Friday, December 19

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2008 (#5-#1).



Well, well, well. Here we finally are.

The end of the year is approaching, which means that you're probably currently inundated with thousands of lists and end-of-the-year countdowns concerning all sorts of cultural achievements. Well, here at the CDP, it's no different, as today we wrap up our countdown of the Top 20 Albums Of 2008.

Just a final word on the validity of this list. It's by no means a 'definitive' or 'good' list; merely a list of the 20 best albums purchased by me this year. I'm not Pitchfork, I don't get free albums, and I don't actively seek out things that would boost my indie cred. I'm just a dude, dudes, so get right the hell over it and enjoy.


#5. Pale Young Gentlemen - Black Forest (Tra La La)

The best album by a Wisconsin band I've heard all year, Pale Young Gentlemen will soon taste nationwide appeal and an expanding fanbase after this dark, moody and beautiful full-length. I suppose you could put them into the further and further bloated 'Chamber Pop' categorization, and speak of them in the same breath as The Decemberists, Ra Ra Riot and almost any other indie band with a cellist, but it wouldn't do Black Forest any justice. Their sincerity, downtrodden melodies and elegant lyrics meld into one of the better 'album' albums I've heard in quite some time, and certainly the best one to come out of the Dairy State in 2008.


#4. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

With Stay Positive, The Hold Steady didn't attempt to reinvent their already-perfect formula of Springsteen-influenced Bar Rock about every shady character that you ever partied with in your old hometown; nope, they simply refined and perfected it further, and the result is yet another soundtrack of forgotten towns, shattered dreams, alcohol by the gallon and the optimistic promise of new beginnings right around the corner. I discovered these guys late, shortly after Boys And Girls In America came out, and from that day on, I always try to listen to them on the trips back home to visit the unincorporated villages I grew up in. Superb.


#3. Army Navy - Army Navy

The greatest, catchiest and most lyrical songs ever written by Teenage Fanclub + The greatest, catchiest and most lyrical songs ever written by the Apples In Stereo = Army Navy.

I see no need to even continue after that statement, but I will say that their self-titled debut came absolutely out of nowhere for me about a month ago, and I've been listening to it more or less every day since. If these guys can tour their asses off and keep it together, they're going to be huge come Album #2. Do yourself a favor, head on over to iTunes and drop 99 cents for 'Dark As Days,' the lead-off track to Army Navy, and if you don't like it, I'll refund the cash to you myself.

Maybe.


#2. Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line

Shout-along choruses. Beautifully-swelling melodies. Interwoven stringed instruments. Songs about love and death, heartbreak and loss. Without question, Ra Ra Riot's The Rhumb Line is the closest that any of the Arcade Fire-influenced generation of bands have come to actually unseating the Canadians from their throne. In a year that was chock-full of mediocrity, horrible techno and predictable 80's nostalgia, The Rhumb Line was a more-than-welcome breath of fresh air. In fact, I had placed this triumph atop my Top 20 list for the first week or so that I had begun compiling albums, before I caved in and relegated it to the runner-up position.

So, what is the CDP's choice for Best Album Of 2008? Well, before we get to that, here's a quick look back at the previous years' winners and runners-up.

2003 Winner: The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site
2003 Runner-Up: The Postal Service - Give Up

2004 Winner: Arcade Fire - Funeral
2004 Runner-Up: Communique' - Poison Arrows

2005 Winner: Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins
2005 Runner-Up: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

2006 Winner: The Velvet Teen - Cum Laude!
2006 Runner-Up: P.O.S. - Audition

2007 Winner: Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
2007 Runner-Up: POLYSICS - Karate House

Can I get a drumroll, please?


#1. Girl Talk - Feed The Animals

I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to admit that the most brilliant, captivating and genius musical masterwork of 2008 didn't have so much as a scrap of original material on it. However, after about...oh, I don't know...the ten-thousandth time I ass-shaked my way through Feed The Animals, it became abundantly clear that not only was I listening to the best album of 2008, but that I was listening to the greatest Mash-Up album ever made.

