Tut Now Shake Ya Butt (Wantage)
Dear Penny Rimbaud,
What the fuck was that?
Criticize and contribute.
Happy Holidays. See you in 2009.