In comparison to their incredibly raw 2006 self titled debut album, Devotion is a far more polished vessel from this Baltimore duo. The songwriting hasn't fundamentally changed; they've simply cleaned up their act. These are crisper, brighter, bolder songs, retaining Beach House's sense of elegant decay while sweeping up the debris. I first heard this album on my first ever trip to New York. It was on vinyl and I was stoned... that could also lend a hand to this being a sentimental favourite.
9. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
Kevin Barnes is a babe. And he's crazy. That automatically ticks boxes in my opinion. Although Skeletal Lamping doesn't compare to last year's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? which is still in my iPod's 25 most played, it's got some hefty pop hooks and schizophrenic danceability ensues.
Gobbledigook was the first song I heard in 2008. As in, "5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Baa Baa Baa Baa..." I lost my shit and my mind. I also saw them play at Festival Hall for the release of this album (translation: With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly.) It is truly beautiful and is a new and more grounded direction for these Icelanders. There's a deliverance of more playful and free moments from what we've previously heard but with no loss of the dramatically moving build ups that they have always done oh so well.
Red Wine and Valium is what this album is to me. It's gauzy bedroom pop that drifts from ambient bliss-outs to avant-garage, as if passing through different stages of sleep on a sunny afternoon. Bradford Cox is better known for his other band (#6 place getter), Deerhunter but it almost feels as if Atlas Sound is where he really exists in the world. It's easy to get lost in the ambiance of the record but pay attention to the lyrics for they are some of the most beautiful I've ever heard. "River so clear and blue/ I'm so in love with you/ But you'll drown me."
This album is simply undeniably brilliant. I don't even know where to start slash I can't be bothered, thus I'm going to take this opportunity to quote a Mr. Marc Hogan as he puts it into words that sums up everything I'd like to say... "Here, (in Microcastles) the band comes into their own by applying their own inspiringly distinctive, bleakly appealing sensibility to whatever ideas happen to move them. Fist-pumping first single "Nothing Ever Happened" shares most of a title with a Pavement deluxe-edition bonus track while sounding a lot like Magazine's more straightforward, hard-charging side. Another standout, "Saved by Old Times", pipes in the Black Lips' Cole Alexander for a dual-channel monologue disorientingly reminiscent of the Velvet Underground's "The Murder Mystery". (If you play it backwards, Cole namedrops Johnny Cash.)" Thanks for the tip off Marc.
5. The Duke Spirit - Neptune
It's simple...I really like female singers and Leila Moss bangs...she's almost Native American...except that she's not at all, she's actually just a pom.
This album was very significant to me this year. I'm a sucker for folk and the fact that the sound that Fleet Foxes produce could easily come from another (better) era is one huge credit. The power of the vocal harmonies throughout the entire album but especially on tracks "Your Protector" and "Ragged Wood" are enough to make this little lass weak at the knees. In it's entirety, the production of the album is flawless as each track moves into the next and before you even realise it, it's over. Waa.
3. Frightened Rabbit - Midnight Organ Fight
I had the pleasure of going on a pleasant little beach getaway with these guys earlier in the year. Having already fallen in love with rawness and masculine vulnerability that's put across so beautifully by lead singer Scott, I was intrigued to see how these sensitive, bearded, glasses wearing, unassuming boys from Glasgow would fair up amongst us brash and terminally drunk Aussies... they were great fun. And very funny (and wasn't just for their accents.)
This album has made me cry in the rain. There are too many highlights and amazing lyrics to note. It almost feels as if you're listening to excerpts from a post break up diary, perhaps even your own.
2. WHY? - Alopecia
"I only played chess once in my life and I lost." Front man Yoni’s bouncy, rap-minded delivery, with tongue-twisting lines about syphilis and the sound of high heels on marble are a forceful and honest stream-of-consciousness not to be reckoned with. Fucking genius stuff. Highlights include “These Few Presidents”, “The Hollows” and “A Sky for Shoeing Horses Under” along with every other track on the album.
1. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
I, Sunni Hart hereby guarantee from this moment on, until the end of history that I will never, ever get sick of this album. It is one of the most relative and beautiful pieces of art I’ve come across. Justin Vernon’s falsetto melts my face off in such an inoffensive and welcomed way every time. With “re: Stacks” playing in my headphones as I flew over the Pacific Ocean on my way home from America, I looked out the window at the dotted clouds below me knowing that the remaining months of 2008 were going to be turbulent and relentless. They were and this was the soundtrack to it all. Justin Vernon exudes such a strong sense of loneliness and remoteness that speaks volumes to anybody who has ever felt the same (he sequestered himself in a remote cabin for four snowy months and in that time wrote most of this For Emma.) He gives a soulful performance full of intuitive swells and fades, his phrasing and pronunciation making his voice as much of an instrument as his guitar. I’d like to thank Pat for showing me the light.
Happy New Year everybody. xx