Sunday, January 18, 2009

Best Music of 2008: #15-11

The countdown continues (Facebookers: see the original post to view the videos without having to leave the page)....

#15. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
The third major release for TVotR is a fine album as I've already stated, but it doesn't live up to the stunning sound of Return to Cookie Mountain (2006). Science seems to lack an "I Was a Lover" or a "Staring at the Sun," (although "DLZ" is a five-star song); furthermore, the album is dragged down by "Red Dress" and "Dancing Choose." Science feels like it was meant for more mainstream success, and I hope TVotR achieves it, but if you have to get one of their albums, try Cookie Mountain. Enjoy this totally weird video, "Golden Age":

"Golden Age" - TV On The Radio

#14. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
The first single released from Stairs was "I Will Possess Your Heart," a near-nine-minute track that was terribly repetitive for the first four minutes. Once you get past those four minutes, it's a fine song, but I think that track turned a lot of people off to the album before it was even released. Stairs, while not as good as Transatlanticism or Plans, is still a decent record. In my opinion, there is only one five-star song on the album: "Grapevine Fires," a tale of loss and love. While I enjoy DCfC, most of their songs are about love/relationships (although "Bixby Canyon Bridge" is an obvious--and welcome--deviation). On the other hand, when I got this album , I was dealing with those issues, so the album resonated with me more than if I had somehow stumbled upon an advance copy in '07. I enjoyed "Your New Twin Sized Bed" and "The Ice Is Getting Thinner," but here is the aforementioned "Grapevine Fires" (a live, in-studio version):

. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Talk about hype! This album got so much pre-release buzz, I was fearful they would be another Arctic Monkeys (all hype, no talent). And, after my initial listen, I thought my fears had been confirmed, but I kept the album on repeat (alternating with Dear Science) while I painted my bedroom and by the time I finished, I really liked the album (should I blame the paint fumes?). I was also annoyed that everybody thought it was so clever that somebody sang about grammar in a song... "Like, oh my God, four young lads from an Ivy League school that wrote a song called 'Oxford Comma'!" I felt like VW was trying too hard to be clever. These guys aren't the LeBron James of hype--where they live up to and then exceed the hype--but they certainly have come close to justifying the hype. Plus, it wasn't their fault a couple of music blogs went nuts over their stuff. There isn't a quality music video available for my favorite song, "Walcott," and although I don't care for the song, the video for "Oxford Comma" has a cool, Wes Anderson vibe to it; the video for "A-Punk" demonstrates VW's fun nature and dancability (which is not, in any way, related to drinkability):

"A-Punk" - Vampire Weekend

#12. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
As I've previously mentioned, I'm more than willing to indulge in a little neo-'80s electronica. MGMT not only embodies that genre, they nearly perfected it in 2008. I have already listed several albums described as "fun" (#20, #19, #13) and that word also fits for Oracular. MGMT are also East Coast college kids, but [thankfully?] they didn't get the press that Vampire Weekend did. While I'm not in love with the whole album (I usually skip "The Youth" and "4th Dimension"), Oracular is home to three songs that are, well, spectacular. "Electric Feel" definitely has some sort of Prince thing going on, but it's terribly fun. "Kids" is another terrific song from the album. However, the absolute stand-out track is "Time to Pretend." The song is a ridiculous parody of the American dream: making music, making money, going to Paris, shooting heroine, marrying a model, then divorcing said model after having kids, but then finding another model to marry. For me, that's much more clever than "Oxford Comma." Dropping acid right before this video might increase your viewing pleasure:

"Time To Pretend" - MGMT

#11. The Black Keys - Attack & Release
These Ohio natives know how to rock. I saw them at The Vogue in December of '06 (the timing of their '08 didn't mesh with my schedule) and they melted my face off. You might think that two dudes--one on drums and the other on guitar--would produce a pretty sparse sound, but it totally works. Plus, on Attack, TBK employed super producer Danger Mouse (who we'll run into later in the countdown... twice). It took me a while to warm up to the album--it's a different sound, no doubt due to Danger Mouse--but I eventually started digging it. While I prefer the raucous tunes of Rubber Factory (2004) and Thickfreakness (2003), Attack was a welcome change from the sometimes stale sound of Magic Potion (2006). Need some evidence of their rock 'n' roll greatness? Check out "I Got Mine" from their show at the Crystal Ballroom (and yes, I am totally envious of that sweet beard):

#10-6 coming soon...

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