12.18.2008

Well here it is the end of 2008. All well and told it was a pretty good year for music. So as might be expected, we're gonna run down the best of what crossed our speakers around here. No particular order, despite the numbers, just the top 15 albums that peaked the interest and logged the most playing time around RSTB hollows.




Though there were quite a few great entries from the Australian front this year, Eddy Current Suppression Ring's 2nd album logged in as one of the most played all year around here. Perfecting the less is more approach, the band have an excellent knack for not over thinking things. Everything that needs to be in a great rock record is present, the rest is chucked to the gutter. They may not be rewriting the book on rock n' roll but they've certainly paid close attention to the formula and perfected it.

Download:
[MP3] Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Colour Television

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE





Fonal is always a consistent source of surprise and enjoyment records around here and the 2nd album from veterans Paavoharju was even more delightful than their first. A clanging sea of samples, whispers and the otherworldly vocals that seem to inhabit the bulk of music hailing from Finland. And though I can't even begin to pick apart the meanings behind their songs, it doesn't seem to matter. This is the soundtracks to a thousand labyrinthine dreams.

Download:
[MP3] Paavoharju - Tyttö Tanssii

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE




In a year where lo-fi blew the doors off of many an over-produced pop track, Sic Alps have finally gotten their due. Following the wrap up of their best of 07 tracks on the Long Way Around compilation, it didn't take too much time for Matt and Mike to prove that the best was yet to come. Rolling the fuzz caked blues in the mud and channeling Skip James through the soul of Skip Spence the band have thrown the masses into the frayed wire fire and let rip with U.S. EZ.

Download:
[MP3] Sic Alps - Gelly Roll Gum Drop

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE





Liz Harris helped spring a Type records revival into action with this one. Allowing herself to emerge ever so slightly from the haze that's hung low over her persona for the beginning of her career, she merged sinewy worlds of muted silk and ether with late night melodies for her best record yet. Thankfully this has brought Grouper more attention and highlighted her delicate skill of weaving beautiful tapestries of sound from the thickest clouds of drone.

Download:
[MP3] Grouper - Heavy Water/ I'd Rather Be Sleeping

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE





Jay pretty much owned 2008 and this, his second collection of singles within that year definitely proved it. Touring relentlessly and compiling a steady string of A sides and B sides that may well have been A sides would certainly tire the average artist out but there's already news of another album on the way early next year. A perfect mix of acerbic sentiment and solid pop songwritng; Jay brings out the worst in all of us and makes if fucking catchy in the process.

Download:
[MP3] Jay Reatard - An Ugly Death

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE





Popping up last year under the guise of mystery on the fledgling Sacred Bones label, Blank Dogs has transformed his syrupy pop into a regular business; pumping out release after release of quality psych pop this year. This checks in as Herr. Dogs’ first album and it ranks as the most cohesive body of work in the bunch. Though I’m almost certain that the impending In The Red release will equal if not surpass this,On Two Sides is an admirable piece of burnt ambition that will undoubtedly be relegated to lost classic status some years down the way.

Download:
[MP3] Blank Dogs - Ants

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE





Following closely on their collaboration last year with Tenniscoats, Tape have surpassed, even eclipsed that release with their own Luminarium. A tranquil beacon of beauty with an edge of unease that creeps under its skin; the album is icily perfect, a cold utopia that seems almost too flawless. Underneath it bubbles with resistance and a tension that needs to be experience to be fully understood.

Download:
[MP3] Tape - Beams

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE




Kurt has created an album of understated pop that went criminally under appreciated this year. Crafting pieces that retain off the cuff charm while in reality balancing dense pop layers with lo-fi aesthetics to perfection. Still, the core of Kurt’s success is that he’s able to base these dressings, both layered and lo-fi, in such strong songwriting that the rest only amplify his charm.

Download:
[MP3] Kurt Vile - Freeway

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE




So much quality came out of the Magic Lantern camp this year that it’s difficult to pick only one release that could justly represent their massive output. The best of the bunch definitely came in the form of Cameron Stallones’ Sun Araw, specifically the Beach Head full length on NNF. His ability to combine psych and sweat drenched dub into one boat is incredibly impressive and leaves me salivating for more to come. On the other hand as a full and functioning unit, Magic Lantern is waving the psych flag high, and with both an album and a reissue of their first CD-r this year I would be remiss to overlook them as a whole. And though the new album is terrific, the limited first recording is so essential that it seems to overshadow the latter just a bit and edge into the lead as their best. However, as I said it’s really hard to separate any of their releases from the full body of work, it seems to be only complete as a whole. I very much look forward to a bevy of releases from these musicians next year.

Download:
[MP3] Sun Araw - Horse Steppin’
[MP3] Magic Lantern - Gateway

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE

and HERE




The return of Christian Fennesz could hardly do any less than end up on a year end best of list. Still the master of depth in his field, his latest Black Sea is a murky peek into the emotive possibilities inherent in sound. Bridging the natural world (by way of guitar) with the encroaching unease of technology, Fennesz’ album is an unenviable mirror to society in a time of ever distancing humanity. You can practically feel the static wearing away your nerve endings on this album. One of his very best, and certainly in competition with Tape as the most starkly beautiful album of the year.

Download:
[MP3] Fennesz - Perfume for Winter

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE





No Age kicked off of the momentum created by last year’s singles collection and ran with it on Nouns. Finding the perfect balance between euphoric punk and ambient noise, with a popularity that would seem almost absurd had it been predicted a few years ago. Randy and Dean have taken The Smell’s “less is more / noise is essential” attitude and waved it like a banner over some of the catchiest songs of the year. Plus you can’t fault them for stepping it up in the packaging department.

Download:
[MP3] No Age - Teen Creeps

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE




Kicking garage in the shins with a dose of southern blues, Thomas Function are another band that got sorely overlooked this year considering the strength of the record they’ve released. Tearing apart at the seams with pop hooks and garage moves, the band proved that even Alabama has a stockpile of exuberance just waiting to be spilled onto your soul. This is the kind of record that can make you dance, shout and sweat in a way that you thought you’d left behind at 15.

Download:
[MP3] Thomas Function - Snake In The Grass

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE





Though this is only their first EP, it’s so wrangled with the essence of psych soaked blues that it immediately caught fire. Taking hold of the ambition that fueled the first couple of Comets on Fire records, Crystal Antlers tore and esophageal hole in the sun and let the ensuing blood storm rain down on the masses. These boys better not let up on the follow-up because the promises made are too much to renege on now.

Download:
[MP3] Crystal Antlers - A Thousand Eyes

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE




Dwyer took his Oh Sees to the garage this year and it’s a welcome return to form for the young veteran. This thing’s more greased up than a carburetor and just as solid, stomping like it’s ready to burn. The pinup affectations and rocker style are just what John’s Oh Sees (OCS, whatever) have been looking for since he started them up and decided to mellow. Somewhere there’s a dragstrip looking for a soundtrack and I’m pretty sure that Tomlab needs to give them a call.

Download:
[MP3] Thee Oh Sees - Ghosts In The Trees

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE




After a few cross-country moves, settling finally in Kansas City, Mythical Beast has kicked out a debut that not only surpassed their promising first 12”s, it tore them apart. The band have come a long way and tapped into a dark recess that few have been able to fully exploit. Stripping pych down to its most minimalist functions and topping it with Corrine’s mournful wail. They exhume darkness and allow it to seep into the recesses of every pore yet still it’s not a mournful record, it’s a cathartic exorcism that burrows emotions out of the blackened earth; ash for the coming spring, breathing life into the next season.

Download:
[MP3] Mythical Beast - Live to Live

Support the artist. Buy it: HERE

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posted by dissensous at 10:07:00 AM

46 Comments:

Anonymous DtotheE said...

Nice list, I would also add eat skull, nodzzz, and times new viking to the mix.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Jackson J Motherfuckin' Edge said...

I wuv you

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great list. I agree about Nodzzz and Eat Skull though - those records were incredible. And what about Indian Jewelry?

4:32 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Nice list! Gonna check out Eddy Current and Sun Araw. Thank you, and merry christmas!

5:43 AM  
Blogger dissensous said...

Hmmm well I was a fan of Eat Skull, Times New Viking and Nodzzz and if I'd expanded to 20 they'd probably have made it. The Nodzzz as I mentioned in the singles section was great but a bit short maybe for a best of inclusion, though I'm hoping that the band keep up that great energy.

As for Indian Jewelry, I loved their last record but thought that this one fell a bit short of the mark. I missed the emphasis on rhythm that the last one had. Still a pretty decent offering as far as 2008 was concerned though.

1:43 PM  
Blogger KOKOMO Webradio said...

thanks for sharing the music of KURT VILE and THOMAS FUNCTION !

11:09 AM  
Blogger Peter Bebergal said...

Thank you so much for this list, particularly the Tape mp3. I've been looking for this kind of thing for a while now. I just posted some thoughts about it here: http://mysterytheater.blogspot.com/

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