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    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    WASU's Top Ten Albums of 2008

    It's that time of year when everyone in the whole entire world puts together lists of their favorite stuff of the year. Why should WASU be any different? These lists always cause a ton of controversy. So, this is the list of albums we here at WASU either played the heck out of, wished we could play more of, or we were just really digging. Without further ado:

    10. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
    The '59 Sound didn't catch my attention right away. I think it was one of those days in the office where every five minutes something was distracting me. Nevertheless, I knew it was good. When it came time decide whether to put Gaslight into rotation, we thought the title track was irresistible. A week or so later, our own David Edscorn decided the album was good enough to write a review of it for this blog. He describes their sound better than I'll ever be able to. Not only did we like the Gaslight Anthem, so did you, our listeners. We got dozens of requests for The Gaslight Anthem, even long after The '59 Sound was out of rotation.

    9. The Dodos - Visiter
    It seems like every time we played "Fools" from this awesome second LP by the Dodos, someone called in wanting to know who the song was by. Meric Long plays an acoustic guitar with more ferocity (just give "Jodi" a listen) than anyone I've ever heard. Matched with Logan Kroeber's thudding and snare-rim laden drums, this duo makes some of the most sincere and passionate music today. David Escorn also gave us a review of Visiter.

    8. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
    With the release of Dear Science, TV on the Radio have catapulted to the forefront of America's musical consciousness so much so that Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Spin, Consequence of Sound, and the Pitchfork reader's poll named Dear Science the best album of 2008. The sounds on this album range so greatly that it's hard to pin this as solely an indie, rock, hip-hop, r&b, or funk record (yes, funk). It's hard to ever say that a band is completely and utterly unique, but TVotR is. Not since Radiohead blew everyone's minds in the 90's has there been a band this creative and original.

    7. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
    Consolers of the Lonely, the second LP from The Raconteurs, was purposely snuck into the marketplace before critics could review it before the release -- a bold move on the band's part. With only a week's notice before its release, Consolers has still managed to match, if not better, the success of The Raconteurs' debut (and rightfully so). From the opening title track to the eerie closer, "Carolina Drama," White and Benson showcase their ability to make rock music that their influences (The Who, Led Zeppelin, Badfinger, etc.) would be proud of. Forget The White Stripes, Consolers of the Lonely establishes The Raconteurs as Jack White's band.

    6. Radiohead - In Rainbows
    Before anyone had even heard the record, Radiohead was setting trends with In Rainbows. Their "pay whatever you want" release led Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails among others to follow suit. There's even an entire record label based on the precedent set by Radiohead, called Quote Unquote Records. As for the actual music on the album, it's classic Radiohead, though a few famous musicians feel it's a bit gray around the edges. Still, Radiohead was everywhere this year: consistently #1 on, a high-profile world tour, a few Grammy nominations. Gray or not, people like Radiohead.

    5. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
    For a lot of people Vampire Weekend is a guilty pleasure. I can see it, with their clean-cut Ivy League backgrounds, comparisons to Paul Simon, and their videos premiering on FNMTV. If have to say though, once you see Ezra Koenig rocking some hardcore punk songs with Fucked Up, you gain a lot of respect for him and his band. Besides, Vampire Weekend make some fun, happy, chill songs about some pretty random stuff. What's not to like about pairing distaste for the Oxford comma with cocaine use?

    4. Dr. Dog - Fate
    I've always thought of Dr. Dog as Boone's band. When I listen to Dr. Dog and when I walk through town, I get the same feeling. Sometimes I'll hear some Dog when I'm in restaurants or in record stores, and people on campus will ask me if I've ever heard of them. Sometimes, too, I hear them in Naked Gods and The Major Sevens cited them as a big influence. Boone and Dr. Dog just seem to go together. When Juston from the band called up the station to thank us for playing Fate he said he had heard about Boone and the station manager encouraged him to play a show here sometime. Fate is filled with great songs that harken back to the past when things were simpler while remaining musically complex and interesting.

