2008 may not have been a 2007, but it was something. Especially if you were active in the field of concert-going, which is an art I feel I’ve perfected (I.E. I do not have much of a life otherwise.) In the city of Chicago alone, you had the choices of Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, Warped Tour, plus whatever horseshit local radio station Q101 threw together. I had to miss Warped, but the other two aforementioned shows may have been the highlights of my year.
On a more personal note, I finally realized I’m not a genius (because my teachers told me I’m not a genius) and plus I go to school in the absolute middle of nowhere, so school tended to suck my soul away from me; but about 1 million dollars in gas money and an unhealthy amount of commitment kept me involved in all the music Chicago had to offer. The following lists are my attempt to recount the best and worst of this year, even though as I sort of mentioned, a lot of cool things that come to mind were actually released last year. I refuse to accept that this is because I’ve fallen behind (seeing as I review multiple CD’s every week) and so I’ll just blame the entire music industry. Just kidding, we’re cool. Anyways, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t an overload of awesome this year, as this trip down memory lane showed me.
If you are still reading this you will know that I am afraid of kittens.
Top 30 Albums of 2008
1.) Opeth - Watershed
2.) Fucked Up – The Chemistry of Common Life
3.) Torche – Meanderthal
4.) Portishead – Third
5.) Modey Lemon – Season of Sweets
6.) Joan of Arc – Boo Human
7.) Pygmy Lush – Mount Hope
8.) Dr. Dog – Fate
9.) The Mars Volta – The Bedlam in Goliath
10.) Beck – Modern Guilt
11.) These Arms Are Snakes – Tail Swallower and Dove
12.) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig Lazarus Dig!
13.) Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
14.) Shai Hulud – Misanthropy Pure
15.) The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
16.) The Streets - Everything is Borrowed
17.) The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
18.) TV on the Radio – Dear Science,
19.) No Age - Nouns
20.) Bound Stems – The Family Afloat
21.) R.E.M. – Accelerate
22.) Jaguar Love – Take Me to the Sea
23.) Lil Wayne – The Carter III
24.) Metallica – Death Magnetic
25.) Q-Tip – The Renaissance
26.) MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
27.) Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
28.) Annuals – Such Fun
29.) Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
30.) Young Widows – Old Wounds
Believe it or not, this list was pretty tough to make. My taste in music is pretty all over the place and so I tend to pull something from every genre – even if not every one is represented here. I’ve got to go with Opeth for number one, because just like every fan of theirs I’m captivated by the way they stay true to their initial death metal style while incorporating progressive rock and whatever else comes into the genius Mikael Akerfeldt’s mind. Right from the first track with its beautiful vocal cameo, it’s clear this album is going even further into uncharted territory and although it took a second listen to take it all in, Opeth basically owned 2008. Needless to say, their live show was just as incredible.
Also just wanted to say, Metallica, congratulations! Anyone that can crash and burn into St. Anger and then climb back out deserves to be on everybody’s top 30 lists. Also good job pulling your head out of your ass and realizing kids are your fans, not your enemies: including yourself in video games will help you, I promise.
Harvey Milk – Life: The Best Game in Town
Dr. Manhattan - Dr. Manhattan
Darker My Love – 2
Gojira – The Way of All Flesh
Less Than Jake – GNV FLA
Drive By Truckers – Brighter than Creation’s Dark
The Clash – Live at Shea Stadium
Paper Rival – Dialog
Portugal. The Man – Censored Colors
Underoath – Lost in the Sound of Seperation
Black Milk – Tronic
These guys still rocked, but they rocked just a tiny bit less than the top 30. I really don’t think you needed this explanation, but I got pretty bored just now. If you are still reading this, you will know that I have a cold sore.
Best EP's of 2008
1.) The Fall of Troy – Phantom on the Horizon
2.) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead -
3.) One Day as a Lion – One Day As a Lion
4.) Thursday/Envy split EP
5.) Cool Kids -Bake Sale
First of all, I’m thrilled to hear that Trail of Dead is still a band. I feel like every year there’s some new rumor of their breaking up, and this EP and the promise of a full-length at the beginning of next year set that straight. Similarly, I’m really happy De La Rocha is doing something! One Day as a Lion is pretty Battle of Los Angeles sounding, which pretty much rules!
Songs of the Year
Bon Iver – “Skinny Love”
The Streets - "On the Edge of a Cliff"
Opeth – “The Lotus Eater”
M.I.A. – “Paper Planes”*
Lil Wayne – “A Milli”
Beck – “Gamma Ray”
No Age – “It’s Oh So Quiet”
I had no idea how long to make this list, because there was so much stuff that I just totally dug. *I know that M.I.A.’s CD came out in 2007, but come on. This was the year when it dominated the charts, the ringtones, and the Apatow flicks.
