Listening Assignments 12.8.08

1. Friendly Fires - Paris - "Best of" lists are a lot of fun around this time of year, though by January they'll all blend together. E-mag lists are pretty predictable, almost like a template: Whatever the blogs loved this year, a few mainstream tracks (hip-hop/rap if at all possible), and a random song or two no one heard this year because "Europe is eating this up right now" and it hasn't yet reached our shores. This song by Friendly Fires is one of the latter, found on the first top 50 list I read this year, and it's a gorgeous and frenetic dream overdose. [from Friendly Fires|buy]

2. John Davis - Lamentation vs. Laughter - The former Superdrag frontman has gone solo and picked up a bible to thump, but he's still cranking out jet-fueled guitar riffs and driving power pop like he's sleepwalking. Stop-and-go rockers are always something I can get behind, especially when they evoke The Grays and Foo Fighters. [from Arigato!|buy]

3. Bon Iver - Beach Baby - Justin Vernon's project has gotten a lot of pub this year, and deservedly so. For Emma, Forever Ago was a tweener, self-released last year and re-released this year, allowing for "Best of" entries on both calendars. He was on my '07 list, so I couldn't mention him again without newness, found here in the form of a much-anticipated EP that does nothing but continue to build up the aura of impeccable, beautiful emotion Justin has perfected at every step. [from Blood Bank EP out 1.20|pre-order]

4. Matt Pond PA - Hearts and Minds - Somehow, for some reason, Matt Pond stopped being cool or something. I saw him play at the NorVA to 800 people on the Several Arrows Later tour, then two years later he played to 200 (maybe less). Pond will always remind me of a time where I was young and green and desperate to hear something real, which he readily provided. This EP is free, hence the name, and is better than last year's Last Light, in my opinion. Two damn good reasons to get clicking. [from the freeep|download free]


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