#10: No Sex for Ben - The Rapture
This has to be one of the year's most underrated tracks, partly the fault of being on the soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto IV. Yet, as it is, "No Sex for Ben" rivals even the best of The Rapture's (official website) previous efforts, including "House of Jealous Lovers" off of their 2003 album Echoes. It's a fuzzy interlude of beat boxing, timed buzz-bass lines, and guitars that make "No Sex for Ben" the best dance-rock track of 2008.
#9: Love Dog - TV on The Radio
My personal favorite track off of TV on The Radio's (official website) 2008 album Dear Science is most assuredly "Love Dog." There was something quite different from Dear Science and their 2006 album Return to Cookie Mountain (lets just say it was the funk), but to me "Love Dog" bridges that gap, returning Tunde Adebimpe's grasping heroic vocals with the minimalistic background, until the fade of an orchestra beams out the song's final glory. It may not be the consensus favorite off Dear Science for most people, but for me TV on The Radio couldn't get any better.
#8: Gobbledigook - Sigur Ros
Everyones favorite (or should be) non-English speaking artist, Sigur Ros (official website), stepped towards another dimension with "Gobbledigook" - they stayed on Earth. The song did not stray into the atmospheric realm that Sigur Ros learned to use so well, but rather changed the heart of the sound to a point where it almost sounds primitive (in a good way). For the first time, Sigur Ros sound almost furious in their efforts to paint the image they're trying to make, slamming the percussion and guitars until "Gobbledigook" (video here) runs out of breath - also making it one of the shortest songs Sigur Ros ever made.
#7: Eraser - No Age
No Age's (Myspace) "Eraser" fuses the efforts of what the band spent most of its years working towards - an endearingly gleeful noise that only fuels No Age's style. "Eraser" is a loose, simple song, that strives quickly towards a fuzz-box goal of expansiveness. The sheer sound executed here is full of hooks and quirks, but still leaves Dean Spunt's voice as permanent as it should be. Their album Nouns is full of the same feelings you get here.
#6: L.E.S. Artistes - Santogold
Santogold (official website) truly emerged this year, even with the inaccurate M.I.A. comparisons (Hell, they're both good). "L.E.S. Artistes" should have demolished those comparisons, coming together with a sound M.I.A. hasn't challenged yet - singing. Santogold's voice endears a feeling of personal empathy, extracting "hope" and "all the things that I believe." It's here that she shows a level of unscripted individuality, moving beyond the sound's profoundness. She provides it all herself.
#5: Sleepyhead - Passion Pit
There's no easy way of saying I love the crap out of this song, so I won't. Passion Pit's (official website) "Sleepyhead" is a sparklingly uplifting track that moves through a carousel of falsetto swings, causing an uproarious emotion - a timely counter of sexy and fun (by all counts, the best combination).
#4: Machine Gun - Portishead
Among the catalog of made up lists I've created through this top 25 list, Portishead (official website) would be sitting on top of "come-back" of the year for their album Third. And no track more empazises that title than "Machine Gun." The first reaction one gets from the beginning apocalyptic beat is just "wow." Add the unbelievable sound Portishead inhibits with the acute vocals of Beth Gibbons. But that sound, that incredible sound, is what will make "Machine Gun" echo on for years.
#3: While You Wait for The Others - Grizzly Bear
"While You Wait for The Others" may mark one of the only instances where a foremost live recording cracks any year end best of lists. Daniel Rossen's second appearance on this list ("No One Does it Like You" at #15) concludes Grizzly Bear's (official website) undeniable impact on music for the past two years with this performance. It's a quiet suspect of perfectionism, brilliantly moving through the vocal ranges of Grizzly Bear while still keeping the romanticism of their sound rushing through the listener's ears. What was done in "While You Wait for the Others" that so breathes gracious nature, is the band's ability to manipulate their strengths so well - until the point where modern Beach Boys comparisons seem almost like an afterthought.
#2: Dinosaur on the Ark - The Very Best
The Very Best's [Myspace (Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit)] self-titled album could not have come without any better ammunition. "Dinosaur on the Ark" is a song that seemed impossible not to fall in love with. The inclusion of mixed-language vocals cannot help but uplift the listener beyond the notions of "World War I and World War II" to the confessions of a love that goes beyond the realm that music can. It's beautiful in so many words, and so many worlds, that one language alone cannot tell it.
#1: In The New Year - The Walkmen
Four years after The Walkmen's (official website) breakout single "The Rat" emerged, the group returned to their peak with "In The New Year." Hamilton Leithauser's voice reaches a peak that could have put any other singer on this list to shame, and rightfully so goes the #1 slot. The song sounds so good that listening to it every new year should become ritual, but the notion goes beyond that. The guitar and piano shriek brilliantly towards a climactic close that, one would have to guess, left Hamilton, and the rest of us, out of breath.