There may well be more to come, but it's getting to that list time of year again. And there's nothing I like better than a good list, so I'm getting mine in early. Jamie dabbles in that sort of thing, too...
The Dodos – Ashley (Visiter)
There was something about the biting cold of early spring that I found within the music of The Dodos. I was heading towards my finals at uni and each day entailed an uphill hike to the library for hours of silent reading, and something about the cross rhythms in Ashley seemed a part of the heavy momentum of that time. Coupled with which, the exponential improvement in this band’s live shows over the course of the year make them worthy of an end of year accolade, if nothing else.
Laura Marling – Blackberry Stone (Cross Your Fingers EP)
Alas, I Cannot Swim blew the large majority of the music press, including myself, away, even earning Miss Marling a Mercury nomination. (“I’ve no idea what all this is about,” she later confessed to me at the awards ceremony.) But it is in ‘Blackberry Stone’, originally the B-side to single ‘Cross Your Fingers’, that Marling’s astounding vocal range and the mesmerising ache in her lyrics really comes to the fore.
Frightened Rabbit – Backwards Walk (The Midnight Organ Fight)
The Midnight Organ Fight seems one of those albums that people can form an almost unspeakably personal relationship with – even bloggers who usually muster prolific jive on any given subject. Scott Hutchison’s broken Scottish brogue and the band’s epic approach to instrumentation express a kind of red-blooded hurt that is severed before it really takes off in Backwards Walk, a musical manifestation of the frustrated lyrics. The Daytrotter session of this track is a must.
MGMT – Kids (Oracular Spectacular)
Maybe one day, I will be able to listen to this song again. Right now it’s still more irritating than Katy Perry. It became the inescapable summer anthem of 2008, and it was rammed down my throat almost hourly at every festival I went to. But it’s for that reason it makes the top five, too, because one day I’ll hear it and remember chasing mediocre pop stars around Glastonbury and climbing midnight trees in Benicassim and drinking whisky with boys in bands at Roskilde.
Fleet Foxes – Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Fleet Foxes)
It was actually stumbling upon a First Aid Kit cover of this that I fell in love with it, leading me to properly listen to Fleet Foxes’ much lauded debut album. Baroque pop? The saviours of American music? Sounds overblown, but in a strange way Fleet Foxes deserve it for reinventing Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young for a new generation, for sounding so unlike everything else that was released this year, and for the best Jesus facial hair this side of the bible. Amen.
And the shortlist: The Acorn – Oh Napoleon (Glory Hope Mountain) / British Sea Power – Canvey Island (Do You Like Rock Music) / Deerhunter – Saved By Old Times (Microcastle) / The Kills – Cheep and Cheerful (Midnight Boom) / The Last Shadow Puppets – Meeting Place (The Age Of The Understatement) / Mystery Jets – Flakes (Twenty-One) / Raconteurs – Many Shades Of Black (Consolers Of The Lonely) / Tokyo Police Club – In A Cave (Elephant Shell) / TV On The Radio – Halfway Home (Dear Science)