It might make me unpopular but… containing year-end lists to 2008 is idiotic.
By their very nature, year-end lists can only encompass a small pocket of what’s actually on your iPod. Sure, 2008 was a great year (for indie rock especially), but at the end of the day there’s more to audio exploration than breaking new bands. Any crate-digger worth his whiskers will tell you that there’s just as much to be discovered from the past as the present. As such, many of the best records I found in the last 12 months were old, lesser-known works, long ignored, or only recently unearthed.
Thus, in a bid to push the year-end list to its absolute limit, Flavorwire presents The Beard’s Top Eight Records That Weren’t From 2008.
Whisker-twisting reviews and essential MP3s after the jump.
8. Dr Dre – ’86 in the Mix (1986) Dropped when Girl Talk’s Gregg Gillis was barely in boy shorts, this recently unearthed 1987 DJ megamix sees the inimitable Dr. Dre ambling his way across 300 chopped-up records in less than an hour — masterfully meshing everything from classic hip-hop to classic rock. While he’d later become a legendary producer and talent scout, the mix proves categorically that Dre was (and is) just as adept behind the decks.Download: Side A| Unreleased
7. The Fucking Ocean – Le Main Rouge (2006) Despite their name, SF-bred post-punkers the Fucking Ocean are actually pretty intelligent, internalizing complex cues from noiseniks like Black Eyes, Liars, Fugazi, Sweep the Leg Johnny, and Don Cabalerro. Rigid guitar lines (best to avoid the word ‘angular’) fall in sharp, regimented strokes as background howls meet Fugazi grunts. La Main Rouge’s 28 minutes of earnest yowling and imploring screeches fly by in a flash, but the memory will claw at your inner dialog for hours. Download: “Literacy Test” | Buy the Record
6. Them – Them First (1965) In his pre-solo days, Van Morrison was an unabashed British invader, a garage yowler with chops to match any mop-top around. While his tunes aren’t necessarily more technically adventurous than the Stones (or contemporaries like the Kinks), Morrison’s scathing, unrelenting caw added an urgency to the ’60s rock template that’s pretty unassailable. His band’s debut, Them, betrays a rawness that would be largely smoothed over went he went solo. Download: “Gloria” via Levin Zenekuckója | Buy the Record
5. Four Jacks and a Jill – Master Jack (1968) Combining the heady echo of classic girl groups with complex vocal harmonies and warm folk tones, South Africa’s Four Jacks and a Jill revel in the classic pop strata of contemporaries like the Turtles and the Mamas and the Papas. Despite scoring a US hit with the haunting “Master Jack,” this record remains without a reissue (a criminal act if you ask me). Download: “Master Jack” via Little Hits | Out of Print
4. Moe Tucker – Life In Exile After Abdication (1989) By 1989, the Velvet Underground’s Moe Tucker had fallen pretty far — with Andy and Lou long gone, the one-time Easy Village art institution found herself working at Wal-Mart. Consumed with the rigors of every day life, Life in Exile After Abduction casts aside the Velvet’s detached cool for suburban aggression. Akin to the Shaggs, Sonic Youth, and the Vaselines, this is a true college-rock-era classic (over-looked, perhaps, only because its maker was old enough to be the movement’s mother). Download: “Work” via Moistworks| Buy the Record
3. The Feelies – Only Life (1988) Most people (or at least those obsessed with mid-’80s jangle pop) will tell you the Feelies discog begins and ends with Crazy Rhythms. Sure that record’s cover inspired Weezer’s blue album, but its cuts were better for indie-rock quiz questions than getting toes tapping. The band’s under-lauded 1988 album jangles with a less rigid angularity while offering infinitely more pleasing hooks — not to mention inspired nods at everyone from the Velvet Underground to R.E.M. Download: “It’s Only Life” via Boogie Woogie Flu| Buy the Record
2. Acid House Kings – Sing Along with the Acid House Kings (2005)Reveling in the tweest twee imaginable, Acid House King’s heart-obsessed anthems make even the most lovelorn emo acts look downright unemotional. Informed by harmony driven folkers a la Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura, the band’s cheery, puppy-dog aesthetic is underscored by a profound understanding of the boons and busts of emotional adventure. The band is sweet but never saccharine, managing to deftly skirt the potential overkill that comes with any attempt at uber-precious pining. Download: “This Heart Is A Stone” via Music Is Art | Buy the Record
1. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands (1987)A shoegaze classic every bit as fuzz-finessed as the band’s more exulted Psychocandy (not to mention genre mainstays like Galaxie 500’s On Fire), Darklands trades in the skronk of earlier The Jesus and Mary Chain albums for a warmer goth sludge. The band’s spacey sounds are counter-balanced by a wry, Lou Redd-ish brand of detached cool that makes lines like “I’d shed my skin for you” as sweet as they are scary. Download: “Happy When It Rains” via beemp3 | Buy the Record