For a guy that makes a living chopping up other artist's material and pasting them back together, Greg Gillis is a Pop Music genius. He has an ear for the hook, an endless knowledge of the last 30 years in popular tunes from all genres, and his assemblage of hundreds of these examples into an album- a real 'album' album from start to finish- can be anything from merely fun to absolutely breathtaking. And the more tracks you can recognize and decipher, the more you'll enjoy it. It's an album that rewards grizzled music smarts, yet somehow finds a way to sample Lil Wayne and Diddy, and make it enjoyable to the very same sorts of people.

This is a masterwork. As fun as it gets, as smart as it gets, as brainless as it gets and as endlessly-playable as it gets for 2008. It's the album that I was waiting for the most, the album that let me down the least and the album I've listened to the most over the last 365 days. Now, if that doesn't make it Album of the Year, then I don't know what could.

Thank you for reading. Sound off in the comments section, start the argument and enjoy your weekend. The CDP Year In Review arrives next week.

NEXT WEEK: CDP YEAR IN REVIEW!


Thursday, December 18

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2008 (#10-#6).



The end of the year is approaching, which means that you're probably currently inundated with thousands of lists and end-of-the-year countdowns concerning all sorts of cultural achievements. Well, here at the CDP, it's no different, as today we continue to count down the Top 20 Albums Of 2008.

Just another quick word on the validity of this list. It's by no means a 'definitive' or 'good' list; merely a list of the 20 best albums purchased by me this year. I'm not Pitchfork, I don't get free albums, and I don't actively seek out things that would boost my indie cred. I'm just a dude, dudes, so get right the hell over it and enjoy.


#10. POLYSICS - We Ate The Machine

With each new year, we can expect two things for certain: another epic Chicago Cubs collapse, and another mind-bogglingly amazing album by POLYSICS, the CDP's choice for Greatest Band In The World for over five years now. We Ate The Machine is essentially an American debut of sorts, having recently secured a decent distribution deal on this side of the pond through...gahh...MySpace Records. And while it's not a great introduction to the band (Greatest Hits Album Polysics Or Die!!! should be in everyone's home), the Japanese space-spazz-noise orgy still holds up quite nicely. Even on their worst day, POLYSICS is still light years ahead of their closest competition.


#9. Foxboro Hot Tubs - Stop, Drop And Roll!!!

Where does Green Day find the time? In addition to releasing multi-platinum albums, circling the globe on tour and constantly cementing their place in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, Billie Jo Armstrong and company have released two full-length albums now under assumed names: The 2003 Devo-influenced Money Money 2020 under the moniker of The Network, and now the Zombies-fueled 60's rock fest that is the Foxboro Hot Tubs' Stop, Drop And Roll!!! And let's not even mention Mr. Armstrong's continuing role in Pinhead Gunpowder. With Stop, Drop And Roll!!!, Green Day is able to create some fun, throwback music that wouldn't necessarily work under the Green Day name, and the result is their best album since 1997's Nimrod.


#8. Less Than Jake - GNV FLA

Following two of my favorite bands of all-time (POLYSICS and Green Day), we move right into a band that might actually rank higher; Less Than Jake. Now, I'll be the first to admit that the LTJ crew hit a bit of a skid following 2003's Anthem, trying a little too hard to be mainstream and poo-poo their ska-punk roots with the abominable In With The Out Crowd. But the guys seem refreshed nowadays. They own their own record label, self-released GNV FLA and returned to a sound that was a welcome compromise of their previous efforts. I was worried for a little bit, but Less Than Jake made it work, and after an almost-fatal misstep; they're back.


#7. Scott Reynolds - Adventure Boy

I love Scott Reynolds. Possibly best remembered as one of the singers for legendary punk band ALL, he has since go on to front bands like Goodbye Harry, The Pavers, and most recently, his same-named solo project. A man's man, a songwriter's songwriter and a genuinely nice guy, Reynolds comes through with an amazing solo effort, bursting with rejuvenated tracks about everyday misfortune, tough luck and forgotten love. I honestly think that this was the album he had been trying in vain to create for years, and in that regard, it's an absolute triumph.


#6. Smoking Popes - Stay Down

As a teenager, I discovered the Smoking Popes a little too late to catch them at the peak of their fame. Much like a lot of influential 90's groups like At The Drive-In and Lifetime, they broke up before I had a chance to see them live or buy their records on the day of their release. Fortunately, the Popes decided to follow the flock of reuniting 90's acts and hit the road once more, only upping the ante by not only releasing a new album of original tracks, but having it be freaking amazing to boot. They're not a tribute act, and they're not basking in the glow of their former glory; they're a current band writing currently fantastic music, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see Stay Down exceed so many expectations.

