Sunday, December 14, 2008

Songs of 2008

I'm gonna try to hear a few more things before attempting a list of my favorite albums of the year, but here are my favorite songs from 2008.

The Drive-By Truckers - "A Ghost to Most" This song is a real step up in the artistry of Mike Cooley, who I frankly didn't think could get any better. (In fact, if he hadn't written this song, I would probably have put another Cooley song in this spot. Probably "Lisa's Birthday.") I've never been good at interpreting abstract lyrics, but the narrator seems to be a soldier dying in Iraq. Doesn't matter, because it's the melody, imagery and internal rhymes that really make this a masterpiece.

Be Your Own Pet - "Black Hole" and "The Kelly Affair" I can't decide between these two fake-ass garage/punk songs. "Black Hole" is a hilarious piss-take on punk teen rage (a lot like Redd Kross' "Kill Someone You Hate"--which makes sense, it was produced by RK's Stephen McDonald), but how can I not love a song about my favorite movie? For kids today, the punk records that seemed like revolutionary documents to my generation are just bits of kitsch, like old scifi movies and disco fashions. They don't give a shit about distinguishing authenicity from poseurhood. And they are much better off for it.

King Kahn and the Shrines - "Land of the Freak" Most of King Kahn's album is snazzy garage rock that mostly appeals to fetishists like me, but on this song, they up their game and throw crazy blasts of guitar and sax skronk over what already sounds like an Otis Reding record buzzing on three cups of Peet's Coffee. Psychotic, Chaotic and Patriotic.

R.E.M. - "Living Well is the Best Revenge" First off, it's the best song they've recorded since "At My Most Beautiful," but you could probably say the same about almost every song on Accelerate. Second, it rocks. If you think about most of R.E.M.'s rockin' songs, they tend to sound like a band playing at rocking rather than actually rocking. Think of "I Could Turn You Inside Out," "Wake Up Bomb,"or any of the harder songs off Monster or Pageant, they're all good songs, but they feel a bit restrained (except maybe a few seconds in "Just a Touch"). But "Living Well" bristles with electricity from Buck's first arpeggio. It really sounds like they're into it. Third, it's the rare song that just captured the moment of it's release. "The future's ours, and you won't even rate a footnote!" It's the thrill and urgency of this year packed into 3 minutes. And fourth, it's just nice to have Athens' Finest making good music again. And don't forget, Athens' Other Finest are back this year too.

Toby Keith - "Have I Got a Present For You" How awesome is this song? I think the fact that I picked it over "Little Dealer Boy" speaks for itself.


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