Year End Guest Lists

In the midst of holiday travel and end of semester hi-jinx, the last bit of our year end coverage here at Mission Freak has kind of been buried under a mountain of snow, but we’re excited to unveil this evening the compiled lists of several of our friends within the Iowa music community. By no means is this a critical list - neither was ours, but this is more of a list of ideas from some folks who’s opinion we really respect. You’ll find some gems on here, as well as some more creative takes on this year’s best music. We hope that it prompts you to seek out some good tunes as the music industry takes a year end vacation. Of course you know lots of hot music will be coming out in ‘09 too (Merriweather Post Pavilion, anyone?), but here’s several different accounts of what blew up for some peeps in 2008. Many, many thanks to all the contributors. We love what you do. With this, we leave you until our coverage of New Year’s festivities in Iowa City next week. Enjoy, safe travels, and happy holidays.

Mikko Wolf (School of Flyentology)
1. Heartsrevolution - Switchblade ep
Dirty electro pop has never been this good. Pop music is changing and Heartsrevolution is a guiding light. Innovation within their genre isn’t the only strong suit for Heartsrevolution, the ep has several undeniable fist pumping jams.
2. El Guincho - Alegranza
I always assumed everybody knew and loved this release. Apparently I was listening to this so much when it came out that I didn’t even care to hear what anybody else was listening to. Alegranza comes off much like a Spanish version of Animal Collective with its heavy use of samples and very slight disjunction. Imagine if Animal Collective grew up in Spain and were better. That is El Guincho.
3. Santogold/Diplo - Top Ranking
It’s easy to compare this mixtape to Diplo’s modern classic Piracy Funds Terrorism, which trumpeted M.I.A. nearly a year before her first album, Arular, was released. Top Ranking, however, is different in many ways. Most obvious is that Santogold’s presence is felt less than M.I.A.’s in Piracy. Diplo mixes deep cuts from the likes of the B-52’s, The Clash, and Desmond Dekker while showcasing Santogold as well as some artists from Diplo’s label Mad Decent. The album, as a whole, questions what is and is not danceable. As it turns out, it all is. Sidenote: A close listen to the album’s 4th track, I’m a Lady, reveals a really short sample that I’m pretty sure calls me a “faggot.” Whoa.
4. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colors
Australia is ohsohot with electronic pop seeping from its…whatever they have down under. Cut Copy’s second proper full length feeds one’s insatiable appetite for catchy hooks and dance-while-sing a longs. Undeniable.
5. The Cool Kids - The Bake Sale
Throwing it back to big beat hip hop, The Cool Kids have crafted an album that could have come out 20 years ago or today. Somehow they do it without making anything sound old. The idea of simple-but-complex is usually bullshit, but Chuck Inglish, half of the duo, has produced music that is just that. Clever wordplay over the top of such beats means solid gold. This is hip hop. Straight up.
6. Gameboy/Gamegirl - Golden Ghetto Sex ep
More Australia! The first release from these Aussies is a sexual novelty of a record, ie. Bloodhound Gang, but ohso much better. Dancey big beats and groovy synthed out keyboards coupled with hilarious call and answer lines, “shoes are what your money’s for/food is what my dick is for,” makes for a hell of a good time. The G.L.O.V.E.S. remix of Dirty Damp/Sweaty Wet is one of the years best remixes. Try to not dance to this.
7. TV on the Radio - Dear Science,
In an era where electronic influenced rock bands outnumber the number of times I nut everyday (good things people) TV on the Radio dominate. Style and pure musicianship mend beautifully on their latest lp.
8. Santogold - s/t
One of the most hyped albums this year. Unlike bands like Vampire Weekend and Voxtrot, Santogold shines through the hype and actually makes a good album. With help from producers like Diplo, Santogolds first full length takes late 80’s/early 90’s style pop rock and adds a dash of hip hop to make a delicious music pie. Yeah. Music pie. Delicious music pie.
9. Sebastian Tellier - Sexuality
The album name is evidence of what one may find within the parameters of this album. Sexy, soothing electronics and beautiful French vocals make this album an absolute must. It’s easy to visualize a sexy trip through the outers of space and time with every listen. Take the trip, maaaaaaaaaaan.
10. Crystal Castles - s/t
This Nintendo-sounding, sample heav…you’ve heard it. nuf said.

Shawn Reed (Night-People Records, Wet Hair)
Night-People year-end hits from the crypt:

Peaking Lights- Recorded, live, and as people
Eddie Current Supression Ring- Primary Colors LP (if you listen to one record this year over and over this one is it)
Eat Skull- Sick to Death LP (and Live)
Sic Alps- US EZ LP (and Live)
US Girls/M. Remy for being a warrior
Russian Tsarlag- Community Death Tube LP (gave me something to believe in)
Power Masters 2- C.F. (comics only freaks could understand)
Meth Teeth- Bus Rides 7inch (and live)
Zola Jesus, Dead Luke, Absinthe Minds- Madison’s young psych punk crew of bands have some good future on the way
Secret Abuse- Violent Narcissus LP (for moving back too)
Taterbug live and in person
Iowa City House Shows
Montana Del Oro State Park in California
The Bay Area and the Northwest
Sacred Bones Records (best new label)
Jerkwave Tapes (best new cassette label)
Mississippi Records Reissues (check this label out everything they do is gold)

Sarah Cram (Diplomats of Solid Sound)
(in no particular order)
Beck - Modern Guilt
Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
Lucinda Williams - Little Honey
Madonna - Hard Candy
Jacob Dylan - Seeing Things
Nicole Atkins - Neptune City
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig Lazarus Dig
The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping

Sam Locke-Ward (Miracles of God, The Boo-Hoos)
9.King Khan and The Shrines-Supreme Genius Of…
8.Pig Destroyer-Phantom Limb
7.Manhorse The Meatbag III-self titled cassette
6.A Tomato A Day (Keeps The Tornado’s Away)-Moon Is Green
5.Sun City Girls-You’re Never Alone With A Cigarette (singles collection 1)
4.The Bassturd-Evolve
3.Neil Hamburger-Sings Country Winners
2.Melvins-Nude With Boots
1.Escape The Floodwater-Wrong Doings and Done Wrongs

Nathan Gould (General Manager, KRUI)
1. For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver
2. House With No Home by Horse Feathers
3. Visiter by The Dodos
4. Shallow Graves by Tallest Man on Earth
5. Furr by Blitzen Trapper
6. Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes
7, We Brave Bee Stings and All by Thao w/ the Get Down Stay Down
8. Alopecia by Why?
9. Dear Science by TV On The Radio
10. Lie Down in the Light by Bonnie Prince Billy

Trent Derby (Wolves in the Attic)
the other day my mother told me to FEED THE ANIMALS so i went outside but stopped when i heard SHOTS. there before me was some sort of ORACULAR SPECTACULAR that said HOW YA LOOKIN’ SOUTHBOUND? COME IN… naturally i entered and was sent into a trip by the SKELETAL LAMPING that surrounded me. i continued on until i bumped into the CONSOLERS OF THE LONELY who must have mistaken me for someone else because they kept telling me to DIG, LAZARUS DIG!!! i felt some MODERN GUILT because i had no idea of how to help these people and frankly i didnt care because i just wanted to get back to my chores for mother. when i finally stepped back into reality i noticed that i had a bulging HEART ON so i did what every other 12 year old boy would do and i………APOCALYPSO-ed the shit out of it!!!

(Girl Talk, Ladyhawk, MGMT, Ben Kweller, Of montreal, The Raconteurs, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Beck, Eagles of Death Metal, The Presets)

