Thursday, December 25, 2008

25 best songs I've heard all year

So everyone's been putting out their top 10 albums...

... and of course I want to do the same. But in retrospect, I can't really name that many albums from 2008 I REALLY liked. I loved Girl Talk's Feed The Animals and Wale's Mixtape About Nothing (both of which I really, really recommend), but other than a few other rap albums nothing stood out.

I decided to do something a little different. I did a lot of musical exploration this year, on YouTube, message boards, and various other outlets. There were DEFINITELY several individual tracks that I fell in love with, so I thought I'd put out a list of singles.

These are the songs I played right when I woke up, or after intramural basketball games, or that I downloaded after Blue Angel shows. These are the songs that jumped out at me and made me look deeper into the artists that produced them... each song has a YouTube link where you can listen to it.

... and of course I can't remember who I wanted to tag! shit

THIS IS NOT LIMITED TO TRACKS RELEASED IN 2008... in fact, most of them are older.

I divided them into "ROCK" and "RAP" lists


1. Birdland by Weather Report (

This is such a weird song, but I honestly can't get enough. I heard it in Artscore when Eric Heukeshoven played it. It's by a jazz fusion group that features Jaco Pastorius, a late legend on bass guitar. I started my mornings with this song for at least two weeks...

2. Laser Gun Carrying by N.E.R.D (

So funky... Pharrell comes correct on this experimental track. It's a UK exclusive track off of Seeing Sounds, which I really don't get. This is my favorite song off of the album, and I was deeply saddened when they didn't play it at GITD Tour. There's just something about this one that catches my ear.

3. Sukie in the Graveyard by Belle & Sebastian (

I have no idea who this band is or what else they do, but this song rocks. Mike Eddy played it for me and I was hooked. Despite its morbid themes, I'm hard pressed to find a more cheery and upbeat song.

4. Just Got to Be by the Black Keys (

A two-piece band, The Black Keys make up for their low numbers with fat distortion and heavy beats. I auditioned this song for Blue Angel and didn't get in... but I really enjoyed it and included it on this list.

5. Africa by Toto (

So self-explanatory. I heard it a long time ago but just recently figured out the name/artist.

6. Four Winds by Bright Eyes (

A nice little country-rock jam that caught my ear in a big way. The organ/violin combo is beautiful. Please try to get past how distracting the music video is...

7. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Pt. 1) (

I heard it at Gaslight... Bryan Atchison permanently etched it into my brain.

8. Another Kind of Green by the John Mayer Trio (

I played this song with my band from late freshman year. It was always our best song, and we tried it out for Gaslight but got cut along with like 40 other acts. I still love drumming to it and all other John Mayer Trio songs! A great melody too.

9. A Whiter Shade of Pale (acoustic) (

I know, a YouTube cover? It's quite simply the most beautiful acoustic arrangement I've ever heard, besides Eric Clapton's unplugged stuff. If you are a fan at all of the original, this will hit you in the heart and make you a little teary.

10. House of the Rising Sun by the Animals (

One of the most covered songs ever... and for good reason. The haunting guitar/organ combo is one that has lived 40 years and will continue to be spooky for decades to come.

Honorable Mention:

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Metallica (
do you feel like we do by Peter Frampton (
list of demands by saul williams (
By The Morning Sun by STS9 (
crimson and clover by Tommy Jaymes (


1. Uncommon Valor by Jedi Mind Tricks (

A track about the Vietnam War. The second verse is from a guest artist named Rugged Man who raps about his father's experience overseas... the definition of conscious rap. This song is sick and should be listened to by any rap fan.

2. '88 by The Cool Kids (

This shit takes me back to 8th grade when I was obsessed with Run-DMC and everything involving 80's rap. Listening to this song makes me want to go out and cop an Adidas jumpsuit with Gazelle frames and a Kangol. Sick.

3. My Life by The Game (

Sometimes you have to sit back and play something just fucking gangster. Who better than The Game to fulfill that need? The hook is just so soulful... and don't tell me auto-tune ruins it, it enhances it. One of the best sad gangster's anthem since Gangsta's Paradise and Thug's Mansion.

4. Black President by Nas (

Off his N*gger Mixtape, Nas kills it. The beat is a great marching snare rhythm combined with a piano lick and a Tupac sample (sound familiar? It's from "Changes"). Obama's voice was also perfectly cut from his speech. Sometimes Nas comes off as too radical, but this song really got spins this year.

5. Welcome to Heartbreak by Kanye West (

A masterful track off a heartfelt album. So catchy, yet the lyrics make you feel a little for the guy. If you want to read my full review of the album, go here.

6. The Opening Title Sequence by Wale (

Off my favorite mixtape ever, Wale samples the transition bass lines from Seinfeld and brings heat lyrically. Notice how he's using Jerry's "What's the deal with...?" line from his standup routine. A must for any Seinfeld fan.

7. None Shall Pass by Aesop Rock (

Simply put, one of the best beats I've ever heard.

8. Set Adrift on Memory Bliss by P.M. Dawn (

An old-school classic sure to spark some memories. So smooth and relaxing.

9. Dr. Carter by Lil' Wayne (

Off of the excessively-hyped Carter III, Wayne drops some nice medical metaphors in this song about reviving a sick rapper.

10. Puppets by Atmosphere (

I think I've heard this song every time I've been in Corey Sheehan's truck. Ant comes with a nice deep piano beat and Slug does his usual thing.

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