Tuesday, January 06, 2009

--Or-- I Would Do All Ten Right Now, But, Hey, I Have A Full-Time Job, Ya' Know

One of the New Year's resolutions that I've made to myself is to visit the Sanctum of Sincerity more often than the very shameful '08. Considering my abandonment, it's no wonder that last year feels so ironic in retrospect. Let us tarry no further and get to the content. Yes, to the content!

But before we move further, it would be best to leave last year behind with a nifty Best Music of 2008 list. Well, gosh, what are we waiting for?

Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend
(XL Recordings)

Consider 2008 the "Year of the Vampire." Four virtually unknown, well-dressed preppies from Columbia University released a self-titled debut and found themselves soon thereafter on the cover of Spin Magazine and as musical guests on Saturday Night Live. Dismiss the insta-success as a result of the regurgitating hype machine, but you can’t ignore the fact that Vampire Weekend’s first album is sensationally accessible and abnormally transfixing. The haters standing next to you will inevitably claim that the purveyors of Upper West Side Soweto stole their sound from the Talking Heads and Paul Simon, and, well, they’re right. Musicians, however, call that "being influenced."
- Listen here"

(Downtown Records)

[Ed. note: The second self-titled record on the list--are artists finding all their creativity sucked up when it comes to titling their debuts?] Brooklyn musician Santi White is vomiting gold on her album cover, cuz that's pretty much what she does. She justifies this bizarre artwork by releasing a seamless platinum platter of urban-pop that sounds like everything she's musically ingested throughout the past twenty years. And contrary to haters, these 12 tracks go way beyond aping M.I.A. (although, we’ll give them that “Creator” is mighty Maya).
- Listen here.


Lykke Li
Youth Novels
(LL Recordings)

Swedish vocalist Lykke Li, or Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson crafts unpretentious and fragile pop gems on her debut full length Youth Novels in a time when record labels are clamoring for husky-voiced Amy Winehouse clones.

While Lykke has been outspoken about her ambition to be the blogger generation's Madonna, her songs are way too precious to exude sexuality and manipulation. There's an inherent youthful naiveté in "Dance Dance Dance" a minimalist groove ride about the need to do just that, and the loungey "Everybody" epitomizes shyness and insecurity, with confessional lyrics about jeans being too tight and finding comfort by standing in the corner. This Swedish vocalist is more likable when she's not parading herself as a material girl.
- Listen here


Apes & Androids
Blood Moon

This New York band came out of nowhere and blew minds with their robotic glam rock and live show theatrics. Influences are so disparate and random (Beck, Queen, Love, the Outfield) that Blood Moon could be an effective argument against administering Ritalin. Their live show, equally thrilling, is completely over-the-top in its theatrics, and what's best is that the band provides the audience with glow sticks. No need to bring your own.
- Listen here

Jay Reatard
Matador Singles
(Matador Records)

While you're reading this, Jay Reatard has probably just written a handful of songs. The twenty-seven year old punk rocker known for being incredibly prolific (really, that feels like an understatement) has spent the last few years releasing dozens and dozens of brilliantly catchy rock nuggets. This compilation—his first release for the indie label Matador Records—is thirteen songs short clocking in at a touch over thirty-minutes, and once again, it showcases Reatard's brilliant and consistent ability to be sugary sweet-accessible while maintaining a frenetic, off-the-cuff spirit.

With shades of Husker Du, The Pixies, New Zealand indie rock, and classic garage rock bands of the '60s, the Memphis-based wunderkind boasts a policy of zero filler on this record, every song serving the sole purpose of kicking the door down and inspiring an instant mosh pit. And incredibly, every sloppy composition nails you at the chorus.
- Listen here

[To be continued]


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