Friday, December 26, 2008

Year-end reflection: part 2

Here are some of my favorite tracks from albums not covered in my top 25 list. This is neither comprehensive nor ranked in any way. Sorry that I couldn't find a place to stream Welcome Wagon or Horse Feathers.

1) High Places: "From Stardust to Sentience", from High Places- This song is simply sublime. I have conflicting feelings towards High Places, as Mary Pearson's tranquil vocals are often just too detached, too tranquil, but they work very well here. Rob Barber's clattering percussion and hypnotic glassy tones form a perfect background. I could listen to this song on repeat for quite a while.

2) Four Tet: "Ribbons", from the Ringer EP- One of the best tracks Kieran Hebden has ever made. The straight 4/4 beat is a marked departure from his typically more slipshod approach. The unfurling, burbling synth arpeggios in this song are just beautiful.

3) Beach House: "Used to Be", from the Used to Be 7"- I've already rambled about this song in the past, but it's remained one of my favorites from the year, even the past few years. Gorgeous, melancholy, nostalgic, dreamy- the quintessential beach house track.

4) The Welcome Wagon: "Up On a Mountain", from Welcome to the Welcome Wagon
- Monique Aiuto's childlike vocals add a perfect sense of innocence to this very honest song about Jesus. Their unabashed spirituality comes through in this track (as well as nearly every other on their debut album). Sufjan Stevens provides tasteful arrangements and quiet harmonies; it truly does sound like a small room of friends getting together to sing, and it's a comforting, welcome (pun not intended) quality.
5) Fuck Buttons: "Sweet Love for Planet Earth", from Street Horrrsing- I saw this track live earlier this year, and it was simply one of the most visceral live music experiences I've ever partaken in. Tranquil, almost haphazard bell tones are cut through with dirty, jagged sawtooth waves, culminating with a combination of throbbing, brutal sawtooth waves and distorted screams from Benjamin John Power.

6) Pas/Cal: "You Were Too Old for Me", from I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura- This song is so enthralling because of its gradual evolution, until the very last note. I blogged about this over the summer, and I hope it's familiar to some of you by now.

7) Bowerbirds: "Hooves", from Hymns for a Dark Horse- The opening notes of this song still make me think of Andrew Bird. The lilting melody here is as hummable as many of Bird's, and just as pretty. The accordion typically annoys me, but its use is so subtle here, and I can't imagine the song without it.

8) Horse Feathers: "Curs of the Weeds", from House With no Name- The spare production and hushed vocals make for a truly intimate listening experience (and I hate saying things like that). The vocal melody is amazing.

9) DM Stith: "Just Once", from the Curtain Speech EP- This was likely overlooked by many due to its December eighth release date. A shame, as this designer and musician is one of the most promising acts on the Asthmatic Kitty roster. Many of his songs have an eerie, haunting quality, and this is no exception.

10) Hot Chip: "Ready for the Floor", from Made in the Dark. A fun, fantastically done song. Perfect, actually; there isn't a single aspect I would change about it.

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