10) MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
This was many of our soundtracks through 2008. Whether you heard them in movies, commercials, or live, you left wishing you were alive in the 60s to witness the real thing. Young guys making an old sound and doing it really well.
my picks: weekend wars, pieces of what
9) Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs
Why is this on the list? The same reason Coldplay made the list. Production and potential. Gibbard is an amazing poet and indie love song genius. Where the credit really goes is to Chris Walla. Walla is a pacific northwest indie band version of Johnny Greenwood. Greenwood has the advantages of being in the biggest best band in the world, but Walla has taken DCFC to festival main stage spotlight, while maintaing focus on incredible sound and engineering. Put Greenwood and Walla in a room and the two may never rejoin their bands. They could engineer every great album for the next 30 years. Hopefully they do it in Portland and they do it for me.
my picks: bixby canyon bridge, i will possess your heart
8) Deerhunter – Microcastles
This might be the best show of 2008. Still have about a dozen shows left but these guys are certainly at the top of the list. They dont just sound good, they sound smart. Listen to this Sonic Youth meets Brian Eno, Pavement meets b-side Nirvana, and just fucking try to create something this good.
my picks: nothing ever happened (over and over and over and over again….amazing piece of music)
7) Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords
Bret and Jermaine keep it coming. We have all heard their songs. We have all seen their show. Yet another subpop fucking goldmine. Season 2 starts in January.
my picks: the most beautiful girl (in the room), a kiss is not a contract, bowie
6) Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Eat your heart out Jim James. Robin Pecknold is sure to collaborate with M. Ward, James, and Oberst in the near future. He fits the bill and will only take the subpop label to new levels.
my picks: white winter hymnal, your protector
5) Beck – Modern Guilt
It’s been hard for Beck to grow since he came out of the gates running. He has been far ahead of his game for so long. Now that he is slowing down and stepping backwards, we get to hear what Beck has waited so many years to give us, the basics.
my picks: gamma ray, chemtrails
4) TV On The Radio – Dear Science
Find something else this loud and good and I will take them off the list.
my picks: halfway home, lover’s day
3) NIN – The Slip
Trent Reznor is an icon in the modern industrial music world. He thrives for new sound and incredible production. His shows are powerful and his presence more so. He has created rock anthems for years, screaming of animal fucking and depression, he will always give his fans more. One of the best live shows you will see.
my picks: Echoplex, Head Down, 1,000,000
2) Wolf Parade – Mount Zoomer
Wolf Parade is the band I continually heard when entering coffee shops, music stores, and bars. I always left wondering what the fuck it was I was listening to. What Wolf Parade offers is a sense of curiosity and surprise. An extra note here, a double up on the high hat there, each song progressively lightens up my life. The first album I listened to upon moving into my new place was their Apologies album. I hadnt set up my speakers, didnt have internet, and was left to enjoy my vinyl. Wolf Parade delivers a solid sound that you can never get sick of. They also have one of the best album covers of the year, serious, how tacky and awesome is Mount Zoomer!
my picks: language city, call it a ritual
1) The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead
This album has taken this Portland duo to the next level. Summers song writing fit the NW INdie mold, and Weikel’s drumming is the best of the top 10 albums. It takes the knowledge of knowing that this band is only two people to really appreciate them. LIttering Portland with shows for the last nine years, fans got sick of the same sound over the course of their albums. The sound was fun and consistent but overdone on almost every track. Keep Your Eyes Ahead has made them Sub Pop sweethearts. Enjoy.
my picks: Lately, Keep Your Eyes Ahead, Hallelujah
Honorable mention- Cloudcult, Atmosphere, She & Him and Coldplay
Cloudcult self produces and creates a unique uplifting sound. Atmosphere is the best hip hop act out there. Ironically both Cloud Cult and Atmosphere live only miles from one another in Minneapolis. She & Him makes me want to hold my sweetheart close at my prom in the 50s. Coldplay almost went from honorable mention to number one on the list. The album overall is awful. There is no hit single like Yellow, no beauty of Green Eyes, no rock ballads that X&Y give, and sadly, just disappoints. But, it’s Chris martin and although this may be their worst album release to date, it was produced by Brian Eno and the production is amazing. The sad thing is, when overproduced, good luck recreating that live. Hopefully this downfall in their sequence of success will give us a follow up that will be that of OK Computer and Joshua Tree. Fingers crossed.