Unlike my other lists, this isn’t an attempt to order the items by preference. I’m not trying to say what the best song here is; I’m simply trying to report what songs I was most obsessed with in 2008. (These are not necessarily 2008 songs, just things I was listening during 2008.) Throughout the year, my brain has latched onto certain songs more than others and in doing so has subconsciously made this list.
It’s easy to tell how much I listened to a track (though last.fm doesn’t track myspace listens, or CD player-in-the-car listens), but that doesn’t tell the whole story with obsessions–the impact of the initial listen and each subsequent listen, how much I needed to listen to the song, and how much I was telling friends about it all factor in as well.
- Two Sheds – It’s Hard (original post)
The guitar and the steady, plodding drums put me a bit into a lull and then the breathy vocals just transfix me. It’s really an astounding–and hypnotic, almost meditative–song and came out of nowhere, at least for me.
Two Sheds – It’s Hard (mp3)
- the Rural Alberta Advantage – Don’t Haunt this Place (original post)
I’ve never seen this band live, but I imagine the drummer on this song being a manic ball of energy. The yearning voice over those drums, steady synth and cello work, but when the female vocalist comes in, it seals the deal.
the Rural Alberta Advantage – Don’t Haunt this Place (mp3)
- Bon Iver – Creature Fear->Team (original post)
On my most obsessive album of the year, many of the songs were about equal in their addictiveness. This one did edge itself a slightly more prominent spot in my brain through sparse-then-build structure and beautiful vocals.
Bon Iver – Creature Fear (mp3)
Bon Iver – Team (mp3)
- Sarah Siskind – Lovin’s For Fools (original post)
Sarah Siskind – Lovin’s For Fools (mp3)
Related to the previous item–I first heard this song when Bon Iver covered it–this song is completely worthy of its own place on my obsession list. It’s just gorgeous. If yearning was currency, this song would be rich.
- Joe Pug – Hymn #101 (original post)
You hear people doing the early Dylan thing quite often, but this is perhaps the first time a song’s made me feel the same way as the first time I heard Dylan’s “Girl from North Country” or “When the Ship Comes In”. Still to this day, I’m impressed with the depth and talent displayed in these lyrics.
Joe Pug – Hymn #101 (mp3)
- Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band – Movin’ On Up/ I Can’t Turn You Loose (Reprise 3) (original post)
This song gets me moving, but when I first heard this song, I think I jumped out of my seat and screamed when they hit the “People Get Ready” section. Those are some hot vocals, there, and a tight band to match.
Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band – Movin’ On Up/ I Can’t Turn You Loose (Reprise 3) (mp3)
- the Special Goodbye – Country Radio (demo) (original post)
Quite a simple song: electric piano, a drum machine, pedal steel and harmonized vocals. But this song is as steady as it is good–every time I’ve heard it over the last year, I’ve liked it and wanted to hear it again.
the Special Goodbye – Country Radio (demo) (mp3)
- David Bazan – I Never Wanted You (original post)
David Bazan – I Never Wanted You (mp3)
“I Never Wanted You” has long been my favorite Headphones song. It’s a great song that few people can pull off–just that classic Bazan cold bitterness. The originals buzzing synths and stark drums give it some distance, though, whereas this version is more immediate and more personal.
- Johnny Flynn – Wayne Rooney (original post)
Details. It’s all about details. This song is a great folk song in the folk ballad tradition, but it’s a bit more fluid with its imagery. There are two points that always get me: the slow-down and restart midway through and the use of the bartender’s resemblance to George Best to twist the song around.
Johnny Flynn – Wayne Rooney (mp3)
- J Tillman – Jesse’s Not a Sleeper (original post)
Minor Works, like the Bon Iver album, is an obsession album, especially it’s amazing first four songs. I’m not sure what pushed this song a bit more into obsession territory than the others, but it exhibits what they all do: nice instrumentation, great songwriting and gorgeous vocals.
J Tillman – Jesse’s Not a Sleeper (mp3)
- Breathe Owl Breathe – Toboggan (original post)
The single best banjo part in recent memory. The baritones vocals put me off at first, but now when the banjo part starts up, I find myself looking forward to them. The rest of the instrumentation, especially the cello and accordion are really nice, too.
Breathe Owl Breathe – Toboggan (mp3)
The next six in no particular order:
- Johnny Flynn – Ghost of O’Donahue (original post)
- Bon Iver – Blood Bank (original post)
- Horse Feathers – Curs in the Weeds (original post)
- James Hunter – Hand it Over (original post)
- Damien Jurado – Murderer (Low cover)
- Fanfarlo – Harold T. Wilkins