Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Best Singles Of 2008

Time to see off 2008 with our very own Festive Fifty - our 50 favorite tracks of the year released as Singles in any shape or format (seven-inch, cd, digital download - choose your poison). This means that we have excluded album tracks from this list, but you can easily find out what songs stand out in our opinion from the various albums of this year by revisiting older posts with the tags "Best albums" or "Killer Tracks". The other rule for compiling this list was to include only one Single per artist for maximum variety.

And now that the rules of this game are clear, let's get down to the business of 2008's Top 50 Singles. It has been a tough battle for that prestigious "Single Of The Year" title between hopeful, fresh-faced youngsters The Duke Spirit and seasoned veterans The Gutter Twins. In the end, experience prevailed: Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan have concocted a timeless rock classic with "Idle Hands", fusing the best sounds from their glorious past with grunge heavy-weights The Afghan Whigs and Screaming Trees respectively. I'm convinced that the ghost of Kurt Cobain not only approves, but he might be tempted to briefly leave whatever dimension he currently resides in and pop up for a sing-along at this verse-chorus-verse...

Top 50 Singles of 2008

1. Idle hands - THE GUTTER TWINS
2. The step and the walk - THE DUKE SPIRIT
3. To fix the gash in your head - A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
4. Courtship dating - CRYSTAL CASTLES
5. Machine gun - PORTISHEAD
6. Devil’s trident - TELEPATHE
7. Swords of truth - THESE NEW PURITANS
8. Cheap and cheerful - THE KILLS
9. Paper planes - M.I.A.
10. Time to pretend - MGMT
11. Salute your solution - THE RACONTEURS
12. Dig, Lazarus, dig!!! - NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS
13. Cassius - FOALS
14. Can't go back - PRIMAL SCREAM
15. Jigsaw falling into place - RADIOHEAD
16. Nothing ever happened - DEERHUNTER
17. Hit the wall - BRENDAN CANNING
18. Rat is dead (Rage) - C.S.S.
19. L.E.S. artistes - SANTOGOLD
20. 88 - THE COOL KIDS
21. Knickerbocker - FUJIYA & MIYAGI
22. Mercury - BLOC PARTY
23. I will possess your heart - DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
24. Sequestered in Memphis - THE HOLD STEADY
25. You lie you cheat - SPIRITUALIZED
26. You bring me down - BLOOD RED SHOES
28. In a cave - TOKYO POLICE CLUB
29. Something is not right with me - COLD WAR KIDS
30. Hang them all - TAPES ‘N TAPES
31. Golden age - TV ON THE RADIO
32. Sex on fire - KINGS OF LEON
33. White winter hymnal - FLEET FOXES
34. Hurricane Jane - BLACK KIDS
35. The witch (made to measure) - CLINIC
37. Teen creeps - NO AGE
38. Souled out!!! - CONOR OBERST
39. Man sized wreath - R.E.M.
40. Love is noise - THE VERVE
41. The age of the understatement - THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS
42. Half in love with Elizabeth - MYSTERY JETS
43. The devil - P.J. HARVEY
44. Gamma ray - BECK
45. Runaway - LADYTRON
46. Half asleep - SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS
47. Lovely Allen - HOLY FUCK
48. Council estate - TRICKY
49. Ready for the floor - HOT CHIP
50. Jump in the pool - FRIENDLY FIRES

Next up: the arrival of 2009 and the official unveiling of our Albums Of The Year... keep that champagne on ice!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Festive 50

It's good to see that the great tradition of the Christmas Festive Fifty, which started in 1976 by legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, lives on. The new home of the annual list of the best left-field songs of the year, as voted by the listeners, is now the fine internet radio station Dandelion Radio. Just finished listening to this year's selection, with The Fall claiming the top for the third time in the Festive 50's 33-year history. The track that impressed me the most though, was "Puzzle" by a new band called Das Wanderlust. It was the number two on the list, and you can watch the video for it here:

Das Wanderlust - Puzzle

To find out more about the Festive Fifty and, more importantly, what songs made it on the list in previous years, check out these links:

Festive 50 Home
Dandelion Radio

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tracks of the Year: M.I.A. - Paper Planes

...And a happy New Year!

M.I.A. - Paper Planes

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tracks of the Year: TV On The Radio - Dancing Choose

"Dancing Choose" is the forthcoming second single from "Dear Science", one of the best albums of the year by TV On The Radio:

TV On The Radio - Dancing Choose

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Best Debuts of 2008

It's not that I don't equally enjoy and appreciate a good second or even, in case of The Fall, a fine twenty seventh LP, but I always had a special place in my music-loving heart for debut albums. It is the all-important first impression that, although not always right, is able to leave a lasting mark and make or break a young band's career. And in the case of a truly great debut, it has the ability to define an era and become the landmark of the year it was released in: 2001 will always be remembered for The Strokes' "Is this it" and 2002 will always bring to mind "Turn on the bright lights" by Interpol. Although in 2008 we didn't have a debut release of similar impact, there was a wealth of excellent and varied new music around and it looks very likely that one-third of Cool Music Central's top 30 albums of 2008 (the list is slowly coming together as we speak) will consist of new-comers' first efforts. Here's the list of the 10 best debut albums of the year (based, of course, on what we've been able to listen to so far):

Top 10 Debut Albums of 2008

1. Antidotes - FOALS
2. Crystal Castles - CRYSTAL CASTLES
3. Beat pyramid - THESE NEW PURITANS
4. Oracular spectacular - MGMT
5. Box of secrets - BLOOD RED SHOES
6. Vampire Weekend - VAMPIRE WEEKEND
7. Partie traumatic - BLACK KIDS
8. Santogold - SANTOGOLD
9. The bake sale - THE COOL KIDS
10. Fleet Foxes - FLEET FOXES

And here's one of the Singles of the Year taken from our favorite debut of 2008 - it's "Cassius" off Foals' fine "Antidotes" LP and a video with a lot of "heart":

Foals - Cassius

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tracks of the Year: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Nick Cave is on a roll! The wining streak continues in 2008 with "Dig, Lazarus Dig!", hot on the heels of last year's equally awesome Grinderman album.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tracks of the Year: Portishead - Machine Gun

It was the most impressive comeback of 2008 (along with the reunion of My Bloody Valentine). Eleven years after their last album, Portishead returned with their "Third" redifining modern pop music once again. "Machine Gun" offered the triumphant gunshots announcing their return, the soundtrack to the most beautiful nightmare.

Portishead - Machine Gun

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tracks of the Year: The Kills - Last Day Of Magic

Actually, most tracks on The Kills super-cool third album "Midnight Boom" could be counted amongst the best tracks of this year, but I have decided to go with "Last Day Of Magic" simply because there is also a hilariously violent video that goes with it. Jamie and Alison must really love to hate one another or is it the other way round? Let the punching begin:

The Kills - Last Day Of Magic

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Best of November - December 2008

Cold War Kids' sophomore release "Loyalty to Loyalty" is the proud winner of our last "Album Of The Month" award for 2008 and its place in the Top 20 of our "Best Albums of the Year" list, which is currently under construction, looks certain. The young California band was one of the sensations of 2006 when their excellent debut "Robbers And Cowards" came out. Two years later they verify the potential shown with stunning early singles "Hang me up to dry" and "We used to vacation", delivering another fine collection of blues influenced indie rock. Recent single "Something is not right with me" (and one of our choices for the Tracks of the Year series of posts) is the dizzying sound of a panic-attack, while "Dreams old men dream" is another fine example of the captivating storytelling/songwritting abilities of these Kids.

Elsewhere in this month's eclectic list of albums, the beats-per-minute count rises with Bloc Party, Gang Gang Dance, The Bug and promising newcomers Friendly Fires, while prolific Athenians (of the one in Georgia) Of Montreal deliver a manic dionysian orgy of an album with "Skeletal lamping". And one of our very favorite female voices, the one belonging to Rilo Kiley crooner Jenny Lewis, returns with the alt-country "Acid Tongue", her second solo album featuring some very interesting collaborations, particularly the one with Elvis Costello on album highlight "Carpetbaggers".

Top 15 Albums

1. Loyalty To Loyalty - COLD WAR KIDS
2. Intimacy - BLOC PARTY
3. Saint Dymphna - GANG GANG DANCE
4. London Zoo - THE BUG
5. Skeletal Lamping - OF MONTREAL
6. Acid Tongue - JENNY LEWIS
7. Friendly Fires - FRIENDLY FIRES
8. Modern Guilt - BECK
9. You & Me - THE WALKMEN
10. OH (ohio) - LAMBCHOP
11. The Stand Ins - OKKERVIL RIVER
12. Knowle West Boy - TRICKY
13. Off With Their Heads - KAISER CHIEFS
14. The Way We Ride - FULTON LIGHTS
15. Xs On Your Eyes - +/-