J. Tom Hnatow (These United States)
Shearwater - Rook (Matador)
-This ended up being my favorite record of the year. So beautiful and devastating – on paper the idea of a combination of Antony-esque vocals and obscure lyrics about the end of the world (and birds) sounds absurd, but the end results are nothing short of haunting.
Sun Kil Moon - April (Caldo Verde)
-With Mark Kozelek, the devil is always in the details. And in a long career filled with subtlety, April might be the most subtle of the bunch – which says a lot. Still, like a dreary, rainy day of the title month, the music has a way of quietly seeping into your consciousness until you’re not sure if you’re hearing his heart breaking or yours.
Calexico - Carried to Dust (Quarterstick)
-Shrugging off the misstep of Garden Ruin, Calexico return to doing what they do best – and create yet another cinematic, genre-blending masterpiece. Despite their top-notch songwriting and impeccable musicianship, Calexico are always one of those bands that somehow slip under the radar, which I find consistently baffling.
Bob Dylan - Tell Tale Signs (Columbia)
-There’s not much else that can be said about Bob Dylan. But what makes this set stand out is the musicians backing him up throughout – their willingness to follow Dylan’s every whim makes the songs especially essential and revelatory. The third disc of this set is worth seeking out just for the third version of Mississippi.
Beach House - Devotion (Carpark)
-This is the aural equivalent of the abandoned house in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – somehow both ephemeral and eternal, and constantly mysterious.
The Walkmen - You & Me (Gigantic)
-You & Me could be the hungover older cousin of Beach House’s Devotion. Every song feels like a hazy, shifting memory of the drunken evening before it. Tempos rarely rise above a crawl and Hamilton Leithauser’s weathered rasp calling out “Moonlight, oh moonlight help me sleep/There’s too much weight on my mind” feels like a prayer for just one more hour of sleep before dawn.
Okkervil River - The Stand Ins (Jagjaguwar)
-While not as immediate as The Stage Names, this companion piece doesn’t have a weak song in the bunch – and Lost Coastlines, Pop Lie, and Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979 rank among their best.
The Felice Brothers - The Felice Brothers (Team Love)
-We bought this album on tour and listened to it incessantly. There are a lot of bands who love Dylan and the Band circa the Basement Tapes. But so few pull off that sound so casually and seemingly effortlessly that it transcends the mere “Revivalist” tag.
Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (New West)
-Who would have thought that the loss of songwriting partner Jason Isbell would result in this band’s strongest record yet? Brighter than Creation’s Dark is yet another dark-as-night but ultimately redemptive set of songs. Featuring some of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley’s strongest material (check out Daddy Needs a Drink and A Ghost to Most, respectively), the addition of John Neff on pedal steel and Spooner Oldham on keys only broadens their musical palate.
The Notwist - The Devil, You + Me (Domino)
-Rather than the giant stylistic leaps made between previous records, The Devil, You + Me find the Notwist expanding the niche they discovered on their breakthrough Neon Golden. Despite their pop inclinations, I don’t know of any band who arranges noises so beautifully – from burbling synths to glockenspiel to the 21 piece orchestra that accompanies them on some tracks, this is a band who are primarily interested in SOUND. And vocalist Markus Acher’s voice, much like Bernard Sumners of New Order, adds a distinctly human element over the sometimes alienating proceedings around him.

