Well, this was much harder than I thought. 2008 was an incredible year for music. I could probably say that about every year ever, but I feel like things just keep getting better. I've never been one of those, "new music sucks, x is just copying y" type of dudes, and while I will (hopefully) never tire of exploring the seemingly unending musics of the past, I am more excited than ever before about the possibilities and directions of new music.
The past has its perks to be sure, nostalgia or faux-nostalgia, lo-fi recordings that weren't on purpose, fake backstories and histories we all accept, accidents turned into hot new genres, white people stealing from black people, and blah blah blah. But the present? Why it's got all that, or at least most of that, or at least some degree of knowledge of most of that, plus more! It's got the collected true and false histories and sounds of all time and places which we have had access too. And globalization may have brought tons of dumb crap into our lives (or mostly our dumb crap into people from other countries lives), but now we have those sounds from all over the earth. And we've got electricity! We've got the remix! We've got circuit bending! We've got centuries old hand crafted singing bowls! And while my general view of the actual condition of things on earth is not nearly so optimistic, I'm high on life about music! We may have lost our homes our minds and our souls but we have hands and ears and we can scavenge, scrape, and re-assemble. We can put on our coats and hats and vanish into the day. We can cover our bodies in neon and nostalgia and dance into the night.
I for one, will be building a dome filled with my disappointments, covering it in wrought iron and monterey jack cheese, shrinking it down to the size of dinosaurs pea-sized brain, imbedding it in a half-cello/half-tambur, rigged to electronically sense the colors that my brain is thinking of, and play an improvised looping duo between my hand and my brain processed through 1000 handmade effects pedals and Ableton live, then broadcasting it on AM to the middle of the Gobi Desert where I will tune in to the dial a few stations off, record that half-recieved sound, layer it as many times as I can in logic studio, put it out to 7", record the seven inch on to cassette tape, smash the cassette with my bare hands and throw it out the window of my parents car on U.S. 24.
So the list: I sort of managed to whittle this down to 56 selections, with a few instances of cheating. I didn't care about format or length, except that I didn't include single tracks, and its mostly full length albums. The list is fairly heavy on ambient/drone type of stuff and also some degree of lo-fi noisy psych rock type of stuff. That's what I mostly love and what I mostly listened to this year. I still like hip-hop, but I didn't really feel like listening to it until about 1 month and half ago, so there aren't many choices in that vein, and many of them are uncertain. I also still like dance music but again mostly didn't feel like listening to it until about month ago and most of those things were single tracks not full albums. I know this is such a good year because I feel like I forgot about a thousand things and there are so many more things that I remember that I want to add to the list and so many things that I haven't even listened to yet but that appear to be awesome.
These First 11, 56-46 are mostly things which I am fairly sure are great or even possibly awesome, but haven't had a chance to really listen to in-depth yet. This is either because I just got them or because I just didn't get around to it.
56. The Fun Years - Baby, It's Cold Inside (Barge): Actually I've barely listened to it, but it sounds like delicious ambient and Boomkat just said it was their number one album, so it must be alright.
55. Raccoo-oo-oon - S/T (Not Not Fun): Final album from a band I've only just started liking? Check. Kind of cool, kind of dumb unclearly pronounced name? Check. Noisy, improv goodness? Check. Haven't really had a chance to give this a fair shake but the Night People label (Run by Shawn Reed of Raccoo-oo-oon) and Not Not Fun (both largely tape labels) can do no wrong these days.
54. Wet Hair - 08 Tour Tape (Night People) : Speaking of Night People, and Shawn Reed, It's his solo alias. I love noisy handmade tapes! You should too. And this stuff's all going down in Iowa! Iowa? Thier s/t 12" from this year is nice too.
53. Tobacco - Fucked Up Friends (Anticon) : Solo album by Tobacco of Black Moth Super Rainbow. Not all that different from thier usual vintage analogue synth what-have-you, but I can't get enough of them so...
52. Grouper - Dragging a Dead Dear up a Hill (Type) : This was my introduction to Liz Harris and frankly I thought this was fairly overrated in a number of the internet circles I lurk in. But it's still pretty good. Reverb-drowned slow-core folk? Jonny might even like it.
51. Q-Tip - The Renaissance (Universal Motown) : Nice MPC. A Fine Sir. Need to give this more listens.
50. Jake One - White Van Music (Rhymesayers) : A looooong release (43 Tracks!), I've only just heard of Jake Dutton, however he has apparently worked with a number of sweet dudes, from De La to Strange Fruit to MF Doom to NaS. He has also worked with hilarious dudes like E-40 and G-Unit, and made some tracks for hilarious movies like Fast and Furious. This album is not mind blowing but is solid and features good rappin' by lots of Minnesota cats and other undergrounders. But It's really long.
49. Magic Lantern - High Beams (Not Not Fun) : I know very little about these dudes, but they pound out some California krautrocky/Acid Mothers Templey/lengthy dronums space rockouts. Plus, who doesn't like a song called "Deathshead Hawkmoth?" A fool that's who. Not Not Fun strikes again.
48. Brian Grainger - Autumn Soil Feedback (Milieu) : South Carolina Fellow also known as Milieu among other monikers as well as a member of VCV. He actually released an insane buttload of stuff in 2008 but I only have this (and VCV - The Star of the King of the Dead, which is also good but not on my list). Less accessible than a lot of stuff on here, unless you are really into tape hiss or radio static (which I totally am...) Additionally he is a sweet dude because many of his releases are available for free download at Archive.org. This should probably be higher on the list. Strongly recommended.
47. S1 - Music Box (Spilt Milk) : I love positive raps and I love Strange Fruit Project. Symbolyc One of Strange Fruit has produced a real nice, soulful-positive vibe rap album with spots from Little Brother, Rah Digga, Inspectah Deck, and Blu among others. I've heard absolutely nothing about this and its definetly one of those releases that slips through the cracks in the floor. Seriously this is really good n' funky.
46. Sam Goldberg - Echoing Department (Gniess Things) : Lo-fi krautrockish tomfoolery, Steve Hauschildt of the awesome Emeralds guests it up (It's his record label after all).