Dic 10 2008, 22:11

I defy anyone to be able to directly compare, for the purposes of placing in a chart, the warm emotional wash they get from listening to an amazing piece of modern classical music to the prickly, teenage rush they get from blasting 3 minutes of pure unhooked indie rock, or to the angular urban shapes a low end slab of dubstep forces their body into and ever hope to make a definitive decision that one is 'better' than the other.

Such is usually the dilema with my year ender, and this year has been a particularly tough year as modern classical has well and truly taken its place in my heart. At the same time the electronic scene, primarily centred around all things dub has fractured and splintered into yet more sub genres and, well, gone all wonky.

At times I've found myself wanting to acquire a decent bit of indie rock to keep that flame alive for me and have more often than not found it challenging to find stuff that gets my eric tripping, though the stuff I have found (or been recommended) has been high grade.

So what you see below is more of a league system than a chart - an idea i've nicked from various last fm friends as a way of loosely grading releases without being too clinical about it. I initially did an A-D system and then a ***** - ** system but couldn't honestly bring myself to rate some of the amazing albums in the 16-25 section as a lowly D - it just sounded like an injustice.

So go ahead, try to tell me Deerhunter was better than Atlas Sound or that Fleet Foxes really should have been higher, but I'd rather you tell me about something thats not even here that you thought was amazing that I really should hear or ask me about, for instance, Ólöf Arnalds and then go and check out her beautiful album or anything else you don't recognise...enjoy.

(note: all categories in alphabetical order .. unless numbered stupid!)
[edit: have attempted to add loose genres/descriptions to many of the artists to guide those unfamiliar with certain artists]


Dubstep blending with dub techno was a dream come true for me this year and this was an early strike.

For Emma, Forever Ago
Bon Iver
With the rush of discovering the latest best thing its easy to forget a quiet classic that came out all those months ago. It'd be a crime to overlook such a gorgeous album.

24 Postcards in full Colour
Max Richter
I'd been waiting a long time for more Max Richter material and while the format of the abbreviated sketches mapped out over these 24 pieces takes some getting used to, every single one could fill an album with their rich, emotional textures.

Laulu Laakson Kukista
This would probably have been number one were we dishing out places. A hazy wash of rural Finnish folk filtered through an ever moving radio dial being operated by someone smoking more grass than would normally be encouraged.

Við og við
Ólöf Arnalds


Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel - Atlas Sound

Diary Of An Afro Warrior - Benga

Rabbit Habits - Man Man
Unhinged indie

Third - Portishead
Definitely not trip hop anymore...

Hometowns - The Rural Alberta Advantage
Indie rock


The Battle of Land and Sea - The Battle of Land and Sea
Folky melancholy

Roots and Wire - Deadbeat
Dub techno

Fordlandia - Johan Johansson
Modern classical

Out My Window - Koushik

Float - Peter Broderick
Modern classical


Rivers Arms - Balmorhea
Modern classical

Kondens - Erik Levander
Modern classical/ambient/experimental

Ferndorf - Hauschka
Modern classical

Hush Arbors - Hush Arbors
Psych folk

Litany of echoes - James Blackshaw
Modern psych-classical

Lost Wisdom - Mount Eerie , Julie Doiron , Fred Squire
Indie rock

All We Could Do Was Sing - Port O'Brien
Indie rock

All is Well - Sam Amidon

Moonbeams - Throw Me The Statue
Indie rock

Alopecia - Why?
Indie- hop


1. Sun Giant - Fleet Foxes
2. Ghost Glacier EP - Breathe Owl Breathe
3. CCTV - LV
4. I never cried a tear - bvdub
5. Zomby EP - Zomby

10 Favourite Tracks

I built the sea - The Battle of Land and Sea
Re: Stacks - Bon Iver
Oliver James - Fleet Foxes
Top Drawer - Man Man
San Bernardino - The Mountain Goats
Italialaisella laivalla - Paavoharju
The Crook Of My Good Arm - Pale Young Gentlemen
The Rip - Portishead
Four Night Rider - The Rural Alberta Advantage
Englar og dárar - Ólöf Arnalds

