Ditching the Australian music thing for a second, these were my favourite songs of 2008.
1. Beck – Gamma Ray
from Modern Guilt
Not only is this the best song Beck has ever written but Danger Mouse fucking nails it with a railroad spike AND the line "Come on little gamma ray" is so cute it makes me wanna cry.
2. Silver Jews – Candy Jail
from Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
Jim Morrison didn't know shit about poetry, and in fact I carve a little tally into my wall each day I don't have to listen to The Doors. Anyway, he could have learned a thing or two from Dave Berman: "Life in a candy jail / Peppermint bars / Peanut brittle bunkbeds / And marshmallow walls / Where the guards are gracious / And the grounds are grand / And the warden keeps data on your favourite brands." Take THAT, consumerist society!!
3. Girl Talk – In Step
from Feed The Animals
It's tough to pick one track from a genius's masterwork, but that bit when 'Push It' drops into 'Lithium', what the fuck? Where does music go from here?
4. Weezer – Pork & Beans
So maybe Weezer in 2008 are bullshit and The Red Album was a major disappointment but try and deny this song and you are not a human being.
5. Vancouver – Penalty Box
from Even My Winters Are Summers
Italians named after a Canadian city playing their favourite bits from Built To Spill's back catalogue! Isn't that going to suck? NO. And never say that again.
6. The Chap – Fun and Interesting
from Mega Breakfast
The "humour in music" debate is less interesting than They Might Be Giants but I am way into a band that sounds this good and can make me LOL with quaint British interjections.
7. White Rabbits – While We Go Dancing
from Fort Nightly
When I tried to tell people about this White Rabbits album I was in love with I compared it to Vampire Weekend if they weren't annoying and listened to punk rock instead of Paul Simon. I recognise that that description sucks but my point was that polyrhythms can be awesome and this album kills.
8. Deerhunter – Twilight At Carbon Lake
from Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.
This was the stand-out track for me from a ridiculously excellent album and it's mostly because it kind of reminds me of that creepy song James sings with Donna and Maddie in Twin Peaks.
9. Tallest Man On Earth – I Won't Be Found
from Shallow Grave
On a scale of songs you can howl along to, this is only slightly below Two-Headed Boy by Neutral Milk Hotel.
10. Cass McCombs – That's That
from Dropping The Writ
A sad but true fact about singer-songwriters is that most of them sound like either Bob Dylan or Elliott Smith. Not Cass McCombs though. He takes his dreamy falsetto and uses it for the power of bass-heavy weird-time-signature Americana, and he deserves props for that.
11. The Magnetic Fields – The Nun's Litany
I love the Magnetic Fields, but this is the first time the whole themed album thing has really worked for them. 69 Love Songs could easily have been cut in half and i was pretty annoying in general, but on Distortion we worked out that distortion actually fits Stephin Merritt very nicely. And this song, well, one of the best things about the Magnetic Fields is that they gives smug arseholes like me who think they're pretty clever something to sing along to. When you throw in some poignant sex references, you basically have a foolproof recipe for win.
12. Metronomy – Heartbreaker
from Nights Out
If Seinfeld segues used this bassline instead, Jerry would have Marfan Syndrome, George would look like Shaquille O'Neal and Elaine would have a second face on the back of her head like Lord Voldemort.
13. Menahan Street Band – Make The Road By Walking
from Make The Road By Walking
This song is so cool even Jay-Z needed a piece of it.
14. TV On The Radio – Halfway Home
from Dear Science
Dear Science was a great record which managed to not sound like either of the other two great records TV On The Radio have released. The thing I loved about Halfway Home, though, is that it does. It's like TVOTR circa Desperate Youth figured out how to rock like TVOTR circa Cookie Mountain, like Wrong Way with the muscle of Wolf Like Me.
15. The Dodos – Joe's Waltz
Everything that's good about the Dodos, and there's a lot that's good about the Dodos, can be found in this seven-and-a-half minute slab of freaky, psychey, metally indie folk punk.
16. Frida Hyvonen – London!
from Silence is Wild
Album number two was a little bit patchier than Frida Hyvonen's debut, Until Death Comes, but on this track she's still strange and contradictory and lyrically blunt. She's also still got an amazing voice and mad pop hooks. I'm into it.
17. The Bronx – Past Lives
from The Bronx
I hate arseholes who say shit like "punk is dead" or "the real punks play electronic music" because they're too lazy to listen to The Bronx.
18. Jonathan Richman – Because Her Beauty Is Raw And Wild
from Because Her Beauty Is Raw And Wild
Just appreciate the fact that there's a dude alive who can record a song called Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild which isn't completely fruity.
19. Jay Reatard – An Ugly Death
from Matador Singles '08
It doesn't really matter which Jay Reatard track you pick. The dude is pretty much every good reason to like punk rolled up into one chubby, hairy ball.
20. Lil Wayne – Dr. Carter
from Tha Carter III
Lil Wayne rules because he's witty and not afraid to throw some sonic curveballs. This song isn't one of the bangers from Tha Carter III - it's downbeat and kinda lo-fi but it shows off just how good his flow is and the medical jokes and references to Dr Kanye and Dr Jeezy are awesome.