the-songs-2008-aquarium-drunkard.jpg

This year Aquarium Drunkard is wrapping up not only our favorite albums of the year (stay tuned for that) but listing some of our favorite songs from the past twelve months as well. Besides a site re-design, the blog also saw the the addition of a couple of regular contributors, J. Neas and M. Garner, whose lists you can find below my own. While you’ll notice some repeat artists (Deerhunter, Hold Steady, etc), there is only one repeat song n the three lists. We can;t hear it all, so hit us up in the comments with your favorite individual songs from ’08. – AD

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

10. Catfish Haven :: Set In Stone

cat-haven.jpgNow a few releases into their game, “Set In Stone” finds Catfish Haven continuing down the garage rock path while incorporating STAX styled horns and a touch of mid-period Talking Heads into the mix. This is the cornerstone track from an album that revels in sweat, booze, and balmy humidity — a perfect storm where everything just barely hangs together, and in doing so approaches an unlikely dirty perfection.

MP3: Catfish Haven :: Set In Stone
————
Amazon: Catfish Haven – Devastator

***************************

9. The Felice Brothers :: Frankie’s Gun

felice-bros.jpgI’ll tell ya, if I didn’t know better I would swear “Frankie’s Gun” was a lost b-side from The Band circa 1970. It’s nice to know you don’t have to visit Big Pink to get this kind of stuff in 2008. It is no coincidence this track pops up in the next two lists as well.

MP3: The Felice Brothers :: Frankie’s Gun
————
Amazon: The Felice Brothers – S/T

***************************

8. The Moondoggies :: Changing

moondog.jpgMmmm, rock & roll. This Seattle outfit delivered the goods this year with “Changing” off their Don’t Be A Stranger LP. This is very much back-to-the-basics in terms of both the sound and the songwriting. This is the new Americana. I recommend turning this one up loud.

MP3: The Moondoggies :: Changing
————
Amazon: The Moondoggies – Don’t Be A Stranger

***************************

7. Hacienda :: She’s Got A Hold On Me

hacienda-music-cover.jpgProduced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, and tourmates of Dr. Dog, it’s no surprise Hacienda grabbed my attention last Summer. “She’s Got Ahold On Me” finds the San Antonio group milking the highlights of the past four decades of rock and pop. Like a lot of my favorites this year, this one’s a smiler that could have easily dropped thirty years ago.

MP3: Hacienda :: She’s Got A Hold On Me
————
Amazon: Hacienda – Loud Is The Night
***************************

6. Vivian Girls :: Where Do You Run To

vivs.jpgAs an old fan of The Raincoats, Vivian Girls had me at first listen with their brand of Phil Spector girl-groups soaked in dirty basement Velvet Underground. “Where Do You Run To,” with its multi-tracked vocals, chugging rhythm, and lo-fi coy naivete, will hopefully inspire a whole generation of teenage girls to pick up vinyl and guitars.

MP3: Vivian Girls :: Where Do You Run To
————
Amazon: Vivian Girls – S/T

***************************

5. No Age :: Teen Creeps

noage-cd.jpgNo Age’s Sub Pop debut, Nouns, immediately reminded me of the first time I heard Sonic Youth’s album Evol: a perfect din of noise framed by pop sensibilities that in turn keep everything (barely) hanging together. “Teen Creeps” is the natural “single” from the LP and track I’ve listened to countless time in ’08.

MP3: No Age :: Teen Creeps
————
Amazon: No Age – Nouns

***************************

4. Blitzen Trapper :: Black River Killer

furr-trapper.jpgI’ve been a sucker for story-songs this year and “Black River Killer” is a murder ballad in the grand tradition of Porter Wagoner, and, more recently, Nick Cave. “Oh when, oh when, Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin?” This band just keeps getting better.

MP3: Blitzen Trapper :: Black River Killer
————
Amazon: Blitzen Trapper – Furr

***************************

3. Deerhunter :: Cover Me (Slowly)/Agoraphobia

dh-mic.jpgThis is dream pop. Track two off Deerhunter’s Microcastle, “Agoraphobia” slides in immediately after the opener, “Cover Me (Slowly),” so subtlety it practically feels like an extended coda upon first listen. So yeah, technically it’s two songs, but you can’t truly experience one without the other. Buy the album to hear why.

MP3: Deerhunter :: Agoraphobia
————
Amazon: Deerhunter – Microcastle

***************************

2. Megafaun :: Find Your Mark

megafaun-song.jpgAt five minutes and fourteen seconds “Find Your Mark” feels more like an album than a song. The track is a journey, and one that incorporates influences ranging from Brian Wilson to contemporaries Besnard Lakes and Akron/Family. A North Carolina mini-masterpiece. Keep an eye on Megafaun in ’09.

MP3: Megafaun :: Find Your Mark
————
Amazon: Megafaun – Bury The Square

***************************

1. White Hinterland :: Dreaming of Plum Trees

hinters.jpgWhite Hinterland, Casey Dienel’s 2008 project, saw the artist’s vocal approach moving in more of a Rikki Lee Jones/Joni Mitchell (jazz-era) space than her previous work. “Dreaming of Plum Trees,” with its aforementioned flourishes and traces of Vince Guaraldi, earned itself the title of “new classic” during the past twelve months. Might I add it is perfect for December.

MP3: White Hinterland :: Dreaming of Plum Trees
————
Amazon: White Hinterland – Phylactery Factory

 * * READ J. NEAS & M. GARNER’s LISTS AFTER LE JUMP………

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

M. Garner :: Songs: 2008

10. Sam Sparro :: Black and Gold

sparro.jpgI’m not typically one for electro future-funk, but the son of an Australian preacher man delivered a thick curtain of black velvet, wrapping itself softly around deep existential soul. Sparro sounds like a radio-ready Tunde Adebimpe, which puts him in good company with number nine.

MP3: Sam Sparro :: Black and Gold
————
Amazon: Sam Sparro – S/T

***************************

9. TV on the Radio :: Golden Age

dear-sci.jpgDear Science’s thesis statement – and what should be all means become the siren song for postmodernism’s re-embrace of the nonrational – does its shakin’ best to free the mind of the indie masses, in desperate hopes that the ass will follow.

MP3: TV on the Radio :: Golden Age
————
Amazon: TV On The Radio – Dear Science

***************************

8. No Age :: Eraser

noage-cd.jpg2008 found Los Angeles’ current most-famous punks’ name splashed on the outside walls of MTV’s Time Square studio, and “Eraser” is part of the reason why; the runny-nosed child of Loveless and blink-182, it’s a study in pop droning. Dig the harping acoustic guitar that holds the song up once they finally kick it.


MP3:
No Age :: Eraser
————
Amazon: No Age – Nouns

***************************

7. TI :: Whatever You Like (Radio Version)

ti.jpgI’m not going to sit here and tell you that T.I. has anything important or creative to tell you. Hell, there’s a reason I chose the radio version of this one. But he does have what Lil Wayne is missing, and that’s pop hooks. “Whatever You Like” is, at least sonically, undeniably good candy.

MP3: TI :: Whatever You Like (Radio Version)
————
Amazon: TI – The Paper Trail

***************************

6. The Felice Brothers :: Frankie’s Gun!

felice-bros.jpg(see above and below)

MP3: The Felice Brothers :: Frankie’s Gun!
————
Amazon: The Felice Brothers – S/T

***************************

5. Destroyer :: My Favourite Year

destroyer-toruble.jpg“My Favourite Year,” from Trouble in Dreams, captures a fluttery, uncertain sort of thought on the past, equal parts history lesson and celebration, with Dan Bejar as grand narrator. As the trilling guitars pull open the curtain, you can hear Bejar’s voice sweep its hands across the scene.


MP3:
Destroyer :: My Favourite Year
————
Amazon: Destroyer – Trouble In Dreams

***************************

4. Dodos :: Jodi

dodos-visiters.jpgHey, drums! It’s good to hear you again! Even with the shouty vocal harmonies and sticky thump that makes acoustic guitars sound more like a percussion instrument than traditional folk accompaniment, it’s the pulsing African Ewe drumming of Logan Kroeber that pushes this song far forward.

MP3: Dodos :: Jodi
————
Amazon: Dodos – Visiter

***************************

3. Deerhunter :: Nothing Ever Happened

dh-mic.jpgHey, guitars! It’s good to hear you again, too! I played this song more than any other this year, for no reason other than the way Deerhunter layer and drizzle their guitars all around one another in head-nodding affirmation. The band seem to have melodies to spare, and an exceptional handle on how to blend nostalgia, hope, and love buzz in equal measure.

MP3: Deerhunter :: Nothing Ever Happened
————
Amazon: Deerhunter – Microcastle

***************************

2. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds :: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

dig-lazurus.jpgOnly Nick Cave can wrap the resurrected Lazarus up in the the soft yellow hair of lovely ladies in San Francisco, hang him among the pale yellow sky stars of L.A., and drop him into a New York City soup queue before finally dumping him back into the grave, all while the Bad Seeds grind out a sloppy, undead version of “Louie, Louie.” And only Nick Cave can do it with such conviction that it actually becomes reverential when he shouts, “I don’t know what it is, but there’s definitely something going on upstairs” in the chorus.

MP3: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds :: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
————
Amazon: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

***************************

1. The Hold Steady :: Slapped Actress

stau-pos.jpgYou kinda wish that every Hold Steady song sounded like this one. Not that all the other songs on Stay Positive aren’t great – it’s just that you sorta wish that every song ever sounded like this one. “Slapped Actress” opens with layer upon melancholy layer of Tad Kubler’s guitar and twirls from Franz Nicolay’s piano before Craig Finn begins spinning together his lyrics. This is a song about everything – aging, art, hero worship, religion – and the frayed-worship “whoa-oh”ing backup singers seem to know what Finn’s talking about. And what he’s talking about is the Hold Steady, about how rickety a pedestal fame can be. Finn sees light at night through his black-framed glasses; he sees the way that his fans approach the band on scabbed knees, their eyes open like a eucharist, fire consuming their hearts. And while Finn’s relationship with Catholicism is tricky at best, he’s smart enough to know what happens to people who accept their gilding. “Man, we make our own movies,” he sings at the song’s finale, and while some Hold Steady fans have taken this writ to signify that we create our own reality, it’s worth remembering that Finn is talking about the difference between reality and what happens on a stage. After all, movies are pure fiction, a staged version of something that’s really there. And yet, sometimes a bit of flesh seeps into the celluloid, as Finn would readily admit. Sometimes actresses get slapped.

MP3:
The Hold Steady :: Slapped Actress
————
Amazon: The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

J. Neas :: Songs: 2008

10. The Helio Sequence :: Halleluja

helio.jpgIn a year that saw a dramatic shift in American politics, “Halleluja” feels like a song that perfectly nailed that feel of pins-and-needles leading into November. The lyrics – tense, uncertain and pleading – and the music – driven, hopeful and surging – were juxtapositions so natural that listening felt like living the day to day. In hindsight, it is even more uplifting.

MP3: The Helio Sequence :: Halleluja
————
Amazon: The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead

***************************

9. Birdmonster :: Born to Be Your Man

birdsss.jpgThere’s something about yearning. If there were a patron emotion of indie-rock, it would probably be ‘yearning.’ “Born To Be Your Man” is one of those songs that yearns like there’s no tomorrow. All in hoping that there is a tomorrow – with you. Yes, you.

MP3: Birdmonster :: Born to Be Your Man
————
Amazon: Birdmonster – From The Mountain To The Sea

***************************

8. Citified :: Read Like a Number

citified.jpgThere’s something majestic about this song. And it first hits you right around the time the multiple voices layer onto one another entering the first chorus. Hints of shoegaze and the Red House Painters and wondering just what it means for something to ‘read like a number.’

MP3: Citified :: Read Like a Number
————
Amazon: Citified – The Meeting After The Meeting

***************************

7. The Hold Steady :: Sequestered in Memphis

stau-pos.jpgIs it the stories? Craig Finn tells great stories and this is certainly another in that line. It also has one of those instantly memorable and repeatable choruses. This is everything rock and roll is meant to be. Handclaps, guitar licks, chants and energy. You can listen to this story over and over.

MP3: The Hold Steady :: Sequestered in Memphis
————
Amazon: The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

***************************

6. King Khan and the Shrines :: Welfare Bread

khan.jpgAdmittedly it was the live performance of this from the Pitchfork Festival that really won me over, but there’s something to be said for such a note-perfect genre band like King Khan and the Shrines. Down to the recording style and instrument sounds, this is soul and r&b and everything between.

MP3: King Khan and the Shrines :: Welfare Bread
————
Amazon: King Khan and the Shrines – Supreme Genius of King Khan

***************************

5. Julie Ocean :: My Revenge

julie-o.jpgSugary, ridiculously quick, jangly and sharp. Infectious defined. There’s nothing incorrectly placed in this song – every note, every word, every ‘woo-oooh.’ If only radio pop were ever really this perfect..

MP3: Julie Ocean :: My Revenge
————
Amazon: Julie Ocean – Long Gone And Nearly There

***************************

4. The Felice Brothers :: Frankie’s Gun

felice-bros.jpgLike the looser, funkier, more funny version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “Frankie’s Gun” is sharp story telling that doesn’t sound forced or anything less than a man, gamely laying on his death bed (death ground?) relating his will one shaggy story at a time.

MP3: Felice Brothers :: Frankie’s Gun!
————
Amazon: The Felice Brothers – S/T

***************************

3. The Gaslight Anthem :: The ’59 Sound

gaslight-anthem.jpgI missed Social Distortion. I missed X. I missed every smart, open minded punk band that ever knew that roots-rock, country, folk and punk had a lot more in common than others thought. “Young boys / young girls / ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night.” If it were a pose, it wouldn’t be nearly this good.

MP3: The Gaslight Anthem :: The ’59 Sound
————
Amazon: The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound

***************************

2. The Broken West :: Perfect Games

bwestt.jpgI named the Broken West’s “Down in the Valley” as my #2 single of 2007. “Perfect Games” is not “Down in the Valley.” It doesn’t need to be. It’s glimmering and shimmering, propulsive and yearning (there’s that word again). “We sit around looking for flaws in the diamonds.” Keep looking. I haven’t found one yet.

MP3: The Broken West :: Perfect Games
————
Amazon: The Broken West – Now Or Heaven

***************************

1. Delta Spirit :: Trashcan

dspirit.jpgHere’s what I see – a train chugging along the line, an open railroad car, an upright piano being tickled by a vaudeville looking performer, the funkiest drummer on that side of the 1920s, flashes of electric guitar and bass. The train goes sailing off the end of the track, soars into the sky as the song’s sheer pluck fuels it. It could be that I had paid no attention to this band prior to hearing this song, but no other song took me as much by surprise this year. It’s so pleasant to still be this bowled over by music.

MP3: Delta Spirit :: Trashcan
————
Amazon: Delta Spirit – Ode To Sunshine

+ Download these 2008 songs via eMusic’s 25 free MP3 no risk trial offer
——————————————————————————————————————————

48 Responses to “Aquarium Drunkard :: 2008: Songs In Review”

  1. M Garner – T.I. seriously?

  2. I look forward to checking these out…not familiar with several of them. Thanks.

  3. Bon Iver? Fleet Foxes? I’ll mention more as I think of them.

  4. I am LOVIN’ the love for Felice Brothers. Frankie’s Gun was definitely a top five song this year for me.

    Have you guys heard the disc All Is Well by Samamidon? It is gorgeous. The song, Saro, off that disc is one of my favorites this year as well.

  5. “Where Do You Run To” is a jam for sure. And White Hinterland! Good stuff, guys.

  6. I LOVE Hacienda – pretty much the whole album but in particular, She’s Got a Hold on Me. It’s pretty great.

  7. Ambush — seriously. Like I said in my write-up, it’s not an important song, it’s not groundbreaking, and it’s not anything deep and soulful. It’s just good pop music. Plenty of good indie pop fits into those categories and still makes year-end lists; why not TI?

  8. Marty, nice big-balls pick on the T.I. That record is the jam. Too many year-end lists are so exclusive or niche that it narrows the ability to objectively enjoy music–not just genre. Further, people are often afraid to include things they actually enjoy for fear of the response. (So what if I dig Britney’s new disc?) Seriously, though, I don’t seek out a lot of hip-hop, but I first listen to The Paper Trail a few weeks ago, and it has really stood out as a top-to-bottom great album of 2008. Or at least, it’s pretty damn fun to listen to.

    Great lists all around, I just had to throw the kid some mustard.

  9. Felice Brothers, man. “Frankie’s Gun” kicked. Did you hear the Small Sur album — http://hypem.com/search/small%20sur/1/

  10. “Black River Killer” is a great song. Good lists!

  11. Thx, J croz. And, fwiw, “Womanizer” is the jam, too. Were I able to spend more time with it, it may very well have made the list. I will say this, though — that version of “Whatever You Like” that TI did on SNL this weekend was pretty awful. The last thing that song needs is metal-crunch guitars.

  12. @ Joe…lets just say that those artists you mention have a high probablity of landing in our next 2008 list

  13. Damn, not one song of the year listing I have seen has mentioned Be Your Own Pet’s Becky. Goddamit, Universal.

  14. Gone Gone Gone by The Notwist

  15. Really happy to see “Slapped Actress” as Garner’s No. 1. LOVE that song and definitely the best off “Stay Positive.”

  16. I agree with Black River Killer and about it’s story structure. If you are into those kind of songs, might I suggest The Raconteurs – Carolina Drama? In my opinion it is one of the unsung greats of ’08. I heard Jack consulted with Bob Dylan when writing it.

  17. Anyone else think that Black River Killer sounds a bit like “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” by Tom Petty?

  18. This would be mine, and admittedly, this was a bad year for hip-hop for me, I barely bought a new release and what I did get didn’t have a stand out track. However, I fully admit that I love Ghostface Killah more than ever after “The Big Doe Rehab”

    10. Mountain Goats: “Sax Rohmer #1″
    9. Ezra Furman & The Harpoons: “We Should Fight”
    8. White Denim: “Transparency”
    7. Raphael Saadiq “100 Yard Dash”
    6. Delta Spirit – “Trashcan”
    5. Don Cavalli: “Wandering Wanderer”
    4. Born Ruffians: “Foxes Mate for Life”
    3. The Moondoggies: “Changing”
    2. Hacienda: “She’s Got a Hold on Me”
    1. Dr. Dog: “The Rabbit, The Bat, and the Reindeer”

    I think the whole T.I. record is great (and the video for that song is straight out of the great Hype Williams ones of the late 90’s which are the benchmark of almost all video-making for me).

    Biggest surprise: Joe is a big Britt Britt fan.

  19. Marty, I had that very thought just yesterday.

  20. I really thought I was going to be the only person whose favorite song of the was “Slapped Actress” but first Puritan Blitzer of Pitchfork and now this. Great write up as well.

  21. Delta Spirit is the best band I’ve heard in quite a long time. I recommend that cd to anyone here!

  22. Well, here, in no particular order, are 12 songs which I defy anyone not to fall in love with.

    1 Hey Champ – “cold dust girl” (possibly my favorite of the dozen) Light, melodic, uplifting, indelible, unforgettable. When I play this at DJ sets, there are always at least 2 people who come up (with paper and pens) asking who this band is. Terrific!

    2 Elbow – “grounds for divorce” If bourbon could write music, it would sound like this. And, yes, I mean bourbon the alcohol. Like the kind that killed your father.

    3 Kyle Andrews – “Sushi” Electro-Acoustic Angst Pop for writers and artistes.

    4 MGMT – “time to pretend” Im sure you are all sick of this song by now, if you usually roll with the REALLY deep cuts, but this is a fantastic song. Truly.

    5 Hockey – “too fake” From Portland, OR. Ithink they will blow up if they keep on making music like this.

    6 Vampire Weekend – “a punk” Say what you want about this pick

    7 Deer Tick – “art isn’t real” From Rhode Island – just unbelievable beer-soaked soul from a man and his guitar. A man who happens to be Matthew McCaughnehey’s (sp.?) younger cousin

    8 Santogold feat Movado – “L.E.S Artistes” (XXXchange Mix) Better than the original, dare I say? ) From the Diplo mixtape

    9 Trauma Town – “The Foxes” Reminds me of The Streets having a dance-fight with the Buzzcocks, but light on the guitars.

    10 An Experiment on a Bird in the Airpump – “Lights Out” 3 birds from Britain who will give you renewed faith in heavy, dark, female rock

    11 Fan Death – “Veronica’s Veil” Great song that would make Blondie proud, and a video that is beautiful and sexy at the same time

    12 Panther – “Puerto Rican Jukebox” I just like this groove

  23. I just updated my ipod. Great recommendations, especially the Felice Brothers. Much appreciation to you for putting out this list and weeding through all the music to find the gems.

  24. Can’t wait till next year when the Roadside Graves will comprise the entire top 10 list!!

  25. What, no Fleet Foxes? “Oliver James” and “Blue Ridge Mountains” absolutely floored me this year. So did a couple of the tracks from Sun Kil Moon’s new album.

  26. I had a minor heart-rending moment making this list when I ended up dropping J-Live’s “Be No Slave” from my list (my #11). I’ll be doing my top 25 or so singles of this year on my radio show this week, so you can check out the podcast (shameless plug) at my blog. It’ll be up on Thursday.

    Glad everyone seems to agree about “Frankie’s Gun.” And thanks, Tim, for the fellow Delta Spirit love.

  27. [...] Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 2:31 pm · Filed under Misc Aquarium Drunkard: MP3 Blog, Music Blog. [...]

  28. [...] of their favorite albums, songs, and all that nonsense.  My ten favorite songs list is up now on Aquarium Drunkard, and my albums should be up there sometime next [...]

  29. Kramer, I’m playing it right now.

  30. Amazed that with the well deserved love for Felice Bros and Hold Steady not one of you three put a song by The Weight in the Top 10. … Are Men could be one of the best albums of the year and there are at least two tracks I would’ve thought would make the AD list. Just surprised by it.

  31. Max, that is a good album that I have not spent near enough time with

  32. Excellent selections all around.

    #1 on my list: Dead Confederate: All the Angels. Dirty.

  33. Max, see my personal blog on that issue. Are Men is one of the records that I regret letting get past me this year. Great disc.

  34. Have you listening to Jamie Foxx’s “Just Like Me” w/T.I.?? real good and catchy, watch the video!!
    http://myplay.com/videos/jamie-foxx/just-like-me-featuring-ti

    “Intuition” drops 12/16

  35. an amazing post! i loved every band/song on here. thanks!

  36. Frankie’s Gun is a good song

  37. great reviews!…

    check out this new sound, T.I. Dubstep remix… heavy beats!

    http://www.eyensee.tv/etv/index.php/audio/2-audio/15-ti-whatever-u-like-eyensee-dubstep-mix

  38. Overall great choice of bands/songs. Incorported them into one of my playlists. Most of them I had (admittedly, I did lift a few from this here blog.)

    Marty, the T.I. pck…ballsy. My girlfriend’s tastes are tilted more towards R&B/Hip-Hop and she turned me onto this one (and a B. McNight cover of Van Morrison’s Crazy Love which I just can’t seem to stop subliminally obsessing over). And she, in turn, has found an affinity for Bob Dylan.

  39. What’s up Justin…long time…I saw that you had Megafaun on your list…these guys are amazing! I did an interview with Brad Cook it’s online at:

    http://mhayhurst.blogspot.com/2007/06/megafaun.html

    but I’m posting it here as well for your readers…hope you don’t mind…

    Interview with Brad Cook of Megafaun…

    PS: I read somewhere that you moved to North Carolina in 2005 (same as me). Is that correct? Where did you move here from?

    BC: Yeah! We came here from a college town in northwest Wisconsin called Eau Claire. It is roughly an hour and a half east of Minneapolis.

    PS: Before Megafaun, you where in the band DeYarmond Edison. Tell me about DeYarmond Edison briefly and about the transformation into Megafaun?

    BC: DeYarmond Edison was a band that was initially centered around the songwriting of Justin Vernon, a friend that we had all grown up with. My brother, Phil, also in Megafaun, and I had been performing with Justin for about three years prior to moving to North Carolina. We had two other drummers and then enlisted Joe with the move. We spent our first year here redefining our creative process and group dynamic, mainly through an outlet at the Bickett Gallery here in Raleigh. I think we really exhausted our possibilities within that time frame and felt like last August was a good time to move on. Part of that transition was that Phil, Joe and I really discovered a great working relationship during that time. Justin decided to pursue other interests (solo recordings and bands Ticonderoga and The Rosebuds) and we started writing songs together.

    PS: Who writes most of the material?

    BC: We all do, it is pretty collaborative. Someone usually brings in the majority of an idea and then we put it through the edit process, which for us has really been recording.

    PS: I know how you sound to me, and it’s stated above, but how would you describe your sound?

    BC: I guess I would say we are folk reconstructionalists. We really subscribe to the idea of reconstructing folk songs and folk ideology. We have collectively and individually spent a lot of time studying pre war string bands and depression era folk, simultaneously immersed in 20th century avant-garde composers and a lot of 60’s free jazz. Finding that balance between improvisation and structure. I guess it sounds pretty common these days, but we really try to take it’s understanding serious beyond trend.

    PS: Your music seems to be laden with folk and Appalachian influences.
    Who/What are some of your / the bands influences?

    BC: First and foremost, The Band. I can’t tell you what that group has done for us. We all grew up in Band households and the older we get, the more that takes effect. Older folks like Fred McDowell, Roscoe Holcomb, Reverend Gary Davis and James Booker from New Orleans have been huge. David Tudor, Morton Feldman, Anthony Braxton, Milford Graves, Albert Ayler and Xenakis from the classical/jazz school. Modern folks like Gastr Del Sol and the Akron/Family have been inspiring as well.

    PS: Do you feel music should inspire the listener and/or the performer?
    Do you think it can be transformational?

    BC: God, yes. I don’t think I could tell you how important that is to us. We like pop music and what not, but I just prefer the energy of spontaneity and I love the auditory tradition of folk music. I love feeling like I am learning and involved and Inspired and that has happened to us many times! So it can happen. We try to search it out in artists/performers and we try to reflect that in our music as well.

    PS: I want to say once again, if I haven’t already that “Bury the
    Square” is an outstanding album and tracks like “Where We Belong” are so amazing it’s scary. How did you approach that song? It’s over 11 minutes and just about in the middle, 5:28 in or so, it switches gears and becomes an intense, yet beautiful journey. I guess what I’m asking is tell me more about this song and how it came about.

    BC: I actually wrote that particular piece about a week before DeYarmond Edison parted ways. It is lyrically and musically very much about that transitional process. We really tried to reflect the element of hope in change and moving forward.

    PS: Just to lighten it back up a bit, can you name me a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out love and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

    BC: Collections of Colonies of Bees. They are flat out incredible! Their last record came out on Polyvinyl, which is awfully surprising on an aesthetic level since they are a heavily improvisational electro-acoutstic quartet! The album is called Customer and it is just plain incredible. Their live show rivals any of the post-rock luminaries as well.

    PS: As I was listening to the cd, when I got to Tired and Troubled, I was taken to a strange place. Where did I go?

    BC: Joey’s brain! Joey wrote this song that was initially inspired by a cut from the Harry Smith anthology. He spent a lot of time finding the rhythmic identity of the song, than completely recontextualized it as a tape piece ala musique concrete.

    PS: I know you just co-founded Burly Time Records with Grayson Currin. How is it running a label?

    BC: I love it! It really taps into an energy that isn’t being consumed with trying to promote you own band, which after eight years, can be quite frustrating. Gray and I have very similar approach, yet our differences really keep us from getting lazy. We couldn’t be more excited about the two records we released and the feedback has been very positive!

    PS: I think Grayson told me there was a limited run of “Bury the Square”.
    Will we have a full out re-release on Burly Time? Is there new material that we have to look forward too?

    BC: Well, I kind of eluded to this in the last response, but I am reluctant about using Burly Time to release Megafaun at this time. Right now I can put all of my business/cheerleader energy into Bowerbirds and Horseback, which is really nice. Having to share that energy with Megafaun would feel unfair to everyone involved. We would love to find a home for Megafaun most definitely, but I want to keep the two separate for now. I would love to get our own thing going and retire to BTR! As for new material, we are well underway!

    PS: What are you up to right now, music-wise? (Current or upcoming recordings, tours, projects, etc).

    BC: Megafaun is putting together a fall tour at the moment, which we are really excited for! Joey and I are also doing the long distance recording thing with our other group, Emotional Joystick. EJ is the mastermind of a Minneapolis artist named Tom Wincek. We have been working with him for almost four years. His new record is heavily based on recontextualizing 70’s German minimalism. It is really fun and challenging material!

    PS: And finally for some fun, if you could `redeem” any piece of music,
    what song do you feel needs redemption, whether it’s by Megafaun or someone else?

    BC: Man, good question. Probably a Phish song. We love 80’s Phish and not for irony’s sake!

    PS: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us and we wish you all
    the success.

    BC: Man, thank you!

  40. nice interview, brother. these guys are the tits.

  41. Noticeably missing is my favorite song of 2008 – White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes. Here are my top 10 songs.

    10. Country Song – Le Switch
    9. Mykonos -Fleet Foxes
    8. anything from the Young Marble Giants Colossal Youth reissue
    7. Chemtrails – Beck (an overlooked song on a great album)
    6. Heart of Chambers – Beach House
    5. Me – Erykah Badu
    4. anything from the new Deerhunter albums
    3. For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver
    2. Hercules Theme – Hercules and Love Affair
    1. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes

    Honorable Mentions: Electric Feel – MGMT, Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out – Mayer Hawthorne and the County, Orphans – Beck, Miami Afternoon – Bart Davenport (reissue), Are You Sure? – A Block Of Yellow, Nice Train – The Donkeys, People & Logistics – Hearts Of Palm UK, Mr. President (You’re The Man) – Brother Ali (about Obama – best political song of 2008), Let It Fly – Heiruspecs, anything from the self-titled Women album, I Shall Be Release – Wilco & Fleet Foxes (second best political song of 2008).

    There are so many superb song and an amazing abundance of great albums in addition. 2008 has been the best year for music this decade.

  42. [...] are a couple of top ten lists from a couple of contributors at Aquarium [...]

  43. thanks for the music.

    some great stuff i had not heard of!

  44. [...] Aquarium Drunkard                                                 Blender [...]

  45. [...] (via) [...]

  46. [...] Aquarium Drunkard’s Top Song’s List [...]

  47. Thank you, it’s nice that someone finally mentioned The Gaslight Anthem

  48. [...] I mentioned in our Songs: 2008, year-end wrap up, AD brought on two regular contributors over the course of the past twelve months, J. Neas and M. [...]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>