Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jonny's Top Hits of 2008

A Quite Quiet Listing

With Kings of Convenience gearing up to release a new album called Quiet IS the New Loud, a follow up to Quiet Is the New Loud, I thought I’d go with the flow and just throw up my favorite quiet time albums of 2008 (even if it means dropping Marnie Stern and Deerhoof like bad habits!). I dug deep into the soft-veined recesses this year, eschewing hip-hop and hot chip for hot little ditties about horses, death, and Chicago. I finally got over trying to listen to new albums and really just listened to and decided I liked some artists I thought I didn’t, and found some albums no one else but sad, white northerners were listening to, too. So here’s a list, of some of the albums I loved in 2008, and why I loved them, and how quiet they were, and how loud I played them, and really none of those things at all.

P.S. I don't even really like Kings of Convenience. And I wrote this list from 25-to-1, but I'm posting it oppositely. Some of the entries might be confusing in backwards order. Oh, well.

1. Rachel RiesWithout a Bird / For You Only
Gal of the year! These albums were the first CDs I bought in over two years, and I had already downloaded one of them. For that, Rachel Ries is a miracle maker. She’s basically all I ever wanted from Over the Rhine since they started sucking, only from North Dakota and Chicago, rather than Cincinnati and Kentucky. I have decided that North Dakota is superior to Kentucky. And I always knew Chicago was better than Cincinnati (I mean, look at the Bengals). Rachel Ries has the sweetest voice in the world, and she reminds me of Amy Griffin so freaking bad. They should meet and be BFFs 4evah!

2. Horse FeathersWords Are Dead / House with No Home
Horse Feathers is Justin Ringle, who comes from Idaho I think, but now lives in Portland, which kind of makes me jealous. Sometimes I google-map Portland and look at all the spots I remember from when I was eleven. Which is basically OMSI and the Rose Garden and the Zoo. I bet Justin goes to the zoo all the time. I’m so jealous.

3. VetiverThing of the Past
I've listened to a few Vetiver albums in my lifetime (two), but this one composed of covers takes the cake. Bye cake! Have a good time with Andy Cabic! So many good songs on this one. I just want to eat the cake, too. And this album.

4. J. TillmanCancer and Delirium / Long May You Run / Minor Works
Whoa, nice bird! Josh Tillman is my singer of the years. Go, Josh! And then he started playing with Fleet Foxes, I think by drumming. His songs are way quieter and I heard about him through Damien Jurado so maybe that should tell you how awesome he is. They're basically soul mates.

5. Fleet FoxesST (Ragged Wood) / Sun Giant EP
My tags in iTunes are janked up. I downloaded the ST CD right after I got the EP and it was called Ragged Wood then but then they changed it to Self-Titled and I never made the change and now says I’ve listened to them over 200 times but their full-length only 3. I love stats.

6. Marla HansenWedding Day
I stumbled across Marla Hansen on, apologized, then discovered she’s a pal of Sufjans. But not until I had listened to the songs four or five times. And he’s on a couple of them. It’s only an EP, but I really really want her full-length to appear suddenly or rapidly or now. She’s the bee’s knees.

7. Damien JuradoCaught in the Trees / Walk Along the Fence
Is it frustrating that I’m not describing these albums well? Well Damien dropped a new album! And it’s got a swear!! My pal, Damien! I think he got divorced. And quit being a full time preschool teacher. Now he tours with a guy and a girl and they should have a sitcom. He also is the narrator in Rosie Thomas’ Christmas album. Why isn't that on this list? I smell a Christmas list soon! (And Scott, IMO "Everything Trying" is this album's "Denton, TX." Very repeat friendly, especially after the break-down near the end. I have to start it all over again after that sweet, sweet goodness.)

8. Nina NastasiaThe Blackened Air
I saved this album for 2008. Every other Nina Nastasia album I downloaded and consumed like jars of Tostidos Salsa Con Queso in 2007 (which is quickly and sort of pigishly). But this one I waited for. And it was just like my middle school pastor said sex would be like in a marital relationship. Beautiful and tender and passionate. That was such a weird paragraph.

9. SmogSupper / A River Ain’t Too Much Love
Bill Callahan is my new hero. Alongside Mark Kozelek and David Bazan and Damien Jurado (who we’ll get to) and Will Oldham (who I left off this list; boo! hiss!). Slowish, repetitive ditties, sometimes about horses. And death. I don’t know why I didn’t get into his guy earlier.

10. Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire – Lost Wisdom
Phil Elverum. What a guy! Julie Doiron. I used to have some of your tracks from Epitomic! Fred Squire. Who are you again? This album got lost in all the lists. Which is sad. Because it could easily be my favorite album of the year if the year had a few more weeks to it.

11. Laura GibsonIf You Come To Greet Me
I found Laura Gibson though Pandora, which I kind of hate, but it gave me her, so it’s not all bad. She sings pretty and plays pretty and pretty much is good winter music. For fans of My Brightest Diamond who want a little less drama.

12. MadelineKissing and Dancing / The Slow Bang
Madeline is like the Jonas Brothers, only with boobs, and kind of punkier, and she knows the dude from Phosphorescent. Her new album (kissing and dancing) is okay. The first three songs are killer. And use the same two chords over and over. But her other album (the slow bang) is heartbreaking and pretty and better than tom petty and the heartbreakers. But not the Petty Thieves. Those guys ruled.

13. Bon IverFor Emma, Forever Ago
Whoaaaaaaa. This album has been loved all over the Webkins. I loved it last winter. And loved it come spring. Summer scared it away. Fall forgot it. But we’re wintering again. And it I can’t keep a good man down. Also, I love mispronouncing the name. Because it pisses people off sooooo much.

14. Beach HouseDevotion
I liked this record for two really good reasons. One, Jason Martin from Starflyer 59. Two, Yo La Tengo. Neither of them plays on it. But it’s kind of like what if they did? It’s a nice Elseworlds thought.

15. Alela DianeThe Pirate’s Gospel
Pirate folk! Paul, this one sounds like some of the Southern Journey series, but not all the time. It needs more shaped-note singing (it has none) and yodeling (also none). But good, nonetheless. (Also, pssst. She's beautiful.)

16. Robert DeebleThirteen Stories
Do you remember Robert Deeble? Do you remember Jackson Rubio Records? Do you remember Havalina Rail Co.’s little indie label? Do you remember a sampler I bought at the Anchor Room? With Havalina and Mandy Troxel and Robert Deeble? My brother goes to school with someone who knows Mandy Troxel. Havalina reformed minus the girl as Matt Death and the New Intellectuals. And Robert Deeble released some damn fine records. This one included. (It's next to impossible finding a picture of this guy. Please, buy his stuff so he can be more famous and google searches for him work better. Thank you.)

17. Le LoupThe Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly
These guys are like the Animal Collective, sort of produced by those ISAN guys, with more banjo than usual for normal records, but not as good as you’re thinking it sounds. Still, it’s a really good record. Just not as good as you’re imagining it. I hear they’re even better live, though.

18. PhosphorescentAw Come Aw Wry
Did you really think this list was about 2008? Haha! I got you! If the two Langhorne Slim albums didn’t give it away, this did. It’s like three years old. But it’s good, Steven. I swear. And you should, too. SWEAR! Shit! There! We swore! Hot damn!!! Damn this record! It’s too good for 2008!!!11!1one!!

19. Department of EaglesIn Ear Park
I like Grizzly Bear. I think. But I really like these Eagles. I know. Plus, badass album cover, man. I mean, seriously. Bad. Ass.

20. June MadronaThe Winged Life
Where’s this guy from? He doesn’t even get a Wikipedia entry. I found him on, too. Just like Beatbeat Whisper, and Tallest Man, and Jordan O, and Le Loup, and et al. Some duets on this album. And funny lyrics, too. Nice guy, man.

21. Sun Kil MoonApril
O Mark Kozelek. You are my old couch. You are my basement in Michigan. You are the oak tree. That held the laundry line. And that blocked fly balls from breaking windows. Except for that one time. When I hit it over you and broke the one next to the side door we let our dog out of. When my mom was in the kitchen. She didn’t get mad.

22. Beatbeat WhisperST
Quietest quiet album of the year, except for the closer, which is about rain and boots and hot chocolate with a sweet, sweet hook. I dare you. (Plus, I love it when bands smile for pictures. They're brother and sister!)

23. The Tallest Man on EarthShallow Grave
This man is mysterious. People keep comparing him to Bob Dylan, but I don’t see it. He’s Swedish right? That’s cool.

24. Langhorne SlimWhen the Sun’s Gone Down / Langhorne Slim
Let’s say you’re pretty good friends with the Avetts and Clem Snide and Old Crow Medicine Show (but OCMS kind of get on your nerves sometime but that’s okay). Then Langhorne Slim will probably be your friend, too. Or, at least, you’ll probably get along okay.

25. Jordan O’JordanNot Style Nor Season Nor Hard-Handed Lesson
Jordan O’Jordan is not a real person, or at least I don’t think he is. He IS one mean sumbitch banjo player. And one ranky-dank singer. I guess there’s a certain freak folker he could be compared to, but that doesn’t do the man/machine justice. He’s pretty funny, not funny like ha-ha, but funny like I told you so. He’s a pretty man, a dandy man, and kind of sounds like the Promise Ring circa 1853. I like that about him. You should, too.

Amen? Amen.


  1. Jordan O'Jordan is totally a real person and you should see him live sometime. He plays in Polka Dot Dot Dot and they're amazing also! As for June Madrona, Ross, the lead singer, is from Olympia, WA.

  2. J. Tillman DOES have an awesome bird. I have always dreamed of having a bird of prey love me (not in a food way) and choose to land on my arm. but then i think that i'm, honestly, probably not strong enough for that. if it landed on my shoulder, maybe strong enough. but i really don't know.

    also, i love your list.

    i'd give it an amen.

  3. Thanks Micah! This is why experts still always beat wikipedia.

    And Erica, you should get a fake bird and a photographer friend and get some sweet bird pics, too. And then post them asap.

  4. This is indeed a quiet list :) And quite a list, lol. I heard the previous Horse Feathers, which I liked a lot, but have not had a chance on the new one, yet. Does this mean that Kings of Convenience were just kidding back in 2001?

  5. I agree with nice list. Again lots of good things never heard about or at least heard.

    I didn't realize that vetiver even had a new album. I like that horse feathers although I didn't listen to it enough to put it on my list.

    Why no love for the Bonnie Prince? I agree with Smog, and that was my first hint that your list was a cheater not really 2008 List. Cheater. I thought you would have been into smog by now. You are way less cool than I thought. I hate your list now. sheesh.

    Damien, Fleet Foxes et al, blah blah blah, I've already mentioned how they are good along with everyone else.

    I refuse to like Nina Nastasia based on her name. I don't know why but I don't want to think about her or her name or her music even though I have never heard anything.

    I like all the dandyism here. I like how its 2008 in 1923.

    I felt like the new sun kil moon was kinda boring. course I wasn't really into singer/songwriter types this year. which kind a rules out most of your list. but mostly the new sun kil moon. also that picture is kinda douchy.

    Additionally you need to make more havalina rail company lists or at least mentions per list! Havalina! I need to get those again! where the hell are my cds? Plus what is rob deeble doing there? giving some kind of museum tour?

    Alela Diane, eh? have to look into it. I hope she sounds like the bright lights quartet. Speaking of shape of notes, I just met an actual shape note singing person at my brothers church (no, not singing there, attending only unfortch)(Do people say unfortch as slang yet? you know like natch? they should) We had an awkward conversation about how I love it but don't know nearly enough to talk to someone who does know about it.

    I like those pirate looking people and anyone with a banjo or a horse. I've almost always ignored's recommendations and just used it to track my stats (i love stats too! Stats! no one else seems to care!)(but also it always messes up my ipod plays too, scott.) Maybe I should start checking thier recommendos.

    Well, this comment is getting long. overall pretty interesting and plenty of things to check out. Kinda NPRish but if NPR was cool about music.

    BTW where is Amy griffin these days? anyone?

  6. Speaking of Jackson Rubio and Alabama, The Wednesdays anyone? I also feel like I had some sort of Havilina/Matt Wignall experience this year, but I can't remember what it was. Was anyone else there or know what I am talking about?

  7. I feel like i was there but can't recall what it was either.

  8. Geoff:

    Why no Will Oldham? Eh, I don't know. I didn't listen to the new album enough. It'll probably break through in 2009, and I'll sneak it into that list somehow.

    I think you might have liked Nina Nastasia a few years ago, when you liked Cat Power or people like that. Yet I think she's pretty neat-o. I don't usually get into New York singer-songwriters (extra-pretentious), but her I like.

    Sun Kil Moon *was* kind of boring. But so is Vermont. I think my list had alot to do with where I live. Very white, very quiet, and yeah, very NPRish. It's what I wish Vermonters were into. Sadly, even the cool ones are gaga over Phish and Umphrey's McGee.

    And I'll work on a Havalina list if SOMEONE will post again and get my list off the top. I'm seriously getting sick of seeing it.

  9. I'm trying to Post something to knock you off the top (and your high horse) but I've just come down with awesome amounts of diaheerha and vomiting. Good thing I can't go to christmas tonight. good work, god.

    additionally, how can you put the sigur ros picture on your post and not even put thier album on your list?


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