Band friends + school friend + small world Waterloo = mandatory M82 post. KW champions Vacuity lend one of their best tracks to a mini-doc on the North House team, a group of university students and staff competing in the international Solar Decathlon project in Washington D.C. In a sentence, it’s an international competition where teams from all over the world compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient house. Friend and UW grad student Ivan Lee is also an engineer for the project looking specifically at energy consumption/production. Ivan has been nothing short of heroic working day in and day out (without credit !) on this. Best of luck, have fun, allons nord !
One of the nicest first verses I’ve heard in a longk time. Rock-based songs are always best and most successful when the verses are catchier than the choruses. Always. I have a soft spot for songs that inherently demand a large venue with bigness and a proportionate amount of verb, especially in downtempo parts. Beautiful video, Jamie.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to a jam of theirs last night, new tunes and all. Bring your pounding shoes.
Let my list add to the online listnoise, it makes my opinion feel important. So score one for egotime.
Overall I feel like 2008 wasn’t a major year for life-altering music, but some solid offerings nonetheless.
10. Shearwater – Rook – Belle and Sebastian meets The National meets Elbow with a Morrissey-derived vocal. Melancholy, intelligent, some slightly diversified arrangements and dynamics, and a great amount of intensity weaved into many of the tracks. Closing track “The Snow Leopard” is a definite tip of the hat to Radiohead’s “You and Whose Army”.
9. Mogwai – Hawk is Howling – Who doesn’t love a good British post-rock instrumental once in ahwile? Not a lot of critical acclaim for this one, but it was one of my favourite Mogwai records for sure. Some classic sounds – nice grand piano, analog delays, tasteful reverb. A great moody record.
8. Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid – perhaps my favourite Elbow record. Simple yet dark, what Elbow does best. Vocals are British lullabies, beautiful production (especially drum sounds, wow). A lot of strong songs that will grow on me even more than they already have.
7. Vacuity – At the Command of the Blanket Sky- Kitchener friends Vacuity have really made a strong, thought provoking record. Definitely for fans of OK Computer, No Logo, 1984, V for Vendetta, and self-awareness. Intense and solid vocals, beautiful and intelligent arrangements, welcomed unique lyrical style, great drumming, classic Fender tones. To exemplify a progressive and experimental business model, they have decided to put up their album online for all. Download the album for FREE here.
6.Sigur Ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust – Perhaps more of an honorary mention, this band could very well be my favourite band ever. I prefer 2005’s Takk and 2002’s ( ), but this offering is a welcomed new direction for the band – happy! Single Gobbledigook is a truly great song, while others are more reminiscent of their earlier stuff.
5. Deerhunter - Microcastle – I got to this band/album quite late, only a few months ago. But they’ve been able to successfully do what I’ve always wanted to do in a band – create a great Radiohead influenced sound that doesn’t sound like Radiohead. They combine my love of post-rock with many fuzzy/shoegazy instrumentals, my love of 60s melodies with clear Brian Wilson/Beatles nods paired with solid Radiohead/NY rock guitars.
4. Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs - This record proves that this band can go broader, deeper, and at the same time get the #1 billboard debut upon release. If you want to hear one of the best drummers in rock music, listen to this record for Jason McGerr. If you want to hear one of the best indie producers, listen to this record for Death Cab guitarist Chris Walla. A band worthy of popularity. Pop with brains.
3. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago – If TV on the Radio made a heartfelt acoustic record, this would still be better. The indie-cred backstory is perfect (he spent a winter isolated in a cabin in the midwest and made a record) and his songs have soul and real feeling, it’s clearly felt. The clear winners are the opening and closing tracks in “Flume” and “re: stacks”. The opening lyric of the album (“I am my mother’s only one / it’s enough“) and closing lyric of the album (“This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization / It’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away / Your love will be safe with me“) are perfect bookends for this intimate and melodic record.
2. Mardeen – Read Less Minds – A great current twist on classic 90s Halifax Pop Explosion powerpop. So so hooky, every track is a true gem. These guys will make waves very shortly, or at least they deserve to. I get a mix of The Stills, The Super Friendz, males singing good 90s Liz Phair, Interpol, and Sloan.
1. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes - It’s on a lot of top lists, and this is my true winner for the year. This album hit me more than any album has in a couple of years. It’s undeniably melodic, cathedral, soulful, genuine music. People overcompare with Jim James references, mainly because JJ and Robin Pecknold from Fleet Foxes have the two strongest voices in American rock today. The spotlight of this album is clearly vocal – 4 part harmonies and not just root-3rd-5th-octave. Some real haunting harmonies. Winners include “White Winter Hymnal”, “Blue Ridge Mountains”, and “Quiet Houses”.
Some of the moments in this Fleet Foxes video, c/o indie staple Blogotheque are my favourite of the year: