It’s the time of year for the obligatory best of. Having consulted a Ouija board and performed a series of exacting scientific tests, the Itch obliges with five albums, a handful of hits from 2008 that you may or may not have missed. Before we begin a number of honorable mentions to those that didn’t make it, DJ Rupture’s Uproot was a contender, as was Ladyhawke’s Dusk Till Dawn , The Fall’s 50 Year Old Man and Crystal Castles self titled debut. Special mention should be made of the music industry’s busiest rodent, Danger Mouse who did sterling production work for Beck, The Black Keys and his own Gnarls Barkley collaboration with Cee Lo.
#5. And the bees made honey in the lion’s skull – Earth. Southern Lord
Magisterial Country & Western drone from a post rehab, defuzzed, though still decidedly melancholic, Dylan Carlson. Sounding like Neil Young’s soundtrack to Dead Man (on powerful tranquilizers). Velveteen monks robes and dry ice are not required.
#4. JJ Got Live – RATx. Drag City
Jennifer Herrema back again with a dirty slice of fuzzed and fucked American Rock ‘n Roll. Channelling Joan Jett through the autotune in a way that behemoths like Axl Rose and moths like Metalica singularly failed to grasp, the Trux (in spirit at least) continue to swerve, Cheap Wine Time their anthem, a hillbilly paean to slackerdom.
#3. Workout Holiday – White Denim. Full Time Hobby
Putting the RAGE back in Garage (the 60’s variety) – White Denim weren’t afraid to mix it up with digital deconstruction when the ol’ 4×4 threatens to get a bit much. Shouty group vocals, jangling fenders, serpentine bass never let you forget the Seeds but then a lot of studio knob tweaking drags it kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
#2.Dear Science – T.V on The Radio. DGC/Interscope
Massive pop genius made of synthesisers and trumpets and offcuts of Bobby Conn. Whatever the occasional alarming resemblances of Tunde Adebimpe’s voice to Peter Gabriel, the words ‘stone cold disco classic’ come to mind when listening to Golden Age and Red Dress. Elsewhere there is enough quirky beauty to keep the listener diverted.
#1. Street Horrsing – Fuck Buttons
With its tinkling lullabies escalating to psychedelic drones before exploding into distorted vocals and minimal scuzz riffs, the Button’s are probably best left until you want your guests to leave. Ribs Out ups the ante with the percussion and (until Brighter Tomorrow) the outro of each mammoth track provides the intro to the next. Those brave enough to stick around may feel they have outdone their mentor’s Mogwai’s Hawk in terms of splendor, transcendence and inventiveness.