I would like to welcome everyone to a week of “Bests” from good friends on the old Slowcoustic Blogroll. I am honoured to have all 5 days (Monday through Friday) this week dedicated to what my fellow bloggers think are some of the best things they have found this past year. As previously mentioned the five blogs will each get their own day in the spotlight here on Slowcoustic, and I am extremely excited about it. To not take anything away, let’s get on with it and unveil Day 1.
The week of “Bests” starts with the always lovely Agnes from her blog – “It All Started With Carbon Monoxide“. She has graced us with something I think we always want – to be able to have a best of the year that isn’t restricted to actually being from that calendar year. Nice stuff. Check out her review and picks below!
Behind The Times
I only discovered music blogs about 18 months ago, and have been writing my own for only just under a year. In that time I’ve discovered truckloads of music and have truly realized the abundance of wonderful sounds available out there. These are some of the songs that have soundtracked 2008 for me, even though they weren’t released this year. I had a shortlist of about 12 tracks in the beginning, but realized that the majority of them were slowcoustic-esque songs so I ditched the more uptempo ones to narrow it down to the list you see now. Enjoy!
Amiina – Rugla (haunting arrangements from an Icelandic string quartet)
Earlier this year I lived about five minutes away from a man made lake in the middle of a large rural town. I used to walk down to the lake, run around it and then walk back home. This song was the soundtrack of those jaunts, although it’s about as far removed from exercise music as you can imagine. There was something about the rhythm though that seemed to match my footsteps, and it made me forget about my laboured breaths and dry throat. Listening to it now, I can picture the path winding through the trees before me and the ducks floating serenely on the surface of the water.
Joan As Police Woman – The Ride (quiet, late night vibe, nice strings and sultry vocals)
At the start of the year I was working nights and I’d finish at 12 or 1 in the morning and come home and still be all wired and awake. It was a really hot summer too so the nights were still quite warm. I used to grab something to eat, have a beer or two and surf the blogs looking for good tunes before plonking into bed around 3 or 4 and waking up around noon the next day. This song was the perfect accompaniment to those long balmy nights.
Lanterns On The Lake – Caught On The Way (dreamy, ethereal vocals and instrumentation)
When I was a kid, and later on as an adult, I devoured the Narnia books, re-reading them several times. In ‘Voyage Of The Dawn Treader’ Lucy, Edmund and Eustance travel with Prince Caspian to recover seven lost lords. Along the way they meet a fallen star and his daughter who live on the island at the beginning of the end of the world. I reckon this is how she would sound when she sang.
Teitur – I Was Just Thinking (acoustic lament of lost love)
This song is all about making peace with the breakdown of a relationship and while it’s pretty melancholy, it’s beautifully executed and maintains a glimmer of hope all the way through. I never get tired of this one.
William Fitzsimmons – Everything Has Changed (self-recorded lo-fi by multi instrumental singer-songwriter)
When I heard this song earlier this year I knew that I’d come across it somewhere before and it took me a while to figure out where. It’s in an episode of ‘Scrubs’ which is a show that I initially resisted for several years, thinking that it was dumb and irrelevant. It’s now one of my favourites, largely for its ability to be daggy, comical and touching within the space of five minutes. Zach Braff has some great taste musically (think Garden State) and I believe he’s responsible for the inclusion of many of the tunes you hear on ‘Scrubs’.
Angus & Julia Stone – Wasted (acoustic folk duo from Sydney, Australia)
I’ve only known about this song for a couple of months but it’s quickly become a firm favourite. ‘I’m so wasted on you’… I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to use that line before! This track was quite often the only good thing about getting in the car and driving to work during a month or so of report writing and last minute assessment of my students. And how come I can’t sing like that?
Brandi Carlile – Tragedy (Austin Cello Version) (cello based gorgeousness with dark smoky vocals)
This song hits me hard every time. It’s not so much the lyrics, but the way the vocals dip and soar over that deep arching cello. And if I can’t sing like Julia, surely I should be able to sing like Brandi!
Okkervil River – A Stone (melancholy lyrical brilliance)
My first introduction to Okkervil River. I can’t remember who first got me into these guys, but whoever and wherever you are, I salute you. I was lucky enough to see them live early this year and this song was the highlight of a show stuffed full of highlights. It was a stripped down acoustic version, three piece – guitar, bass and horns. It began all slow and drawn out – probably a step or two slower than this album version. I was grinning like an idiot the entire way through, because it was just so damn good, and when he got to the last verse I realized I was holding my breath. It was just Will Sheff’s voice, no backing and each word was carefully measured out to create an effect that literally left a crowd of a few hundred people in complete and silent awe. I’m not ashamed to say that I even shed a quiet tear.
Sigur Rós – Starálfur (angelic Icelandic post-rock)
Beginning and ending this list with tunes from Iceland. This is my most played song of the year. Strings. Piano. Words that I don’t understand, yet still speak to me. The closest I’ll ever come to an actual spiritual experience. I can’t recommend this highly enough.
Make sure you head over to It All Started With Carbon Monoxide to say hi and for more great music. You might also find more best of 2008 that is from 2008! Stay tuned for tomorrow and more guest blogger love.