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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Sky Larkin | Public Assembly | 10.25.2008


This was the best show I've seen Sky Larkin do yet. The Leeds, UK trio were back in the NY area to film another video from thier anticipated debut album, The Golden Spike. (That is what the internet tells me it's called at least. Certainly no one in the band revealed this.) It was the opening slot on Crashin' In's 12-hour unnofficial CMJ party that boasted perhaps the single best line-up of the whole week. It would've been nice to have them play later in front of more people, but they just sounded great, confident and ready to finally show the world what they've got when the record comes out.

Speaking of things being out, you can now get the first fruits of The Golden Spike, their new single, "Fossil, I." The 7" is absolutely gorgeous, on white vinyl with an inner sleeve! The arwork is a bit New Ordery if you ask me, which is a good thing. As for the song and recording…what can I say? I rocks. Here's the video which they shot here in NYC this summer:

Sky Larkin | Pianos | 8.13.2008

Sky Larkin are one of the more unassuming-looking indie bands I've seen in a while — no funny clothing or shutter shades, etc. Which makes the story singer Katie Harkin told the Pianos crowd at their first-ever U.S. show even funnier. Before even crossing the street this morning when they left their hotel, a car drove by and yelled "HIPSTER BULLSHIT!!!" at them. Cue extended laughter. Welcome to New York.

Pianos was much nicer to them, and I was happy to see a decent crowd out early to see them. Having only released two singles so far in their career but have just signed to uber-cool indie label Wichita in the UK (Peter Bjorn and John, Les Savvy Fav, Los Camesinos! and more) with an album due out this fall. Here to play a couple shows and film the video for the album's first single, "Fossil, I," Sky Larkin  were a little jetlagged, overwhelmed, and hot (English summers don't reach NYC temperatures, and it wasn't even that bad today) but they pulled off their American debut with aplomb.

Nestor, their drummer, in particular gave it 110%, to the point where in between songs he rested his head on the snare. Apparently Katie had some trouble with her effects pedals but I couldn't tell there was anything wrong. It was a short set (35 minutes or so) but certainly long enough for a band whose audience only a had a few songs to go on but new songs were as catchy as previously-released singles "Molten" and "One of Two." There is nothing trendy whatsoever about what they do, just good songs played with skill and energy. Definitely not hipster bullshit.

MP3: Sky Larkin – Antibodies (Demo) (Sign up for their mailing list and get the new recording of Molten)

Sky Larkin play Union Hall tonight. (Advance tickets are available.) Here's video I shot of them performing "Molten" at Pianos:

And "Antibodies":

Don’t Forget: Sky Larkin Tonight and Tomorrow

Just a friendly reminder that Leeds, UK band Sky Larkin are in town this week for two shows — tonight at Pianos and tomorrow at Union Hall. The band just signed to Wichita Recordings (UK home to Bloc Party, The Cribs, The Dodos and more) so expect to be hearing a lot more about them in the coming months. If you give them your email address, they'll give you the new recording of "Molten."

Tonight's show at Pianos is a good bill all around. After Sky Larkin (8PM) stick around for Boston band Passion Pit who are signed to Frenchkiss and gaining a lot of attention. In between the two is Murray Flexor who sort of sounds to me like the Brooklyn equivalent to Grovesnor.

You can buy advance tickets to tomorrow's show at Union Hall that also features The Nouvellas and Theresa Andersson.

Sky Larkin are Coming to NYC; Second Show Added

I first heard
Leeds, UK trio Sky Larkin‘s “Keepsakes” on a Indie MP3 compilation two or three years ago and have been keeping an ear out ever since. We’re talking a pretty straightforward ’90s-ish indie sound (they remind me of Madder Rose if you remember them) but the songwriting is great with a nice sense of humor, and Katie Harkin’s got an appealing voice.

The band have been a bit pokey in releasing material since then — two great singles (“Molten” and “One of Two”) and an EP of covers — but the band recently spent a month or so recording their debut LP in Seattle with John Goodmanson (The Long Winters, Sleater-Kinney). As far as I know the band didn’t play one show while in Seattle but Sky Larkin are coming to NYC next month where they’ll be playing Piano’s on August 13. I would have to imagine they’ll make the most of the trip and book additional shows (Skippy, they need to play Union Hall) but you might want to clear space on your calendar now.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive. Sky Larkin play Union Hall on August 14. Next time I’m going to ask for something bigger.

MP3: Sky Larkin – Molten

And a couple videos:

“One of Two”