Also enjoyed:

My Get Up And Go Just Got Up And Went - Ass - Instrumental (mostly) acoustic
Coyotes - Brian Borcherdt - Acoustic Singer/songwriter
Motion To Rejoin - Brightblack Morning Light - lazy Rhodes psych
Microcastle - Deerhunter - Indie rock
Visiter - The Dodos - Indie rock
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes - Folk/Indie rock
The Orion Songbook - Frontier Ruckus - Acoustic indie rock
Night Falls - Hecq - Excellent modern classical/ambient
Cyclical - Ital Tek - Dubstep on the crunchier side
Treny - Jacaszek - Modern classical
Die Soundboy Die - Kid 606 - Fun bass raves.
Dauw - Machinefabriek - Ambient/modern classical/ field recordings
We Live in Houses Made of Wood - Small Sur - Folk
Ephemeral Exhibits - Starkey - Dubstep/grime
Naked Acid - Valet - Psych

Liked but too late to make it

Hazyville - Actress - Woozy electronic
Kids Aflame - Arms - Indie rock
Black Sea - Fennesz - Ambient/modern classical
The Orchard - Fire On Fire - Folk/rock
Na Na Ni - Frederick - Indie/laptop folk
Minatures - Matthew Robert Cooper - Modern classical/ambient
Black Forest (Tra La La) - Pale Young Gentlemen - Indie rock with strings.
Fallen Arches - Sunken Foal - Experimental electronic
Shallow Grave - The Tallest Man on Earth - Dylanesque acoustic

The year's disappointments for me....

City of refuge - Castanets
Heretic Pride - The Mountain Goats
Carried to dust - Calexico
Mountain Battles - The Breeders
Made in the Dark - Hot Chip


  • critic

    wow... that really is broken down!! ( i think gav set a precedent there.. ) well i reckon a fair few of your 25 will make it into my top ten (port o'briens 'all we could do was sing', deerhunter's 'microcastle', mount eeire's 'the lost wisdom', the rural alberta advantage's 'hometowns'.. with maybes from throw me the statue and arms, (so glad you liked it so much!!) .. i think you may have made my end of year list making a whole lot easier... tho not sure i can be arsed with providing the relevant links... providing words and their associated meanings is hard enough!! good work tho.. ;)

    Dic 10 2008, 23:45
  • Nialloleary

    Agreed great list-I'm going to link this to my journal-print it out give it a proper read-do my own list then come back and give it a proper comment. (tell you what you've missed out :) My first impressions are it's a really balanced list and I can see quite a few albums I really need to pick up.

    Dic 11 2008, 7:23
  • skerzo

    A print out!? Wow - worthy of hard copy eh? Please do tell me what I missed - I edited the end of my opening passage because re-reading it this morning it sounded like I wasn't interested in anyone rec'ing me anything which of course I'd love you to! Kev - Glad it helped - look forward to reading yrs sometime soon ;) I did like the arms but got it so late it falls into the too late file... The Deerhunter unfortunately didn't stick for me though it is certainly a good album 'on paper'.

    Dic 11 2008, 8:26
  • phantom_orchard

    I enjoyed the mountain goats + kaki king - EP a lot more than heretic pride, did you not like that one? Great list in all, a bunch of stuff there I'll be checking out. I liked the fleet foxes-album more than you though ;)

    Dic 11 2008, 9:52
  • nickinko

    What a great write up! Thanks for sharing it. You know, I still haven't listened to the Paavoharju album properly. I'm sure I'd like it, and labelmates and kindred spirits Lau Nau will be high on my list with Nuukuu, but somehow poor Paavoharju got squeezed out this year. Too little time for music, unfortunately. Another album I've never heard despite numerous recommendations to do so is the Bon Iver one. I think I just subconsciously labelled it 'mainstream indie folk' and never gave it a chance. Have I made a dreadful mistake? I can also really relate to your comment about trying to hunt down the cream of the indie rock bands, just to keep the flame alive. Unfortunately, I do find most of that stuff leaves me indifferent, but I wonder if you'd have any particularly strong recommendations (I tend to like the sonically busy, inventive bands like Grizzly Bear, Menomena, Animal Collective). I thoroughly approve of Max Richter, Fennesz and 2562, but strangely, although I think we share broadly similar tastes, there are surprisingly few of my favourites (in what I feel has been a thin year, for me) on your list. I will have to investigate some of those unfamiliar names near the top. But you've inspired me to get mine done (I've put it up elsewhere, on the odd message board I use) soon, perhaps even today as I have a little free time.

