It’s tops

Pub date December 24, 2008
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

For more top 10s, see our Year in Music 2008 issue.


1. Droids, Star Peace (Repressed)

2. Steve Moore, Vaalbara (Noiseville)

3. La Düsseldorf, La Düsseldorf (Nova, Water)

4. Cluster US tour


6. White Rainbow, "Snake Snacks Brain Tazer Pt2"

7. Richard Pinhas, Singles Collection 1972–1980 (Captain Trip)

8. 88 Boadrum, Aug. 8, ’08

9. Methusalem, Journey into the Unknown (Ariola)

10. B.O.D.Y.H.E.A.T. light show, Nov. 7


*Grouper, Dragging a Dead Deer up a Hill (Type)

*US Girls, Introducing (Siltbreeze)

*Sugar Minott, Dancehall Showcase Vol. II (Black Roots/Wackies)

*Fripp and Eno, No Pussyfooting (EG)

*Steel an’ Skin, Reggae Is Here Once Again (Em)

*Dam-Funk, "Burgundy City" (Stones Throw)

*Pyha, The Haunted House (Tumult)

*Orchestre Régional De Kayes, The Best of the First Biennale of Arts
and Culture for the Young

*Various artists, Blackdisco (Blackdisco)


1. Grip Grand, Brokelore (Look)

2. Sweatshop Union show at Rickshaw Stop, Sept. 25

3. DJ Zeph and Azeem, On the Rocks mix CD

4. Planet B-Boy DVD (Arts Alliance America)

5. Prince vs. Michael show, Madrone Lounge, Nov. 15

6. Large Professor, Main Source (Gold Dust Media)

7. DJ Agent 86, "The Ultimate" 7-inch (Bomb Hip-Hop)

8. EMC, The Show (M3)

9. DJ Design with Party Arty, "Get on the Floor" single (Look)

10. History of Rap poster


*Paper Airplanes, Scandal Scandal Scandal Down in the Wheat Field (self-released)

One of the best albums we have heard in years. Wins Most Mind-Twisting Listen award from Tartufi, which just so happens to be a hairless alpaca.

*Department of Eagles, In Ear Park (4AD)

A lush and weighty release. Wins Best Overall Production award, which just so happens to be a medium-sized bologna.

*Low Red Land, Dog’s Hymns (self-released)

Man, this album is just so freaking good. It is like a chocolate river of dreams wrapped in bacon and covered in Tony Alva. They win Album Most Likely to be Sung at Top of Lungs No Matter Who Is Around award, which just so happens to be Tony Alva wrapped in bacon.

*Deerhoof, Offend Maggie (Kill Rock Stars)

Awesomely awesome and both classically deery and innovatively hoofy. Wins the award for Longevity, Perseverance, Persistence, Reliability, and Most Rockin’-est, which just so happens to be a completely un-offended Maggie, fresh and new!

*Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop)

Didn’t want to like this after seeing it more times that we have ever seen anything before, at every Starbucks in the whole universe. Then we took a listen, and it is actually quite good. Wins the Your Albums Will Forever Be in Starbucks (a Blessing and a Curse) award, which just so happens to be a Slip ‘N Slide.

*Musee Mecanique, Hold This Ghost (Frog Stand)

These guys rule live. Wins the Classiest Band in All the Land award, which just so happens to be the option to plate a member of the band in gold.

*Russian Circles, Station (Suicide Squeeze)

A rad album with just the right amount of chunk, noise, pretty, psych, and space. Wins the Most Dreamiest Drummer Ever award, which just so happens to be a date with Lynne!? Weird.

*Beach House, Devotion (Carpark)

Admittedly, this album was purchased based upon the cover art alone, but imagine the surprise and blissed-out happiness upon hearing the actual music! Wins the Smoothest Vocals and Best Use of a Drum Machine award, which just so happens to be a tall ship towing a peanut.

*Radiohead, In Rainbows (ATO)

We listened to this a lot while on tour. Like, a lot. Wins the Smarty Pants award and the Duhhhh award, which just so happens to be invisibility cloaks for the whole band. You guys are welcome. We know what it’s like. We are pretty famous, too.

