Top 13 Songs of 2008, Halfway

Someone Will Continue To Blog You, Boris Yeltsin
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin / photo by David Greenwald

My Best of 2008 playlist is a mile long but these are the songs that boggle my mind and trigger my salivary glands. Honorable Mention: the entire Weezer album. Can somebody point me in the direction of some decent rap singles?

0. The Hold Steady – “Constructive Summer”
Like the Zeroeth Law of Robotics, the Hold Steady supercede every existing band. Thank God this leaked early enough for everybody to build something this summer. The only song of 2008 I’ve bothered to learn on guitar.

1. Cut Copy – “Strangers in the Wind”: mp3
The band celebrates urban post-party-pix excess even as youth slips through their fingers: Run to the lights of the city / these moments passing will be there. Eat your heart out, “All My Friends.”

2. Fleet Foxes – “Blue Ridge Mountains”: mp3
If there are other songs on this album, I don’t know want to know about ’em.

3. Hayden – “The Van Song”: mp3
If this melody was a restaurant, Zagat would give it a 27 and recommend the house wine. He’s playing at the Troubadour on Friday and I expect to cry a Justin Timberlake-sized river.

4. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – “HEERS”: mp3
If this melody was a movie, John Cusack would play the lead and would win the girl’s heart by some combination of Peter Gabriel, downhill skiing and killing assassins at his high school reunion. (Concert photos)

5. Al Green – “Take Your Time” (ft. Corinne Bailey Rae)
Corinee Bailey Rae is the British Norah Jones: A terrifically talented songbird with material about as charismatic as Steve from Sex and the City. With the Reverend Green to guide her, she flies higher than ever. (Post)

6. White Hinterland – “Dreaming of the Plum Trees”: mp3
There are so many reasons to love this song (and the accompanying album) and I’m going to save most of them for what’s sure to be an exasperatingly long year-end write-up. Let’s put it this way: Remember when Joni Mitchell shit-talked Alanis Morissette back in the day? She would never say any of that stuff about this song, especially if she was listening to it in 1978.

7. Laura Marling – “Tap at My Window”
It’s almost frustrating how well this album has its formula down: guitar and voice intro, add some instruments over the next few verses, jump to the big breakdown, cool down again. “Tap at My Window” is its best representation, sweetened by lovelorn lyrics and a waltzing groove that only pulls the heartstrings further. (Post)

8. Wolf Parade – “Call It a Ritual”: mp3
Everything awesome and weird about Spencer Krug rears its ugly, glorious head in this song. Apologies To the Queen Mary might have had the obvious sugared-up singles, but “Ritual” is a Chipotle burrito: It’ll still in your stomach all day and probably make you kind of uncomfortable.

9. Crushed Stars – “Spies”: mp3
There was a time when songs like this one, sweet nothings whispered through a haze of alcohol, nostalgia and blurry streetlights, would leave me me lying fetal in blankets that were never warm enough. Now I have an awesome girlfriend and I like the Hold Steady, but, y’know. (Don’t miss my interview with Crushed Stars here.)

10. The Wedding Present – “Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Drunk”: mp3
I couldn’t care less how old/lecherous David Gedge is or how great Seamonsters was. Crispness suits the band, and producer Steve Albini; so does singing about dating in Los Angeles. Gedge intones with the deadpan desperation of a bachelor digging himself out of the La Brea tarpits with a martini glass.

11. Vampire Weekend – “Campus”: mp3
It matters if a band means it. Or if they can make me think they mean it. Though they’re on XL, Vampire Weekend is a band of matadors: Only in 2008* could a group of Lacoste-loving Ivy League pricks have waved an Afropop-colored flag and convinced a nation of critics and college freshman to run for it with nostrils flaring. That said, Vampire Weekend is a really good album and this song doesn’t have any critic-taunting Peter Gabriel references and even if it’s about some rich blonde who does coke in the Mercury Lounge bathroom during their shows, I think it’s pretty romantic. (Backlash post; admission of guilty admiration post; interview with Pitchfork’s Ryan Schreiber where he goes through the same binge-purge process)

12. Dodos – “Walking”: mp3
On the whole, I don’t think this band is very good (better 2008 lo-fi folk albums: The Tallest Man on Earth, Ilyas Ahmed, David Karsten Daniels, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson), but that’s why this is a songs list: “Walking” opens with a garage-rock urgency that’s thinking Big Star even as it says Iron & Wine. (Post; Concert photos)

*The year that irony but not rock music really and truly died. Then again, those sundry items may or may not be mutually exclusive depending on how much you like the Velvet Underground or if you were born before 1990. Is Reality Bites vintage enough for the American Apparel set yet?


Best of 2008: Because it’s never too early for another list or five. Click bel
ow for more.