Monday, December 29, 2008

Mr. Thistle's Top 50

Wowee Zowee! I don’t know about you, but 2008 was good to me. So good, I legitimately considered creating a top 100 year list and even then lamented not being able to highlight all the awesome stuff that I have listened to this year. A top 50 is ridiculous enough as it is. All you really have to do to check out more is scroll through our past posts anyway, right? Anyways, I have put some serious mind-melting effort into forming this list to my actual tastes and not to what I think that I should like or what I feel probably should have been higher on my list. Lists mutate over time anyway, but this is as close a representation of what I feel is the best 2008 has to offer as of year end. Stay tuned for when we resume posting again in 2009 because there is already some ridiculous releases on the horizon (Animal Collective, Belong, Avalanches, The Dirty Projectors). Hopefully we can keep up. Enjoy and remember to ridicule our lists and post your own in the comments section. Love Mr. Thistle.

1. Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna

The album wherein GGD arranged the perfect marriage of urban electronics and primitive tribalism. Saint Dymphna acts like a faultless DJ mix by effortlessly meshing and sequencing the beautifully surreal with animalistic pop to take you places that you could never get to otherwise.

2. The Fun Years – Baby, It’s Cold Inside

It is hard to decide when an “ambient” record transitions from being good to being really good to being essential. With all the minimalist repetition involved, there is plenty of room to get lost in internal arguments for and against a given. Somehow, Baby, It’s Cold Inside never provided me an opportunity to doubt it. The Fun Years have created an ambiance drone record so intricate and lucid that it really shouldn’t be pegged as an ambient drone record at all. But for lack of a better genre to hang it under, that tag will have to remain. With a guitar and turntable, The Fun Years have produced magnificence. To these ears, this is beauty defined.

3. Deerhunter – Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.

A beguilingly simple double release of epic proportions, Microcastle and Weird Era Cont showcase Deerhunter’s dueling strengths: psychedelic experimentation and grandiose, laconic pop. In addition, no album this year has improved so much upon repeated listens. The release of Microcastle and Weird Era Cont marks Deerhunter as one of the very best bands working in indie rock today.

4. Women – Women

You know what? I just don’t get Women. One moment they’re all nice and flirty and the next they’ve descended into some moody atonal fit. Didn’t know if I was talking about the band or the gender for a second, did ya? Well, fortunately for the band, they can make a moody atonal fit sound just as wonderful as a picnic sunny with a loved one. On this, their debut self-titled release, Women have created an astoundingly self assured album filled front to back with pure rock genius.

5. The Hospitals – Hairdryer Peace

Hairdryer Peace
is the most effed up record I have heard in a long time. The members of The Hospitals must have been going through some serious mental issues in order to produce something this pensive and grating. The thing is a bi-polar panic attack of epic proportions. There has been a lot of buzz about subterranean noise pop this year, but Hairdryer Peace is far more abrasive and cavernous than anything else out there. The Hospitals don’t make noise pop, they make pop noise.

6. Kurt Weisman – Spiritual Sci-fi

This album is so weird and so wonderful at the same time; I absolutely adore it. There really isn’t anything quite like it. A personal project created over the course of 10 years, Spiritual Sci-Fi is filled with layers upon layer of little bells and whistles to go along with Weisman’s pitch-shifted vocal delivery. The album title says it all…the cover on the other hand, not so much.

7. A Faulty Chromosome - As An Ex-Anorexic’s Six Sicks Exit, …

This is perhaps the most endearing record I heard all year. Coming from out of nowhere, A Faulty Chromosomes produced an effortless piece of unassuming indie dream-pop genius that held me over for months while I waited for 2008 to really get rolling, but even when the hits started to come out, As An Ex-Anorexic’s held strong. Oddly titled and ambivalently marketed, AFC’s debut is about as lovable as a record get. Consider me smitten. Microcastle obsessives just don’t know what they’re missing.

8. Amplifier Machine – Her Mouth Is An Outlaw

Pristine and introspective, Amplifier Machine is a testament to gorgeous moments building slowly into nothingness. Yep, no massive climactic moments here, just endless beauty. I have always been a sucker for anticlimaxes, but to describe Her Mouth Is An Outlaw as anticlimactic is counterintuitive. Amplifier Machine’s debut is that epic epiphany, that ultimate climax stretched out and played over seven tracks of immaculate wonder.

9. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer

At Mount Zoomer
is the most underrated major indie rock release of 2008, bar none. Wolf Parade have definitely turned a corner on this album, which is probably why a lot of critics have been shuffling their feet when reviewing it, but to disregard it on the basis that it isn’t Apologies to the Queen Mary is simply lazy. More patient and rock oriented, At Mount Zoomer is Wolf Parade growing into their own skin, At Mount Zoomer is Wolf Parade not caring what the indie rock public wants from them, At Mount Zoomer is…is…just awesome!

10. Alan Licht & Aki Onda – Everydays

To say that Alan Licht and Aki Onda’s collaborative effort on Everdays is all over the map is incorrect. Everydays has created an entirely new audio landscape of completely uncharted territory. Everydays is a visceral experience that avoids easy definitions. Suffice it to say that Licht and Onda have created something epic touching on everything that is good about contemporary experimental music.

11.The Walkmen – You & Me

12. Chad VanGaalen – Soft Airplane

13. Subtle – ExitingARM

14. Invincible – Shapeshifters

15. Belong – Same Places (Slow Version) 12”

16. Skeletons – Money

17. Scott Tuma – Not For Nobody

18. Juana Molina – Un Dia

19. Loma Prieta – Last City

20. Evangelicals – The Evening Descends

21. Wavves – S/T
22. MoHa! – One Way Ticket to Candyland
23. Lau Nau – Nukkuu
24. TV On The Radio – Dear Science,
25. Navigator – Songs for Mei and Satsuki
26. Dosh – Wolves and Wishes
27. Ponytail – Ice Cream Spiritual
28. Nat Baldwin – Most Valuable Player
29. Fennesz – Black Sea
30. Millipede - Hyrule
31. Colourmusic – F, Monday, Orange, February, Venus, Lunatic, 1 or 13
32. The Tallest Man on Earth – Shallow Grave
33. Black Pus – Black Pus 4: All Aboard the Magic Pus
34. PAS/CAL – I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke and Laura
35. Bird Names – Open Relationship
36. Capsule – Blue
37. Aufgehoben - Khora
38. Dwayne Sodahberk - Fjarilsfalu
39. Sun Kil Moon – April
40. Music Tapes – For Clouds and Tornadoes
41. Pumice - Quo
42. Our Sleepless Forest – S/T
43. Kemialliset Ystavat – Harmaa Laguuni
44. The Raveonettes – Lust, Lust, Lust
45. Peter Broderick – Float
46. Grouper – Dragging a Dead Dear Up a Hill
47. Janek Schaefer – Extended Play (triptych for the child survivor of war and conflict)
48. Clark – Turning Dragons
49. Pyramids – Pyramids
50. Raccoo-oo-oon – S/T

-Mr. Thistle


Justin Snow said...

Solid list. I'm happy to see Belong so high up. And the inclusion of Millipede puts a smile on my face. Thanks for introducing me to that. Fantastic stuff.

I still don't quite see the crazy appeal of Gang Gang Dance. I mean, it's a good record and all but everyone seems to be going nuts over it. I've listened to it a handful of times and I guess I just don't get it. Maybe it's a grower?

sassi said...

Don't worry, you aren't alone. I still barf everytime Thistle plays Saint Dympha.

yesh801 said...

Glad to see the Women album making all of your list! Seriously has to be the most slept-on album of the year!

Justin - Did you happen to catch them live this year? Seeing them made be a believer and I found a whole new appreciation for the album.

trombone dixie said...

both you and wooly have The Fun Years right up there at the top.. how could this gem have slipped my radar??? boomkat, clearly have it in high regards. oh brother, the one that got away!

Anonymous said...

Bastards! No Calico!? Sheesh!

Mr. Thistle said...

Black Pyramid seriously just barely missed the cut - I still really like that album. Good Stuff.

Kevin said...

Great list, Thistle. I had Ponytail and Deerhunter on mine as well. Microcastle is seriously blowing my mind right now.

Check out my list if you are interested.