Monday, December 1, 2008

Chad VanGaalen: Soft Airplane (5/5)

Jonathan's #1 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Sub Pop
Genre: Psychedelic Lo-Fi Pop
TRT: 54:27

VanGaalen was an artist that I stumbled upon while listening to one of the radio stations I had created on When I found out he had an album coming out this year I was really excited, and I had a lot of expectations based upon the earlier material he's composed. One listen all the way through and I knew it would already be one of my top albums of the year. This album has all the bells and whistles of the normal VanGaalen songs, except I think this is his best songwriting. The songwriting is so good I don't feel any low points on the album, he just keeps bringing the goodies we all love.

VanGaalen is also an amazing artist in animation. Watching the songs he's made videos for on YouTube just makes the experience of this album even more amazing than just the mental visual images I get while only listening.

01 Willow Tree
02 Bones of Man
03 Cries of the Dead
04 Inside the Molecules
05 Bare Feet on Wet Griptape
06 Phantom Anthills
07 Poisonous Heads
08 TMNT Mask
09 Molten Light
10 Old Man + the Sea
11 City of Electric Light
12 Rabid Bits of Time
12 Frozen Energon

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Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes (5/5)

Jonathan's #2 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Sub Pop
Genre: Baroque Harmonic Pop
TRT: 54:27

Fleet Foxes is a five-piece Seattle based band who describe their music as "baroque harmonic pop jams". This is a perfect way to describe it because in some places you'll hear 5 part harmonies that are just so beautiful paired with an up-tempo drum beat.

I bought this vinyl from my local record store "Speakertree Records" after I'd heard the internet leak, which I was immediately digging upon my first listen. I was also really impressed to see the band was releasing not only their full-length but also the ep "Sun Giant" together with the gate fold packaging. The artwork alone is a great reason to purchase these two records but once you start listening to the music you realize the talent and songwriting is rarely matched.

There are so many tracks I could highlight but they all take you on an amazing journey. Overall, I can't get over the earthy tones, harmonies, and natural feeling this one gives me.

Full Length~
01 Sun it Rises
02 White Winter Hymnal
03 Ragged Wood
04 Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
05 Quiet Houses
06 He Doesn't Know Why
07 Heard Them Stirring
08 Your Protector
09 Meadowlarks
10 Blue Ridge Mountains
11 Oliver James

Sun Giant EP~
01 Sun Giant
02 Drops in the River
03 English House
04 Mykonos
05 Innocent Son

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The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse (4.5/5)

Jonathan's #3 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Jagjaguwar
Genre: Psychedelic/Atmospheric Indie Rock
TRT: 52:42

The Besnard Lakes are an indie rock band from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Formed by the husband and wife team of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. The band are currently a six-piece centered around the atmospheric songs of Lasek and Goreas, whose expansive sound culls from numerous aspects of rock 'n' roll history.

This band does more than just the "indie" sound that we've all come to know the meaning of in our own ways, but I feel they are creating their own niche in this ever expanding genre by adding psychedelic and atmospheric elements. The album starts out with a falsetto vocal part layered over top of tremolo guitar and a violin, which I think just sets the perfect mood for any listener about to experience the rest of these songs. And it doesn't hurt to have amazing bass lines that draw you deeper into the vibes and feelings saturated all over this recording.

This is the year where the "Beach Boys" harmonies and vocal styles are coming back stronger than ever, and this not an exception. With that said, I think anyone can listen and still appreciate the complete originality of the beautiful musicianship.

01 Disaster
02 For Agent 13
03 And You Lied to Me
04 Devastation
05 Because Tonight
06 Rides the Rails
07 On Bedford and Grand
08 Cedric's War

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Jim Noir: Jim Noir (4.5/5)

Jonathan's #4 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: My Dad
Genre: Psychedelic Electronic Indie Pop
TRT: 57:37

Jim Noir (real name Alan Roberts) is an English singer-songwriter from Davyhulme, Manchester. This is his sophomore release and I have to say he just keeps getting better. Roberts goes deeper into his electronic side which normally I don't like too much of, but everything that goes on through-out the album just continues to uplift me. The harmonies are reminiscent of The Beach Boys but they have such a great tone that I never really caught myself thinking that until now. Honestly, this reminds me the most of the writing style of Caribou, because not only are the harmonies, electronic, and guitar wonderful, but the percussion on this album stays on par with all the other instruments. I'd have to say there is no lull in this album, everything continues to flow until it is finally over.

01 Welcome Commander Jameson
02 All Right
03 What U Gonna Do
04 Don't Worry
05 Ships and Clouds
06 Happy Day Today
07 Look Around You
08 Good Old Vinyl
09 Same Place Holiday
10 Day by Day by Day
11 Welcome CJ
12 On a Different Shelf
13 Forever Endeavor

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Dr. Dog: Fate (4.5/5)

Jonathan's #5 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Park the Van
Genre: Indie Blues Pop
TRT: 54:55

Dr. Dog is a psychedelic rock group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which formed in 1999.

"Fate" is a really catchy album that brings back the feelings I get when I hear Bob Dylan and The Band, because it has the bluesy soul that so much of the music today has forgotten. It definitely has the newer edge to it that you would expect, but instead of letting the music from the past define them they manipulate it to their individuality to create something new and unpredictable.

01 The Breeze
02 Hang On
03 The Old Days
04 Army of Ancients
05 The Rabbit, the Bat, and the Reindeer
06 The Ark
07 From
08 100 Years
09 Uncovering the Old
10 The Beach
11 My Friend

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The Explorers Club: Freedom Wind (4.5/5)

Jonathan's #6 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Dead Oceans
Genre: Psychedelic Sunshine Pop
TRT: 54:27

The Explorers Club are a pop rock band from the coast of South Carolina. They are a 6 man band who are heavily influenced by the harmony styles of the Beach Boys.

Although, the band has stolen the style of the Beach Boys, I can't say they've stolen anything else, nor can I say anything bad about this release. With each listen I continue to love each song more. I can't help but feel that this album in it's concept was sent through the cosmos and reincarnated into the present as the lost Beach Boys album; and not only the lost album, but possibly even the best album

01 Forever
02 Honey Don't I Know Why
03 Don't Forget the Sun
04 Lost My Head
05 Do You Love Me?
06 Summer Air
07 If You Go
08 In the Country
09 Safe Distance
10 Hold Me Tight
11 Last Kiss
12 Freedom Wind

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The Ruby Suns: Sea Lion (4.5/5)

Jonathan's #7 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Sub Pop
Genre: Neo Psychedelic World Indie Pop
TRT: 53:14

Headed by writer Ryan McPhun, the New Zealand's The Ruby Suns formed in Auckland in 2004. Ryan and his Dictaphone (portable tape recorder) have ventured into the wilds of Africa, the ancient monasteries of Thailand, and the haunting landscapes that surround his everyday. This really shows through as I was instantly feeling the raw vibes and colourful tones wrapped into this shoegaze/world indie pop album.

The harmonies this year have been outstanding, and The Ruby Suns may just have some of the most unique blends. There are some intense sounds on some places through-out the album that I have no idea how they were made which fascinates me more than anything else. I think these sounds are so special because it really shows that the band is fishing for new ideas and feelings that haven't yet been dropped into existence.

01 Blue Penguin
02 Oh, Mojave
03 Tane Mahuta
04 There Are Birds
05 It's Mwangi in Front of Me
06 Remember
07 Ole Rinka
08 Adventure Tour
09 Kenya Dig It?
10 Morning Sun

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