Top 20 Tracks

1. Dreams old men dream - COLD WAR KIDS
2. Carpetbaggers - JENNY LEWIS
3. Mercury - BLOC PARTY
4. First communion - GANG GANG DANCE
5. Murder we - THE BUG
6. Council estate - TRICKY
7. Jump in the pool - FRIENDLY FIRES
8. Gamma ray - BECK
9. Id engager - OF MONTREAL
10. Poor man’s ice cream - TILLY AND THE WALL
11. Your control - CROOKED FINGERS
12. National talk like a pirate day - LAMBCHOP
13. On the water - THE WALKMEN
14. The way we ride - FULTON LIGHTS
15. Kiss me again - JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD
16. I came out of the wilderness - PETE MOLINARI
17. Lost coastlines - OKKERVIL RIVER
18. Never miss a beat - KAISER CHIEFS
19. Senses on fire - MERCURY REV
20. Strand the test of time - WILDERNESS

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tracks of the Year: Brendan Canning - Hit The Wall

The hit parade of 2008's Tracks of Year continues with "Hit The Wall" by Brendan Canning. A tidal wave of a song sweeping us to another dimension, taken from his album "Something For All Of Us..." - the latest offering from the extended and multi-talented Broken Social Scene collective.

Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning - Hit The Wall

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tracks of the Year: The Raconteurs - Salute Your Solution

The countdown continues with Jack White's and Brendan Benson's supergroup The Raconteurs and "Salute Your Solution", the first single from their second album "Consolers of the Lonely", one of the albums of the year. The complete list of the Best Tracks of 2008 coming soon...

The Raconteurs - Salute Your Solution

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2008 Review: Tracks of the Year

As the list of our favorite tracks of the year is starting to take shape, during the next couple of weeks we'll have a series of posts showcasing the videos for some of them. You can also check out previous posts with the Killer Tracks label to get an idea of what this list is going to look like. Mind you that both our "Best Tracks" and "Best Albums" of 2008 lists are going to be presented in full at the beginning of January, since we like to consider that poor December is still a part of the year. Most publications seem to think that the year ends in mid-November, but we like to follow the old calendar that says that 2008 started January 1st and ends December 31st! Anyway, to start the countdown for the musical festivities, today we have for your consideration the excellent first single off Cold War Kids' sophomore release "Loyalty to Loyalty", our album of the month for November (more on the subject soon). The track is called "Something is not right with me" and you can have a listen by clicking below. Enjoy:

Cold War Kids - Something is not right with me

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Public Enemy - Live @ Gagarin 205 (Nov. 30, 2008)

Public Enemy, one of the most important groups in the history of hip-hop, visited Athens for the third time in their illustrious 26-year career, for two shows presenting their seminal second album "It takes a nation of millions to hold us back" in its entirety. My memories from their first show here, way back in 1992 when the band was still at its peak, are a bit foggy as you can imagine but I'm sure that the 2008 shows were none the less powerful and explosive, simply because it is impossible to give a more intense performance than those two hours and a half we witnessed this time. The first half of the show was all about 1988's "It takes a nation..." classic album (no.4 in our "Best Albums of 1985-1989" list and possibly the best rap album ever), delivered with the same urgency and raw power as if it was released yesterday. The second half was a "best of" performance with highlights from all their classic albums, stretching from "Public Enemy Number One" to "He got game" and covering everything between, from "Fight the power" to "By the time I get to Arizona". A lesson in the history of hip-hop from the band that set the standards that no current rap superstar can even come close.

Public Enemy, live in Athens (Nov. 30th, 2008) - Still louder than a bomb!

Fight the Power - Public Enemy, live @ Gagarin 205 (Athens, November 30th, 2008)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tricky - Live @ Fuzz Club (Nov. 28, 2008)

After 5 years spent between New York and Los Angeles Tricky has returned with "Knowle West Boy", an album inspired by the place he grew up in Bristol. Perhaps not the strongest work of the trip-hop superstar, but Tricky is undeniably an extraordinary performer and his shows are always great fun. Despite the problematic sound of the venue and Tricky's injured leg, we witnessed a fired-up show, more rocking than trip-hopping or, to put it another way, closer to the spirit of Bad Brains than, say, Massive Attack. Tricky combined past hits with new material, doing his war-dance or hiding in the shadows giving the limelight to his co-vocalist, Francesca. The hour and a half set ended with an incendiary performance of Motorhead's classic "Ace of Spades", which you can watch below:

Tricky covering "Ace of Spades" - Fuzz Club (Athens, Nov. 28, 2008)