10 Good Songs From 2008

10. “envelope and speed” simon w. stockdale

Please excuse the ear-piercing shrieks coming from my harmonica. I really should learn how to play it properly. It’s hard to find the time and motivation to ‘practice’ an instrument these days. Creating is more important though, of course.

9. “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” fleet foxes

Yes, I know this video is not the Fleet Foxes original but it’s a pretty impressive cover, isn’t it.

8. “the switch and the spur” the saboteurs / raconteurs

Trumpet solo of the year! Come to think of it, it’s the best guitar solo of the year by living legend Jack White, too. They throw everything at this song, and everything sticks.

7. “dig, lazarus, dig!!!” nick cave and the bad seeds

What the hell happened to Wangaratta’s prince of darkness, singing on his latest album, “We’re gonna have a real good time tonight”?  Despite his mid-life crisis (or perhaps because of it) this song is tops – a whoppin’ good time. Poor Larry.

6. “minotaur’ the drones

This typically intense song by the best Australian band of this decade features a Latin tricolon made famous by Julius Caesar: “Veni, vidi, vici” – I came, I saw, I conquered. A tricolon is a sentence with three clearly defined parts of equal length, usually independent clauses and of increasing power. Abraham Lincoln used tricola in many of his speeches and Barack Obama is starting to do the same.

5. “man-sized wreath’ R.E.M.

I’m sorry Axl, I know you’ve been away for 15 years, but the comeback of the year goes to R.E.M. Their last two albums were overproduced crap, but this one is a short, sharp rock album recorded in a couple of weeks. Speaking of recording, Axl, my album of the year was recorded by Eddy Current Suppression Ring in one weekend on an 8-track tape machine. One weekend, Axl! ONE WEEKEND!!!

4. “pencils in the wind (a.k.a. “sello tape” flight of the conchords

Ah, the tape of love. It sure does get sticky, doesn’t it. Guaranteed to make me smile every time I hear it. Why wasn’t this on the album? (It would have at least confirmed what the actual name of this song is).

3. “why do you let me stay here?” she & him

Some albums are freakily good. When I say ‘freakily good’ I mean they shouldn’t be as good as they are. Beautiful actresses like Zooey Deschanel are not supposed to make albums as good as this. This is a feel-good song without the cheese. Kudos to M Ward for the wonderful production.

2. “We’re gonna rise” the breeders

Like Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”, it’s not so much about rising, but about the desire to rise and that articulation is in itself a kind of rise. It’s kind of what art and religion does. Kim Deal is one of those artists that appear to have stumbled upon genius by accident.

1. “WHICH WAY TO GO” EDDy CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING

Single (and album) of the year goes to this Frankston band with an indecisive, existential ode which would have fitted nicely on the Idiot Box soundtrack. It’s Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be” Soliloquy for bogans across this fine nation. Like a lot of good rock music, it’s simple, it’s dumb, and it’s raw – straight outta the garage.

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