Kent Williams (Little Village, Chaircrusher)
1. Weather Is Happening “Young Country EP”
Dan Davis’ Wichita band recorded this EP at Flat Black, played a show
at the Picador, and then … kinda fell apart, with Dan moving to Iowa
City to attend graduate school. Still a remarkable CD — loud,
emotional, majestic rock music that defies easy categorization. I
can’t even think of comparisons that do it really does WIH justice -
perhaps the best of Jane’s Addiction’s best songs, or Swervedriver
circa ‘Rave Down.’
2. Sam Locke Ward “Sacrilege, Treason, Treachery and Thyme.”
Maybe I should recuse myself from listing this, since I mixed,
mastered, and partially recorded this CD. But fuck it — during the
production process I heard this over and over again, and Sam’s songs
still hit me hard. A lo fi combination of rock, country, noise, and
folk, “Sacrilege …” is a concept album of sorts, with songs written
in the toxically jingoistic voice of conservative America. It also
includes more personal material like “Ketamine,” which makes a song
out of the nightmares Sam experienced while anaesthetized after having
his leg crushed by a drunk driver. “And the dark spoke to me: ‘you are
blind and you’ll never be free!’”
3. 2562 - “Aerial”
Aerial is a Dutchman named Dave Huismans, who released several
well-received Techno records before branching out into Dubstep.
Managing to pull together influences from Berlin Dub Techno and
Detroit Techno over the skeletal thump-slap beat of Dubstep, his
tracks are kinetic and fuzzy, warm and dislocated.
4. Tone “Small Arm Of The Sea”
Tone is a female singer/producer from Denmark, whose jagged
found-sound beats and intimate soprano voice will make you think of
Bjork and Erykah Badu, but she’s definitely on her own strange trip.
This entire album is available for free download from her website.
5. Soul Designer - “Evolutionism The Album”
Soul Designer is Fabrice Lig, a veteran Belgian Techno Producer. His
“Soul Designer” moniker is reserved for his dance records that are
directly inspired by US Soul and Jazz records of the 60s and 70s.
Like most cultural tourists he probably misses the point to some
extent, but always in a funky and entertaining manner. The track
“Evolutionism” is a slice of pure dance heaven, with a drums-only
buildup that goes on for 4 minutes before a simple organ riff sneaks
in. It’s a masterpiece of minimalism, wringing drama and
hands-in-the-air climaxes from the smallest of gestures.
6. Model 500 “Starlight Mixes”
Model 500 is techno pioneer Juan Atkins plus a rotating assembly of
collaborators. But the original Model 500 track “Starlight” was
released in 1995, with a remix by Berliner Mauritz Von Oswald that
became a classic piece of dub techno. This release compiles 8 other
remixes by prominent Detroit and Chicago techno producers, all trying
to out-do each other with deepness. And like the best artistic — as
opposed to commercial — remixes, they tag up briefly on the original
before blazing their own path deep into the woods.
7. Lous Haiman “Life After People”
Louis Haiman released some tracks on Derrick May’s Detroit label
Transmat before founding his own label Forward Thought. “Life After
People” is a full length album available for free download from the
Forward Thought website. This music is techno/not techno,
incorporating the trance-inducing repetition and slow morphing of
techno into music that’s more personal and emotional for glitter
makeup and platform shoes on the dancefloor. There’s a second sampling
of tracks from a forthcoming full length by his Dubulator alias, which
attempts to outdeep the deepest. These are tracks for which the bass
is so low and deep it’s infrared.
8. Los Hermanos “Traditions and Concepts”
Los Hermanos is a production crew associated with the Detroit
label/distributor/clubhouse Underground Resistance, and brings an
overtly Latin influence into Detroit Techno. Like the best of UR’s
style of techno, it’s a revolution you can dance to.
9. Kenny Larkin “Keys Strings & Tambourines”
One of ’second wave’ of Detroit Techno artists, Kenny’s first album
was released in 1994, as part of Warp Records “Artificial
Intelligence” series. That probably means diddly to most of you, but
for anyone who follows electronic music it means he’s kind of a big
deal. And Kenny would be a much bigger deal if he wasn’t also trying
to pursue a career in stand up comedy. Seriously. And this CD is no
joke. Intricate and groovy techno that can surprise you — no mean
feat in a genre built on repetitioin.
10. Deep Chord “Vantage Isle”
A CD that follows the pattern set by the “Starlight” CD mentioned
above: An original track — this time by Deep Chord (aka Rod Modell),
is mutated by several different remixers, including Rod Modell and his
partner in dub Soultek(Mike Schommer). This is the soundtrack of one
of those dreams where you’re swimming deep along a reef, and you can
breathe the water.

Corey Gingerich (Slanty Shanty Records)
Top 8 of 08
8. Michael Cashmore and Marc Almond “Gabriel and the Lunatic Lover”
Beautifully composed music fronted by Marc Almond of Soft Cell (yes, “Tainted Love” Soft Cell)
7. Shame Train “Splendor”
Well crafted, well executed. It’s like everything i like from Bright Eyes and Wilco without any of the ego-indulgent bullshit of Connor Oburst or Jeff Tweedy.
6. Hercules and Love Affair “s/t”
You must have a heart of stone to not appreciate this band. That is all.
5. Sigur Ros “Medsud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust”
Not their best showing, but still a very good work.
4. Foot Village “Friendship Nation”
3 guys, 1 girl, 4 drum sets, 2 megaphones. Fucknoise at it’s finest. Although it is not on this album in particular, seek out: “Club Traxx I-III”
3. Sleep Station “The Pride of Chester James”
This little know band from New Jersey has put together some of the most profound concept albums of the entire indie rock genre. Go check them out…now! (After the War is genus)
2. Crystal Castles “Crystal Castles”
2 Years ago, A Vague Sound was scheduled to play a show with CC in Toronto. I booked the show 3 months in advance, and at the time, they had only 15000 myspace plays (about the same as AVS at the time.) When i checked their profile a month later, they had 1.5 million….of course, the show didn’t happen. But who cares?!?!?!, this album is great.
1. CAW! CAW! “Wait Outside”
So honestly, this isn’t self-pandering. I honestly and sincerely think that someday, CAW! CAW! will be recognized as being the most important indie rock band alive. Case and point: tie on your flak jackets as we tentativly slate “Fabulous Secret Powers” for next summer. Fkkkkk ysss.

