Thursday, December 25, 2008

Erv's Best Of '08

I want to just preface this by saying this has been an interesting year for me, musically speaking. I have taken my "seeking" to new heights this year. I have legally bought almost 4gb worth of music this year, and most of it wasn't new. This year has expanded my tastes to the point where freaking Hans Zimmer made it on my list. hahaha....
With that being said here is my list in some type of better to best order!
Enjoy, make-fun of me, check it out, whatever:

10. Hans Zimmer/James Newton Howard- "The Dark Knight"
I think the only reason this one is so low on my list is because I've spent the least amount of time with this album. I only bought it about a week ago but I have already listened to this about a dozen times (which is saying something when this album clocks in at about 1 hour 15 minutes). Put your thoughts of the movie aside when listening to this. This has a very Nine Inch Nails feel to the whole album. It makes me wish Reznor would do more movie scoring. This CD opens with the Joker theme, that single note (just pitch shifted) played on the Cello. Creepy.... From that point it draws you in to a mixture of technology meets Orchestral scoring. I am not really all that great at describing Scores or anything so just check it out!

9. The Alkaline Trio- Agony And Irony
I probably will receive some crap for this pick, and deservedly so. I do have a soft spot for Pop Punk still, and I got this album at a very interesting time in my life where a lot of the songs just hit me really quick and mirrored what I was feeling at that time.
That being said, Jerry Abrams really helped Alk3 bring it home on this one. 11 finally crafted pop songs done is classic Alk3 style, but with great production and phenomenal vocals (something which seems to allude these guys some times). Songs about being lonely forever, songs about being single surrounded by a world full of "couples" being all in love and that bull shit. Most of Dan's songs on this CD are essentially just saying "Fuck it, I give up" but presented in a way that alludes that he's not really losing hope at all.
This album over-all is a bit different then your normal Alkaline albums musically speaking. They seem to have focused more efforts on crafting a well balanced song, instead of falling into the Punk Trio curse where you either play way to simple or way to much. The bass playing is what struck out to me first. It has been toned back on this album compared to their previous efforts. Usually Dan is all over the place (which I enjoy, and he's good at), however this ablum he's sticking closer to just the root notes. Matt's guitar playing sounds like he might have taken some lessons and really practiced hard on hitting those notes (that's not meant to sound the way it does, he just plays waaaay better now). The drumming is stellar, like normal.
I dunno, I don't have to keep justifing my pick to you guys, it's my pick! hahaha!

8. Deerhunter - MicroCastle/Weird Era Cont
This is my first introduction to Deerhunter. I approve. I think Matt wrote something about an interview where they were really listening to a lot '60s music but he couldn't really see it reflected in the music. I certainly can however. It has hints of the more experimental stuff that came out. I'm thinking things along the lines of the Beach Boys - "Pet Sounds" and albums like that. Now please don't misunderstand me and by this thinking you are going to receive a modern day "Pet Sounds", 'cause you won't.
This album is more about tones and creating moods than it is about "pop" music in my mind. One of those albums to be listened to as a whole. There are few stand-out tracks (Nothing Ever Happened To Me, for example). This is a good album to put on while browsing through the books at your favorite book store. It doesn't really get all loud and in your face, but it doesn't really get very quiet either. It's like drinking some Shiner Bock, it just goes down smooth!

7. Common- Universal Mind Control
I've been getting more into hip-hop this year, among other things. Commons new disc just came out a few weeks ago, but it has already made its way into heavy rotation for me. Produced by Common and The Neptunes (some others in there too), it's a very danceable disc. The sexual energy on this is through the roof though. I honestly don't have to much to say about this disc 'cause I don't have a lot of knowledge about the genre. Its just full of great beats, and Common's rhymes, like always, are well thought out and constructed.

6. Girl Talk - Feed The Animals
What can I say about Girl Talk that Matt and Alex already haven't.
Party Recipe: 1 Part Girl Talk, 1 part dance floor, 2 parts booze, 1 part dudes, 3 parts chicks.

5. Kid, You'll Move Mountains - Loomings
I really like this band A LOT!!! I don't given a flying flip if they are "local" or whatever. This disc is brilliant and makes me excited to see what they will be comming up with in the future.
I'm not 100% sure if this disc qualifies for this list or not because they were giving people free downloads of it at this show in the video below (I think if you look close enough you might even see me there, haha). The disc officially comes out in Jan '09 I believe.
This is what I consider to be good indie rock. In my mind Indie should be more about experimentation with the "pop" styles/structures then trying to fit into a certain niche or trying to sound like what everyone else is doing (which in my eyes tends to be the case now-a-days).
First off, their bass player doesn't even really play a bass (most of the time). Then they have a guitar player whose pedal board has so many lights on it, it feels like you are looking down on a city from a plane, hahaha. Jim's lyrics are very coy and thought provoking, without ever being overly discriptive, leaving just enough to the imagination for your own interpretation.
If you get a chance, check these guys out or book'em a show!

4. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
This disc seems like its been around forever. A lot has already been said about this disc. I don't know if it's really worth expanding on all that much.
This is just another calm, smooth disc. Everyone, young to old, seems to find something about this disc to like. It makes me wish for more music along these lines, it also really makes me wanna listen to the English Beat a ton too.
Oh, and apparently Scott Baio's son is the bass player....

3. NERD - Seeing Sounds
My old manager gave me a copy of this disc this summer and said "Listen to this and thank me later." When someone hands me a disc and says something like that (happens more than you would think) I usually accept the disc, look at them and smile politely and say thanks and expect the worse. Into the 2nd song I sent my manager a text saying "Holy shit this is amazing!"
It's awesome when artists as big and influential as The Neptunes are given carte blanche to make whatever they want, because they end up making albums like this. Soulful, thought provoking, well structured, a glimpse at the future of hip-hop, a bit silly at times, but overall a great album.
Their track "Sooner Or Later" has been one of my favorite tracks (new or old) of this year. Goes from a slower R+B track to an insane guitar solo at the end, all while keeping soulfully sung choruses.
If you don't like hip-hop, buy this disc, if you love hip-hop, buy this disc!

2. Kings Of Leon- Only By Night
This was a total impulse buy. I have never really listened to this band, or payed much attention to them. Sort of that pretty indie rocker boy image or something, who knows why. This disc has a very groove orientated '70s feel to it. Bass lines just suck you into songs like "Crawl." I find myself putting this disc on a lot and just getting lost into it, whether I'm at work or warming up before band practice, or kicking everyones ass in the game Soul Caliber II, haha..
The vocals are the highlight of this disc to me. He is one of those singers that makes you FEEL what he's dropping on you. The amount of soul in his voice is something that I'm not all that used to hearing in my mere 27 years of life.
This is another one of those albums this year that I bought and hit me like a freight train. Right album at the right time of my life.
I really wish I was a much more skilled writer so I could actually convey my appreciation and understanding of this album, but I lack the vocabulary and the writing prowess. So just come and talk to me about it and see my face light up with joy and that should say it all!

1. Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
This is another album that many people, many better people, have written about that I can't really expand to much on.
First off, let me say that I don't think enough credit is being given to Brian Eno on this one. A lot of the "sonic landscapes" of this album are coming from him. In my mind that is what is making this album truly a work of art. The songs are amazing, don't get me wrong, but with the help of Eno it just catapults this album into a whole new level that very few bands will ever achieve, and seldom achieve twice.
Now I'm probably gonna get a lot of flack for the following statement, but I'm going to say it anyways. I honestly, and whole heartedly feel that this album in about 20 years will be looked at the way our generation looks at the Beatles' "White Album." It will be one of those albums that people can't believe you've never heard, or if you speak ill of it people ridicule you.
Like the Kings Of Leon CD, I also tend to get totally and utterly lost inside of this album. Songs like "Strawberry Swing" and "Cemeteries of London" have literally stopped me in my tracks because I forgot what I was doing. This is one of the very few albums I have that I can literally do nothing and just sit and listen to it. I don't have to read a book or be working or driving. I can just be sitting in an easy chair and be lost in the ethereal sounds.
Lyrically it's what to be expected from Coldplay, but with a broader view and more knowledge of the human psyche it seems.
I honestly don't know what else I feel equipped to write about on this one. If you don't have it, just buy it, or I'll give you a copy. I am honestly more surprised that this didn't make more lists. I feel as if a lot of people don't want to put it on because it's "Coldplay" but fuck that jazz and get over it. This is an amazing album!

Honorable Mentions

Cruiserweight - Bold Letters: Pop punk with chick vocals. This band always puts me in a good mood. This one was on my first draft of this list, but The Dark Knight sorta bumped it out along with Alk 3.

Thrice - Alchemy Index Vol III-IV: The continuation from last years "Alchemy Index Vol I-II". Also on the first draft of my list and bumped for the same reason, although a much harder bump. Vol III is titled "Air" and has a lot of ambient and sweeping tones throughout, a good one to drive to. Vol IV is titled "Earth" and is all acoustic. So imagine a once hard-core band turned arty hard-core turned indie, then the acoustic version. Pretty good actually.

Biggest Letdowns

The Fireman - Electric Argument: I really really really want to like this one more, just don't see it happening. The latest project from Paul McCartney with some dude named Young. No idea. A handful of the songs are good by themself, but as a whole this album is a snooze and hard to listen to front to back. Booo...

The Jealous Sound - Got Friends EP: The song "Got Friends" = amazing. The other 2 songs and the remixes of "Got Friends" are a let down. I've been waiting soooooo long for some new Jealous Sound stuff and heard their song "Got Friends" i had such high hopes (and still do sorta). I just hope the full length (whenever/if ever) comes out, it delivers the goods!

Thanks for taking the time to read my rambles. I could go on and on, but I'll save you all from that!

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