This Last year, I asked a few Phoenix-area musicians/people of interest for their year-end, best-of lists for 2008: albums, songs, whatever. This installment comes from friend/former co-worker/music lover Nick Piecoro, who covers the Arizona Diamondbacks for The Arizona Republic.
Since Iâ€™m not a musician, Iâ€™m guessing I fall into the â€œpeople of interestâ€ category only because Kevin was interested in having at least one person parrot his picks. He turned to the right guy.
Top five albums
1. Frightened Rabbit â€“ The Midnight Organ Fight
It kicks off with The Modern Leper, my favorite kind of indie rock song â€“ anthemic and always building, getting better and better until the final seconds. Yes, itâ€™s a sensitive breakup album, but itâ€™s more than that. It has a song in which frontman Scott Hutchison begs for sex (The Twist), one in which he admonishes the fruitlessness of the anonymous variety (Keep Yourself Warm), and another (My Backwards Walk) where he canâ€™t seem to extricate himself from a relationship (â€œMy clothes wonâ€™t let me close the door, these trousers seem to love your floorâ€ â€œYouâ€™re the shit and Iâ€™m knee-deep in itâ€). Yet, somehow, in the end, it leaves you feeling hopeful.
2. Elbow â€“ The Seldom Seen Kid
Love the way singer Guy Garvey makes the commonplace unique: â€œWe took the town to town last night, we kissed like we invented it,â€ or, when speaking of the lure of the local watering hole, â€œThereâ€™s a hole in my neighborhood down which of late I cannot help but fall.â€
3. Department of Eagles â€“ In Ear Park
Daniel Rossenâ€™s side project might be even better than his main band, Grizzly Bear. Still, itâ€™s very Grizzly Bearish. Meandering and atmospheric, it tends to grow on you with each listen.
4. Vampire Weekend â€“ self-titled
Justify it if you must by saying you dig its afro-ness, its worldliness, its learnedness, but come on. Itâ€™s fun and catchy and pop at its finest.
5. Okkervil River â€“ The Stand Ins
Admittedly, it is (if we can borrow from Squid and the Whale) minor-Sheff, but we love it still.
Cut Copy â€“ In Ghost Colours
MGMT meets LCD meets The Avalanches and all combine to make an â€™80s pop album.
Fleet Foxes â€“ self-titled
I really like it, but apparently just not as much as everyone else.
MGMT â€“ Oracular Spectacular
Four kick-ass songs, led by The Youth, but not enough after that.
Atlas Sound â€“ Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
I can occasionally be a sucker for dream pop.
Fuck Buttons â€“ Street Horrrsing
Weird but good. Tribal, noisy, at times a little terrifying, but, for whatever reason, good.
Of course, I expect the list to evolve as I discover things I missed. That in mind: Here are three great 2007 albums that I didnâ€™t start listening to until 2008.
1. Broken Social Scene Presents, Kevin Drew â€“ Spirit If…
Dear Canada, Thank you for BSS. Sincerely, Nick.
2. Handsome Furs â€“ Plague Park
P.S., Thanks also for Dan Boeckner, whom I had incorrectly pegged as the clear weak link in Wolf Parade but now view as very nearly Spencer Krugâ€™s equal.
3. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis â€“ Soundtrack, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
So beautiful. (And: The movie is also worth it.)
1. No One Does It Like You by Department of Eagles. Itâ€™s four minutes of hand-clappy, catchy, doo-woppy greatness that never gets old, no matter how many times someone might hit repeat on your car stereo.
2. Lost Coastlines by Okkervil River. At 2 minutes, 43 seconds in, you get to the start of probably my favorite minute in music this year.
3. The Youth by MGMT. This is a dreamy and sort of psychedelic hippie-like tune that always always always gets stuck in my head.
4. My Backwards Walk by Frightened Rabbit. Heartfelt, sad and beautiful.
5. Starlings by Elbow. â€œYou are the only thing in any room youâ€™re ever in.â€
6. Black River Killer by Blitzen Trapper. Itâ€™s like they said, â€˜I know! Letâ€™s turn Cormac McCarthyâ€™s Blood Meridian into a Tom Petty song!â€™ (Side note: Probably my second favorite song about murder, ranking behind Okkervil Riverâ€™s Westfall.)
7. M79 by Vampire Weekend. I listened to this song while on the M79 over the summer. Yeah, Iâ€™m a dork. The song appears to name-drop an obscure minor leaguer(!).
8. Fools by The Dodos. Love the clattering, clanking, frenetic beat.
9. The Grey Estates by Wolf Parade. According to my iPod, I listened to this song 21 times from May through the end of July.
10. 2080 by Yeasayer. The echo-y chants are wonderful.
11. Sweet Love For Planet Earth by Fuck Buttons. This is not for everyone.
Favorite albums of 2008
Favorite song(s) of 2008
Guest list: Snow Songs
Guest list: Jason Woodbury (Cardiac Party/Hands on Fire)
Guest list: Zachary James Dodds
Guest list: Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World
Guest list: Brian Coughlin of Kinch
Guest list: Charlie Brand of Miniature Tigers
Guest list: Jay Wiggins (aka DJ Funkfinger)
Guest list: Brendan Murphy of Source Victoria