Let me start by saying that I've decided to end music reviews on this blog, and strictly do film. However, the occasional rant about music or anything else pop-culture related will still pop up. That being said, here are the best albums, songs and videos from January 1 to June 30, 2008...
THE 5 BEST ALBUMS:
1) Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
With this album, the Seattle band officially cemented their status as the best band in America (and one of the best in the world) with daggered couplets like "Sometimes I think of leaving/But it's something I'll never do/'Cuz you can do better than me/But I can't do better than you." Also painful: "Your New Twin-Sized Bed," about a lady who had to throw out her queen-sized mattress because she knows she's destined to be alone.
2) Coldplay - Viva La Vida, or Death and All His Friends
After the ever-so-slight disappointment of X&Y, the UK's best group returned with a vengeance, delivering a strong, measured, world-weary effort.
3) Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
Only a DJ you say? Well, the Pittsburgh native pulled a Radiohead (distributing his album on his website for whatever you felt like paying) and got his music (an ear-to-ear orgy of hip-hop, pop, and hits from every genre over the last four decades) to a wider audience.
4) Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
The weird, wonderful Icelandic band took a serious departure from their ethereal, moody ballads and got all excited and folky. And it still worked.
5) The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
Not as awe-inspiring as their booze-soaked short stories on Boys and Girls in America, but still a welcome departure from the disposable mess that is Top 40 radio.
THE 5 BEST SONGS:
1) Coldplay - "Viva La Vida"
Easily one of the saddest #1 hits in recent memory, Chris Martin sings of a man "who used to rule the world" with layers of regret.
2) Death Cab for Cutie - "I Will Possess Your Heart"
Only the full 8-minute version is worth hearing, with its eternally crescendo-ing intro and pangs of unrequited love.
3) Black Kids - "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You"
After becoming a Top 20 hit in the UK, the Jacksonville natives bring their buoyant dance-club tune Stateside. Imagine Robert Smith fronting Junior Senior and pretty close.
4) Vampire Weekend - "A-Punk"
The album didn't quite live up to the hype, but this first single was inescapable during SXSW, and for good reason.
5) David Cook - "Always Be My Baby"
The crowning achievement of Idol winner's magnificent season.
THE 5 BEST VIDEOS:
1) Evangelicals - "Midnight Vignette" (dir. Matt Leach)
2) Kanye West featuring Dwele - "Flashing Lights" (dir. Spike Jonze)
3) The Black Keys - "Strange Times" (dir. Lance Bangs)
4) Gnarls Barkley - "Run" (dir. Happy)
5) Weezer - "Pork and Beans" (dir. Mathew Cullen)