One of the big changes on this blog in the past year is the departure of music posts. I moved my music posts to my tumblog in late 2007, where I post a new song everyday. You can experience them here by clicking on the "radio" link in the upper nav links or by clicking on the black banner at the bottom of the page. I haven't stopped blogging about music, in fact I am doing it more than ever, but I have changed the way I do it. I like it better and I hope you do too.
Every year since I started this blog, I have listed my top 10 records of the year on this blog and this year will be no different. But I am not going to generate a new post every day for ten days like I've done in the past. I've actually been doing that on my tumblog for the past two weeks and if you are an active reader of that or an active listener of fredwilson.fm, then you already know what is on the list.
This year, I'll do a single blog post with all the selections in it. So without further ado, here's the list:
1) The Stand-Ins - Okkervil River. This record is the back end of a two part effort that started with The Stage Names last year. Many people feel they should have released them both as a double album. You might ask,"why is this your number one record this year and yet The Stage Names didn't even make your list last year?" Well like Kings Of Leon last year, this band snuck up on me and I got into them a bit late. I like both records equally but this is a 2008 release and so it gets on the list. Okkervil is the band of the year for me and this is the record of the year even though my personal favorite of everything they've done is the Golden Opportunities Mixtape that they've never really even released commercially. If you don't get this band, you are like I was until this year, you just aren't trying hard enough.
2). Oracular Spectacular - MGMT. From the opening of Time To Pretend to the line 15 seconds later about going to paris shooting heroin and fucking stars, you know this is going to be a fun ride. And it is. This record got more play in our family than any other this year. I am not sure who loves it most, but its likely to be my younger daughter or my son. Its not a family record by any means, its not even age appropriate for my son. But that has never gotten in the way of appreciating art in our family and this record is art, created by two young kids just out of Wesleyan. Listening to it makes me feel their age and that's a good thing.
3) Here's To Being Here - Jason Collett. The first of two solo projects on this list. Jason's from Broken Social Scene, a personal favorite of mine, but honestly this record is better than anything they've ever done. Jason's put out something that sounds like what a late 60s/early 70s folk-rock record would sound like if it was made today. I listened to this record non-stop this summer. Its not in heavy rotation anymore but when I do put it back on, I can sing along to the entire record and I probably always will be able to do that. Its a fun, easy, rocking record and its great.
4) For Emma Forever Ago - Bon Iver. If Jason Collett got me through the summer, Bon Iver got me through last winter. This record was made in a cabin in the northern woods the previous winter and it sounds like its still coming from there. Its getting cold again in NYC, and its time to make a hot cup of tea, curl up on the couch under a blanket, and put Bon Iver on.
5) We Brave Bee Stings And All - Thao. I discovered Thao as I was coming out of my Bon Iver phase and she literally pulled me out of it. Thao is a young asian woman with a wonderful voice and light quirky songs. The Gotham Gal bought into Thao bigtime and this record was a constant in our family room/kitchen for most of this year.
6) Little Joy - Little Joy. The second solo project on my top 10 list. This comes from Fabrizio Moretti, the Strokes' drummer. I haven't really loved anything the Strokes have done since their first record but I sure do love this record. It is a little joy. And its not as much a solo project as a collaboration between three friends. I can imagine them sitting around the porch playing these songs and deciding to record them. It reminds me a lot of Ry Cooder's Paradise and Lunch and David Lindley's El Rayo Ex, two other little joys of mine
7) Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend. I remember late last year my oldest daughter played me a few Vampire Weekend tracks she'd found on hype machine. She said 'this is my new favorite band'. And so it was and it became our family's favorite band for a good while. One of the musical highlights of the year was going with the whole family to see Vampire Weekend at an outdoor music festival in Paris this summer. We knew all the songs and could sing all the words. So did all the parisian kids too
8) Only By The Night - Kings Of Leon. Another musical highlight from our time in Paris was the KOL show we saw at Le Zenith. MGMT opened but I got everyone on the wrong metro train and we ended up only seeing KOL. Oh well. I think I've finally lived that down. They were playing a few songs from the new record this summer but I didn't hear it in its full incarnation until this fall. This record has been trashed by Pitchfork and others as a sellout. Its clearly an attempt to reach a mainstream audience and inherit U2's throne at the top of anthem rock. I don't like it as much as Aha Shake Heartbreak but then I don't think any record made this decade beats Aha Shake Heartbreak. Only By The Night features the best singing of Caleb's short but brilliant career and the songs are catchy and good. It may be mainstream but I still like it better than most of what I heard this year.
9) Volume One - She and Him. M Ward is one of my favorite musicians working today. When I heard he'd teamed up with the beautiful and sweet Zoe Deschanel to make a record, I was curious and a bit baffled. But the result came out great. The gruff Matt and the sweet Zoe made a perfect pairing and like Jack White did a few years back with Loretta Lynn, M Ward made sure the songs came out great. This one's a real gem.
10) Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust - Sigur Ros. This was a late bloomer for me. The record came out late summer but I didn't get into it until the past month. Sigur Ros is mood music and I guess I needed to get into the right mood. I did and this record delivered more Sigur Ros wonderfulness. If you like them, get this record.
There are six other records that I seriously considered for the top 10. So here's the Honorable Mention list:
Conor Oberst – Conor Oberst. Really tough call. Deserved to be on the top 10 list but couldn't figure out who to cut to get it there.
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes Will absolutely be on Gotham Gal's list. It would easily be on our "most listens in our family room/kitchen list". Great record.
Konk - Kooks. My son's favorite band. I am very partial to them too. This one has great songs but isn't as good as their debut. The lead singer Luke is one of the most talented songwriters out there right now.
Consolers Of The Lonely - Raconteurs. Three or four great songs. If it were more consistent, it would have made top 10. Jack White is a guitar god.
Hometowns - The Rural Alberta Advantage. This one was suggested to me by a fellow tumbler who saw I was putting a top 10 list together last week. I bought the record that very day (on emusic, not on Amazon yet) and have been obsessed with it since. If I had more time with it, it might have made the list. My oldest daughter describes them as Decemberists meet Neutral Milk Hotel. I describe them as awesome.
That's it. I hope you like the list and I also hope that you click on those links and buy some music. And if you'd like to listen first, go to fredwilson.fm. I've been posting nothing but songs from these records for the past week and a half and you can listen to this list there. I just did while I was posting this and it's great.