I have tried to confine myself to songs from 2008 rather than those I found myself listening to, but the problems arose when I noticed my startling unawareness of what constituted last year. 2008 is in no way a coherent unit, and earlier years flow into it, and consequently this mix, like a dream…In a very particular order:
10. Astronaut (+ pretentious paraphernalia) – Amanda Palmer
It would be possible to attribute this selection to what may be termed by more vulgar tongues my cello fetish (Zoe Keating accompanies), but there other reasons that I like it. It clearly can’t be for any kind of lyrical genius and instead makes the 10th spot for pure passion tainted with a prevailing cynicism. Sporadic drums reminiscent of Meg White’s rhythmic incapabilities work wonderfully with Keating’s powerful accompaniment to an astounding crescendo marred only by Palmer’s groaning conclusion.
09. Fake Empire – The National
Maybe I am ‘half awake in a fake empire’ in not releasing that this arrived only part way through 2007 but I would quite happily stay there. Ordinarily I can’t bear brass, but it is most definitely put to good use.
(Listen @ http://www.myspace.com/thenational)
08. Caught in Between – Micah P. Hinson
Amusingly, I was furnished with ‘The Gospel of Progress’ and ‘The Opera Circuit’ by a highly respectable professor with impeccable taste in music with the instruction that I must listen to it and will like it. I did, and couldn’t find a bad track, which made choosing incredibly difficult. Caught in between the options I plumped for sheer simplicity, well, that and the organ.
07. Earl Grey Lavender – The world is not flat!
The other possibility for this was Chris Topher’s ‘A Vision of Home’, which I do believe is accessible for your auditory pleasure on myspace. I know them so I may be biased, judge for yourselves. I don’t like tea, but I love Earl Grey, and if I were not ashamed of the pathetic nature of the comparison, would suggest their blend is not unlike it. If you wish to explore this notion, visit http://www.tendingtowardtea.com/ for more information about 100 available brands of Earl Grey to discover which they, or you, are most like.
(Listen @ http://www.myspace.com/theworldisnotflat).
06. Amour du Sol – Yelle
A French early Madonna/Kylie with a glockenspiel, casio keyboard, and a hint of Peaches. The glockenspiel makes it cool, the French, attractive.
(Watch for kicks @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSAMcZBQO_U).
05. This Life – Martha Wainwright
To be frank, I loathe Martha’s new album, so I cling on to this one for comfort. A phenomenal song with a spot of French thrown in for good measure. Finger clicking is always a bonus. I really believe her when she says “there’s a song, that’s in [her] head” – it should be this one.
04. Ghosts – Laura Marling
The rightful winner of the Mercury Prize left without elbow-room, in my opinion. I listen to a great number of female vocalists and she doesn’t sound like any of them. Admittedly, she is a little depressing at times but isn’t everything?
03. Blindsided – Bon Iver
Described by a certain blogger as something along the lines of an incessantly whining falsetto, which isn’t her cup of tea, this song is my cup of decaf, delicate but full of flavour. Pitchfork may like them, but does that mean I can’t?
(Watch @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehe7o8GN6dc but please ignore the gratuitous guitar episode).
02. One Hundred and Four – Big Tree
Plucked from the lap of oblivion, or at least from a UK perspective. This is their most incredible song, which is fills me with both happiness and frustration, although the quality of their canon doesn’t affect the quality of this track. I’m a fan of the amateur choir approach to choruses, and of Kaila Mcintyre-Bader’s vocals, obviously. A poignant tragicomedy of a song.
01. Tonight – Lykke Li
And a final wow. I heard this song by mistake the first time, but not the second. Har(d)monising with oneself is definitely the way forward. The instrumentation could only have been equalled by a primary school music class on instruction.
(Watch @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0Q6NGvdmXQ).