Top Shelf 2008

2008What a year. The American electorate finally redeemed itself. And how. Barack Obama is such an inspiring figure that people like myself who have spent their entire adult lives being understandably cynical about politicians don’t even really know how to deal with these kinds of emotions. 2009 will undoubtedly bring disappointments, but 2008 really felt like a triumph of hope. And as cheesy as that sounds, it feels pretty fucking great. For now. Call us cautiously optimistic.

In 2008 we saw national average gas prices go up to over $4 a gallon, but now it’s under $2. We saw the economy collapse and hundreds of billions of dollars thrown at it to see what sticks. Glad I’m not an economist, because it all sounds like gibberish to me. All I know is that my condo is no longer worth shit and my brother-in-law lost his job (along with 2.1 million other people).

The music industry isn’t doing any better than any other industry. Record stores folded, music magazines stopped publishing, the RIAA lost some major court cases (1, 2, 3) against filesharers and finally decided to change course.

Even so, there is still great music being recorded and released. For me, this year I listened to my music mostly in playlists on shuffle. Sure, when I get something new, I listen to the album all the way through once or twice, but then it gets put into the mix. I often found myself surprised by songs from albums that I had initially blown off as boring, but when tracks came up on shuffle they sounded great. Still not sure what that’s about, but either artists aren’t making solid albums, or else my ears are losing their attention span. Maybe a little of both…

Below, find out what kept our attentions with the Glorious Noise Top Shelf for 2008.

Stacey Anderson

10. John Hodgman – More Information Than You Require

9. (Mindy Kaling’s blog)

9. Jennifer O’Connor – Here With Me

8. “That paint is drying weird!” (Steve Martin on “30 Rock”)

7. My first tattoo – melody line to “God Only Knows” on right shoulder (not Hebrew, despite popular consensus)

6. Beck – Modern Guilt and his hysterically fun concert experience

5. About 3/4 of Synedoche, New York

4. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – “Buriedfed”

3. Richard Brautigan – Revenge of the Lawn (not new, exactly, just newly loved)

2. The visceral nausea of seeing My Bloody Valentine live

1. The Obama campaign, which introduced me to: Pennsylvania coal-mining country, Congalese food, new friends, proper phone manners, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks’ “Sheets,” Pinnacle vodka, and new depths of optimism.

Stacey K. Anderson has contributed to Glorious Noise, lives in New York, and maintains Chris Martin Pants.

Rosie Berkman

1: Chris Mills – Living in the Aftermath: From the first time I head this record, I knew it would be at the top of my list this year. It’s filled with perfect pop tunes about comic books, science fiction, politics, war and human relationships. The songs are catchy and thoughtful and still sound good after listening to it every single day for several months.

2: Justin Townes Earle: The Good Life: Newcomer to Bloodshot Records, Justin Earle’s first full length release is a solid country record. It has classic honky tonk licks and contemporary singer-songwriter moments. Earle knows all of his influences, that’s clear, and the history of the genre he is portraying.

3: Two Cow Garage – Speaking in Cursive: Two Cow has finally thrown off that alt-country label for good! With this latest release they have perfectly captured what makes a great pop song, while maintaining the rootsy truth that they have churned out from the beginning. They have matured as songwriters and musicians releasing some of the catchiest and most meaningful tunes of the years.

4: The Felice Brothers – The Felice Brothers: This was one of the most pleasant discoveries I’ve had this year. The record has a loose, casual feeling that lends it to a party atmosphere, but the musicianship is so solid that it’s obvious these guys really know what they’re doing.

5: The Old 97’s – Blame It On Gravity: One of the biggest surprises for me this year. In my opinion, this is the most solid record they’ve put out since Fight Songs. Sure, it’s more pop than twang, but the songwriting’s better than it has been in years.

6: Mary Stafford & Edith Wilson – Ain’t Gonna Settle Down: Another triumph from Archeophone records, a little record label out of central Illinois who restore acoustic recordings from the turn of the century. This record features two discs worth of songs from two less remembered women of the vaudeville blues era.

7: The Smoking Popes – Stay Down: This is the first time the Smoking Popes have entered the studio since they broke up ten years ago and the wait was well worth it.

8: The Waco Brothers – Waco Express: Live and Kickin’: Technically it’s not kosher to put a live record on a favorites list, but it’s been a big comfort for me living away from Chicago. The Waco Brothers are one of the best and most consistent live bands the city has to offer and this record is a nice reminder of it.

Rosie Berkman contributes to Glorious Noise and hosts a radio show on, 10-midnight on Thursdays starting in January.

