Friday, December 19, 2008

Top Albums of 2008

If you were wondering why I hadn't written anything in a while, it's because my blog post count was up to 42. I wanted to stay on that number for a while. Because it's the best number on the planet. It's divisible by 3 which makes it even awesomer. 3 is a magic number. Speaking of 3, 15 is also divisible by 3. Let's talk about music and lists and albums of 2008 and pleasure for our ears and run-on sentences.

Top 15 Albums of 2008 as Prescribed by Cale Simmons

15. Albert Hammond Jr. - Como te Llama

Who knew he had it in him? Unless of course you enjoyed his debut album in 2006, which I didn't really ever familiarize myself with. The Strokes guitarist definitely has his own sound compared to his other band's dance rock. He doesn't always have the most pleasant pitch on his tracks, but there's certainly some tunes worth checking out including my favorite GfC.

14. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Sarcasm alert: You would ever guess that this band is from Seattle, with their funereal lyrics and often somber tone. Alert off: However, despite the weight of some of the pieces in their full-length debut album the Fleet Foxes suck you in. Known for their musicianship, (Alert back on) they have won over Europe so you KNOW they must be good.

13. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst

If you notice, people are getting very creative with their album titles. Other than the unoriginal name, the always opinionated Oberst is just showing off on this Merge Records compilation that came out on my mother's birthday in August. If you like Bright Eyes, you'll get about the same thing from the lead man's solo tracks. Talent oozing out of your speakers and also a good bit of political commentary.

12. She & Him - Volume One

I sincerely hope that it's called Volume One because this duo is planning on producing more music in the future. It's been noted before that I have a HUGE crush on Zooey Deschanel, and she can actually sing unlike most other actresses who pretend they they have musical talent. Teaming up with M. Ward, this folksy twosome has a consistent theme throughout Volume One - under-powering presence of instruments and the soulful sound of Ms. Deschanel. Have I mentioned I would seriously marry this girl?

11. Beach House - Devotion

Showing that there's more to Baltimore than Michael Phelps, crab cakes, and Ray Lewis' ego, Beach House is a welcome addition to the subtly electronic craze that has infiltrated the music scene for the past few years. They are a new find for me, and the more I listen to the band the more I find myself listening to similar works such as Grizzly Bear. With no influences listed on their MySpace page despite a Roy Orbison video, you have to admit that this newcomer band has followed the niche that no one really can predict the imminent shelf life. +1 for sleepy time.

10. We Are Scientists - Brain Thrust Mastery

The opening act for Kings of Leon's latest tour, this Brooklyn group has hit the ground running since their arrival in 2006. Touring almost non-stop, they have almost willfully forced themselves onto the scene with a heavy onslaught of live shows and obvious talent that's pretty hard to ignore. Buy We Are Scientists stock now, it's only going to go up.

9. The Raveonettes - Lust Lust Lust

Showing yet again that I am not completely prejudiced against female vocals, this male/female duo from Denmark showed their chops with an eclectic mix that sucked you in from the get-go. Sounding a lot like a more refined version of electronic band M83, you pick up very quickly on The Velvet Underground's influence on this band. I think at one point I listened to Aly, Walk With Me ten times in a row. I have since recovered.

8. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

Some close friends may be confused by MGMT's standing at numero ocho. With the exception of #1 on the list, this album probably got more plays than any other on this humble countdown. It's fun, simple, and straightforward. My grandpa likes to tap his foot, the kids like to dance. Both can accomplish their goals with this compilation. It's not fancy, but it gets the job done. If you saw the blackjack movie 21, MGMT'S song Time to Pretend was the background to the opening credits. And now you know.

7. The Black Keys - Attack & Release

It's a simple recipe for The Black Keys. A formulaic, blues-driven hodgepodge that once it comes together doesn't really sound too mapped out at all. With seemingly every jam band/blues group that plays in bars across America covering a few Keys' songs, this duo struck another chord with Attack & Release. Finally garnering commercial success as well as appreciation from fellow musicians, this is an album that you can listen to over and over again and get something new from it every single time.

6. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

With storytelling lyrics that make them sound more like a Southern rock group, this band from Brooklyn made a huge breakthrough in 2008 with Stay Positive that caters to anyone who likes to sing loudly in the car about the trials of being an indecisive 20 or 30s something. Yeah, I can relate to what they're singing about. But not only that, they're just fun. You can get excited about going to one of their shows, which I need to do very soon. Also, did I mention Harry Potter is a fan?

5. The Walkmen - You & Me

If I was a movie director, I would probably not be writing this blog. At least on an unadvertised blog. I would make people pay money to sponsor my blog and then blab on about politics and probably use the word "loathe" often. Also, I would put The Walkmen's music in a lot of my movies. They have the perfect kind of music that's complimentary when people are walking in slow motion or giving each other high fives. That's all I have to say about The Walkmen. Oh, and here's a song for New Year's.

4. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges

Yet again, another band that has been around for quite some time and finally has earned the praise of mainstream outlets. Not that being recognized is a vital thing, but I'm one of the few that actually enjoys when a band becomes accepted widely as long as they don't completely forget what got them there in the first place. I was *this close* to buying a plane ticket to go see them play live at Madison Square Garden in New York City this year for New Year's Eve. Instead, I'll just have to find a nice librarian at whatever establishment I end up attending and croon to her.

3. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

If you're not familiar with this band, do not be discouraged by the name. They are as witty and smart in their lyrics as they come. With what some has described as an Afrobeat sound, these Brooklyn boys produced an incredible EP that makes you wonder why more bands don't take a chance musically. It's too hard to pick a favorite song from the album, as every song is another brilliant variation of the next. My pick, however, might be Oxford Comma. How fantastic is this?

2. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins

Rising out of the maelstrom that is the Austin music scene, Okkervil River (pronounced AWK-ur-vil) released The Stand Ins in September of this year equaling an as impressive 2007 The Stage Names. The latest album is meant to be a sequel to the aforementioned album and certainly does not disappoint. With superb vocal harmonies and an much-advertised stage presence, Okkervil River asserted themselves as one of my favorite bands over this past year. Imagine yourself on a beach somewhere with a drink in your hand as you're relaxing to Lost Coastlines. Feel it?

1. Kings of Leon - Only By the Night

Surprise surprise! Following their prime spot on my list last year with Because of the Times, KOL catapulted themselves into bona fide musical celebrities with my birthday gift Only By the Night. I'm not sure what the tipping point with these guys was that made them into a concert must see, SNL hit, festival rock stars, and favorite of B list celebrities. Maybe people just started to realize that this very young family band from Nashville is seriously superb. You know what you're going to get form Kings of Leon. Blossoming prodigies on guitar and a unique, yet convincing sound of leadman Caleb Followill. I'm really happy for their success, despite that it's still a struggle for them to hold time on the radio. Oh well. Buy the album. You'll be glad you did. Oh, and also congratulations on their Grammy nods. Pretty cool stuff.

That's it. I may disagree with my own list a few weeks from now, but that's what I came up with. Here are some honorable mentions in no particular order:

TV on the Radio, Cat Power, Kanye West, Jenny Lewis, & Calexico.


Busy Momma said...

I just saw online that Zooey Deschanel just got engaged. Sorry, man!

Cale Simmons said...

Last night was a rough one. I sat alone in a dark corner sobbing away!