“Paste” Inspires Many A List-Watching Music Fan To Ask, “She & Him??”

Dan Gibson | November 21, 2008 3:00 am

Paste‘s 2008 best-of isn’t unlike the magazine itself: largely predictable, but with a few surprises seemingly thrown in to confuse or distract. The list hews rather closely to their adult alternative aesthetic, but as likely obligated by law, they threw in Lil Wayne (No. 29). He’s not quite as good as MGMT, in case you were wondering.

THE GOOD: It cheered my heart to see that Ida Maria’s Fortress Round My Heart placed highly (No. 13); the odd, but charming acknowledgment of Torche (No. 34) elicited a similar reaction. For the Christian rock enthusiast portion of my heart, seeing Sandra McCracken buried near the bottom of the list was nice, although almost a wink and a nod to those who wonder if Paste is a undercover Christian rock mag. They may recommend Lil Wayne, but don’t worry, true believers. They still have room for Jesus rock. THE BAD: Im sure any Idolator reader could pick out a record they don’t particularly care for and go all critically nutzoid, but Girl Talk at No. 7 seems like an odd slap in the face to the parade of “real musicians” who fall afterwards. I like Girl Talk; I downloaded the disc, and it stayed in my car stereo for a few months. But the question ends up being whether these best of lists are really running down the “best” of the year, and that the idea of lasting value and meaning is taken into consideration, or whether a disc’s inclusion just means that it was awesome to hear at parties. THE WHAAA? Although I was surprised not to see Al Green on the list, and to note that Santogold’s Diplo mixtape outranked her actual album, nothing could top my shock to see She & Him at No. 1. The magazine defends the selection: “Maybe it’s just a sweet little folk record—a tiny, flawless diamond. Or maybe it’s a pristine distillation of harmony and craft; 50 years of songwriting experience served up on a spinning silver platter. Either way, it’s our album of the year.” To my ears, neither assertion is true. Volume One is a cute novelty record that has more preciousness than innovation, skill, or any other sort of metric people tend to judge great albums by. Last year’s number one was the National’s Boxer… this year’s pick is a long slide down in quality.

1. She & Him, Volume One 2. Sigur Rós, Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust 3. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend 4. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago 5. Okkervil River – The Stand Ins 6. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes 7. Girl Talk, Feed the Animals 8. Sun Kil Moon, April 9. Lucinda Williams, Little Honey 10. Deerhunter, Microcastle 11. The Hold Steady, Stay Positive 12. Of Montreal, Skeletal Lamping 13. Ida Maria, Fortress Round My Heart 14. Langhorne Slim, Langhorne Slim 15. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! 16. My Morning Jacket
, Evil Urges 17. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Lie Down In The Light 18. Death Cab
 for Cutie, Narrow Stairs
 19. Gentleman Jesse and His Men, Introducing Gentleman Jesse and His Men 20. Hot Chip, Made In The Dark 21. The Raveonettes, Lust Lust Lust 22. No Age, Nouns 23. Mates of State, Re-Arrange Us 24. Santogold and Diplo, Top Ranking
 25. Mugison, Mugiboogie 26. Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy 27. Liam Finn, I’ll Be Lightning 28. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular 29. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III 30. I’m From Barcelona, Who Killed Harry Houdini? 31. The Walkmen, You & Me 32. Silver Jews, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea 33. Santogold, Santogold 34. Torche, Meanderthal 35. Colour Revolt, Plunder, Beg and Curse 36. The Bridges, Limits of the Sky 37. Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit, A Larum 38. Jamie Lidell, Jim 39. The Dodos, Visiter 40. Flight of the Conchords, Flight of the Conchords 41. The Tallest Man On Earth, Shallow Grave 42. Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down, We Brave Bee Stings & All 43. Amanda Palmer, Who Killed Amanda Palmer 44. Kathleen Edwards, Asking For Flowers 45. M83, Saturdays = Youth 46. Lykke Li, Youth Novels 47. Laura Marling, Alas, I Cannot Swim 48. REM, Accelerate 49. Sandra McCracken, Red Balloon 50. TV On The Radio, Dear Science

Signs of Life 2008: Best Music [Paste]