Soundbites Best of 2008 | Singles, Tracks + EPs


So here's my list of best singles, album tracks, and EPs from 2008. Unlike my Best Albums List, songs that were from a 2007 album but were released as singles in 2008 are eligible. But single reissues are not. (Which is why "Time to Pretend," Friendly Fires and Pacific are absent from my list.) With the concept of the "album" diminishing in this world of digital downloads, singles are becoming more important. I'm not calling the death knell for the Album, but if groups whose music leans toward the poppy and immediate side of things wanted to just release singles or EPs every couple months instead of a full-length, I'd be okay with it. As I've said before singles are ephemeral in nature, and though I've hit my yearly limit on a few of the songs on this list, there was certainly a period of time in 2008 where all 50 of these were stuck on repeat.

1. Mystery Jets feat. Laura Marling – Young Love (MP3) (Video)
The most inventive, deceptively simple (but actually kind of crazy complex; listen to all the little flourishes), repeatedly-rewarding pop song of the year. Great video too.

2. Metronomy – Heartbreaker (MP3) (Video)
Fantastic bassline + creaky doors + whistling = my second favorite song of the year.

3. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Everything With You (MP3) (Video)
A great big hug wrapped in a fuzzy indie pop sweater.    

4. Violens – Violent Sensation Descends (MP3
Loud Quiet Loud as has never quite been done like this before. I can't wait for their full-length.

5. Dizzee Rascal w/ Calvin Harris – Dance Wiv Me (MP3) (Video)
I've never been much of a Dizzee fan, but add Calvin's '80s-style production and you've got a dancefloor killer.

6. Sam Sparro – Black and Gold (Video)
The rest of this album does nothing for me but "Black and Gold"'s glammy throb is irresistible.

7. TV on the Radio – Golden Age (Video)
2008 was the year of Change and TVotR made the perfect soundtrack. This is the sound of hope with a good beat.

8. Sexy Kids – Sisters Are Forever (MP3)
Just try not to bounce 'round the room while listening to this slice of Scottish pop perfection a la Altered Images.

9. Esser – Headlock (MP3) (Video)
Effervescent single, ridiculously catchy, like superballs set free inside a perpetual motion machine… yet loaded with downer lyrics like "I've got a problem, it's called living." Perfect.

10. Summer Cats – Lonely Planet (MP3) (Video)

Like the Rosebuds backed by Stereolab, Australia's Summer Cats put a sunny coat of paint on the krauty VU groove. 

11. Metronomy – A Thing for Me (MP3) (Video)
I could put almost all of Metronomy's Nights Out on this list, but restrained myself at two. Be sure to check out the video to this one.

12. David Byrne & Brian Eno – Strange Overtones (MP3
Too bad the rest of the Byrne/Eno album didn't deliver on the promise of this great single.

13. Sky Larkin – Fossil, I (Video)
Old school indie rock done with vim and vigor by this Leeds, UK trio. Vim and vigor? Really. Just listen to the song. It rocks. 

14. Lykke Li – Little Bit (Video)
Lykke Li's coquettish delivery slightly disguises just how hot this is.

15. Ida Maria – Queen of the World (MP3) (Video)
One of the most joyous songs ever about being smashed on whiskey.

16. MGMT – Kids (Video)
Hate their fashion, hate their friends, hate their rich hippie-ness, but MGMT have some great songs. The hooks are undeniable!

17. Girls – Lust for Life / Morning Light (MP3) (MP3) (Video)
There are too many "Girl" groups right now, but I've got room for San Francisco's shoegaze folk rock wunderkinds. Especially on this double A-side.

18. Animal Collective – Water Curses EP (MP3) (Video)
Animal Collective have finally started to get poppy enough for me to genuine like them. Bring on Merriweather Post Pavillion!

19. Late of the Pier – Heartbeat (MP3) (Video)
One of the many "this shouldn't work" songs on LotP's great debut Fantasy Black Channel. Yet it does, brilliantly.