The CDP's Top 5 Concerts Of 2008:

#5. Margot & The Nuclear So & So's - Orpheum Stage Door - Madison
(A warm, May night in downtown Madison with a small crowd and an extremely talented band of musical geniuses fronted by a self-destructive drunk. A night to remember.)

#4. We Are Scientists - High Noon Saloon - Madison
(What struck me most, besides their tight and absolutely hilarious live show, was how genuinely nice the guys were. They hung out at the High Noon for hours afterwards, shooting pool, drinking and chatting with fans. Not too shabby for semi-famous NYC hipsters who hang out with The Lonely Island guys all the time.)

#3. Riotfest - Congress Theatre - Chicago
(The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Jay Reteard. The Casualties. DOA. Leftover Crack. The return of ALL. This weekend had it all, including my getting historically plastered at the Double Door in Wicker Park.)

#2. Smoking Popes - High Noon Saloon - Madison
(When a super-appreciative crowd comes together to see a band like the Smoking Popes, what results is nothing short of magical. Great guys, timeless songs, an absolutely fantastic evening overall.)

#1. The Weakerthans - High Noon Saloon - Madison
(It's not every day that you get to see one of your favorite bands ever in your backyard. I personally never thought I was going to see the rare-touring Canadians, so to me, this night felt like one of those dreams where your favorite band plays just for you. Not just my favorite concert of 2008, but personally one of my favorite moments as well.)

Sound off in the comments section, start the argument and enjoy your day. The end of the week brings the CDP's Top 5 Albums Of 2008. Stick around.

Wednesday, December 17

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2008 (#15-#11).



The end of the year is approaching, which means that you're probably currently inundated with thousands of lists and end-of-the-year countdowns concerning all sorts of cultural achievements. Well, here at the CDP, it's no different, as today we continue to count down the Top 20 Albums Of 2008.

Just another quick word on the validity of this list. It's by no means a 'definitive' or 'good' list; merely a list of the 20 best albums purchased by me this year. I'm not Pitchfork, I don't get free albums, and I don't actively seek out things that would boost my indie cred. I'm just a dude, dudes, so get right the hell over it and enjoy.

(NOTE: Mr. Josh Taylor from Spork Nation kept me up late last night doing an interview, so today's albums will be free of my trademark wit and socio-political commentary. Or perhaps I'm merely using him as an excuse for my laziness.)


#15. Weezer - Weezer (Red Album)

Not as good as their first three albums, but certainly better than their last two.


#14. We Are Scientists - Brain Thrust Mastery

If I could play guitar, I would be this band.


#13. Mastadon - Blood Mountain

The only metal band I've given less than a poop about in the last two years.


#12. Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster/We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Twee is dead! Long live Twee!


#11. M83 - Saturdays = Youth

Come back, John Hughes; we miss you and love you very much.

The CDP's Top 5 Music Videos Of 2008:

#5. M83 - 'Kim & Jessie'
#4. IfIHadAHiFi - 'Success! Success! Success!'
#3. We Are Scientists - 'After Hours'
#2. Innerpartysystem - 'Don't Stop'
#1. Justice - 'DVNO'

And I'm outta here. Sound off in the comments section, start the argument and enjoy your day. The Top 10 Albums Of 2008 begins tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2008 (#20-#16).



The end of the year is approaching, which means that you'll soon be inundated with thousands of lists and end-of-the-year countdowns concerning all sorts of cultural achievements. Well, here at the CDP, it's no different, as today we begin to count down the Top 20 Albums Of 2008.

Just a quick word on the validity of this list. It's by no means a 'definitive' or 'good' list; merely a list of the 20 best albums purchased by me this year. I'm not Pitchfork, I don't get free albums, and I don't actively seek out things that would boost my indie cred. I'm just a dude, dudes, so get right the hell over it and enjoy.


#20. Cut Off Your Hands -
Happy As Can Be (EP)

This New Zealand-based Indie band has traded Futureheads-meets-Q and Not U paranoia pop for melodically beautiful shoegaze on their most recent EP. A fitting soundtrack for a brief Winter commute, these six tracks are equal parts nostalgia, murky optimism and blurry romance.