Best Live Sets
Radiohead at Lollapalooza
Modey Lemon’s intimate set at The Beat Kitchen in Chicago
Opeth at The Pageant in St. Louis
Spoon at Pitchfork Music Festival
Daughters at Subterranean in Chicago
Mastodon at Mayhem Fest in Tinley Park (represent), IL
Most of these are self explanatory, except that you might not have heard of Modey Lemon. Fix that. This modern garage-punk take on blues blew my mind in such a small and intimate venue. I met the guitarist afterwards and he was the nicest dude ever. And who could forget Daughters, whose singer Lex stripped down to a thong and there are more details I don’t even feel like writing.
AC/DC – Black Ice
See also Best Use of One Drumbeat and Several Cock Metaphors.
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
This is one of my favorite bands. In fact, I’m seeing them next week. And it’s not that this album is particularly bad, but just…what the hell happened? You’re Wayne Coyne now?
Biggest Disappointments of 2008
Kanye West – 808’s and Heartbreak
Bayside – Shudder
Alkaline Trio – Agony and Irony
Fear Before – Fear Before
Norma Jean – The Antimother
Rise Against – Appeal to Reason
Nine Inch Nails – The Slip
The complete and utter destruction of hip hop by autotune/robot voice
I’d call Day & Age by the Killers a disappointment, except that I already knew it would blow. Hmmm…what else…Alkaline Trio is one of the greatest bands ever, but the new one was a huge let down from their last few excellent albums. They still rule though – you should still go see them live. I guess I could say the exact same thing about Fear Before, who I really wanted to make Always Open Mouth 2, but I guess this obvious and lame Sparta Lite was more up their alley.
Fall Out Boy
GOD I HATE KID ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone who likes “All Summer Long” likes it because “It’s so instantly familiar!” Could that be because he mashes together two overplayed classic songs and then adds his genius lyrics, such as, “We were trying different things / We were smoking funny things”? Even if he wasn’t rhyming the same word with itself, the word is “Things”. Genius. Go star in Joe Dirt some more, jerkface.
Best Television Shows of 2008
1.) The Shield
2.) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
3.) Three Sheets
4.) Conan Obrien, as usual (he’s moving up an hour and a half earlier in the late night line up!)
5.) South Park (still ridiculous)
The series finale of the Shield, for me, might be the best finale of all time (definitely beats the stupid Sopranos). There were a few loose ends left untied, such as the serial killer Dutch is trying to crack and the cat that Dutch strangled for absolutely no reason in season 3; basically, the writers kind of gave up on characters who weren’t Mackey, but that’s alright because that guy is why we watch the show anyways. Greatest show ever.
Rather than rehashing Superbad, which would have been easy to do, the Apatow crew made something entirely original. There’s all kinds of action and all kinds of laughs, the kind of balance which hasn’t been seen so well since Kevin Smith’s Dogma in my opinion. This is the most rewatchable movie ever. Of course, Batman ruled too but Pineapple Express wins just slightly, if only because Batman makes me depressed and Pineapple Express makes me happy. Ha. Good way to review things….
Although Volta came out in 2007, this video came out at the beginning of ’08. It scares the bejesus out of me. Plus there’s no question that it’s the best song from that album.
Reviews You Shouldn't Have Missed
My review of Grace Gale
And also read the user comments.
Things That Will Kick Your Ass in 2009
1.) I’m gonna goddamn graduate!
2.) Sonic Youth will release an album
3.) Massive Attack will (supposedly) release their long awaited Weather Underground
4.) Wilco may release an album
5.) Fall of Troy will release an album
6.) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead will release an album
7.) Mastodon will release an album
8.) CKY will release their long awaited Live Hellions album
9.) Raekwon will release his long awaited Only Built for Cuban Linx Part 2
10.) Mars Volta will probably release an album and it will probably be long as shit.
Worst Computer Program
Somehow, they made a music program that breaks my computer more than Itunes. Nice and slow, too. It makes the music sound better when you have all that suspense leading into it.
Didn't care for Bayside eh? I'm a fanboy, so I enjoyed it quite a bit. Here is my list:
20 - Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
19 - An Albatross - The Family Album
18 - The Sound of Animals Fighting - The Ocean and the Sun
17 - The New Frontiers - Mending
16 - Foxy Shazam - Introducing
15 - Protest the Hero - Fortress
14 - Sigur Rós -Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
13 - Wolftron - Flesh and Fears
12 - Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow
11 - Ben Folds - Way To Normal
10 - Ace Enders - The Secret Wars
9 - Dr. Manhattan - Dr. Manhattan
8 - Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
7 - Bayside - Shudder
6 - Death to Anders - Fictitious Business
5 - Fear Before - Fear Before
4 - United Nations - United Nations
3 - La Dispute - Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Vega and Altair
2 - Man Man - Rabbit Habits
1 - The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound