Tuesday, July 01, 2008

TGWOOfY Best Records of '08: Half Way Edition

It's been a pretty good year, music wise, but more so from the single standpoint than from the LP standpoint. By this time last year I was knee deep in records that I just loved, so I posted a top 25 records of '07, up to that point. This year, I haven't even purchased 25 records yet, so I'm just going to focus on the 10 that I have liked the best over the past six months.

10) The Audreys - When the Flood Comes. The Audreys are an Aussie country band, and this is their second album. Inky and I heard a lot of them on the radio during our month down under, so I picked the record up and I have really enjoyed it. Lead singer Taasha Coats has a great voice for country and the band it top notch too. Best Tracks: Lay Me Down, Chelsea Blues, Paradise City.

9) The Fratellis - Here We Stand. Just like the Arctic Monkeys before them, the Fratellis didn't make us wait long to get a hold of their second record. I had last year's Costello Music at #8 on my end of the year list, and this one is just as good. While Here We Stand is not quite at the same breakneck speed as Costello was, it is still fantastically done, and the very epitome of a pub rockin good time. Best Tracks: A Heady Tale, Acid Jazz Singer, Stragglers Moon.

8) The Long Blondes - Couples. Another returning entry for me. Their last release placed #12 on my end of year list for 2006, and while Couples is a bit of a departure from "Some one to Drive You Home" is is still a great record. Kate Jackson's singing and Dorian Cox's writing are both at their best here, and the new direction is welcomed, once you get used to it. Best Tracks: Guilt, Here Comes the Serious, The Couples.

7) Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend. In certain circles there has been a lot of buzz about this record, and rightfully so. I really enjoy their original sound, and the Ivy league bent to their lyrics, all of which combines in a record with high repeat listenability. I get in moods when I can listen to this disc all the way through and then just start it again without even considering putting something else on. Best Tracks: A-Punk, Walcott, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.

6) Operator Please - Yes Yes Vindictive. This group of Aussie teens made a big splash in Oz last year with their first track: "Just a Song About Ping Pong" and they've built on that in '08. This is their first full length release and it is filled with great pop-punk songs, very much like the next group on the list: Be Your Own Pet. Led by singer Amandah Wilkinson's powerful, yet very much still female vocals this record is a scorcher! Best Tracks: Yes Yes Vindictive, Zero Zero, Two for My Seconds.

5) Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward. Even though the US release is missing two very good tracks, this is fantastic second record, from a group that has endless potential. Their freshman effort was my favorite of '06 and this one shows fantastic growth from what was, already, an amazing start for a bunch of art school teens. The song writing is a bit less helter skelter, and has a more personal feeling to it. The pace of the record, like last time, is still balls to the wall as Jemina Pearl never seems to take her foot off the gas. Best Tracks: Twisted Nerve, Food Fight, Becky (left off the US release)

4) The Wombats - A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation. They're named after a marsupial, and Inky and I first heard them in Oz. So, I just assumed that they were Aussies, but alas, they are Poms. Luckily they are kick ass Poms, with a wonderfully fun and clever record. I think those more in the know may refer to them as cheeky, but I'll just say that I enjoy the whole record for it's whit and rockability equally. Best Tracks: Lets Dance to Joy Division, Patricia the Stripper, Moving to New York.

3) Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs. Death Cab has moved into that group of bands that I will be a fan of for life. They have a sound all their own, that comes through in both their performance and in the tenor of the their songs. While most have the tendency to be quite heavy, they can brighten it up too. (As Inky said: everyone needs their "Friday I'm in Love") As with all Death Cab records Ben Gibbard's genius is full on display from the first note to the last. Best Tracks: I Will Possess Your Heart, No Sunlight, You Can Do Better Than Me.

2) She & Him - Volume One. Normally we all cringe when an actor decides that she or he would like to give recording music a shot. Normally we are right, but when Zooey Deschanel hooked up with Matt Ward to form She & Him we got the exception to the rule. I think Zooey's voice is wonderful for all the ways it can take you. Smokey and cool at one moment, and playful and sweet the next she dose justice to both the songs she has penned herself and the ones she has picked to cover. I think the fact that she has featured her own songs on this record is what helps it to stand out, and be taken more seriously. Best Tracks: Sentimental Heart, Change is Hard, Take it Back.

1) R.E.M. - Accelerate. It's been years since I've liked an R.E.M. record, but this one just demands to be listened to. It is a beautiful marriage of the things we loved about the band all throughout the 80's and 90's. I think it is in many ways comparable to 1994's Monster, but each song has the ability to make me think back to Green, Out of Time, Automatic for the People and Document. However, the content is all 2008, making up to date and salient points that are 100% current. I have not been able to stop playing this record so far, and I can't imagine that I'll get tired of it. Best Tracks: Supernatural Superserious, Until the Day is Done, Living Well is the Best Revenge.

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