Jake Brown

My Favorite Album of 2008: Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (review, MP3)

Albums containing several songs I really enjoyed:

• The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement (review)

• The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely (review)

• Neil Diamond – Home Before Dark (review)

• The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

• Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (MP3)

• Jay Reatard – Matador Singles ’08 (MP3)

• Ice Cube – Raw Footage

• Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping (MP3)

• Noah And The Whale – Peaceful The World Lays Me Down

• Arizona – Glowing Bird


• The presidential campaign and the election results

Public Enemy at Forkfest

Kanye West at Lollapalooza

MGMT’s video for “Time to Pretend” (MP3)

The Krinkles reunion

• Jeff Mangum’s encore of “Engine” at the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour

Jake Brown is a founder of Glorious Noise.

Kristy Eldredge

Top Ten Reasons Lookout Mountain Lookout Sea is a Glorious Return to Form for the Silver Jews

1. David Berman’s voice is way upfront in the mix, which is the way it should be, and is the opposite of the critical concensus that this is a more “band” album than previously – it isn’t – Tanglewood Numbers was way more “band.” With not such good songs.

2. “What Is Not But Could Be If” is patient and deadpan, like some of the good wait-and-see tracks from Natural Bridge (their all-time best album imo).

3. The lyrics are like poems again.

4. I love David Berman.

5. He’s back with his great insights like: “What’s with all the handsome grandsons in these rockband magazines? What have they done with the fat ones? The bald and the goateed? Strange victory, strange defeat.” That’s why we need him.

6. This one is unabashedly country, and that’s what DCB is. He shouldn’t pretend to be a rocker, ever.

7. He and his wife Cassie sing in unison instead of harmony and the effect is totally cool and early-60s, Dionne Warwick, shimmery “high” sound-y.

8. Cassie does beautiful, high, early-60s-sounding background singing on her own too.

9. It has the song “Suffering Jukebox” which cooks along exuberantly and is beautiful and soaring. And has the line “You got Tennessee tendencies” and talks about a jukebox being “over in the corner breaking down.”

10. It has the song “My Pillow Is the Threshold” which starts out stiff and morose and turns into a gorgeous tender tribute to major-sub-dominant-minor modulation that is always killer, plus great lyrics.

11. DCB still can’t sing very well and is still one of my favorite singers, also for writing “All my favorite singers couldn’t sing” on “Blue Arrangements” from American Water.

Kristy Eldredge has been contributing to Glorious Noise since 2002.

Max Heath

Top 10+1 Releases of 2008

11. Autechre: Quaristice

10. Women: Women

9. Count Bass D: L7

8. Fennesz: Black Sea

7. Oh No: Oh No vs. Oneness of Juju

6. Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire: Lost Wisdom

5. Animal Collective: Water Curses

4. Madlib: The Beat Konducta Vol. 5: Dil Cosby Suite / The Beat Konducta Vol. 6: Dil Withers Suite

3. Deerhunter: Weird Era Cont.

2. Portishead: Third

1. TV on the Radio: Dear Science

You almost have to feel sorry for TV on the Radio. After 2006’s fantastic Return to Cookie Mountain, it seemed as though nobody could even manage to feign any surprise that Dear Science turned out as great as it did. If Cookie Mountain was a confirmation of the precariously high hopes launched by the release of debut EP Young Liars, Dear Science finds TV on the Radio transcending its former buzz band status, refining and expanding its sound with untouchable confidence. Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone are a sweaty two-man vocal powerhouse. David Sitek’s production is immaculate, as adventurous as it is tightly controlled. The rhythm section is on fire. The songs synthesize timely dread, longing, and youthful exuberance into explosive dance floor escapism and blown-out beauty. Ho hum. As 2008 winds down, records like this make it seem like 2009 could be as good a time as ever for the creation and reception of unusual and unusually great music. What else is new?

Max Heath wrote Transience and Transcendence in the Aeroplane over the Sea (Pts. One and Two, Pt. Three, and Pts. Four and Five.)

Sarah Horne

Top Ten Moments of This Season of Gossip Girl

#10: Jenny’s transformation

Because there is no better way to symbolize to the world that you are Deeply Troubled and This Close To Becoming A Bad Girl than cutting your hair into Jenny Lewis bangs and wearing insane amounts of raccoon eyeliner. The best part is when she reconciles with Rufus, sees the error of her teenage ways, and there is a tearful daddy/daughter hug—but not before she scrubs her face clean. Symbolism!