*Vetiver, Thing of the Past (Gnomonsong)

Andy’s voice makes me so happy and his musical choices make me even happier. Wins Best Use of Hats, Beards, and Boots award, which just so happens to be the lemon tree from the back patio at El Rio! You guys sing a cover, and I will sneaky sneak it out the front.


1. Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It (Sony BMG/Columbia)

Heard this while I was record shopping in Chicago. Thought it was a Motown record I had never heard before. Great songs, production, and the singing is excellent.

2. Menahan Street Band, Make the Road by Walking (Daptone)

On Election Day we grabbed fish tacos on Ritch Street and there was a DJ wearing a George Bush mask who was spinning this record on the turntables set up on the sidewalk. The sun was shining, and Obama was about to win — a dawning of a new day.

3. Various artists, Pop Ambient 2008 (Kompakt)

This year’s collection might be my overall favorite.

4. Zo! and Tigallo, Love the 80’s! (Chapter 3hree)

Nice modern R&B versions of the most random ’80s jams. Good for throwing in a mix with the catchy Usher, T-Pain, and R. Kelly jams I also dug on this year.

5. Woolfy at the Elbo Room

A great show from Woolfy at B.O.D.Y.H.E.A.T.’s monthly night. A full band rocking great, slow-burning dance jams.

6. Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell (Matt Wolf, US) at the Roxy.

Loved the unreleased music and the glimpses of his creative process.

7. Boom Clap Bachelors, Kort Før Dine Læber (Music for Dreams)

Crazy futuristic electro-soul. One of the dudes is from Owusu and Hannibal, another cool group in this realm.

8. Various artists, Watch How the People Dancing: Unity Sounds from the London Dancehall, 1986–1989 (Honest Jon’s)

Been loving the Casio-fueled insanity, the craziest voices from the singers.

9. Various artists, Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story 1980–1986 (Strut)

The tropical boogie/reggae vibes flow so nicely from this cast of jammers.

10. Hatchback, Colors of the Sun (Lo)

Arpeggios and creamy chord changes.


1. Two Sheds, untitled EP (iTunes)

2. Kelley Stoltz, Circular Sounds (Sub Pop)

3. Uni and the Dig! String Trio, As Gold (self-released)

4. Pillars of Silence, Pillars of Silence (self-released)

5. Michael Zapruder, Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope (SideCho)

6. Land of Talk, Some Are Lakes (Saddle Creek)

7. Radiohead, In Rainbows (ATO)

8. Hayden, In Field and Town (Fat Possum)

9. +/-, Xs on Your Eyes (Absolutely Kosher)

10. The Beach Boys, U.S. Singles: Capitol Years ’62–65 (EMI)


*Borts Minorts on earth and in concert

A white body suit, a musical instrument made of a ski and bass string, and beautiful dancing gals. Fun SF weirdness without the Burning Man remorse.

*Thee Oh Sees live and The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In (Tomlab)

Really, how many awesome tunes can a human being write?

*The Fresh and Onlys

What a fine group — so fine I started a label, Chuffed, to put out their first single. Where the embers of the Red Crayola and the Elevators’ hash pipe merge with Born to Run muscle.

*The Dirtbombs

Since I toured with them this year I got to see them 53 times, and they were awesome every night — except that first night in Bloomington, Ind., but that was a bummer gig all around. "I Can’t Stop Thinking About It" is the best tune I heard this year.

*Margo Guryan, Take a Picture (Sundazed)

Thanks to Chris at Groove Merchant for hipping me to this. Soft chanteuse-y vocals, booming drums, sitars, and fuzz = awesome pop.

*Beck, "Chemtrails" from Modern Guilt (Interscope)

I just really dig this tune. I like the homemade video for it on YouTube and the conspiracy theories the song alludes to.

*Randy Newman at SFJAZZ fest, playing a solo piano gig, for nearly two hours

Again, how many good songs can one person write — it’s ridiculous!

*Sunday night shows at the Rite Spot

Annie Southworth does a good job booking the place: Colossal Yes, Adam Stephens, Prairie Dog, occasional jazz cats, and the Ramshackle Romeos were my year’s highlights.

*Local bands at SFO

It’s mostly soft ‘n’ gentle pop, classical, or jazz — no Caroliner concerts are planned yet. But wouldn’t a Bart Davenport tune help the Xanax really take the edge off the preflight panic?

*Mon Cousin Belge at Café Du Nord

Somehow MCB unites Antony and Jello Biafra song skills, vocal chords, political proclivities, humor, and pathos into a horrifically scarred Belgian-in-exile crooner to make SF laugh and cry. Jobriath of the now!

*Jeffrey Lewis at Hotel Utah

The best concert I saw all year. The supergenius from your eighth-grade math class returns 20 years later with tunes that mix the Femmes, Jonathan Richman, and James Joyce.


*M83, "Kim & Jessie" (Mute)

’80s melancholia with good drum fills.

*The Dry Spells’ "Rhiannon" to be released on Antenna Farm in spring 2009

Much better than the Fleetwood Mac original. No, I am not fucking with you.

*Realizing the Grateful Dead’s "Touch of Grey" (Arista, 1987) is the best aging hippie anthem ever, and feeling like I relate to it, especially because I’m rapidly going gray.

*Tune-yards’ "News" (Marriage)

This is the best unknown band I’ve ever heard, no joke, hands down — you’d be insane not to check it out at

*3 Leafs, Space Rock Tulip (self-released)

Amazing SF all-star mostly improv band featuring members of Gong, Tussle, Citay, and others. Epic, spacious, physical, colorful, and powerful, with catchy and fun moments throughout.

*The Botticellis, "The Reviewer" (Antenna Farm)

Total power pop, like the best upbeat Big Star meets the best Cheap Trick. One of my favorite songs of recent memory.

*Tune-yards live in SF and Portland, Maine

Citay played on a bill with Tune-yards in Portland, Maine, and then we set up a show for her here in SF. We promoted the heck out of it, the people came out, and Tune-yards killed. Truly inspiring.

*Vetiver’s cover of "The Swimming Song" (Gnomonsong)

*Half Japanese at the WFMU showcase at SXSW

*Discovering Mastodon, way, way late.


1. Toxic Lipstick, "Thunderdome" (Dual Plover)

This is one of the most fucked-up songs from one of the most fucked-up records in the past 20 years.

2. Deerhoof, current tour clips on YouTube

Since I got their first two records at age 15, Deerhoof has remained one of my favorite bands, and the addition of Ed Rodriguez has pushed them into a new terrain of amazingness.

3. E-40 featuring Lil John, "Turf Drop" (BME/Reprise) and Urxed, Car Clutch, and Soft Circle live at Triple Base

Fucking incredible! And the Triple Base show pretty much made everyone’s "show of the year."

4. Lil Wayne, "A Millie" (Cash Money/Young Money/Universal)

This song completely saves the rest of this half-assed, boring, and otherwise overhyped record.

5. Matmos, Supreme Balloon (Matador)

Dude, they always deliver!

6. Bleachy Bleachy Bleach

It’s sort of like Cobra Killer being thrown into a fryer, but made by super young Bay Area suburban girls whose first "big band" that they got into, at age 14, was Wolf Eyes.

7. Disaster’s LP and Barr’s new songs live

I was lucky enough to see the few performances that he made it to, after he cancelled most of his shows for this year. As far as his alter ego, Disaster, goes — I like it because people think the record player is broken when you listen to the album.

8. The Younger Lovers, Newest Romantic (Retard Disco)

Full disclosure: I recorded four songs on it. This is a band started by a friend I grew up with named Brontez. Highly recommended.

9. Fatal Bazooka, "Parle a Ma" (Warner)

While on tour in France we were tortured by mainstream French radio. Fortunately, this song was a big hit at the time. Thank God we don’t speak much French, because I am 100 percent positive that the lyrics fucking suck.

10. Quintron, Too Thirsty 4 Love (Goner)

The best album cover and best opening song. It’s tragic that bands like My Chemical Romance are so huge and have pushed such genius artists as Quintron and Miss Pussycat into such obscurity.