    3. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
    The Hold Steady's Craig Finn doesn't write songs, he writes stories. No lie, this semester one of my English professors broke out lyric sheets to one of their songs, and we spent half the class analyzing it like a short story. Musically they've garnered comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, but The Hold Steady are much darker than Springsteen ever was. Their songs are about drunken nights, parties, murder, and idealism. Craig Finn has said this album is about aging gracefully and holding true to the ideals of your youth. With their fourth album, The Hold Steady have certainly aged gracefully. The first five songs on Stay Positive could easily be the top five songs on anyone's list this year. 

    2. Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
    Only By the Night was under attack from the get-go. Pitchfork and PopMatters gave the Kings scathing reviews. But, of course, Pitchfork has always held some kind of grudge against the Followills. The band has only had mild success in the U.S., but they're kings in Britain. With Only By the Night, Kings of Leon bring that success home. They've brought a more polished feel to their southern-twinged garage rock sound, and their mega-hit "Sex On Fire" is a guilty pleasure like no other. The first six songs on this album have been a mainstay on the air and around offices of WASU. 

    1. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
    What is there to say about MGMT that hasn't already been said this year? They've gone from "college-dorm experiment" to one of the hippest bands in the world in less than twelve months. Instead of just singing songs about living lives of stardom, drugs, and models, now they can live the fast life for themselves (but hopefully not die young). Their psychedelic videos for "Time to Pretend" and "Electric Feel" and stage attire have even influenced the designer fashion world. The opening synth riff of "Kids" is as infectious as they come, and Andrew VanWyngarden's vocals seem almost otherworldly and chilling. Each song on Oracular Spectacular is as memorable as the next, each an essential part of an overarching metaphysical experience. These will be the anthems of our lives for years to come. 

    Local Albums
    Here are some of our favorite albums from North Carolinians and North Carolina natives:
    The Rosebuds - Life Like
    Naked Gods - Welcome Home
    Annuals - Such Fun
    Do It To Julia - Archie Carrol
    Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cardinology
    Sugar Glyder - We Cracked the Sky
    The Sammies - Sandwich
    Ben Folds - Way to Normal
    The Avett Brothers - The Gleam II
    The Groves - Simply Put EP

    Manchester Orchestra - Let My Pride Be What's Left Behind
    Wintergreen - Forest St
    Tom Gabel - Heart Burns
    The King Left - New York Nothing
    Annuals/Sunfold - Wet Zoo
    Mason Proper - Short Hand
    Blue Giant - Target Heart
    Bang!Bang!Eche! - Bang! Bang! Eche!
    Foreign Orange - Foreign Orange
    Audrye Sessions - Audrye Sessions
    Other Lives - Other Lives
    Past Lives - Strange Symmetry
    Be Your Own Pet - Get Damaged
    White Lies - Death

    Music Department Picks
    1. Why? - Alopecia
    2. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
    3. Dead Confederate - Wrecking Ball
    4. Foals - Antidotes
    5. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
    6. Dodos - Visiter
    7. Dr. Dog - Fate
    8. Deerhunter - Microcastles
    9. Tim Fite - Fair Ain't Fair
    10. Mason Proper - Olly Oxen Free

    1. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
    2. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
    3. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
    4. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
    5. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
    6. The (International) Noise Conspiracy - The Cross of My Calling
    7. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
    8. Dodos - Visiter
    9. No Age - Nouns
    10. Dead Confederate - Wrecking Ball

    1. Young Widows - Old Wounds
    2. Paint It Black - New Lexicon
    3. Torche - Meanderthal
    4. Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life
    5. Algernon Cadwallader - Some Kind of Cadwallader
    6. Bridge & Tunnel - East/West
    7. Harvey Milk - Life...The Best Game In Town
    8. Naked Gods - Welcome Home
    9. Murs & 9th Wonder - Sweet Lord