#9: Rufus’s shitty 90s music revival and decline to tour with Tanya Donnelly. Tanya DONNELLY!

Way to make those of us who watch this show and are above the age of sixteen feel even older, Gossip Girl.

#8: Marcus and the stepmother

An otherwise completely pointless storyline comes to a head full of May-December incest and grossness. If, as some of the criticism of Gossip Girl asserts, that some of its popularity rests on escapist fantasy and projection about people to whom money is no object, we the underwashed working class can be content with the fact that at least we don’t fuck our stepmothers.

#7. Dorota

Like a vaguely ethnically stereotyped Nurse from Romeo & Juliet, Dorota is the heavily-accented, maid-outfitted mother that Blair never had and her transformation into awesome is cemented with the scene where she follows a Thanksgiving temper-tantrum-throwing Blair around Manhattan, feeding ducks and spouting matronly wisdom. Dorota totally needs a spinoff.

#6: Wallace Shawn as Cyrus Rose

A much cuddlier (and oddly more Jewish) version of Blair’s stepfather and temporary nemesis than in the books, the addition of his character adds just that much more “what the fuck is going on, show” to this show.

#5. Dan and Chuck

As an attempt to make Dan’s character arc less absolutely fucking boring, Gossip Girl gives Chuck A Big Secret and then sticks Dan with him for a night so Dan can convert Chuck’s life experiences into a crappy story. Dan’s an aspiring writer, and all aspiring teenage writers are horrifically boring and have giant foreheads and “intense” eyebrows (see also: Dawson’s Creek). Ecstasy is taken. Sex clubs are visited. In order to make Dan “experience life,” after all this, Chuck takes his wallet, cell phone, and shoes and leaves him in the middle of Manhattan. Hilarity, jailtime, and homoerotic tension ensues.

#4. Blair and Chuck

The most compelling love story since, well, ever, Blair and Chuck’s constant scheming and mind-game playing is more fun to watch than anything else on this stupid show. They can never actually be together because of their respective levels of angst, and if they ever actually get together probably the show will be ruined.

#3. Serena and the Sparkly

In which poor Serena learns from some chick who is apparently famous in real-life New York City for something that she must not dull her shine to make others (BLAIR) feel more comfortable and should be more “sparkly,” thus reinforcing every teenage girl in the viewing audience’s suspicion that it is all about them, all the time, no matter what. Also the entire conversation takes place in couture hairdos, and who better to teach about the sparkly than some chick with four-foot-high hair?

#2. The Death Of Bart Bass

I guess it was a car crash or something?

#1. Blair and Chuck, Redux

After spending the entire post-his-father’s-untimely death episode wasted, lurching around like Frankenstein with a facial tic (acting!), and slapping his now-ex stepmother, Chuck cries. And lets Blair hold him. And then leaves a note announcing he is leaving New York and Blair deserves better. She totally does, but the humanizing of Chuck is amazing to behold, and the moment between them is genuinely sweet.



Sarah Horne contributes to Glorious Noise and maintains Obfuscated Girl.

Kiko Jones

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: TV On The Radio – Dear Science (Interscope)

The move to a major has not affected this adventurous quintet’s sense of experimentation and wonder on their third album and second for the big league imprint.

Runners up:

Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs (Atlantic)

Sun Kil Moon – April (Caldo Verde)


Nothing did it for us this year, unfortunately. Well, maybe The Golden Age (Merge) by American Music Club. But not really.

WORST ALBUM: AC/DC – Black Ice (Columbia)

Even after an almost decade-long recording hiatus all they could come up with was yet another installment in their 25-year saga of diminishing returns?

Runner up:

Todd Rundgren – Arena (Hi-Fi)

FAVORITE TV SHOW: The Life and Times of Tim (HBO)

Despite crude animation that makes South Park look like a Michael Bay extravaganza, this animated half-hour is pure comedy gold. The “Latino Tim” / “The Priest is Drunk” episode is especially funny.

WORST TV SHOW: That Metal Show (VH1 Classic)

Eddie Trunk teams up with 2 unfunny comedians to interview the likes of Yngwie Malmsteem and Lita Ford; give out numerous copies of the Kiss box set as prizes; keep tabs on the touring prospects of Cinderella (!) while failing to even acknowledge current metal bands like Mastodon, The Sword, etc. What’s not to love?

BEST REISSUE: Led Zeppelin – Limited Edition Definitive Collection Mini LP Replica Box Set (Atlantic)

The mighty Zep’s entire catalog including several alternate In Through the Out Door covers. Sweet.


