2008: Matt James' Toppermost of the Poppermost

There are two ways of doing end of year music lists. The first is the ego strokin' “bands no one's ever heard of, I'm SO cool” Olympian stylee, whilst the second just shrugs its shoulders, raises its glass and says “F*ck it, these are really the records that held me hostage in the basement all year”. Publish and be damned I say!

1. Crystal Castles “Crystal Castles”

As addictive as crack and twice as dangerous. Of course it's a mess but what an extraordinary mess of eyeliner and spraypaint. CC kicked opened so many doors for me in 2008 they probably even changed the way I hear music. It was like removing the blinkers and finding there really was no line on the horizon. They made me feel 13 again, visiting that infinite record shop for the first time. Led by doomed poet Alice “Call Security” Glass (whom I'm convinced is a post-op Richey Edwards re-born a riot grrrl) they roared like an apocalyptic warning from the future, Terminator-style. The most ferocious and invigorating live band I've experienced this decade, built like a hurricane and - judging by new material Baptism and Yes/No - they're just getting started.

2. MGMT “Oracular Spectacular”

Like proper pop stars, MGMT were beamed in from outer space to save us from ruin and mediocrity. A daydream believers album with a triptych of unstoppable singles (Time To Pretend, Electrical Feel & Kids), the limitless imagination of a child and more layers than an Onion. It'll probably take a few light years to actually gauge its full impact. In an Aldous Huxley world of cloned plastic airbrushed crap we must be eternally gratefully for freaks like these. Now chuck your TV outta the window, torch your house and get in that teepee. Pronto Tonto!

3. Goldfrapp “Seventh Tree”

You can always rely on Harlequinn girl Ali G to deliver something unique. This year's adventure was The Secret Garden Unveils The Wicker Man. Anyone who follows their muse rather than their Bank Manager deserves applause. That they can consistently create something as lush, intoxicating and ravishing as this deserves a medal. God knows where they go from here. Clowns was my track of the year too.

4. Glass Candy “Deep Gems”

A candy coloured clown they call Ida No tiptoes to my room everynight just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper “Go to sleep, everything is alright”...I spent a disturbing amount of time this year dreaming through the Italians Do It Better catalogue and even their stocking fillers are crammed full of diamonds, pearls and ruby slippers. I aim to visit their sick world more often, maybe even invest in some property. Mayoress Ida No wants you to have a good time all of the time. She compels you to do a little dance, make a little love and generally get down tonight. Just don't bother knocking if you ain't here to party.

5. Gaslight Anthem “'59 Sound”

I have seen rock n' roll future and its name is...Gaslight Anthem? Eh? What kind of name is that? But golly here are the saviours of rock n' roll just like you ordered, the lineage of Strummer 'n' Springsteen armed with the intellectual muscles to make this rock business seem vital again. The sound of sincerity, sweat and as soulful as Otis or Marvin.

6. Ladyhawke “Ladyhawke”

Dear reader, give me your rainy days and I will bring you sunshine. The Pop Album of the Year, unforgivably blanked by Joe & Josephine Public. Man on the street, you are a fool with your X-Factor button pressing gubbins and sexless singer songwriter greyness. In days of yore, there would've been plagues of locusts and stuff for turning your back on such divine blessings as this. The bloody Kooks sell a million copies and yet sparky kitties like Dusk Til Dawn and Paris Is Burning can't crack the Top 40. This country,etc.

7. Ladytron “Velocifero”

“Ladytron; Electro Foxes. A band barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild them. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic band. Ladytron will be that band. Better than they were before. Better, stronger, faster.” (Jeez, it's from The Six Million Dollar Man...ask your Dad).

8. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals “Cardinology”

Ryan Adams is basically a Rock 'N' Roll Santa. If you've been good (which of course I always have) you'll find a shiny new album under the tree every year. If you're really good you might get three of the buggers. It's like having an ace best friend who you only get to see once a year and you go out for a few beers and all the crap that happens inbetween is, if only for an hour or two, almost bearable. A wise bequiffed man once said Hold On To Your Friends and I'm wrapping my arms around this one.

9. Coldplay “Viva La Vida”

Touch me, I'm Sick!! [Sighs] I know, I know, this wasn't in the script! Guards take me to the tower and fetch the Genital Clamp! The Groovy Gang tell you not to like this record because it was made by bedwetting toffs. Well are you gonna sit there and let people tell you to what to think?? Huh? Are ya hell! Now go and listen to this oddly-life affirming and rich collage of honky tonk piano, blinking lights and - yikes! – joy. You may be surprised. Colour me shocked.

10. Bon Iver “For Emma, Forever Ago”

One of the best night records ever. It perfectly captures the fall of the house of shadows, the blossoming small black flowers that grow in the sky and crucially the hug-my-soul ray of light of a new day. As dark as it gets you always come out the other side feeling reborn.


Even the dead can hear the pitter-patter of the fab Little Boots, and I'm hoping for major minor-Manics melodrama from White Lies too. But what I'm really hoping to witness is a full-on Rise of The Machines style face-off between Glass Candy, Heartsrevolution, Crystal Castles, Fan Death, Kap Bambino, The Golden Filter and the rest of the new electronic revolutionaries.

2009, it's gonna be sick.

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