December 23, 2008 Naturally, no year-end music list can be definitive, just as it's impossible to rate a year in music using purely objective measures of quality. So here are the 10 albums that Song of the Day editor Stephen Thompson treasured the most in 2008.
December 12, 2008 For all its moments of impishness, Sigur Ros' new album remains terrific during those times when it reverts to portentous austerity and inscrutability. "Festival" is a wondrously majestic epic, as weird and sprawling and soaring as it is accessibly beautiful.
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December 11, 2008 "Willow Tree," from VanGaalen's new album Soft Airplane, finds hope in the sweet release of his own demise. But the song's warm, loping arrangement makes the morbid sentiment ("When I'm dead / that's when I'll be free") go down as smooth as a tall glass of iced tea.
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November 24, 2008 The making of Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy took more than a decade, during which time the hard-rock band spent many millions of dollars and experienced the departure of every prominent band member except reclusive singer Axl Rose. Now that the album is finally in stores, does it live up to expectations?
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November 14, 2008 We've come up with many excuses to have artists play Tiny Desk Concerts. Usually, it's just an opportunity to bring in artists who haven't gotten as much of our attention as we'd like to give them.
November 13, 2008 It makes sense for a song about traveling to spend most of its four minutes in a state of slow build: The Silent Years' "On Our Way Home" takes its sweet time drifting and fluttering along, as singer Josh Epstein issues falsetto-soaked ruminations on burying photo albums, getting lost and celebrating the memories of lost loved ones.
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October 31, 2008 Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek is remarkably adept at crafting somber, epic ballads like the gorgeous "Lost Verses," which opens April. Affecting and engrossing in spite of its nearly 10-minute running time, "Lost Verses" fits seamlessly alongside Kozelek's best work with Red House Painters.
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October 29, 2008 For a singer who's spent years honing his weary, Neil Diamond-esque croak, Crooked Fingers' Eric Bachmann seems to be having something approximating fun on his new album. In "Cannibals," he immerses his voice in an arrangement that positively sparkles with chiming guitars and sunny harmonies.
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October 28, 2008 Throughout The Heligoats' "Kind/Brutal," singer Chris Otepka keeps piling on the ideas. But at some point along the way, they actually cohere, forming a bittersweet look at two misanthropes who stay together, in large part, because they don't deserve better.
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October 24, 2008 For guys at the epicenter of so much music-world chatter, Seth and Scott Avett sure spend a lot of time ruminating gently on the nature of memory. About halfway through "Tear Down the House," their unsentimental bravado is revealed as a desperate plea for escape from the past.
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October 23, 2008 Just because the rotten economy has created an increasingly labor-unfriendly environment, that doesn't mean you can't whip up a heap of righteous, entitled indignation. If you need motivation to demand a raise, here are five songs to get those palms pointed upward and outward.
October 9, 2008 As you sit in your bleak, gray cubicle and wrap up those third-quarter reports, be sure to take a moment, sweep away the ashes of your dashed dreams, don a pair of headphones, and listen to this five-song playlist as you plod grimly through this waking life.
October 9, 2008 "Hope Mountain" finds singer Antony Hegarty offering up only a vague sketch of what lands somewhere between a fairy tale and a folk tale, with some whispers of deeper spiritual meaning at the end. But it may be his most wrenchingly gorgeous song yet.
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October 2, 2008 Maybe your relationship will mark the beginning of a lifetime in which you alternate bliss and contentment. Perhaps it'll lead to a ruinous, humiliating spectacle in which vicious rumors give way to desktop knickknacks being stuffed hastily into boxes and hauled out by security. Either way, you need these five songs to guide you through your exciting and unpredictable new life.
September 29, 2008 The former Clem Snide singer always mixed wryness with unmistakable warmth. In "The Girls Don't Care," he needles those for whom expressions of love run counter to a painstakingly maintained ironic distance.
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