10. Mates of State – My Only Offer
The most immediate song on their incredibly strong record, Re-Arrange Us, this married duo have melodies so potent, the antidote needs to be within grasping distance at all times. Wait…there is no antidote. Oh well, death would be welcome if only it sounded this good. They are cohesive to such a high degree that it is rather confounding. Patently special in every sense of the word.
9. The Waking Eyes – All Empires Fall
Straight from Rusty’s mouth, this was the easiest song on the record to write for them. That is damn well astonishing considering it is condensed awesomeness. Three chords or not, this is the sound of a band saying ‘we have arrived, may we have your attention now.’
8. The Republic Tigers – Give Arm to Its Socket
The sound of a world in disarray as it slowly, strangely and softly goes to sleep. The sound of accountability. The sound of a band that don’t even know their own strength. The sound of “C4 in my hand, and I’m ready to show you what for.” Aptly, the sound of this planet in this exact space and time. The sound of poignancy. The sound of breathlessness.
7. Mates of State – Blue & Gold Print
I awake, thinking of her. She’s not beside me, but her space is warm. I get up and stumble as I gain consciousness. I make my way over to the kids’ room and they’re still asleep. The house seems strangely empty. I go downstairs and peruse the family room. Nothing has stirred. As I enter the kitchen, I see a note on the centre counter. The window is open a tad and a gust of wind violently hits the glass, causing me to flinch. I stare at the note and my stomach turns with nausea. It can’t be. Not after all this time. Not after…everything. With trudging feet, I move toward the counter and pick up the note. A multitude of emotions pour in waves over my mind as I unfurl the note. It says…I awake, and she’s beside me, it was only a dream. I kiss her gently, and thankful, I return to sleep.
6. The Wombats – Moving to New York
The air drum song of the year. The big city ode of the year. The perfect guide to love, loss and desperation. Perfect. Just perfect.
5. The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight
The intro. Those magical strings. The relatable lyrics. The vocal timbre fluctuation. “You just have to see her.” The strings coming full circle at the end. The quintessential pop tune. For a first effort, well bloody done LA lads.
4. Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS) – Hollow Point Sniper Hyperbole
Most apeshit band name, song title, and musical construction of the year, hands down. Quite possibly the freshest tune of the year. Never got old–after months, and months, and months. Stunningly dramatic. The sound of mixing every energy drink imaginable whilst snorting rockets (the candy) and trying to do the foot speed drill they would have you do at an NFL combine or training camp. Just a wickedly delicious, strange, hypnotic, wonderful song that laughs–no, cackles–in the face of any attempt at classification.
3. MGMT – Time to Pretend
Speaking of apeshit crazy, this one comes damn close to taking the title from USS. It’s too much of a flat-out poptastic marvel to do so though. The soundtrack to my life for the first few months of 2008. This is the kind of song that makes you thankful to love music and to have the ability to hear. Like the Killers did in 2004 with “Mr. Brightside”, this is the kind of track that changes things in the musical landscape and makes bands try excruciatingly hard to copy the sound/style. It’s a fruitless endeavour however, because while others are trying painstakingly hard to copy, these guys are just playing around like kids without a worry in the world. From and sounding like multi-dimensional beings, MGMT have barely touched down to earth, a frighteningly delicious proposition indeed.
1a & 1b – The Killers – Human/The Helio Sequence – Hallelujah
I couldn’t do it. I’ve slept on it for days and those days have turned into weeks, and I’m still wrestling with the choice. I’m copping out and I don’t mind. Neither one of these tunes deserves to be second and neither deserves to be ahead of the other. They both exploded into the stratosphere for different reasons.
“Human” is the beast, and though it took a few listens for me to get into (as the best ones usually do), it soon became my precious and I was like a giddy little school girl telling as many people as I could how much I loved this song. They didn’t need my help being one of the biggest bands on the planet, but I didn’t care, this song made me gush like a geyser of the gargantuan kind. A pure stroke of genius. Around the time of their album’s release, I read somewhere that somebody thought this was their best single to date–whoa, whoa, what a second here. We’re talking about a band that has released “Mr. Brightside”, “All These Things That I’ve Done”, “Smile Like You Mean It”, “When You Were Young”, and “Read My Mind”, songs that will go down in the pantheon of great pop ditties, and especially for this generation, songs that galvanized an otherwise apathetic youth into a feverish foot stomp. But once I mulled the proposition over for a short while, there was no way I could disagree with the sentiment. They re-affirmed my affinity for them as hit making supernovas who are poised to be this generations U2 (apologies to Coldplay and Foo Fighters–great though you are: a) your catalogue isn’t as strong, and b) you haven’t shown the whimsical disregard for common sense needed to write hits that are that different from one another musically and that polarize the shit out of people. Props must go to the Thin White Duke for helping them regain their swagger in the most musically stunning way possible.
“Hallelujah” is the beauty, an immediate masterstroke that somehow retains the qualities of a song that grows and grows, and seems to lay still as you admire its beauty–then it grows some more, and some more, and becomes the most graceful piece of wonder you could have ever imagined. To borrow from our French friends, if “Human” is the piece de resistance (accents unavailable) of the musical scene this year, “Hallelujah” is the coup d’etat, the piece of art that climbed past and above all obstacles on its way to gain power–just and fair power. This song doesn’t set its sights on egomaniacal, illusions of grandeur-esque power of one or few, rather its goals rest in egalitarian, ethereal celebration to the heavens. It is an Indie-hymn of the purest kind. And all from a TWO PERSON BAND! The drummer is one of the best in any genre, hands down. Live, he is manic and hypnotic. The vocals mesh perfectly with the music. The pulse of the song is a force belying description. The celebration (music in the 2nd part of the song) just keeps going and going and going in such a captivating way. Indecipherable synths/vocals spread charm like hot butter over the latter half of the tune. This song is a mantra I can live by forever.
Another year of music has come and gone – has come and changed. Bringing love in its natural form to all Humans, we all said Hallelujah, we don’t want answers..we want…more.
(written in 2008)