Patrick Fleming (The Poison Control Center)
10. She & Him “Volume 1″ This album is about 100 times better than I expected and I honestly could not get enough of that video they made for the single “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here.”
9. Head of Femur “Great Plains” We had so much fun touring with these guys even if it was just for a week! The song “Napoleon’s Boots,” got lots of play in the van this year.
8. One For the Team “Build It Up” Funny that these guys are from Minnesota cause their album is like a tackle box! Full of HOOKS! Great Pure Pop!
7. Keepers of the Carpet “Just Set Fire to the Prize” The guys in Keepers of the Carpet are all in other bands, this is selfish but I think they stay together for the benefit of me, having a band that I can go to their shows, get drunk, and sing along to every fantastic song they have!
6. The Magnetic Fields “Distortion” This was by far the hardest Magnetic Fields album to get into because the fantastic lyrics are so hard to make out, but once you got em they got you!
5. The Heavenly States “Delayer” Again these guys were tour mates of ours for a little over a week and lets just say I learned more about writing great pop songs watching them play every night then I have from any other band this year. The album is 10 times better than the new Malkmus and the Jicks record, and that takes a lot for this boy to say that!
4. Belle and Sebastian “the BBC Sessions” So what if a lot of these tunes sound so much like the original versions, the song “Wrong Love,” kills me every time.
3. Portishead “Third” Another spooky, beautiful album from a band that has never let me down.
2. Destroyer “Trouble In Dreams” Not Dan’s best album, but way better than 99% of the albums I heard this year, the song “Foam Hands” is the most gut wrenching song about a separating couple I have heard in years!
1. Wolves In the Attic “Electronic Hearts” Now I know this album does not get a technical release until January, but if you are lucky enough to get one of the limited edition of 200 books the first pressing comes in, you will agree that this electric guitar opus that was ripped to tape in the mere matter of hours holds the intensity and excitement of one of the country’s best new bands!

Paul D. Burns (Attorney at law, total badass)
The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Real Emotional Trash
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Belle & Sebastian - The BBC Sessions
Beck – Modern Guilt
No Age – Nouns
Bob Dylan - Tell Tale Signs - The Bootleg Series Vol. 8.
Sigur Ros - Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust

The Special 2008 Reissue Category - Tied
Pavement - Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition
Replacements – Let it Be

Adam Luksetich (The Tanks, Nethervoid ex-Foul Tip)
1. NIFELHEIM - Envoy of Lucifer (Legendary Black Thrash from Sweden!)
2. HELLHAMMER - Demon Entrails 3LP/2CD Box Set (Before there was Celtic Frost, there was Hellhammer! Get with it
3. LEVIATHAN - Massive Conspiracy Against All Life (One man Black Metal from San Francisco that destroys
4. AURA NOIR - Hades Rise (More killer riffs on this record then Master of Puppets!)
5. DARKTHRONE - Dark Thrones and Black Flags (Been around for 20 years and still relevant!)
6. WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - Two Hunters (Spiritual and Epic Black Metal from Olympia, WA. Technically released in 2007, but the LP wasn’t out till 2008. And since ONLY VINYL IS REAL, it counts!)
7. KRALLICE - s/t (Black Metal from Mick Barr of Orthrelm on guitar. Yeah, it rules!)
8. OFERMOD - Tiamtu (Swedish Kvlt Black Metal. Only death is sacred.)
9. T.I. - Paper Trail (So many hits! It’s unreal! “It’s the end of the night, I was thinking you might wanna leave the bar, park the car, and turn into porn stars!”)
10. SEWN LEATHER - I Live Like This Cuz I Like It (Scummy noisy dance music for punks. Usually a one man band, but with enough fucking energy and passion for the many groups out there that lack it.)

Honorable Mention: William Elliott Whitmore - Animals In The Dark (It’s not out yet, so I did Will’s Laundry for three months till he finally let me hear this one early! It was worth it!)

About the Author


Todd is a transplant from the East Coast who came to Iowa City to live life, love music, and enjoy cheap beer. In addition to working on Mission Freak and Mission Creek Festival, he writes semi-regularly for Tiny Mix Tapes and Daytrotter and books music and other events at local non-profit venue Public Space ONE.

Comments are closed.