#19. The Faint - Fasciinatiion

Who would have figured that The Faint would eventually become the grizzled old veterans of the arguably dead electro-punk scene? While this album showcases maturity while still maintaining their glitchy-Hollywood-faded glory storytelling, it feels mostly like a breaking point between the Faint of old and the Faint of the future, whatever that will mean.


#18. IfIHadAHiFi - Fame By Proxy

Some bands are polarizing. Other bands try to be polarizing on purpose. IfIHadAHiFi knew going in that their feedback-soaked noise rock would instantly turn off 90% of all listeners, but immediately develop a cult following with the remaining 10. On their third full-length, the Neo-Tokyo superstars keep on keeping on, cementing their legacy as one of the hardest-working Midwestern bands in the land.


#17. Margot & The Nuclear So & So's - Animal!/Not Animal

I wouldn't get along with Richard Edwards, the lead singer of Margot & The Nuclear So & So's. In fact, it's universally assured that we'd get into a whiskey-drenched fistfight mere seconds into our first meeting. Nonetheless, the dude is a genius, and the Indiana chamber-pop playing, Hemmingway-worshipping octet is on the verge of a major mainstream breakthrough, with their first major label release.


#16. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Even if this self-titled debut was the single most overrated album of the year, it was still well worth making the list. They weren't the first band to bring the Paul Simon, white guy afropop sound to the indie airwaves, but it's been awhile, so it sounds rather refreshing to hear it done so wonderfully well. Who knows if they can replicate this success the second time around, but for now, we can enjoy this catchy and well-received moment in time.

The CDP's Top Five Albums I Wouldn’t Put In This Countdown If You Paid Me:

#5. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
It saves time that his voice always sounds autotuned, even outside of the studio. Must save his label millions in production costs.

#4. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
If this is what Kevin Barnes creates when he feels 100% confident in himself and his creativity, then maybe someone should nail him with the sort of criticism he was showered with when he was still writing reasonably listenable music. This album was the biggest letdown of the year for me, and I absolutely adore this man.

#3. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
In all of their interviews, the duo behind MGMT say that they started gathering fans by accident. They're trying to tell you something, kids; even they know that their celebrity is a joke.

#2. Guns & Roses - Chinese Democracy
I'd say something clever about such a piece of crap taking so long to be released, but I fear lawsuits.

#1. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
Now I know how people feel when they're sick of Arcade Fire's admittedly unnecessary critical acclaim. Three albums, three Top 10 lists and three overrated artistic expressions; I now place TV On The Radio next to Kiss and Guns & Roses in the Holy Trinity of Overrated Music.

Sound off in the comments section, start the argument and enjoy your day. #15-#11 arrive tomorrow.

Monday, December 15

The CDP's Top 25 Songs Of 2008.



The end of the year is approaching, which means that you'll soon be inundated with thousands of lists and end-of-the-year countdowns concerning all sorts of cultural achievements. Well, here at the CDP, it's no different, as today we count down the Top 25 Songs Of 2008.

As always, the list is compiled only of singles that I have purchased and were released in 2008. I am not a music critic, I am a music fan, and the list is personal preference and opinion only; not a chance to boast my hipster cred. Ready? Let's do this.

#25. 'Wanna Be In LA' - Eagles Of Death Metal
The world revolves around Jesse Hughes' mustache now. Sex Rock done right.

#24
. 'Pork And Beans' - Weezer
The most Weezer-sounding Weezer song since Weezer stopped being Weezer. They lose points for shooting a music video that, in 5 years, will be 100% outdated and irrelevant.

#23
. 'The '59 Sound' - The Gaslight Anthem
An impressive debut by a Side One Dummy band causing a lot of buzz. Bruce Springsteen-y with a touch of Against Me! for flavor.

#22
. 'Death To Los Campesinos!' - Los Campesinos!
Twee is dead! Long live Twee!

#21
. 'Success! Success! Success!' - IfIHadAHiFi
My favorite Wisconsin band is still going strong with geeked-out noise rock. I can't believe they're still tearing it up almost a decade later.

#20
. 'Happy As Can Be' - Cut Off Your Hands
If Coldplay would have released this beautiful track, it would have won a Grammy. In fact, I expect Coldplay to rip this song off note-for-note once they finally get around to hearing it.