The long-awaited Chinese Democracy was no masterpiece but it doesn’t suck. Fuck you.

Runners up:

My Bloody Valentine; The Pharcyde


Need way say more? [Comeback? Had she gone somewhere? -ed.]

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Chris Cornell – Scream (Interscope)

His second solo album was DEFINITELY NOT worth the wait; this one is just pathetic.

Runner up:

Matthew Sweet – Sunshine Lies (Shout! Factory)

MOST UNDESERVED HYPE: The Noel Gallagher/Jay-Z feud.

Runner up:

Joe Satriani suing Coldplay for copyright infringement. Jeez, it’s bad enough that both artists put their names on their respective lame songs.

BEST THING TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR: The implosion of blog rock.

We can only hope.

Runner up:

XL Recordings goes under. (Sorry but Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah; Tapes ‘n Tapes; Vampire Weekend? It’s warranted.)

Kiko Jones has contributed to Glorious Noise and has a blog.

Kyle Kerbawy

Top Ten Albums of 2008

1. Marah – Angels of Destruction! (review, emusic, amazon)

2. The Walkmen – You & Me (emusic, amazon)

3. The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely (review, amazon)

4. Sloan – Parallel Play (review, emusic, amazon)

5. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (emusic, amazon)

6. Eagles of Death Metal – Heart On (emusic, amazon)

7. Blitzen Trapper – Furr (amazon)

8. Okkervil River – The Stand Ins (review, emusic, amazon)

9. Melvins – Nude With Boots (review, emusic, amazon)

10. The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of the Understatement (review, emusic, amazon)

Honorable Mentions:

Beck – Modern Guilt (review, amazon)

The Parlor Mob – And You Were a Crow (amazon)

The Whigs – Mission Control (emusic, amazon)

The Kills – Midnight Boom (emusic, amazon)

Portishead – Third (review, amazon)

Tom Mantzouranis

My 25 Favorite Albums With Appropriate Listening Environment

25. The Decemberists, Always the Bridesmaid – Cruising down Daniel Webster Highway in your Volkswagen on an autumn afternoon.

24. Human Highway, Moody Motorcycle – Chaining yourself to a tree in protest and taking Quaaludes.

23. Blitzen Trapper, Furr – Drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon…ironically.

22. CYNE, Pretty Dark Things – Sitting on a stoop in Harlem watching a summer evening fade into dusk.

21. Oxford Collapse, Bits – Standing in between the train cars while it’s moving because, fuck it, why not?

20. Spiritualized, Songs in A&E – Driving home from the therapist, who you’re certain is judging you (you’re right).

19. DJ/Rupture, Uproot – Deciding which knit hat goes with your hoodie best.

18. Headlights, Some Racing, Some Stopping – Laying naked in the springtime grass.

17. Madlib, Beat Konducta Vol. 5: Dil Cosby Suite – Playing an old black man in pool, and winning.

16. The Dodos, Visiter – Watching trains enter and exit the station.

15. Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy – Not giving a fuck.

14. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges – Talking to a slightly demented old Southern man about philosophy.

13. Deerhunter, Microcastle – Balling yourself up under a blanket and not coming out.

12. David Byrne & Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today – Going to a “hip” party and hating everyone.

11. Why?, Alopecia – Trying to scrounge together enough cash to get whatever new thing Taco Bell has.

10. Born Ruffians, Red, Yellow, and Blue – Getting your hair cut something radical on a whim.

9. Broken Social Scene (Brendan Canning), Something for All of Us – Playing wiffleball on a Saturday afternoon.

8. Sigur Ros, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust – Holding the person you love after you both orgasm.

7. Kleerup, Kleerup – Walking off all memories of your ex-lover.

6. The Hold Steady, Stay Positive – Taking the day off from your corporate job to drink and dream of moving far away.

5. Islands, Arm’s Way – Getting stoned and writing a novella about you as a serial killer.

4. Los Campesinos!, Hold On Now, Youngster… – Driving to the mall to buy a new pair of Converse.

3. TV on the Radio, Dear Science, – Contemplating postmodernism with someone attractive.

2. The Notwist, The Devil, You + Me – Staying in on a cold night and remembering things that fill you with love.

1. Okkervil River, The Stand Ins – Feeling shitty and then realizing that it’s as easy as telling yourself it’s not worth it and moving on, finding that feeling liberating, and then taking pride in your progress as a person.

Tom Mantzouranis contributes to Glorious Noise and founded the Out Route.

