Top 50 Songs of 2008 :: 30-21 [Live inside your Jesus dreams]

30) Dead Confederate - "The Rat"

Trends considered as an oceanographic metaphor: Dead Confederate aren't riding the front of a wave full of grunge bands. They're standing on the beach, waiting for everyone to get out of the water. And they've been there for awhile now. "The Rat" happens to be the most digestible, but probably least demanding song off their eponymous self-titled EP and debut LP, Wrecking Ball. They play harder than almost any band you've seen ever and they're turning indie rock on its ear and shaking until all the skinny kids admit that, yes, yes, YES, they once liked Pearl Jam and Nirvana. There ain't nothing wrong with calling rock, "rock." And bands like My Morning Jacket: you're on notice. The fox is in the hen house and your Southern stoner rock isn't going to survive this (apologies to Zach) rogue wave.

29) The Stills - "Everything I Build"

The Stills followed up their largely misunderstood Without Feathers with a largely understood Oceans Will Rise. If the title indicates an impending disaster, the content indicates something different. The Stills weren't warning anyone about anything; they were eulogizing us all. And "Everything I Build" is every bit a funeral. The lyrics are straight-forward but the melody was the most haunting of the year. "Been an open book, been a slammin' door/apple of the Trojan war," it's clear the band feels the emotional impact of having not announced our demise sooner. But if you're the face that launched a thousand ships, you might feel like "the tide is high/I've never been so low." It's an absolutely crushing song. And it will speak to you. Whether you want it to or not.

Everything I Build - The Stills

28) The Cassette Kids - "You Take It"

I know next to nothing about Cassette Kids but I do know that their lead-singer is a chick with enough sauce to blow the doors off any rock club from here to Liverpool and back. This is the kind of rock voice that can peel paint and could be used to repave most of the Lower East Side. There's real power here and it's not fake. By the time she's gotten to the chorus and is demanding "you take it" over and over again, it's not a request. But we're beyond pleasantries. This is not a negotiation.

27) The Clips - Space Kidz

You could argue The Clips didn't need to replace the "s" with a "z." You could argue that writing a song that is ostensibly about a girl doing coke from coast-to-coast is woefully irresponsible. You could argue that we've had our fill of synth bands. You could argue a lot of things. But no song touched more, and more easily, on the wasted youth of 2008. In fact, what better invocation than, "this one's out to the wasted space kidz?" Sure, it's a play on words. But it rhymes so well with: "everyone hopes that she knows she knows shit."

Space Kidz - The Clips

26) Temper Trap - "Sweet Disposition"

The Temper Trap aren't leaving a whole lot on the table here. With a charging (read: simple) bass line and a pedaled-to-death guitar lick that sounds like climbing stairs, Temper Trap create an arrangement that would be as comfortable in an arena as it would be on your computer speakers. So, when you're listening to "Sweet Disposition" don't imagine your room or house. Think big. Think of the biggest room you've ever been in. And then think bigger. Think about empty stadiums filling up with people. Think about the least elevating moment of your last twelve hours. Now reverse that.

Sweet Disposition -

25) Santogold - "L.E.S. Artistes (XXXchange Remix)"

Santogold was as confusing as she was ubiquitous in 2008. How could you have an individual relationship with an artist who was so busy helping sell Bud Light Lime? It was concerning to say the least. But as the first track of her genre-hopping, mish-mash of marketability debut LP, "L.E.S. Artistes" is a little dose of irony. It says, for all the cool kid affect I'm about to market to you, in the end, it's only marketing. Quote: "Feeling so good, the hope is that you cannot see me later" seems to indicate that no matter what you get out of the album, you won't get one inch closer to the artist involved. It was a brilliantly self-aware facade. And it was all about the money. Ironically, she found credibility in mentioning that in no way was she credible. But that didn't make it bad. In fact, it made "L.E.S. Artistes" the perfect harpoon attached to a ship of cash.

24) The Weeks - "Buttons"

This is, perhaps, unexpectedly high for a band 90% of you don't know. Let me explain. This track is about 90-seconds too long but other than that it's perfect. This is what alternative rock should sound like: ambitious, crushing, hooky, with a wailing chorus that will stick in your head for days. But largely what keeps this song in rotation is a few turns of phrase. "Pull your knife away from my throat/she said 'smoke your cigarette/I hope you choke'/she kissed my lips and quickly ran away." And that's not even the hook. The chorus is a dying plea for young love in the throws of disaster: "I know, I know. It's not that bad. Take a look at what we have."

Buttons - The Weeks

23) Friendly Fires - "Skeleton Boy"

Friendly Fires have one of the best albums of the year. They put on a great live show, seem like nice guys and even had Paul Epworth produce lead single "Jump In The Pool." Problem is, "Skeleton Boy" is the best song off the album. Better than "Paris" and "Lovesick" and just a shade better than Epworth's majestic plea for waterborne entertainment, "Jump In The Pool." "Skeleton Boy" leaps out of the gate with a bass-line, guitar strum, and keyboard line that I defy you not to nod your head to. But it's really the chorus ("your love is hot") and especially the second-half of the chorus, where the band has a synth peel-off sail over the top of everything, that puts us into rarefied air. It's enough to set this night on fire. Which I think was the point anyways.

Skeleton Boy - Friendly Fires

22) Bag Raiders - "Shooting Stars"

Remember Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out?" Remember where you were the first time you heard it? And you went from thinking, "what the hell is so special about this song?" to thinking "holy shit, this is the best rock song of the year" in less than four measures. Once "Take Me Out" settled-in you were sold. But it took a minute. And "Shooting Stars" takes longer. Around about the 2.40-mark, the song becomes something else. It goes from being a mediocre electronic meditation to being something explosive; something that is worthy of the plane take-off sound effect that happens, well, right when "Shooting Stars" takes off. The irony is, that same down-stroke guitar riff that propelled the second movement of "Take Me Out" almost, almost happens in "Shooting Stars." It's lighter and it's right at the bottom of the mix but it is definitely, definitely there. In fact, it's the last thing you hear before this song takes its non-stop journey to outer space.

Shooting Stars - Bag Raiders

21) Team Waterpolo - "Letting Go"

Team Waterpolo may have found the best 12-measures of music for 2008. The driving chorus, based around two simple questions, "do you wanna/do you wanna know?/ have you gotta/have you gotta let it show?" and the answer, "I don't wanna, I don't wanna know," and yet another question, "have I gotta go?" Simple, right? Exactly. This is mindless, driving (and I mean highway), pop rock. It's a simple formula with a satisfying outcome. How does it work? Well, that's just a dumb question with an easy answer. I don't wanna know.

Letting Go - Team Waterpolo

No comments: