The Greatest 7 inches of 2008
This year will be remembered as ushering in the age of shitgaze. Wrong or right, the sound is here to stay. These are the singles that stood out in '08 in no particular order.
Jay Reatard topped everyone before and after him by releasing (7) 7"'s this year in increasingly smaller quantity from Matador records. A historic offering of which not even the most serious collector could possibly hope to get every one. It's literally not possible. The final installment was easily less than 300 pressed with 5 different sleeves. Impossible. It's like he was taunting all of us once a month to just give up. Deal with it. Come to a place where you are ok with your obsession. Don't let it get out of control.
Matador's site would routinely crash, leaving frustrated customers trying to check out and being told that item is no longer available. But they took a chance and maybe lost as many fans as new ones they gained.
Was it Jay completely calling a sell out a sell out? Or is he just as much a fan of the singles as I am.
I think he must be a fan and maybe even feels an allegiance to the single helping to distribute his genius. The fact that these are all released on a double LP makes me think it's more than just building the hype.
I took the liberty to track a majority of them throughout 2008 and they really are all over the place, the market hasn't really settled on a fair price. Generally they are on their way down but ebay can taketh away.
This is the most decadent, exclusive series ever. He took the idea of the lowly disposable cheap seven inch and elevated it to a fucking monument of collectability and greed. I am willing to admit my problem and do nothing about it.
The Muslims, or The Soft Pack formerly known as The Muslims, released this great single 'Parasites and Walking with Jesus' in 2008.
I'm still not convinced this is the best name they came up with after days of deliberation, but that's really completely irrelevant. They are just that good, they can do whatever they want.
I'll find your new myspace Soft Pack and go see you live again and again.
After the complete genius of the self titled LP release and the Extinction video they can do no wrong in my book.
No comparisons to the Strokes please, they don't care enough to have that kind of tailored attitude, and wardrobe.
I get mad just thinking about those hacks...or what they've become. Help me Soft Pack, I want to remember how good a perfect 3 minutes can be and an amazing live show can push this perfection one step further.
This track, Parasites is completely new territory, they are maybe a little self aware of where they are headed at this point, and probably have a little more access to the things they want. The music certainly isn't suffering. It's a meticulously crafted gem in line with their greatest work so far. Walking with Jesus is just icing on the cake, it's a great cover, they reinterpret it without losing the spirit of the original.
They are the most exciting American garage rock band this year.
The Vivian Girls get second place for number of quality singles released in 2008. First 'Orphanage', then 'Wild Eyes', and finally 'I Can't Stay'.
I can't say much for the Surf's Up single as it hasn't arrived yet, but that will be number four.
They might get first place for amount of hype or should I say coverage...hype implies some kind of marketing machine with a master plan.
So....What's to say? Is it annoying this will be on everyone's end of the year best of lists? Probably. That's the price you pay for making such an impression in 12 months.
Does it live up to the amount of press? Undoubtedly.
They just tracked and trapped that perfect reverb sound on guitar and vocals that then went on to make the Crystal Stilts huge as well, thanks in part to the girls drummer Frankie Rose (who I think has gone on to join the Stilts permanently).
They make it so easy, combining the good elements for a revival of that surf/velvets sound. I was excited about the Coathangers and the loose messy garage punk they were making but I have to say the Vivian Girls are another thing entirely. It's as exciting, impossible to describe- You have to be there wall of sound.
Copies sat on the shelf at Academy records with a sign saying 'Why pay $30 on ebay?' they were still routinely going for $20.... probably by the guys at Academy. Genius.
Rosemary Krust - Self Titled single
This girl/guy guitar and bass duo with no percussion from Maryland (I know it doesn't sound like that could ever work) plays with all kinds of delay and loops, gently singing over top in sonic youth homage and really to everything great and indie from the past ten years. The experimental side of the Pixies, the challenging things from Cabaret Voltaire. Speeding tape playback, humming ungrounded cables. It's all completely interesting thanks to Rosemary Krust and played with brand new fingers and ears. I am watching closely...and I want more.
The best part of this whole indie package was the rough cut manila folder stamped with the RK logo with an etching in wood or something. Really thick and a testament to DIY. Take that bands everywhere.
the errors - Toes single
I am a huge fan of the instrumental math rock that's no surprise....this was one of those random finds that I latched onto this year. I think it was released on Mogwai's new label, which of course gave it some immediate credibility for me, and I think this could be going in an interesting direction.
There's all the changes and craftsmanship I expect from this descendant of Don Cab... they push the time signatures but aren't afraid of the electronics, little elements added here and there...maybe more like the Sea and Cake...that's all here...
I do want them to stick with the guitars, and forget the electronics, it just never ends up that interesting...years later to listen to. I'm a little weary of this all electronic direction they are taking, but not since Bronze have I been this psyched about a new find.
Blank Dogs - Stuck inside the world 7"
I picked this one because I know for fact this was released in '08.
I feel I was a little late in getting on the Dogs train. I can't exactly find an accurate discography where all the singles I have are listed chronologically so I'm going to let this one be the stand in for the rest.
This has all the awesomeness of a lone bedroom project with all the great chord changes of a Brian Wilson but trapped inside a TRS-80... like a fucked up classical composer Max Headroom.
Blank Dogs are bringing a primitivism back to electronics. A real glitchyness to the synth circuits years beyond the promise of Crystal Castles. Low-Fi... this is the real deal....so underground it's literally dripping with insanity and straightjacket's. It's like coming across the abandoned asylum and finally going in one night and going through the rusted file drawers and finding old reel to reel tapes of this...pressed on beautiful vinyl.
I'm scared to see this live.
Eat skull - Dead Families 7" on Skulltones
This was a random lucky as hell purchase right from the beginning.
I think Paul from 7,10,12 emailed me about this one and I am grateful as hell.
The B side of this single 'No Intelligence' is one of the best. It will go on their greatest hits Gold collection. Perfect song that kept me playing it over and over. Plus I loved the sleeve with all my demented heart.
I think what it is is that they don't use the shitgaze effect across everything it's selectively used on tracks...like the synth...then the vocals have reverb/delay on 11, but it's kind of clear. It's very selective shitgaze. Shitgaze with specific glasses. It's like a long lost basement tape from the real Bob Dylan, it's a country jam, sung out like there might not ever be music again. This might be the last single recorded for the Lord Jesus...and I'm just fine with this. I would want to go down on the top of a mountain in a thunderstorm, kind of in the background with this blaring out from two huge towers of speakers, my fist raised, waiting for the final blow.
Nodzzz - I Don't Wanna (Smoke Marijuana) b/w We Are The Only Animals
I still remember fondly getting this single wrapped in a pizza box addressed by someone in the band, I'm sure. I always remind myself that's why singles rule...period. They had a pile of these under the bed, in the hall, next to the kitchen table and I got one of them. This is pure stripped down garage rock at it's peak. It's at the perfect state here on this 7"....like one of those quarks...as soon as you notice it, it's going to change, and everything around it. things will never be the same.
Sasha Frere Jones top list for 08. I'm shocked at the amount of crap that's on there. Brittney Spears? Honestly, who is he working for, sometimes just when I think he's really digging deep asking really interesting questions about music, then I read a list like that, and I want to throw in the towel, Granted I haven't listened to the Brittney Album or the Portishead album...and maybe this isn't about taste at all but some kind of cultural standard he's referring to, but I don't think I even need to hear about Saw V, i know it's going to be for a specific shit audience. What it says about society as a whole? That's for someone else to figure out, I have nothing to do with that, or care about anyone that takes that seriously.