Alan Paterson

top 7 albums (in no order)

the smiths – the sound of the smiths – buying this album made me remember yet again, just how good the smiths were/are.

mark lanegan & isobel campbell – sunday at devil dirt

portishead – third – my album of the year. it took a few months before i really ‘got it.’ but when i did, i couldn’t stop listening to it. (listen)

steinski – what does it all mean? 1983-2006 retrospective – if you like classic ‘dj’ music. grab this double disc. (listen)

girl talk – feed the animals

lil’ wayne – tha carter III – best hip-hop album of 2008. nino brown would be proud. (listen)

sigur rós – með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

other bests in 2008:

best moment – (tie) obama wins. bells beer comes back to chicago.

best album i started listening to again – black star – black star.

best party – my birthday party. you missed it.

best movie – slumdog millionaire.

best music video – radiohead – house of cards. (watch)

best internet meme – bacon.

best tv show – mad men.

best youtube video – (tie) bill o’reilly goes nuts (the remix). (watch). tom cruise scientology indoctrination video.

person of the year – tina fey

Alan M. Paterson takes photos for Glorious Noise. You can see more of his photography at ampstyle.

Derek Phillips

Chicago Politics – The City of Broad Shoulders has a long, sordid political history and 2008 served up some new chapters for the ages. On the one hand was the redeeming of Chicago political figures with the seamlessly executed campaign and inspiring candidate in Barak Obama. The junior senator form Illinois and former city community organizer capitalized on his raised profile on the heels of a speech at the 2004 DNC convention to beat the Clintons and the GOP and win the presidency. For millions of Americans it was an uplifting and inspiring win. For Chicagoans it was a dream. Check out the coverage from POLJUNK: The National Affairs Desk of Glorious Noise.

On the other hand is Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who was reportedly caught on tape trying to sell the senate seat vacated by Obama while dropping some nasty names on the president-elect in the process. Between his alleged threats against a children’s hospital and his wife’s hardball tactics against the Tribune and Chicago Cub, the Blagojeviches are keeping it classy.

Post Admits It Fucked Up RIAA Story – Everyone here at GLONO hates the RIAA, but shotty reporting is inexcusable. At least they fessed up but it illustrates the fundamental misunderstanding most people have about filesharing and copyright laws in this country.

Single: Gnarls Barkley – Run (I’m a Natural Disaster) – Bad ass drums, kids screaming, what’s not to love? (Review)

Single: The Morning Benders – Crosseyed – A great little discovery back in February. My description then sums it up: “Double-tracked vocals, catchy-as-hell melody, and tambourine—this is how you channel mid-60s pop in the modern world.”

No Depression: R.I.P. – I spent a lot of time reading No Depression at the height of my alt-country years. I guess I can be counted among those who didn’t support it anymore but I am still sad that it’s gone.

Guitar Hero – I still hate it.

Video: Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement – Great, epic pop from two dudes who have day jobs in bigger bands. All side projects should sound like this. And dig their clothes! (Review)

Video: MGMT – Time To Pretend – Still the best find of the year. I love this band like a teenager.

O.G. Indie War: Kim Deal vs. Stephen Malkmus – Kim Deal is still so fucking cool…

Post of the Year: Your Possible Pasts: Reclaiming Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut – This is why we started GLONO.

New Feature of the Year: Faces Don’t Lie – My favorite new thing on GLONO. Now, if we can just keep Dylan out of the drunk tank we might get more of these.

The Beatles – I love the Beatles. Always have. So it’s fun to discover something new about a band that’s been defunct for nearly 40 years. When others join in the fun, all the better.

Beatles From Above

A Hard Day’s Night: Finding The Beatles Lost Chord

The 21 Best Beatles Songs Not on One, Red, or Blue

The Stones Shaft eMusic – I also love the Stones but man can they be dicks when it comes to business. This is a straight up screw job they pulled.

R. Kelly Acquitted – It’s amazing what money can buy you in this country. Simply amazing…

Favorite review I wrote this year: Gus Black – Today is not the Day…

Lollapalooza – This was the first Lolla I attended since the second one years and years ago. It’s also where I joined Kanye’s cult. More.

Album: Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul – Yep, I still really, really dig this band. Their last album might edge out for overall quality but Dig Out Your Soul continues what they started then and I’ll take it.

Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy – I can’t believe it actually came out. Turns out it’s a real stinker too.

Derek Phillips is a founder of Glorious Noise and also runs Politics Junky: The National Affairs Desk of Glorious Noise.

Scott Serilla

1. Rock ‘n’ Roll Means Well Tour—The Hold Steady/Drive-By Truckers at the Rivera, Chicago. Themes for the Common Man in bleak times.

