Best Songs of 2008

Here are my favourite songs of 2008. And yes, I know lots of the music on here is not sad. Even I can’t be miserable all the time, and this is more a collection of my personal favourites rather than an official Grumpy Man DJs collection. 2008 has been a great year for music. I hope you can find room in your life for a little bit more. So, in no particular order (ok, it’s in alphabetical order by artist) here we go:


Amadou & Mariam – Sabali

Damon Albarn produced opening track from the blind Mali duo, proving that there is more to African music than bongos and Paul Simon. It’s pop, but not as we know it.

Beach House – Gila

Beach house make music that is at lo-fi yet also unbelievably exotic, dense and multi-layered. Think of The Cowboy Junkies on Holiday in Hawaii, accidentially eating a pineapple stuffed full of hallucinogens. It’s like that, but with less sunburn.

Beach House
Bon Iver – Lump Sum 
Virtually any track from this astounding album could have made it onto the list. But we are only allowed one, and here it it. If you dislike this song throw your stereo out of the window NOW, for you truly are dead between the ears and there is no hope. What’s that? You like it? Phew!

Bon Iver
Cage The Elephant – In One Ear

An annoying bunch of scrotes they may be, but nobody has come as close to capturing the slurred, rowdy majesty of The Ramones for a while. A great song to pick your nose to whilst sneering at old people.

Cage the Elephant
Crystal Castles – Untrust Us

Toronto-based electro-mongheads weirdiest and funniest moment. I hope they speak like this in real life. If they do I am moving to Canada.

Crystal Castles
Damian Jurado – Best Dress

Our life is so bad. We hate each other but we love each other too. Let’s kill ourselves! Or go out. Ok, lets go out. Put on that dress I like.
Damian Jurado
David Byrne and Brian Eno – Strange Overtones If you thought you had been waiting a long time for the Blur reunion just remember this is the first new Eno and Byrne material in three decades. As Byrne himself sings, "this groove is out of fashion, these beats are 20 years old" That may be true, but who gives a flying one when it sounds as good as this?

David Byrne & Brian Eno
Death Vessel – Block My Eye

Death Vessel sounds like the name of a Norwegian Death Metal band but they are actually pale, delicate folkies. See what they did there? Oh, and it is a bloke singing, not a girl. Really.

Death Vessel
Deerhunter – Agoraphobia

Dinosaur Jr crossed with The Smiths. On Lithium. More please.
Department Of Eagles – Phantom Other

If Cole Porter is reborn in the year 3000, studies situationalist art and becomes a manic depressive THIS is what he will have sound like. From the incredibly overlooked album from part of the ‘Grizzly Bear’ crew.

Department of Eagles
Drive-By Truckers – Daddy Needs a Drink Southern rock at it’s most 3am and whisky soaked. This guy needs a drink. And he would like his wife to dress up in her cleaning outfit and serve it too him. Good luck, fella. Drive-By Truckers
Fleet Foxes – Blue Ridge Mountains Toss up between this and Bon Iver for album of the year. Fleet Foxes made me relent and get into Crosby Stills and Nash. They are that good. Easily the most beautifully performed songs of the decade so far, and this is the pick.

Fleet Foxes
Goldfrapp – Clowns

What on earth are you mumbling about woman? Whatever it is is must be something very existential and meaningful, because the song is so incredibly pretty. What!? It’s about fake tits? Fantastic!

Grace Jones – Corporate Cannibal

The bit where she says "You meat is sweet to me" made me shit myself the first time I heard it. And the music is scary too – it’s the track Massive Attack should have released this year.

Grace Jones
Keane – Spiralling

They keeps shouting ‘Wooo!’ in an effeminate manner. The guitar sound is stolen from Nik Kershaw. The production is squelchy. But it really works. Even the stupid ‘Two Tribes’ style spoken word bit in the middle can’t ruin it. Keane made a great song – has the world gone mad? Well, the rest of the album isn’t very good so the answer is probably ‘no’.

Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire

"Yo-oh-ho! You’re Sex is on fi-ure!" After a lyric like that any serious analysis of the merits of this song is pointless. Just go with it.

