Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ambient signal's Top 10 Albums of 2008 and other enumerations

This was a year of great triumphs and great let downs..not quite sure if this was a year to beat but I seemed to have an unusually high volume of highly anticipated releases this year. We'll start off with the Top 10 or so best albums, best songs, then biggest let downs, and most anticipated releases of 2009.

Top 10 or so albums of 2008:
1. Son Lux - At War with Walls and Mazes

This was a landmark year for the record label anticon in my opinion. They became even more removed from the sort of fringe electronic/hiphop label I had associated them with a few years ago and released some albums that really pushed some boundaries. The debut album from Son Lux is certainly no exception. I was completely addicted to this album when it came out, not for its hooks, but for its deep musical structures and innovations. Part hip hop drums, part classical (opera samples anyone?), part something else entirely. A clear line runs through the whole album, and many musical themes pop up in different forms in different songs. When first listening to the whole album I found myself going "What??? You can't do that!" and its outbursts like that that made me realize I was dealing with something really special, and it has been #1 in my mind ever since it came out in March.
Key Songs: Stay, Raise, Stand

2. Why? - Alopecia
Again, you can see why I called this a landmark year for anticon...I really thought this was going to be #1 of the year before Son Lux came along. This third Why? effort feels extremely cohesive but with each song having an identity of its own. Handling topics like death and palm reading with an odd but amazing combination of hiphop and indie pop. Yoni Wolf's lyrics dance around from topic to disconnected topic with a certain sense of humor and weirdness that I think everyone needs every once in a while.
Key tracks: By Torpedo or Crohns, Fatalist Palmistry, These Few Presidents

3. Sigur Ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
I can't resist a good ol' fashioned Sigur Ros album. Luckily for me I hadn't been anticipating this album for months or years, which I think led to it being much more satisfying (unlike other albums..see below). It came out in the summer, which I don't normally associate with icelandic post-rock but this album made me change my mind. While not quite as solid as their last two releases, it definitely has its share of innovations and great songs.
Key Tracks: Með suð í eyrum, Inni mer syngur vitleysingur, Festival

4. Helio Sequence - Keep your eyes ahead
I was a little dismayed to hear my favorite song on this album being played during an episode of The Hills, but I guess dem's da brakes. I hadn't been into the Helio Sequence before this album, but this was a really solid offering with many hits and very few misses. They are great live too.
Key tracks: Lately, Hallelujah, Back to this
5. Talkdemonic - Eyes at half mast
6. Annuals - Such Fun
7. Azeda Booth - In Flesh Tones
8. Johann Johannson - Fordlandia
---Not really sure of the order after this
Starfucker - Starfucker
This Will Destroy You - This Will Destroy You
Margot and the Nuclear So and So's - Not Animal
Alias - Resurgam
Brendan Canning - Something for all of us
The Falcon - EP
Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
Dosh - Wolves and Wishes
Flight of the Conchords - s/t
School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms

Best songs (no order):
School of Seven Bells - Half Asleep
Chad Vangaalen - Willow Tree
Son Lux - Raise
Annuals - Always Do
Brendan Canning - Hit the wall
Land of talk - Some are lakes
Azeda Booth - In Red
Wolf Parade - Language City
Cut Copy - Hearts on fire
Dosh - Kit and Pearls
Why? - By Torpedo or Crohns
Margot and the Nuclear so and so's - As tall as cliffs
The Falcon - The Sandfighter
and more!

Biggest letdowns:
---Neva Dinova - You may already be dreaming
I had been anticipating this album for a long time and unfortunately there just wasn't a song I could really gravitate towards and the lyrics weren't quite at the same level as other albums. Oh well..keep it up guys!
---Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst
I'm not sure what I was expecting from Oberst's solo debut, but it wasn't quite up to snuff for me when compared to Bright Eyes stuff, but I'm glad he took the chance to stretch some other muscles.
---Margot and the Nuclear so and so's - Animal/Not Animal
Although there are some great tracks on this album, it didn't come close to 2006's Dust of Retreat (which was my #1 album that year) but I guess you can't improve much on perfection...I had also been anticipating this album for over a year and its hard to deliver on that much anticipation
---Hammock - Maybe they will sing for us tomorrow
Unfortunately my favorite ambient artist Hammock has been veering more towards beatless ambient soundscapes rather than the more song minded light post rock that drew me to them in the first place..this album just didn't do it for me like some of their earlier ones

Most anticipated releases of 2009 (in no order of course):
Animal Collective - Merryweather post-pavilion (January)
Grizzly Bear (March/April)
Charlie Everywhere (done recording, shopping for a label)
Menomena (Recording now, Fall 2009)
The Velvet Teen (Recording now, no telling)
The Album Leaf (Recording now, Fall 2009)
Cat Power (Done recording? no telling
Bright Eyes (Recording now, no telling)
Doves (Done recording? Anytime now?)
Hopes and wishes: Sunset Rubdown, Camera Obscura (might be recording..I forget), Feist, Amiina, Battles

1 comment:

Douglas said...

i bet doves will be april or later but oh man i cant wait for velvet teen... i saw they were recording and got very excited