2. Girl Talk at Lollapalooza, Chicago. DJing a Junior High dance elevated to artistic euphoria. Also this guy in gorilla suit totally climbed this tree next to me.

3. Tokyo Police Club Elephant Shell.

4. No Age’s video for “Eraser.” Lo-fi backyard glee.

5. The Cool Kids, The Bake Sale. Over think on your own time, Mikey and Chuck are just trying to full & paid. Mount Clemens represent.

6. MGMT “Time to Pretend” I suspect they’re hipster fakes who do what Dave Friedman tells them, but it’s classic all the same.

7. King Khan and the Shrines at Pitchfork Festival, Chicago. Go-Go Girls! Gold Lamay! Germans!

8. Supposed contents of Obama’s iPod released. The President of your country will know who Wilco and J-Zay are. Imagine how exponentially better that makes your life come Jan. 20.

9. The Vampire Weekend Hype/Backlash cycle. Hilarious and utterly expected. No hard feelings, you cute yuppie bastards.

10. Black Mountain, “Stormy High.” Not my brother, just heavy as a mofo.

Scott Serilla covered the Pitchfork Music Festival for Glorious Noise this year.

Todd Totale

Baker’s Dozen 2008



2.) SHEARWATER – Rook (review)

3.) BOB DYLAN – The Bootleg Series Volume 8: Tell Tale Signs

4.) DEERHUNTER – Microcastle (review)


6.) ERYKAH BADU – New Ameryka Part 1: 4th World War (review)

7.) MARTY WILSON-PIPER – Nightjar (review)

8.) AMANDA PALMER – Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

9.) PORTISHEAD – Third (review)

10.) OKKERVIL RIVER – The Stand-Ins (review)

11.) THE FALL – Imperial Wax Solvent (review)

12.) MOTORHEAD – Motorizer (review)

13.) LOVE IS ALL – A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night


1. DISFEAR – “Get It Off”

2. AC/DC – “Rock & Roll Train”

3. M83 – “Kim & Jessie”

4. SILVER JEWS – “San Francisco B.C.”

5. MGMT – “Electric Feel”

6. L’IL WAYNE – “A Milli”

7. LOVE IS ALL – “Wishing Well”

8. SANTOGOLD – “L.E.S. Artistes”

9. NO AGE – “Sleeper Hold”

10. RIHANNA – “Don’t Stop The Music”

11. BIG BOI – “Royal Flush”

12. MELVINS – “Kicking Machine”

13. THE BROKEN WEST – “Ambuscade”

Todd Totale contributes (a lot!) to Glorious Noise and maintains Glam-Racket.

Stephen Macaulay

The Logic of Lists

One of the things that has long puzzled me is the notion of lists of any kind. Well, not grocery lists. They make sense. Otherwise you might find yourself buying all manner of things that you possibly don’t need. I mean, haven’t you sometimes found yourself walking down the aisle of your local Kroger or Jewel or what-have-you and being inextricably drawn toward the Olivio ( , despite the fact that you had a Chrysler LeBaron with a landau roof that was a piece of shit and you’d sworn that you’d never have anything to do with Lee Iacocca again?

But the end-of-the-year list. Not to get all zen about it, but wouldn’t it make more sense to have a beginning-of-the-year list? What’s the point of looking back? What does it matter if there was something that happened in April that was really quite significant? Short of having a time machine, you’re not going to experience it. What is the point? Is it a textual rubbing one’s nose in it: “Ha, ha, we were aware of this in April, you weren’t, so take that!”

Or, because I suspect that more than a few readers of this were Obama Backers, here’s a question for you: What’s more important vis-à-vis your future livelihood—November 4, 2008, or January 20, 2009? While January 20 wouldn’t be a particularly bright day had November 4 not turned out the way it had (if I was making a list of TV shows, I’d probably put something on it about this past season’s “Heroes” and the fundamental fraud being perpetrated by the writers who have all of that time traveling going on in order to plug the wholes in the sinking structure, but then that would assume that some of you actually watched the show, and those of you who didn’t would wonder what the Syler I’m talking about, which brings us back to the rubbing of one’s nose in it),

although there would be the sparkling off the heads of Mr. and Mrs. McCain and the bright new veneers that would have undoubtedly been layered on our vice president’s teeth and the sparkle of the hair product in the First Dude’s coif.