Kings of Leon
MGMT – Electric Feel

If I could carry off the headscarve, beach-shorts and make-up look then I would dress like it all day, every day. And so would you. And we would probably try making music like this. Groovy rock is back, and even a Grumpy Man is feeling the funk.

Monkey (Damon Albarn) – Monkey Bee

Albarn strikes again. No song from a Chinese-language Opera has the right to be this catchy. You might feel like you are having a nervous breakdown for the first 3 minutes, but stick with it and you will be frugging like a freak by the end. Warning – it gets into your skull like a mind-worm and you can’t get it out. Ever.

Nada Surf – Are you Lightning?

Nada Surf are the eternal dependables of US Indie Rock. Consistently making great records but without really managing to catch anyone’s attention. This cut from their ‘Lucky’ album caught mine. The laid-back swooning instrumentation and sweet vocals add up to something very special indeed.

Nada Surf
Okkervil River – Starry Stairs

Horns and crooning vocals describe one man’s lovestruck/lustful epiphany. Okkervil River are not exactly groundbreaking in their approach, but somehow manage to make music that sounds different to everyone else. No mean feat in 2008. This is the choice track from this years ‘The Stand Ins’ album. "I’m alive, but a different kind of alive than the way I used to be". Indeed.

Okkervil River
 Portishead – The Rip

No other band has disappeared for 10 years and then come back even more relevant and cutting edge than they were. The first time I heard this track I just sat there, open mouthed. WTF! Then I listened to it again. And again. And again. Until my headphones melted. Amazing.

Retribution Gospel Choir – Breaker

Alan Sparhawk from Low’s side project. And it sounds pretty much like Low, but with screaming guitars. Apparently he is a devout Christian, which is pretty apt because this track sounds like the music you will hear as The World Ends. Awesome stuff.

Retribution Gospel Choir
Shearwater – The Snow Leopard

The only band to seriously challenge Fleet Foxes for the title in the Great 2008 Beard Revival produced one of the most surprising albums of the year. This song is basically a reimagining of Radiohead’s Pyramid Song, but it is no less wonderful for that.

The Aliens – Theramin

"Oh no fellow Aliens! This track is too good! Let’s stop the song halfway through and throw a load of random car noises in!" Sorry Aliens, it didn’t work. This song is still fantastic.
The Aliens
The Black Keys – Psychotic Girl

Yeah Pyschotic Girl! Get lost! Take this funky blues banjo riff and eat it! That showed her.
The Black Keys
The Dears – Dream Job

Murray Lightburn has the best voice in Indie and knows how to use it. He is the Black Canadian Morrissey you can trust to deliver pathos and moodiness in just the right amounts. This is the best track from their great Missiles album. It builds and builds, and when the weird synth noise and fast guitar strum kicks in at the end it makes me smile every freaking time. Brilliant.

The Dears
The Stills – Being Here

Their 2003 debut album was an instant classic. Their 2006 follow-up was a stinking turd. The 2008 version is somewhere in between, but this stand-out track is guitar-shlonking stadium-rock at its very best. In their own heads, this is what The Killers think they sound like.

The Stills
The Ting Tings – Shut Up and Let me Go

They may be infantile and over-hyped, but this reminds me of Blondies ‘Rapture’ in all the right ways and is proper strutting music. And everyone needs some strutting music some times. To strut to. And this is mine.

The Ting Tings
TV On The Radio – Love Dog

These were THE band for hipsters to name-drop in 2008, and for once the hipsters were right. If you were wondering if it possible to make ‘experimental’ music that is also accessible, then listen to this. Love Dog is of course the saddest song from their amazing Dear Science long player.

TV On The Radio
Vetiver – The Swimming Song

From Vetivers album of folk cover versions, a jaunty simple and (eek!) happy song about how fun it is to go swimming. Yes, of course there are banjos you idiot. Now go get your trunks.

You can download most of the these songs from the Nokia Music Store. And if you are using a Comes With Music phone, you can download them for free!


One Response to “Best Songs of 2008”

  1. beach houses are really nice and it would always be a warm and relaxing place .;-

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