Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Best of 2008 Countdown, Part 4

It's time to shake things up in this ongoing countdown I've got going. Today's grouping falls into what I've deemed the "Eclectic" category. It wouldn't be tough to pigeon-hole the following artists/albums but I think it's more interesting to have them next to each other in my own little version of Morning Becomes Eclectic (KCRW reference for those not in L.A.). Again, these are some of the best albums front to back of 2008.

Sigur R
ós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (XL)

I wouldn't have known about Sigur Rós if not for a friend from high school that first insisted I listen to their album ( ) when it came out in 2002. At the time I kinda shook it off as nothing special and kinda weird. It has since become probably my favorite album in their catalog. What I consider Sigur Rós' best attribute is their stunning ability to build and shape songs to musical and emotional climaxes. They build crescendos and heighten emotion throughout the course of songs like a classical composer (building tension upon tension to have a huge resolution and release through dissonance or unresolved chords). Sigur Rós employs lead singer's (Jónsi Birgisson) falsetto voice and large arrangements to achieve the same effect. This newest album translates to mean "With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly" and is a departure for the band in terms of songwriting and overall feel. This album has a more "traditional" feel, whatever that means. It's still Sigur Rós which means it's pretty beautiful.

"Heima" (Japan, iTunes Bonus Track)

Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (Modular)

This album hasn't yet peaked onto any Best of 2008 lists that I've seen which is surprising and quite an oversight. It'll most likely make Pitchfork's year-end recap considering it was given an 8.8/10 which is one of the highest scores they've given out all year. It took me a while to warm up to this dancepunk/electropop/new wave/post-punk effort from Melbourne, Australia's Cut Copy but once I did I realized it's a great album that is fresh and danceable and fun to listen to. One of my favorite tracks is below which is more of the "pop" variety than the "dance" ones on most of the record.

"Unforgettable Season"

Girl Talk - Feed the Animals (Illegal Art)

Mash-ups found their niche a few years ago and probably "jumped the shark" (I know the term has probably jumped the shark as well, which is just strange to consider) when Jay-Z teamed up with Linkin Park. Pretty soon everyone thought it would be cool to see what crazy shit they could put on top of each other. Unscathed (relatively) has been Gregg Gillis a.k.a Girl Talk. His breakthrough album (an exercise in the fair usage law) was Night Ripper (2006) which sampled and spliced and mixed 150-200+ songs over the course of ~45 minutes. He created the album as one long track and then cut it into separate tracks, all the while never received permission to use any of the music. He came back this year with a brand new album in the same fashion as Night Ripper that is equal to and better than what came up with two years ago. The track below features samples from: Jay-Z, Radiohead, Mary J. Blige, The Guess Who, Aerosmith, Young Gunz, DJ Kool, Fine Young Cannibals, and even Dexys Midnight Runners ("Come On Eileen") to name a few.

"Set It Off"

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