Wouldn’t it be far more intriguing if there was a list that said, in effect: “This Will Be the Best of 2009”? Just think of all of the dreck you could avoid. But then that would probably require Kreskin-like powers multiplied by Uri Geller, which, of course, few of us have, and those who do, near as I can tell, aren’t writers for GloNo, because we’d be making a killing on the market despite the fact that it is tanking faster than most of the careers of those who don’t appear on the lists of other people who have contributed to this.

So, because I have been asked to provide a list for this august posting (note: not August posting, as that’s not for another eight months), here is a list of things that are in some way relevant to 2008. You figure it out.

• Franz Ferdinand

• Usher

• Common

• Kid Rock

• T.I.

• Hold Steady

• Incubus

• Snow Patrol

Stephen Macaulay has been contributing to Glorious Noise since 2001 and ruffling hipsters’ feathers since he dissed Gore Vidal in 1982.

Did we miss anything? Let us know! And what are you looking forward to in 2009?

Previous GLONO Top Shelves: 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2002.

5 thoughts on “Top Shelf 2008”

  1. In no particular order:

    TV On The Radio – Dear Science (Interscope)

    I admired Return to Cookie Mountain, but I love Dear Science. This time, their ideas all come together in a logical yet surprising fashion. Kyp Malone told Uncut Magazine that hearing The Bangles’ Walk Like an Egyptian in a Brasilian disco blew him away with its directness and clarity (presumably, he was high as shit at the time). Dave Sitek also talked about his admiration for disco, of being able to cram strings and horns and synths and drums and four bass lines and six guitars onto the same song, yet have every hook stand out. I think you can hear all of this on Dear Science. It’s a dignified indie rock record that is accessible on first listen and only gets better with age. Never mind the hype, it really is that good. A true Saturday night record.

    Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop)

    This record reminds me that everything’s going to be okay. The Sun Giant EP is great too. Best listened to at sunrise on Sunday morning. I cue up this record, open the curtains to my snowy back yard, then watch the chickadees flutter around the bird feeder.

    Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours (Modular)

    A reminder that dance music can be melodic, imaginative, and exciting. File it somewhere between New Order, Pet Shop Boys, and LCD Soundsystem. Totally a Friday night record.

    Okkervil River – The Stand-Ins (Jagjaguwar)

    This record is shot through with melancholy, but it’s impossible to listen to it without being uplifted. It may repeat some of the same musical themes as last year’s The Stage Names, but frankly that’s a fine ballpark to spend some extra innings in. I usually cue this one up on the way to work on Monday or Tuesday.

    Foals – Antidotes (Transgressive)

    If you’ve ever contemplated The Futureheads or Gang of Four playing Talking Heads songs, then this record is for you. Punchy, strongly melodic, and kinetic. I spent an entire afternoon trying to recreate the beguiling, chiming guitar hook from Olympic Airways. Give this record a listen on a Saturday afternoon.

    Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads (Motown)

    I read that this record was initially just going to be an EP. However, there’s enough great songs here for it to stand as a fully-formed, if somewhat curt, 35 minute LP. Every song has more hooks than a tackle box – as Q Magazine rightly observed, even the choruses have choruses. If their debut and sophomore releases were like A Hard Day’s Night (blazing singles padded out to LP length), then this is their Rubber Soul where every song’s a winner. A Saturday night record, but feel free to cue it up on Wednesday if you need a pick-me-up.

    The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely (Third Man)

    I’ve always admired Jack White’s imagination, but felt frustrated at his reluctance to create fully-formed songs around his ideas. I like Brendan Benson’s records too, but they’re usually missing a spark, some chutzpah, that elusive X-factor. The brilliant thing about The Raconteurs is the catalytic combination of two different styles into something that’s simultaneously catchy and ballsy. A welcome marriage of Zeppelin’s rawk and Beatles roll. The Neil Young style piano solo on the outro of You Don’t Understand Me kills me every time. Yet another Friday or Saturday night record.

    Calexico – Carried to Dust (Quarterstick)

    They go back to their strength, i.e. making an album of wind-swept, widescreen, southwestern songs. Try it on a Sunday evening as the sun slips below the horizon, and imagine tumbleweeds rolling by your window.

    Elliott Brood – Mountain Meadows (Six Shooter)

    Imagine Uncle Tupelo playing Johnny Cash murder ballads. I saw these guys open for Wilco (twice) and I’ve been hooked ever since. Given the morose subject matter it’s hard to believe a band could come across as so overwhelmingly passionate, but it does. I listened to this record on my Sunday afternoon hikes all autumn.

