2008 Music Rundown

I never realized this before, but it’s surprisingly easy to do a year-end music rundown when you haven’t listened to much new music! In no particular order except that the Portishead is HOLY SHIT AWESOME, here’s some 2008-released stuff I especially enjoyed.


  • Third (Portishead): I have never had high expectations so comprehensively and delightfully exceeded. It is everything I loved about Portishead, yet nothing like what came before.
  • Rook (Shearwater): Gorgeous, varied collection of songs all tied together by Jonathan Meiburg’s supple, versatile voice.
  • Attack And Release (Black Keys): I really love the Dangermouse production on this, the sound breathes and floats in what feels like a very non-garagerocky space but the band sounds as tight as ever.
  • Carried To Dust (Calexico): I didn’t like Garden Ruin much, so I love that this album is so reminiscent of my favourite parts of Feast Of Wire – which is to say, it’s more songs for that time just after the sun’s dramatic dip below the horizon when what remains in the sky is the most ethereal, subtle light.
  • The Bake Sale EP (Cool Kids): Creative beat making, pretty good ass-shaking.
  • Distortion (Magnetic Fields): Stephin Merritt’s songwriting has usually been strong enough to pull off Magnetic Fields’ various concept albums, and this album’s concept – every song drenched in Psychocandy-inspired distortion – had me from hello.

Songs: [1. From albums which aren’t in my favourites list, either because I didn’t like them enough or haven’t heard them yet.]

  • Serpentine (Chris Bathgate): If we named songs the way classical composers used to, this could be “Serenade for piano, double bass, and pensive, almost reverential, human voice”. The album (A Cork Tale Wake) is decent too, and especially recommended if you like The Frames.
  • My Pillow Is The Threshhold (Silver Jews): The quiet shimmering guitar background which escalates to a final minute of restrained soundwall-y bliss is so lovely. The album (Lookout Mountain Lookout Sea) is also good, but omitted from the above list because I rate it slightly less highly than the band’s others.
  • Seeing Hands (Dengue Fever): I came for the band name and stayed for Chhom Nimol’s exquisite voice. I don’t know if loving this song is an overcompensatory wannabe-cosmopolitan response to its all-Cambodian exoticism, but I do know it makes me sway happily from side to side.
  • Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Fleet Foxes): How does a song lie on its back looking up at the clouds, and soar through them, all at the same time?
  • Furr (Blitzen Trapper): Drew me instantly into its story and lyrics, which is rare (for me). The last time that happened was many years ago, with The Decemberists’ Leslie Ann Levine.

But yeah, as is probably obvious, there’s lots more I simply haven’t got round to yet from this year – what else should I add to this list to chase down? What did you love?

  • London Zoo (The Bug)
  • The Renaissance (Q-Tip)
  • At War With Walls And Mazes (Son Lux)
  • Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (Brian Eno and David Byrne)
  • Los Angeles (Flying Lotus)
  • Furr (Blitzen Trapper)