20. Vivian Girls – Tell the World (MP3) (Video)
Every time these girls open their mouths to the press, it's a disaster, but give 'em instruments and hard
to hold it against them. So many things in that sentence could be construed the wrong way.

21. Casiokids – Grønt Lys I Alle Ledd / Togens Hule (MP3) (Video)
You don't need to speak Norwegian to dig this double A-side. I imagine it would help, though. But not that much.

22. The Last Shadow Puppets – Standing Next to Me (MP3) (Video)
Alex Turner and Miles Kane seem a little young to already be going through their Jacques Brel/Scott Walker period, but that's also probably why it's as good as it is.

23. The Wild Beasts – The Devil's Crayon (MP3) (Video)
Not since the days of the Associates and the Triffids has pop attempted to be so grandiose… and successful at it. I must say I can't really stomach the resto of them album, but but "The Devil's Crayon" is a bullseye.

24. Adele – Cold Shoulder (Video)
I'll take Adele over Duffy any day… "Cold Shoulder" perfectly-produced soulful pop. Ronson-produced, natch.

25. Amazing Baby – Infinite Fucking Cross EP (download EP) (Video + Video)
Hated by Brooklynvegan commenters, loved by me. Harder, more-rocking Roxy Music? About as close to a good description as you can get with there pigeonhole-adverse Williamsburg residents.

26 – 50 after the jump…

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Black Diamond Bay + The High Dials + Hilotrons | Pianos | 11.09.2008



It's a bit pornographic to watch Black Diamond Bay frontman Patrick Krief play guitar. Not that he full-on sexualizes things like Prince, but the man definitely makes a serious O Face while rocking out on his instrument. Actually, so does drummer George Donoso, who is somewhere on the intensity scale between Keith Moon and Animal. This was the last of BDB's three NYC shows, their first real American assault since going from being a Krief solo project — he and Donoso were both in The Dears up until a year or so ago — into a new and destinct entity.

That said, Black Diamond Day aren't entirely dissimilar to The Dears. The '70s glam drama, an epic swagger, but Krief and Donoso were intrinsic to the sound of that band's last two albums — and what helped make them such a powerhouse live (and whose departure has left a hole I'm not sure that can ever really be filled). As Krief put it after the show, "George and I left our stink on them." And vise-versa. While they are still developing as songwriters, Black Diamond Bay are already a powerhouse live. Tight as hell, they definitely knock you back a little. Of course, part of that is the volume at which they play, which is set at Stadium. But's it's mostly the skill and passion. And the O Face.

MP3Black Diamond Bay – Brothers In Exile 

It was an all-Canadian night at Pianos put together by the folks at the Musebox. Fellow Montrealers The High Dials had probably the biggest draw the three bill line-up, and deservedly so — they were great. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for what they do: hazy '60s psych/country with spot-on harmonies and a healthy dose of druggy drone. (The band didn't tour with The Brian Jonestown Massacre for nothing.) I knew the name but thought I was unfamiliar with until they took stage, then I realized I'd seen them before, though I can't place where or when. And when I got home I found 2005 last album, War of the Wakening Phantoms, in my collection, which upon listening again I totally remember. And hopefully they'll be back soon, as their new double-album, Moon Country, is pretty great and has been listened to about six times today. I won't forget them again. 

MP3The High Dials - My Heart Is Pinned To Your Sleeve (buy High Dials music)

The official headliners were Ottowa's Hilotrons whose album Happymatic was on the "long list" for this year's Polaris Music Prize which eventually went to Caribou's Andora. (Did you ever watch my video of "Sandy"?) I know that a lot of people compare them to Tokyo Police Club and Franz Ferdinand (well that's what I read) but to me they sound like a band who could have been signed to I.R.S. in 1980 — a little Wall of Voodoo, a smidge of Skafish, and a lot of Oingo Boingo (minus the horns). (The singer sounds a little like Dick Valentine or maybe Eddie Money.) All things I like but I think I'm going to need a little more emersion for it all to sink in. They are definitely fun, though.

MP3Hilotrons – Emergency Street (buy Hilotrons at Emusic)

A few more pictures at my Flickr.