The writing's on the wall.
And so, here we are in time: yet a(nother) wrap.
Last year, I devoted almost all my attention to just one particular album; I absolutely adore Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky to bits and would play it, on and on and on (see list for 2007). It was like a beautiful drug, unceasing and relentless in its graceful attack; it pretty much made 2007 a year to remember.
The year 2008 was more of a musical education for me – I discovered a few new favourite bands, dug deeper into their archives and found more joy to be had with their wonderful (and older) tunes.
Leave it all up in the air.
The National (2001), Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers (2003), Cherry Tree EP (2004), Alligator (2005), Boxer (2007), The Virginia EP (2008)
#1, #2, #3, #4, #5
It all started with The National’s Boxer. The album was in a number of last year’s best-of lists, curiosity got the better of me – and then, wham! there was no stopping me in my quest to further get acquainted with the rest of the band’s albums. They were all fabulous works of art: powerful yet subtle (Boxer); engaging yet affecting (Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers); all with stories of their own, timeless and waiting to be told.
There is also the matter of lead singer Matt Berninger’s deep baritone – tender and heartwarming, he can wrap a song around you like a bear hug, sharing with you all the love and comfort, pain and anguish in his world.
Favourite tracks: “The Perfect Song”, “American Mary” (The National); “Cardinal Song”, “Lucky You” (Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers); “Secret Meeting”, “City Middle” (Alligator); “Fake Empire”, “Ada” (Boxer)
I’m coming over.
Band of Horses
Everything All the Time (2006), Cease to Begin (2007) #
I cannot quite recall how I stumbled upon Band of Horses, but the aptly-named “The First Song” was, well, the first song I have listened to from this band, and it grabbed me right there and then. It just goes on to show that first impressions do matter, and very much so.
Favourite tracks: “The First Song”, “The Great Salt Lake” (Everything All the Time); “Detlef Schrempf” (Cease to Begin)
Light isn’t love.
Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning
Something for All of Us… #
The second album from the Broken Social Scene Presents series (the first being Kevin Drew’s 2007 Spirit If…), Brendan Canning’s Something for All of Us may inevitably draw comparisons to that of his fellow band member’s earlier effort – though further listening actually helped to separate the lines between black and white. There are the little quirks and unique styles injected in both albums that set them apart from one another, and so fans continue to celebrate the diversity and differences that also (somehow) draw this exciting collective together… wait a minute, I think I have lost my train of thought there.
This was also the year I saw Broken Social Scene live in Singapore; it was undoubtedly stuff made of all kinds of awesome.
Favourite tracks: “Chameleon”, “Been At It So Long”, “Take Care, Look Up”
Don’t make a sound.
The Dears being one of my favourite bands, makes Missiles one of the albums I most look forward to in 2008. While the band’s latest effort does not quite disappoint, it fails to reach the glorifying heights of their earlier albums No Cities Left and Gang of Losers.
What the band does exceptionally well here, I think, is letting the magic linger in the dying moments of a few tracks, winning me over and making them instant favourites.
Favourite tracks: “Dream Job”, “Crisis 1 & 2”, “Demons”
So lift off love.
Asleep in the Back (2001), Cast of Thousands (2003), The Seldom Seen Kid (2008) #
Finally, Mancunian band Elbow edged out some fierce competition to win this year’s Mercury Prize. Having first listened to their third album Leaders of the Free World released three years ago, I found The Seldom Seen Kid slightly different – its grandiosity and occasional orchestral blasts need some getting used to. Some quick “research” into their earlier albums also had to be done in order to, uhm, reinforce my interest in this band.
Favourite tracks: “Newborn”, “Powder Blue” (Asleep in the Back); “Fallen Angel”, “Not a Job” (Cast of Thousands); “The Bones of You”, “Mirrorball” (The Seldom Seen Kid)
These came close: I was mad about “Strawberry Swing” and “Cath…” and “Black Burning Heart” and “The Lightning Strike” and “Snow in California” and… oh, well.
Viva La Vida or Death to All My Friends, Coldplay #1, #2
Narrow Stairs, Death Cab for Cutie #
Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes #
Perfect Symmetry, Keane #1, #2
Only by the Night, Kings of Leon
Re-Arrange Us, Mates of State #
OST – Once (2006)
A Hundred Million Suns, Snow Patrol #1, #2, #3
Oceans Will Rise, The Stills #1, #2
Ode to J. Smith, Travis #
At Mount Zoomer, Wolf Parade #
Also listened to:
Modern Guilt, Beck
The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, Brand New (2006)
Here’s to Being Here, Jason Collett
The Shade of Poison Trees, Dashboard Confessional (2007)
Seeing Things, Jakob Dylan
The Cost, The Frames (2006)
Made in the Dark, Hot Chip
Arm’s Way, Islands
Sleep Through the Static, Jack Johnson
Day & Night, The Killers
Who We Are, Lifehouse (2007)
The Stage Names, Okkervil River (2007)
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon (2007)
Honeysuckle Weeks, The Submarines
Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
Naturally, this paints a clearer picture of my musical indulgence(s) for the past few months: