Without further ado… Links take you to purchase sites. No link means that it is not available at the moment.
1. Thee Oh Sees
The Master’s Bedroom is Worth Spending the Night In /
Hounds of Foggy Notion / Peanut Butter Oven Ep / Split 12″ w. The
Qmass: The EPs sound like they are likely The Master’s bedroom outtakes, and all of it is just as good as anything on The Master’s Bedroom, so I’d be doing Thee Oh Sees a disservice by choosing only one. No band captured my attention the way that John Dwyer’s OCS/The Ohsees etc did with their string of increasingly limited and difficult to acquire full lengths, 12″ eps, and the one 7″ that came out. So good. Even though I am not as big of a fan as Kallen on the Hounds of Foggy Notion album, it has certainly grown on me.
Kallen: As noted above, I’m actually more of a fan of Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion than anything else they’ve put out in this prolific year of theirs. I mean, I really have no qualms with the turn in direction they made with Master’s Bedroom (“Visit Colonel” is most definitely one of my favorite songs of the year) but Hounds is them at their most top-notch front to back – perhaps, due to the fact that it’s actually a live collection of their older, folkier material. Anyway, I think of this as a greatest hits collection (I guess this reveals which side I’m on in the neverending ‘greatest hits’ debate). They’ve managed to find all my favorite songs of theirs to date and put them in one collection (and don’t worry, you can’t have audience noise without an audience and also, these live versions don’t stray too far off from the originals at all). One last thing: if anything, Hounds gets my #1 pick for versatility alone. It’s great for actual listening but it also works as background music (napping, schooling, maybe even fucking?).
“Inquiry Perpetrated” from the Intelligence Split
2. Nobunny – Love Visions (Bubbledumb / 1 2 3 4 Go!)
Qmass: Originally released this summer by Bubbledumb, but the guy who ran the label had a string of terrible things happen to him, which made this record impossible to find until it was re-issued last month by 1-2-3-4 Go! Records. Since I finally got my copy, it has rarely left the turntable, instant hooks, timeless melodies, a half naked dude in a bunny mask – its all here.
Kallen: I love Mr. Nobunny. Listening to Love Visions the 30 or so times I’ve done so far made me happier than anything else this year, musically or otherwise. May it grant me (and you) as much happiness the next 30 listens. This has ‘instant, modern classic’ written all over it, think Guitar Romantic. If we at Seven Ten Twelve weren’t giving you combined lists, this would get my #1 and I’m well aware of what I wrote above re: Thee Oh Sees.
“Chuck Berry Holiday”
3. Cheveu – S/T (S-S)
Qmass: This record took two months to leave my turntable, and when I pick it up again, I get the same satisfaction. “Herman Choune” is one of my favourite songs of the year, and I even like “Happiness”, which many seem to hate. Primitive futurism.
Kallen: One of my most anticipated records of 2008? Yes. Expectations met? Absolutely. Exceeded? Don’t know. All I know is that this record is all over the map but it still sounds French as fuck. When this record stopped spinning on my turntable for the first time, I knew that this ‘weird punk’ thing had already hit its peak right here in 2008. Yeah, I feel as dirty for writing that as you are for reading it, okay?
4. Blank Dogs – On Two Sides (Troubleman Unlimited)
Qmass: Though of late I’ve been thinking that The Fields is an improvement on this, every release seems to be an improvement on the one before. As a debut LP, this has historic qualities, and this album has enough of Blank Dogs weird nostalgia to go around. Blank Dogs singular vision alone makes this a worthwhile endeavor.
Kallen: While I’m not nearly as big of a Blank Dogs super-fan as my cohort Paul is, sure I enjoyed On Two Sides a hell of a lot. I really likes the more guitar, less synths approach he took with this one. Here’s to hoping his In The Red debut is as good as this.
5. Thomas Function – Celebration (Alive)
Kallen: I’m actually in the video above, very briefly. Guess which member of the audience I am and win the prize of the warm fuzzy feeling I’ll send out to you for knowing that a complete stranger (most likely) took the time out to try to spot me in a 3-minute YouTube video.
Qmass: “A Long Walk” is as unrelenting as “Can’t Say No” is catchy. A shame you would never hear songs this good on the radio – they should sell “Can’t Say No” to Miley Cirus or the Jonas Bros. Like everything in this top 5 so far, this album got a great deal of play from me.
6. Wax Museums – S/T (Douchemaster)
Qmass: HEY! I GOT LOCKED IN THE MALL! Wax Museums finally release their debut, and it does not disappoint – so many instant classics. Looking forward to the Fan Club Florida’s Dying is doing next year.
Kallen: I bought this on a whim and at first, like a few other records on this list, I wasn’t so hot on it but I soon realized the key to enjoying the Wax Museums’ S/T is to really put yourself in the mindset of a 10 year-old. If that is too much of a stretch for you, get drunk and then listen to this. Same effect. Simply put, this is the most juvenile record I’ve heard in 2008. God, I still don’t know if “Cowboys & Indians” is offensive as hell or just plain hilarious.
7. Vivian Girls – S/T (In the Red/Mauled By Tigers)
Qmass: There were a few bands working with similar material as the Vivian Girls (such as Crystal Stilts, some of the Sic Alps material on this years Stltbreeze release), though none were as successfull. The songs on this album are short and sweet, well worth any percieved hype (though next time you find yourself ranting about how “big” Vivian Girls are, ask your Mom or your little sister who they are).
Kallen: Man, the backlash sure came quick with these gals, didn’t it? Fuck ’em, their band will never write a song that’s as powerful of a mission statement as “Tell The World”.
8. Cheap Time – S/T (In the Red)
Kallen: And to think, I didn’t like this record so much the first time I heard it (I think it was the vocals or something)! I thank my agnostic god every day that they clicked just in time for me to witness them live at Gonerfest. Anyway, I listen to this record once or twice a week now. Their cover of The End’s “People Talk” is another one of my favorite songs of the year. Has anyone else noticed how bitter the lyrics are? Dude is pissed off.
Qmass: Yes! “People Talk” is so good. So good. Every time I listen to this record, I have a new favourite song, which says something. Like Kallen, this one is a grower, not a show-er.
9. Wavves – S/T (Woodsist)
Kallen: Assuming the rumors are true, congratulations for signing to Sub Pop! May you get even a tenth of the expanded budget that Fleet Foxes undoubtedly has now!
Qmass: A late year addition! For being a debut album for a solo album, this album has a tonne of ideas, hooks, melodies. Lo-fi, but sounds are fairly varried. The song “Wavves” (by Wavves, on the album Wavves) is impossibly good.
10. TV Ghost – S/T (Die Stasi)
Kallen: Call it no-wave, noise-rock, post-punk. Whatever. I couldn’t care less. This is unsettling music for unsettling times and shit, it’s fronted by a dead-ringer for Ian Svenonius as well!
1. Hunx and His Punx – You Don’t Like Rock and Roll 7″ (Rob’s House)
Qmass: The catchiest gay pop songs you will hear this year. I love everything about this record – the sleeve, the songs, the video, Nobunny’s riffs.
Kallen: Gets #1 for the packaging alone (scratch-and-win style covering of his dong) and hey, the music is pretty fantastic as well. As catchy (and gay) as anything you’ve heard this year and Nobunny proves he has the magic touch with his guitar stylings. Did I mention the handclaps, oh the handclaps!!! I still can’t believe this guy is/was a member of Gravy Train. I mean, yeah, I actually can but they were never this good.
2. The Wicked Awesomes – Information Entropy 7″ (Almost Ready)
Qmass: The video is from the tour my band went on with The Wicked Awesomes in support of this 7″, so needless to say I have some bias here. I can honestly say that The Wicked Awesomes have songs that will stick in your brain for weeks and weeks, and no matter how many times I have seen them, I cannot get sick of them. Friend rock!
Kallen: Undoubtedly for me, the best band going in Alberta right now. They take some left-of-the-beaten-path influences and turn it all into something that’s oddly enough, very singular. “Wizard Ship Star Destroyer” makes me feel like I’m at the best bar mitzvah ever… and with that one, I’ll quit while I’m behind.
3. Catatonic Youth – Piss Scene 7″ (Hozac)
Qmass: You must have a sense of how stoked I am on the Hozac label, right? They realeased a heafty stack of 7″s this year, and the only one I don’t like is the Subtle Turnhips one. The Catatonic Youth “Piss Scene” EP from this summer is my favourite Hozac release of the year – the songs are great (its a shame that only 500 copies of this exist – more people need to hear this, though the same could be said with much on this list), and the packaging is top notch.
4. Dead Luke – Box Set (Sacred Bones)
Kallen: You listened to “Jumping Jack Flash Drive”, right?
Qmass: Kallen likes Record 2, I like Record 1 (“I Want You” kills).
5. Eric & The Happy Thoughts – Never Gonna Do It (Bubbledumb)
Kallen: Eric and the Happy Thoughts have this classic sound that I bet parents and children could really bond to while listening. I wouldn’t know for sure though because my father doesn’t listen to music and my mother only listens to classical exclusively. Anyway, this Romance Novels spin-off reminds me of a band I’d have formed in junior/senior high school but the difference between us and EATHT is that while they’re making AM-friendly pop hits effortlessly and perfectly, we’re selling our souls at menial day jobs.
5. The Barbaras – Summertime Road (Goner)
Kallen: These days, I enjoy Jay Reatard’s backing band (read: the Barbaras) a lot more than Reatard himself. I’m sure I violated some code saying that but I really can’t get enough of these guys. They’re not the first to combine pop and Memphis soul (e.g. doo-wop) but they combine it with a quick-fire energy that I’ve never heard. Also, I probably had the most fun at Gonerfest watching them. I think I said on Twitter at the time (yeah yeah) that they’re a “pure musical distillation of fun and joy”. I still stand by that 100%.
6. Eat Skull – Dead Families (Skulltones)
Qmass: I’ve come back to this a great deal over the year – and for this list it came down to this vs. Meth Teeth’s “Bus Rides” 7″, which lives in the same grungy basement, with the same Fisher Price cassette deck/recording studio. The 7″ works better for me than their LP, which is good, but hard to get through. Maybe if the LP had these songs? “Dead Familes” rulz, “No Intelligence” rulz.
7. The Ostrich – Mt Fuji in Red 7″ (Self Released)
Qmass: The Ostrich were in my top 10 last year, and here they are again. If they were from Memphis or Brooklyn, they would be on everyones year end lists (though I guess that isn’t totally fair – Calgary’s Women have been doing great business this year). When I randomly bought the first 7″ and fell in love, I said that they were a fitting soundtrack to Calgary’s progress-gone-haywire, and I still think it is true for this release, though they capture the claustrophobia and menace a lot better on this one. Sad to see them break up. I have great hopes for Chris Zaijko (Ostrich’s wild man vocalist) and Mike Bressanutti (Ostrich’s drummer) and their new band Sharp Ends, who are working in the same vein as The Ostrich. The Sharp Ends debut show in November was my favourite show of the year. Go Calgary!
Kallen: A more than worthy exit to one of the best bands Calgary has ever shat out.
8. The Dutchess and the Duke – Never Had a Chance 7″ (Hozac)
Qmass: B-Side “Scorpio” is one of my favourite songs this year
9. Blank Dogs – Setting Fire To Your House 7″ (4:2:2)
Qmass: Yes! More Blank Dogs awesome-ness. His best 7″ until the next one comes out.
10. Sex/Vid – Nests (Dom America)
Kallen: If you made me choose between Tania and Nests, I’d kill you. Actually, I’d let Sex/Vid’s music do it for me. This stuff’ll suffocate you. Now that Fucked Up has chosen to be… something else, Sex/Vid is my pick for best hardcore band going right now. I could be wrong though, hardcore is one of the last genres I’d claim to be anything of an expert on.