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done quickly and full of cynicism!

"I listened to about 150-200 new albums this year, and I didn't really enjoy 80% of them. it was probably the worst musical year of the decade, a year where good albums were merely listenable and bad albums were reallllly bad. calling 2008 a subpar year is not exactly a damning statement since this decade has produced some amazing music, but that doesn't make it less disappointing.

these 10 albums are my exceptions: bright spots in a sea of mediocrity. I encourage everyone to give them a chance."

-transience

10. Electric President - Sleep Well[]

Electric President - Sleep Well
  1. "Monsters" – 4:36
  2. "Bright Mouths" - 4:47 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz9UeeqSqLw
  3. "We Will Walk Through Walls" - 4:31
  4. "Graves And The Infinite Arm" - 4:39
  5. "Adrift In Space, Or Whatever" - 1:19
  6. "Ether" - 5:10
  7. "Robophobia" - 4:34
  8. "Lullaby" - 5:36
  9. "It's Like A Heartbeat, Only It Isn't" -1:01
  10. "All The Bones" - 5:15
  11. "It's An Ugly Life" - 5:51
  12. "When It's Black" - 5:11

Electric President is a strange band. the best way to describe them is "restrained" -- they make cute, quiet, catchy electro-pop music that's not all that unlike The Postal Service, but there's this ominous, paranoid feeling that permeates everything that they do. they write lyrics about faceless people coming and ripping your eyelids off, all sung in a detached, matter-of-fact way with peaceful instrumentation backing it up.

and I love it. I don't think it's as good as their first album, but there's something distinct and unique about the contrast of music and lyrical content that makes this band very appealing to me. it's like listening to a nursery rhyme where the rabbit gets their head cut off, only spoken in a very friendly way that makes it even more messed up. yum.

9. Emiliana Torrini - Me and Armini[]

Emiliana Torrini - Me and Armini
  1. "Fireheads" - 3.44 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4yAgj1k7_Y
  2. "Me and Armini" - 4.17
  3. "Birds" - 6.23
  4. "Heard It All Before" - 4.13
  5. "Ha Ha" - 3.15
  6. "Big Jumps" - 3.01
  7. "Jungle Drum" - 2.13
  8. "Hold Heart" - 2.04
  9. "Gun" - 5.45
  10. "Beggar's Prayer" - 2.55
  11. "Dead Duck" - 5.36
  12. "Bleeder" - 4.50

Me and Armini is just a smooth pop album. I like her voice, I like how relaxing it is, and it's solid but unspectacular. tough to go too indepth when you're dealing with straight-up pop music - it's just good. good songwriting, good instrumentation, just good all-around.

I didn't really like her old stuff that much at all, but this album hits the spot.

8. Computer vs. Banjo - Computer vs. Banjo[]

Computer vs. Banjo - Computer vs
  1. Jubilee
  2. Guitars need a Sinner's Touch - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKNc3t2-Mjs
  3. Give up on Ghosts
  4. Outer space
  5. Low
  6. San Joaquin
  7. Magazine Queen
  8. Stone
  9. 2heavy2hold
  10. Concealed
  11. Lost
  12. Signs of Passing Time

maybe the most apt name for a band ever -- this Nashville-based duet mixes western instrumentation with electronics to create a rather eclectic album. it has a Spaghetti Western kind of feel to it while the electronics built underneath make it feel modern and unique. I could see somebody finding this album boring and slow, but I think it's rather refreshing.

every year, there's one icon/transience album that we trumpet as being underrated or whatnot. last year, it was Boy Eats Drum Machine. this year it's this album -- and this album actually reminds me of BEDM quite a bit in some way that I can't put my finger on. I think it's the eclectic mix of styles.

(side note: I found out last night that a new BEDM album came out last week, and everyone and their mother is all over it now, calling it the greatest thing ever. the album that I uploaded to waffles last year had 3 seeds last week; now it's got 36 and keeps going up. I laughed pretty good about this last night -- aww yeah I'm a trendsetter)

7. Beck - Modern Guilt[]

Beck - Modern Guilt
  1. "Orphans" (featuring Cat Power) – 3:17
  2. "Gamma Ray" – 2:58
  3. "Chemtrails" – 4:42 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeiFVfyiSiw
  4. "Modern Guilt" – 3:16
  5. "Youthless" – 3:01
  6. "Walls" (featuring Cat Power) – 2:24
  7. "Replica" – 3:27
  8. "Soul of a Man" – 2:38
  9. "Profanity Prayers" – 3:45
  10. "Volcano" – 4:27

I don't really agree with most people when it comes to Beck. I think Odelay is dated as hell and could never get into his older stuff. I mean, I liked Loser in 1995 and Where It's At is a timeless late-90s classic, but I never really liked his albums.

I think he gets better with each attempt, though, and this is his best album yet. Chemtrails is my favourite radio song that I know of (or at least, I'm told it's played on the radio), if not one of my favourite songs of the entire year. the album's got great drumwork (as you'd expect), and it's got a touch of white boy soul that really hits the spot for me. it's just a really well-written album.

my only complaint about this album is that it feels too short - I always feel like I just put it on when it ends, like it's 20 minutes long or something. I guess good things just fly.