#19
. ' M79' - Vampire Weekend
The best track on one of the most overrated albums of the last decade.

#18
. 'Handshake Meet Pokerface' - Less Than Jake
Surviving is my best revenge. What hurts you once won't hurt you again. Welcome back, LTJ.

#17
. 'Marvelous Design' - Pale Young Gentlemen
A group of well-dressed, Madison Chamber-Pop geniuses write a song about getting their freak on. I'll take it and enjoy it; thank you. I can't believe I haven't seen these guys live yet.

#16
. 'Human' - The Killers
Say what you want about the Killers, but they know how to write a single. Possibly their best track since 'Mr. Brightside.' Epic, spacey and making almost no sense whatsoever.

#15
. 'Use Somebody' - Kings Of Leon
I've never had anything positive to say about KOL until now. Selling out never sounded so good; this is their Monster Ballad for certain.

#14
. 'After Hours' - We Are Scientists
Partying, drinking and begging you to stay just a minute longer. We Are Scientists write songs that play out like my most superficial and alcoholic inner thoughts.

#13
. 'Constructive Summer' - The Hold Steady
Every single song The Hold Steady writes reminds me of my old hometown, which I suppose creates their brilliant mystique. This track more so than any other.

#12
. 'The Boy Who Stole Your Heart' - Scott Reynolds
This is a fairly emo song coming from a guy that's married with two kids, yet it's also the prettiest and sweetest tune he's written in years.

#11
. 'Lights & Music' - Cut Copy
Probably my favorite dance track of the year. Catchy, reeking of the 80's and so-bad-it's-freaking-awesome. It took me a few listens, but it grew on me.

#10
. 'Mother Mary' - Foxboro Hot Tubs
Some chord progressions, melodic structures and song styles will always work. This is Exhibit A.

#9
. 'Don't Stop' - Innerpartysystem
Frantic, driving, paranoid and dripping with sexual tension and pissy hatred. Just like me.

#8
. 'Rocket' - POLYSICS
The Greatest Band On Earth does it again. If you haven't started listening to POLYSICS yet, you might want to start now, before they break your door down and murder you.

#7
. 'Nrrrd Grrrl' - MC Chris
The rap song I've been trying to write for 14 years. Thanks, MC Chris.

#6
. 'Stay Down' - Smoking Popes
An instant classic, ranking right next to 'Megan' and 'Pretty Pathetic' in the Smoking Popes Greatest Hits repertoire. See this band live, even if it means having to mortgage your home.

#5
. 'Dark As Days' - Army Navy
Coming absolutely out of nowhere, this track reminds me of Teenage Fanclub, had they not completely lost the plot years ago. An amazing, must-hear single of 2008, bar none.

#4
. 'Viva La Vida' - Coldplay
I don't care if they ripped off Joe Satriani or pretty much suck as a cohesive unit, I know a global hit when I hear it, and this had every reason to be the biggest mainstream single of 2008. I hope they send Arcade Fire a cut of the royalties, however.

#3
. 'In Engager' - Of Montreal
The best Of Montreal song ever just happens to show up on their worst album ever, interesting. Just listen, shake your ass and spread the love. One of the most instantly-memorable choruses in the last...well, ever.

#2
. 'Kim & Jessi' - M83
I typically have a problem with modern acts that attempt to capture an authentic 80's sound, because it has never been done perfectly...until this track was released. Unbelievably nostalgic, lyrically tender and purely beautiful in every way. Listen and be wowed by 'Kim & Jessi.'

#1
. 'Ghost Under Rocks' - Ra Ra Riot
The closest song to perfection that I've heard all year. No regrets and no takebacks; this band is amazing, and 'Ghost Under Rocks' is my selection for my favorite song of 2008.

Before we mingle over to the Comments Section for wine and thinly-sliced cheeses, let's take a quick look back at previous choices for CDP Single Of The Year:

2003 - 'Such Great Heights' - The Postal Service
2004
- 'Neighborhood #1' - Arcade Fire
2005
- 'In This Home On Ice' - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
2006
- 'I Will Follow You Into The Dark' - Death Cab For Cutie
2007
- 'Intervention' - Arcade Fire

Thanks for reading. Sound off in the comments section, start the argument, share your choices for Best Single Of 2008 and enjoy your day. The Top Albums Of 2008 starts tomorrow.