    Dic 11 2008, 10:01
  • airfigaro

    Thanks for posting a best of list! I linked it to my journal. I will have time later this week to really dig into this. Thanks!

    Dic 11 2008, 15:56
  • fullmonthei

    Great list, and like you said about mine I haven't given much time to most of them. haha! I'm kinda surprised to see Alopecia in your Top 25--last I heard you were still in the "I don't get it" phase.

    Dic 11 2008, 18:35
  • ritesofspring

    Very enlightening mate, you must have pondered over that list for weeks. I started to do one but gave up. oops! Can't really comment on your choices as I don't know most of it but there's a lot to check out, which I will do ;) Will agree on Kids Aflame tho, a mighty toon... (like that league system thingy btw)

    Dic 11 2008, 19:36
  • skerzo

    Phantom - Haven't heard the single with Kaki king so I'll have to track it down. I thought the Fleet Foxes Sun Giant EP was awesome but they just didn't hold me over a whole album (or that album anyway...) Nickinko- thanks! I saw you listening to the Paavorharju again - any changes of mind!? I know what you mean though, its so easy for even great releases to pass you by when there is so much new stuff to check. Good to hear the Lau Nau is high on your list - I saw her live at the weekend and was impressed though the sample clips I'd heard from the album made me worried it'd be an improv-mess so I hadn't previously checked it out. The Bon Iver - I was almost put off putting it in my list too cos it was quite hyped at the time (though not quite mainstream I'd have said) and would be a predictable pick.. however, relistening to it made me realise it was a gorgeous album and that is what counted! Also, I'll address the differences in our lists over on your rolling 08 list in a mo ;) fullmonthei - I now get it and like it alot! It just took a while for the Marriage of Indie to hip hop to become socially acceptable in my head! Rites - I did have trouble sleeping the last few nights worrying about my top 10 yes ;)

    Dic 11 2008, 19:52
  • fullmonthei

    I didn't spend much time with Rabbit just didn't have the power (to me) of previous albums. I'll have to give it another shot. And I was never drawn to Paavoharju (mostly based on the quick Emu blurb that reads "will appeal to those who think Björk isn't quite experimental enough"), but I know you've been listening to it for months. I may have to grab that to judge it better.

    Dic 11 2008, 20:19
  • gavinjh

    First off, I really like your introduction. You've illustrated the struggle & pain of putting one of these things together really well. Unsurprisingly I like everything in your list - even down to lowly division four. There are the odd albums in there that I've not listened to yet like Portishead & Ólöf Arnalds (I'm downloading Ólöf Arnalds as I write this) and I think the only release on here that didn't set me on fire was Rabbit Habbits - I, like fulmothei, prefered their earlier stuff, and in all honesty I've never really been totally sold on them (they're a bit too Tom & Jerry for me). All it leaves me to say now is well done and lets start hunting for 2009's gems... When will the thirst end?!... burp...

    Dic 11 2008, 22:57
  • skerzo

    Guys - Rabbit Habits is great! I might have been swayed by the fact that how I came to love them was through seeing them earlier this year in support of the album, not really knowing what to expect and then simply falling in love with their personality/'show' as a band which was the exact visual equivalent of the music - If I'd only have heard the album I, like you Gav, would probably just have thought they aren't my thing. I got the CD on the night so it was my first exposure to them and I loved it.. I have since got Six Demon Bag from emusic and wasn't so impressed even though folks seem to rate it higher generally. You should check out Top Drawer, Big Trouble and also Whalebones which shows off their less bonkers side and great songwriting.

    Dic 12 2008, 9:37
  • nickinko

    You've absolutely inspired me to listen to Paavoharju properly. I think they're one of those bands that can really wash over you if you're only half paying attention, which was the case when I first listened to it earlier in the year. Anyway, I've had it playing at home and on the work communte ever since I read this, and it is really good, of course. I especially love Tuoksu Tarttuu Meihin and Uskallan, but it's those sweet vocal and piano melodies that weave in and out of all that weird static wash that tie it all together. A strange and beautiful album, which is making me delay my own final list!

    Dic 12 2008, 16:21
  • phantom_orchard

    I just realized flying lotus "los angeles" is not on this list. That's one of my top10 for sure this year (if I was making a list that is, which I'm probably not because I would stress over it WAY too much and change my mind all the time - until finally coming to terms with the fact that nobody actually cares). I would also throw in the new Max Tundra (hey, he worked on it for like 6 years...) and the animal collective-EP but those might be slightly fanboy-ish choices. I think rabbit habbits is pretty great.. I probably like The Man in a Blue Turban with a Face best though. But RH seems kind of underrated by the "old fans".

    Dic 12 2008, 17:00
  • runachop

    that's some work you put into your list, i'll have a go when i get the chance soon. As always good reading and listening. I'm gonna check the ones i haven't heard, and maybe you'll do the same once i get around to posting my own list ;-) Later

    Dic 13 2008, 5:35
  • sunrisereporter

    hey ! thanx for sharing this. First of all, so many names( lot of I just don't know) in your08 that I will surely use it like an information bank in 2009. So 2562 at the top (i know there's no numbered st...), I like Aerial but maybe dubstep is still a 12" affair for me...Haven't heard fully the new Zomby 12"...Respect to Benga, Koushik & Paavoharju. Just made my shorts lists (in comparison), in advance for you and critic and others who will maybe read, sorry and apologies for the french language.

    Dic 15 2008, 23:41
  • skerzo

    Cheers Noel - I'll be sure to check yours as I'm sure you've discovered some gems I don't know about! Sunrisereporter - Hope you find some good stuff here! I'll take a look at your list now!

    Dic 16 2008, 19:01
  • Nialloleary

    Finally arrived at your "Best Of" & I'm left feeling like I've missed the party...whatever...first of all these are the albums I'm curious about and will pick up next; 24 Postcards in full Colour Max Richter Laulu Laakson Kukista Paavoharju Við og við Ólöf Arnalds I'm with you on 2562, Bon Iver, Portishead & Roots and Wire & Benga.(Btw I'd really recommend the vinyl version of "Diary Of An Afro Warrior"...) What's missing-there are a few omissions that surprise; Atlas Sound-Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, Department Of Eagles-In Ear Park, TV On The Radio-Dear Science, Gang Gang Dance-Saint Dymphna. But I'm sure you know all about them...why missing? It's a great list and I really enjoyed the introduction-also thank you for all the recommendations this year.

    Dic 22 2008, 22:07
  • calika

    I love your year end lists, lots of stuff for me to check out. A couple I'd have in there would be: Flying Lotus - los Angeles ( I wanted not to like it but it really grew on me over the year, it is from 2008 isn't it?) Tigrics - Synki (Lovely Cdr release on highpoint lowlife) Alva Noto - Unitext (i'm sure this is 2008 aswell, bloody good whatever) Alexander Tucker - Portal (I'm a sucker for this wonderful bearded folksy man) Chris Corsano - The Young Cricketer ( got a proper release on family vinyard this year so i'm counting it) Minus Pilots - Superior proof of cinema (very good on a label my friend just signed to) and way out in front..... Moha! - one-way trip to candyland. (holy shit saw them live for the first time this year, best live band ever. I love the first two records but this adds structure to all the noise and improv resulting in the most spastic craze fest ever) Dissappointments: TV on The Radio, castanets, Subtle, Notwist, matmos, chris clark and quite alot of others. i think it's been a very up and down year. take care, have a good xmas and love to the family simon

    Dic 23 2008, 9:50
  • calika

    I'll also add Eero Johannes, great album.

    Dic 27 2008, 21:46
Visualizza tutti (20 commenti)
Aggiungi un commento. Accedi a o registrati (è gratuito).