6. Anna Ternheim - Leaving on a Mayday[]

Anna Ternheim - Leaving on a Mayday
  1. What Have I Done - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsG1IRLZiB4
  2. Damaged Ones
  3. Terrified
  4. Let It Rain
  5. My Heart Still Beats For You
  6. No I Don't Remember
  7. Summer Rain
  8. Losing You
  9. Off The Road
  10. Black Sunday Afternoon

Anna Ternheim has been a favourite of mine for a good while now. she's a Swedish pop singer, but don't let "pop" make you think it's typical top 40 or anything - it's all pretty wistful and melancholy. her voice isn't the greatest, but I love her lyrics and especially her choruses. they're just lovely. for this album, Anna added some strings that work particularly well. I'm not expecting too many people to get into this, but for those who like sad pop music, she's as good as you get.

5. Portishead - Third[]

Portishead-third
  1. "Silence" – 4:59
  2. "Hunter" – 3:57
  3. "Nylon Smile" – 3:16
  4. "The Rip" – 4:30
  5. "Plastic" – 3:27
  6. "We Carry On" – 6:27
  7. "Deep Water" – 1:39
  8. "Machine Gun" (Barrow/Gibbons) – 4:43
  9. "Small" – 6:45 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDauB1xIQH0
  10. "Magic Doors" (Barrow/Gibbons/John Baggot) – 3:32
  11. "Threads" – 5:47

Portishead's first two albums are remarkably similar, to the point where if you swapped tracks around on the two albums I wouldn't notice the difference. once you've heard one Portishead song, you've pretty much heard them all. you'll never mix something else up with a song of theirs, from Beth Gibbons's haunting vocals to the dreary, lo-fi recording style. Portishead's one of a kind.

I fully expected them to stay in that mold for Third, and they didn't. for a band that had a ton of success defining the term Trip Hop -- even if they hate the term -- they certainly shed the label with ease while making something almost as experimental as what they created ten years ago. the drumwork on this thing is wild, the random sound effects are haunting, the vocals just as good as ever.

and it's one of the biggest hit or miss albums I can remember hearing. Machine Gun is relentless, painful and memorable, and a song that will probably define 2008, for better or worse. Silence is pretty eh. there's a couple other "meh" tracks on here too.

but on the other hand, The Rip is one of the best songs ever. Small is fantastic. Magic Doors's piano is amazing. the album has its ups and downs, but overall it's one of the best records of '08 and a great return to form.

4. Adem - Takes[]

Adem - Takes
  1. "Bedside Table" (originally performed by Bedhead) – 5:24
  2. "Oh My Lover" (originally performed by PJ Harvey) – 3:08
  3. "Slide" (originally performed by Lisa Germano) – 3:37
  4. "Loro" (originally performed by Pinback) – 4:39
  5. "Hotellounge" (originally performed by dEUS) – 5:11 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uX4mQhCQIaI
  6. "To Cure a Weakling Child"/"Boy/Girl Song" (originally performed by Aphex Twin) – 6:29
  7. "Tears Are in Your Eyes" (originally performed by Yo La Tengo) – 3:56
  8. "Starla" (originally performed by The Smashing Pumpkins) – 3:54
  9. "Gamera" (originally performed by Tortoise) – 4:29
  10. "Unravel" (originally performed by Björk) – 3:18
  11. "Invisible Man" (originally performed by The Breeders) – 3:42
  12. "Laser Beam" (originally performed by Low) – 3:01

a cover album? really?

Adem is the bassist of another iconsience fave, Fridge. this album is nothing more than a guy and an acoustic guitar covering 90s songs.

the result is, I think, one of the warmest, prettiest things I've ever heard. I originally got this album because I had to hear an acoustic cover of To Cure a Weakling Child by Aphex Twin, and it's completely awesome until a minute in, where it becomes the most repetitive thing you've ever heard. I still love it to pieces though. recently a friend of mine came up to me with a huge headache while I was listening to this song. she was like "what are you listening to?", sat there sort of in a trance for like two minutes and told me she felt better. this album is just peaceful as hell.

the standout track is my favourite Bjork song, Unravel. hearing Adem sing the chorus over and over hits me deep. I don't know the originals of too many of the other songs, but this album makes them sound pretty good.

great album.

3. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals[]

FeedTheAnimals news
  1. "Play Your Part (Pt. 1)" - 4:45
  2. "Shut the Club Down" - 3:07
  3. "Still Here" - 3:57
  4. "What It's All About" - 4:15 [12]
  5. "Set It Off" - 3:42
  6. "No Pause" - 3:12
  7. "Like This" - 3:21 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zro_jdcbzkU whoa what a video
  8. "Give Me a Beat" - 4:12
  9. "Hands in the Air" - 4:20
  10. "In Step" - 3:23
  11. "Let Me See You" - 4:04
  12. "Here's the Thing" - 4:46
  13. "Don't Stop" - 2:58
  14. "Play Your Part (Pt. 2)" - 3:25

Feed the Animals is the album that had the most impact on me this year. I've heard mashups before, but they're usually small-time, mixing two songs together or mixing the Black Album with the White Album. Feed the Animals takes 20 years of pop music and decomposes and destroys it in 60 minutes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feed_The_Animals

just look at that. it's ridiculous, it's ambitious, and somehow, it works. I would never listen to half of this stuff voluntarily, but smashed together, it's really quite good. I thought this album would wear thin really quickly, but it holds up musically.

this album has kind of taken over my life. whenever I have people over who are Girl Talk virgins, this album goes on. recently I had a girl who doesn't even like music over, and she was cracking up listening to this thing. for a few weeks, this album was a big hit at my work office. watching people respond to this for the first time is just amazing. it's like a gift that keeps on giving.

Gregg Gillis is a freaking genius. he knows how to take the best ten seconds from 300 songs and drop them at a moment's notice to move on to the next song. one thing's for sure: this album ain't boring.

2. Why? - Alopecia[]

Why - Alopecia
  1. "The Vowels, Pt. 2" – 4:04 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLGXJ0k1I34
  2. "Good Friday" – 3:50
  3. "These Few Presidents" – 3:04
  4. "The Hollows" – 3:55
  5. "Song of the Sad Assassin" – 4:13
  6. "Gnashville" – 3:49
  7. "Fatalist Palmistry" – 3:53
  8. "The Fall of Mr. Fifths" – 3:16
  9. "Brook & Waxing" – 2:35
  10. "A Sky for Shoeing Horses Under" – 2:29
  11. "Twenty Eight" – 0:44
  12. "Simeon's Dilemma" – 3:33
  13. "By Torpedo or Crohn's" – 4:04
  14. "Exegesis" – 1:37

"Are you all right?"

that's the question I want to ask frontman Yoni Wolf when I listen to his emo hip-hop/indie rock hybrid (?!), Alopecia. from the first line -- "I'm not a ladies man, I'm a landmine, filming my own fake death" -- this album is morbid, and not in the typical angsty, whiny way. it's detached, matter of fact, stream of consciousness - it's a guy who's just given up, has no energy left and is just plainly reciting things he wants put on his gravestone.

"I sleep on my back cause it's good for the spine and coffin rehearsals"

it's morbid. it's clever. it's messed up. it's kind of funny.

it's beautiful.

"even though I haven't seen you in years yours is a funeral I'd fly to from anywhere"

the wordplay on this album is great - almost as good as the delivery. musically it's fairly minimal, lots of drumming with a bunch of sounds scattered throughout. nothing traditional - because this album is anything but traditional. it's gripping and makes you pay attention. it's morbid without being whiny or even depressing. it's one third spoken word, one third sung, one third rapped. it's one of a kind.

"but god put a song on my palm that you can't read I'll be embalmed with it long before you'll see"

it's pretty damn awesome.

1. The Flashbulb - Soundtrack to a Vacant Life[]

The Flashbulb - Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
  1. "Prelude" – 1:09
  2. "Kirlian Voyager" – 2:24
  3. "Steel for Pappa" – 1:16
  4. "Dirt Bikes and Street Vendors" – 1:55
  5. "Bodies in the House Next Door" – 1:17
  6. "Forbidden Tracks" – 3:15 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPwuzsHN2ss
  7. "Sunset Dept." – 1:17
  8. "Someone" – 2:27
  9. "La Tristesse Durera Toujours" – 2:00
  10. "That Missing Week" – 3:52
  11. "Remember Tomorrow" – 3:14
  12. "The First Rain and You" – 2:38
  13. "Warm Hands in Cold Fog" – 2:43
  14. "Near the Woods" – 2:19
  15. "Sunshine" – 3:21
  16. "No Running Water" – 1:59
  17. "Leaving Georgia" – 2:04
  18. "Severed" – 2:06
  19. "Vicious Circle" – 2:23 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfPP7PfBhZs
  20. "Swollen Trees" – 2:28
  21. "Submerged Renewed" – 3:05
  22. "Hello Mr. Tree" – 2:05
  23. "I Believed in God" – 2:19
  24. "Pine Ridge, SD" – 1:05
  25. "That Final Week" – 2:25
  26. "Returning Flight Theme" – 1:56
  27. "Floating Through Time" – 1:48
  28. "Highway One" – 2:28
  29. "Hello, I'm Benn" – 2:01 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpFeFe3SaRM
  30. "Suspended in a Sunbeam" – 2:19
  31. "When the Sky Ends" – 2:59

most ambitious, eclectic electronic album ever.

31 tracks of pretty much everything you can imagine. everything on this album is "organic", which is code for "hey they use real instruments". the drumwork on this album is second to none. the pianos are gorgeous. the guitars come and go without you even noticing. there's tribal drumming, some new-age guitar stuff, a couple of minimal vocal tracks, a few samples here and there.. and somehow, it all fits together. it's eclectic as hell, but it's so much better as a cohesive whole than as individual tracks. with the exception of Hello, I'm Benn, there really isn't a standout track on this album.

but every single one of them adds up to being one of the best albums ever recorded.

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