Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Overland Park pt 87

Only by the Night

The music of the year, in this humble blogger's opinion. Sure, it's again not a Top Ten. I'm not saying it's the best across the board. It's just the music I liked this year.

So as always, it's my choice what I listen to and if you don't agree with it, great. Hit me up with suggestions and I'll check them out. Music is another passion of mine.

To start, here are the honorable mentions this year:

Mars Volta: The Bedlam in Goliath
The Black Keys: Attack and Release
Wolf Parade: At Mount Zoomer
Kanye West: 808s and Heartbreak
Tapes n Tapes: Walk it Off
Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
Loyalty to Loyalty: Cold War Kids
Scars on Broadway: Scars on Broadway
MGMT: Oracular Spectacular
Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend

All of them great albums, but not my most played. These were albums that I really liked and loved listening to and played often, just ones that I didn't necessarily get into as much as the rest. I did pawn them off on other people and helped propel love for these bands from others. That's always a plus.

I'm a pusher man.

Now, for the rest of the list, I figured I would break them into a form of category. It might make them a little easier to follow, a little better to enjoy.

So for you lovely readers out there, here are my favorite albums of 2008, in roughly no particular order.

Rap/Hip Hop

I wouldn't really consider these next few albums to be Rap. I'm more a proponent of Hip Hop, and the next few groups seem more hip hop in my opinion, but I suppose it works to mention them in the same fashion, eh?

In no particular order:

N.E.R.D.: Seeing Sounds
Atmosphere: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint that Shit Gold
Del tha Funkee Homosapien: The Eleventh Hour

All three of these albums have songs that I dig and played to death. Everybody knows Del is my favorite rapper/hip hop artist living or dead, mainly from Deltron 3030. I love everything the man touches. The Eleventh Hour is just another great record from one of the smartest rappers alive. He touches it and the rhymes are gold.

N.E.R.D. was a surprise this year, as their last release was so terrible. I didn't think they had another great album in them, but they surprised me. A lot of booty shaking can be done with this album, just ask anybody. And if you don't want to, go somewhere that might have a Jukebox. A lot now have Everybody Nose from this record. Play it and see what happens.

Atmosphere is another hip hop group that I dig. The rhymes of Slug and the production of Ant are just perfect. Check out the track You and try not to enjoy this record. This was up there for album of the year status. It truly was. I enjoy everything they do and when you get white boys from Minnesota that know how to rap and how to make rap music, you have to pause and think, really? That's why I gave them a try and this album is another great entry from them.

Indie/Experimental Rock

Here's another strange category. One that I don't necessarily agree with but it works for the most part. A group of great bands fit into this category in one fashion or another, so here they are, in no particular order.

ASHES dIVIDE: Keep Telling Myself It's Alright
The Raconteurs: Consolers of the Lonely
Bloc Party: Intimacy
TV on the Radio: Dear Science

Another group of strong contenders for album of the year. Each and every one of these albums played in my car so much that I nearly ruined them. So let's begin.

Billy Howerdel's offshoot band from A Perfect Circle completely took off. I saw them at Rockfest and it was the only reason I went. It was worth it, just to meet Billy and shake his hand and tell him how great the show was. You know, be an idiot fan. But the guy was a guitar tech and now he leads his own band, more power to the guy. The album itself plays like a lot of A Perfect Circle and makes me long for the days of listening to those records and gaining meaning in my life from them.

Just like other idiot fans. But Keep Telling Myself was a contender for record of the year based on the way it went from hard rock to experimental to alternative all within the same album, playing to the mindsets of the various groups of fans that listen to his stuff (goth, emo, hardcore, etc.). It worked, and I will buy another album if he releases another.

The Raconteurs' new album was so much better than their first that it made my eyes bleed. This was another easy choice as Jack White showed his awe-inspiring guitar work with this album and almost disappeared into the band this time, giving the band a lot more show. It wasn't Jack White, Brendan Benson, and a backup band, it was the Raconteurs. Very indie, very good, and I wish I could have seen them live.

Bloc Party will have a spot on any end of the year list for me, as will TV on the Radio, so long as they keep putting records out. Both bands experiment with the form of rock more than the above listed bands. They expand on what came before and use a lot of electronic influences to move their indie rock fanbase away from what they know and freak them out a little bit.

And wouldn't a Hunter Thompson fan like freaking people out?

Check out Mercury by Bloc Party and anything off TV's album. Both will probably be part of year-end lists, and if not, then they should be. Dancing Choose is a classic from TV on the Radio and you should all take a listen to these bands. They might not be perfect and they might not be the best musicians or songwriters ever, but dammit if they don't make good records.

The next couple albums will all be seen as they are, on their own. They fit into most of the categories above, but I listened to them so much that I just didn't feel it was right.

Nine Inch Nails: Ghosts I-IV and The Slip

Both albums came out as digital downloads first (as did quite a few of the above, a trend that I really love). Both are vastly different and have vastly different tastes.

I've mentioned this before, but I'm sad in a way that George Bush will be out of office this upcoming year as that might stop the flow of Trent Reznor music. And that will utterly suck.

Ghosts I-IV is a soundtrack for people who love soundtracks. Pure music. Pure unadulterated awesome that is strictly music with no lyrics (or the very minimalistic of lyrics) and it works. It's eerie, it's crazy, it's beautiful, and listening to it all at once gives you 2 hours of crazy good music to write to or read to or literally do anything to.

The Slip is even better. If you put them on at the same time, I have this feeling that your head might explode. It might. But the Slip is the album for people who like Trent more when he sings. It's the album he seemed to have made in a day and released in two. And it's still great. Listen to the subtle mistakes (whether intentional or unintentional) and hope that this is where music is going. Free. No corporate bullshit. Just download and play.

Does It Offend You, Yeah?: You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into

Just wow. Just like Justice, Chromeo, MSTRKFT, and other more electronic bands that I love, they do remixes of more popular bands and just make the songs better.

They are insanely talented and their songs talk to the movie nerd inside of me. Songs like Dawn of the Dead, Weird Science, Battle Royale, and Attack of the 60 ft. Lesbian Octopus, they are downright goofy and great.

The music is outstanding. Dawn of the Dead is one of my favorite singles of the year, hands down. Just hearing that single pushed me to buy the album, and I was happy as hell that I did.

I've listened to this CD more than any of the above, and only right behind the last two on my list. It's one to enjoy. Give it a try and this dance punk group might make their way into your favorites too.

Eagles of Death Metal: Heart On

What can I say about EofDM? What can I say that I haven't already said? I love this group. I love everything about them. They make me want to dance and rock out at the same time.

They make me want to grow a mustache, slick my hair back, bust out my guitar, and just lay some funky grooves on people.

They make me want to just jump up and boogie no matter where I am or no matter what I'm doing. I love this band. It would have been album of the year if not for the next band, but if you need proof that you should listen to this band, strictly off this album, check out all their sexually charged songs such as Anything Cept the Truth, (I Used to Couldn't Dance) Tight Pants, High Voltage, I'm Your Torpedo, Heart On, or pick up any of their two older records and just dig the shit out of them.

I've been a fan since they appeared on Desert Sessions (way the fuck back in a time called the 90s), and I like being able to say that yes, I met them too. BOC has MASSIVE hands, Dave Catching rocks the mohican like no other, Hot Damn Sweet Sam Malone is one wicked ass chick drummer, Joey the Sexy Mexi is another kick ass drum god, and Jesse the Devil Hughes looks like a rock and roll William H Macy or Ned Flanders. You pick. And he's the coolest cat you could meet and will sign just about anything and pose with just about anybody or thing. Trust me. He's truly awesome.

And now, truly my favorite album of 2008:

Kings of Leon: Only by the Night

I've talked about this album before. I turned my best friend onto this band just by playing 2 songs and he loves this album more than anything he's bought this year.

It's a classic, from top to bottom, but the first 7 songs are so great that they could have just put dead air after number 7 and still this would be my favorite album of the year. Sex on Fire you've all heard, great album.

Crawl is amazing.
Closer is great.

But Use Somebody is one of my favorite songs of the year, if not my favorite. Everything about this release has forced me to take a closer look at this band, past the two albums of theirs that I own, and put me in love with another band.

Another band to follow.

Take a listen to this album and know, this is what rock is supposed to sound like. Not like GNR or the new Metallica or Veloci-Jesus forbid, Staind or Creed or Nickelback. This album is rock. This is what it's supposed to sound like. Stripped down. Bare. And great.

Next time, film and music disappointments of the year. Enjoy.


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