    The Stills – Oceans Will Rise (Arts & Crafts)

    I guess there’s nothing extraordinary about this record, other than it’s straight-up rock with enough balls, hooks, and surprises to actually be radio-friendly. Imagine U2 if they were more concerned writing songs to challenge themselves instead of writing songs to fill stadiums. The Stills do what they do very well, and this record wouldn’t sound out of place at any time of day.

    Awfully close but not quite:

    Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs (Atlantic) – they still have a terrible name. They still make great records.

    My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges (ATO) – unfortunately suffers by comparison to the amazing, career-defining Z. Highly Suspicious didn’t do them any favours, either.

    Sloan – Parallel Play (Murder) – Another excellent Sloan record. Just like all the other ones. Kinda makes you wish they’d make a jazz-fusion spoken word record (better yet, a triple LP) just so we’d appreciate them more when they release a typical Sloan album.

    Kings of Leon – Only By The Night (RCA) – I’ve only had this one for a week (Christmas present) so it didn’t make the Top Ten but, based on two listens, maybe it should have.

    REM – Accelerate (Warner Bros) – Nice to see these guys put together a cohesive record of great songs, rather than the occasional brush with greatness dispensed in single form over the last decade.

    Beck – Modern Guilt (DGC) – Good record, but didn’t exactly push the envelope.

    Black Mountain – In The Future (Scratch) – This record is all over the shop. I can’t decide if it’s amazing or just insane.

    Coldplay – Viva la Vida etc. (EMI) – Finally, a Coldplay record that I’m not embarrassed to admit liking in public. Of course, now they’re talking about breaking up in 2009. Figures.

    Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid (Polydor) – Kind of like Sloan, in that it’s an excellent record but doesn’t really stand out from their previous works. Grounds for Divorce is the best song they’ve ever done, though.

    The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (Vagrant) – I’m 36 years old and starting to feel defeated by time. However, the title track of this record makes me feel 18 again and ready to kick the world in the motherfuckin’ balls!

    Best gigs of the year:

    REM – Deer Lake Park, Burnaby, BC

    Radiohead – White River Amphitheatre, Seattle, WA

    Sam Beam, Myer Horowitz Theatre, Edmonton, AB

    Damn, another fine year in music.

    Best wishes to everyone for 2009.

  2. I must disagree with your reviewers commments about Silver Jews. I believe they are best when a rock band (whatever that means). When Berman’s vocals fit into the puzzle, it is a beautiful thing. When he gets into his country moods I just lose interest. So I respectfully disagree.

    Here are my favorites from 2008 –

    Sloan – Parrallel Play.

    Black Keys – Attack & Release

    Blitzen Trapper – Furr

    Seeing Blitzen Trapper and the Fleeeeeet Foxes in my little southern city. Great show.

    I wanted to like the F*cked Up record more, but it still hasn’t clicked.

    Happy New Year Y’all

  3. Forgot one (kinda)

    REM – Murmur 25th Anniversary release. My vinyl was worn out so I bought this. The live CD that comes with it is top notch.

  4. 2008 was not a year of musical discoveries or being impressed by new music for me. I think partially that was because of what was out there and mostly because I had other things on my mind.

    A couple of exceptions:

    Soundpainting: A method for structured improvisation developed by Walter Thompson. In the 1980s, “Thompson developed soundpainting into a comprehensive sign language for creating live composition from structured, jazz-based improvisation. In the early 1990s Thompson expanded the Soundpainting language to include gestures specific to actors, dancers, poets, and visual artists.” It’s becoming fairly popular here in Paris among improvising musicians.

    Gérard Pesson’s music for an Annette Messager installation at the Couvent des Recollets.

    Nick Cave at the Casino de Paris: Hands down, the baddest rock-and-roll motherfucker over 50. Chops, confidence, attitude, songs, he’s got it all. On stage, he’s totally in command and can do whatever he wants. Fuck Dylan, Cave’s lyrics are better, he rocks harder and his mustache is cooler. I really should get “Dig, Lazarus, Dig” and “Grinderman,” but I only seem to listen to rock and roll in concert now, not at home. I think it’s because I can’t hook up my speakers.

    Aka Moon‘s music for Alain Platel’s dance theater works vsprs and pitié.

    Some very good concerts, solid, very entertaining, much talent and technique, but we knew what to expect. Nothing wrong with that.

    Noël Akchoté playing Kylie Minogue songs at the Maison des Métallos

    Tom Waits at the Grand Rex

    John Zorn’s Magick and Electric Masada at the Cité de la Musique

    Philip Glass at the Grand Palais for Richard Serra’s “Monumenta

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