Ah, the year in music. Like virtually every year, there was something for everyone in 2008. My Bloody Valentine finally reunited, to much anticipation, while Axl Rose pumped out a new Guns N’ Roses record that people gradually stopped caring about. Lil’ Wayne blinged out a baby on his album cover while Coldplay likely ruined a classic piece of art for many people by slapping it on its new record. Fleet Foxes and Vampire Weekend innocently exploded onto the independent scene, capturing the hearts of many, many, many girls – and some guys.
Amy Winehouse won so many Grammies for a song called “Rehab” that you can’t help but laugh when you think about it now. Mariah Carey had another number one single, and now has more number one singles than Elvis and is dangerously close to passing the Beatles for the most number one singles ever. Another pop queen, Britney Spears, was put through a media grinder all year only to release another chart-topping album.
Music has been showcased on the Internet like never before, making many fans wonder how much longer the CD will hold up before everything is sold or acquired over the Internet. But what are the 10 records from 2008 that you must listen to if you have an inclination for catchy independent rock? I’m glad you asked!
10. Antn Hrkwk – “Mutually Assured”: This album might be hard to track down, but it is an awesome array of sampled electronic beats guaranteed to make you boogie. The frantic changes and jerky vocals are addictive.
9. Vivian Girls – “Vivian Girls”: This all-girl group takes simple, fast pop songs and drowns them in a wave distortion. The result is a short record that comes at you quickly and leaves you happy.
8. The Dutchess and the Duke – “She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke”: A complete throwback to singer-songwriter folk albums of yesteryear when songs weren’t about area codes or big butts. Pure and simplistic with a little bit of an edge to it.
7. Grouper – “Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill”: Minimalistic and ambient. It’s something you want to listen to if you feel like being contemplative and looking at the stars, but don’t want to be in complete silence.
6. DeVotchKa – “A Mad & Faithful Telling”: DeVotchKa is a breath of fresh air. Its combination of Eastern and Western music proves to be an uplifting experience for any music fan.
5. French Kicks – “Swimming”: The French Kicks are one of the best bands from New York, and this is its defining album. On this record it stops jumping around and looking for a sound, settling for a calm, soothing, melodic wave of guitars and vocals.
4. Deerhunter – “Microcastle”: Every trendy top 10 will likely have this album listed, but it’s for good reason. Microcastle is Deerhunter taking the essence of what made its distorted music loveable and riding that for an entire album.
3. Okay – “Huggable Dust”: Love songs. Sweet, innocent love songs. Marty Anderson’s frail voice is a tough pill to swallow at first but soon becomes as important to the songs as anything else.
2. The Kills – “Midnight Boom”: This band is so accessible and instant. This album is easy to love. Drum loops, crunchy guitars, oblivious lyrics and awesome boy-girl vocals. The Kills is at the top of its game here.
1. Department of Eagles – “In Ear Park”: This album contains such heavy material that you might feel a bit drained by the time it finishes, but it’s completely worth the journey. As intimate as anything released all year, the subtleties in this album are enough to make repeated listens mandatory.
So was 2008 a successful year in music? Lists prove very little, as they’re all just a small subjective sampling of a wide scope of material. The best part of the Internet era is the easy access to morsels of music you can discover for yourself at the click of a button. Whether or not this year has provided you with a substantial amount of good music really depends on how much you’ve looked for it. So what are you waiting for?