Modern Mystery’s Top 50 Albums of 2008


Its been a big 2008 for Modern Mystery. We’ve meet some really amazing bands, seen some incredible shows, and made a lot of great friends. We know 2009 will bring even more and we’re very excited!

We have compiled our list of our Top 50 Albums of 2008. Though this was by no means easy, we think we’ve included our all of certain favorites of the year. Below our list you’ll see a few more Top Lists of 2008, so check that out as well.  Hope you like our Top 50 Albums as much as we do!

1. of Montreal- Skeletal Lamping
2. Morning Benders- Talking Through Tin Cans
3. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin-Pershing
4. Miniature Tigers- Tell it to the Volcano
5. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals- Cardinalogy
6. Sloan- Parallel Play
7. MGMT- Oracular Spectacular
8. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band- Self Titled
9. The Spinto Band- Moonwink
10. Okkervil River- The Stand Ins
11. Chairlift- Does You Inspire You?
12. We Are Scientists- Brain Thrust Mastery
13. Tokyo Police Club- Elephant Shell
14. Ra Ra Riot- The Rhumb Line
15. Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s- Animal and Not Animal
16.  Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks- Real Emotional Trash
17. The French Kicks- Swimming
18. The Stills- Oceans Will Rise
19. The Walkmen- You and Me
20. Vampire Weekend- Self Titled
21. Wyldlife- Self Titled
22. Jenny Lewis- Acid Tongue
23. Annuals- Such Fun
24. Ratatat- Lp3
25. The Headlights- Some Racing, Some Stopping
26.  Department of Eagles- In Ear Park
27. Dr. Dog- Fate
28. Born Ruffians- Red Yellow and Blue
29. Los Campesinos- Hold On Now, Youngster
30. The Little Ones- Morning Tide
31. Mason Proper- Olly Oxen Free
32. She & Him- Volume 1
33. Albert  Hammond Jr.- Como te Llama?
34. Death Cab for Cutie- Narrow Stairs
35. Joan of Arc- Boo Human
36. Deerhoof- Offend Maggie
37. Sam Roberts Band- Love at the End of the World
38. Fleet Foxes- Self Titled
39. Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago
40. Atlas Sound- Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
41. Kings of Leon- Only By the Night
42. M83- Saturdays= Youth
43. Helio Sequence- Keep Your Eyes Ahead
44. Man Man- Rabbit Habits
45. Flight of the Conchords- Self Titled
46. Cold War Kids- Loyalty to Loyalty
47. The Mae Shi- Hlllyh
48. Secret Machines- Selt Titled
49. Santogold- Self Titled
50. Tim Fite- Fair Ain’t Fair

BEST EP OF 2008:
Matt Pond PA- The Freeep

Pavement- Brighten The Corners- Nicence Creedence Edition

Of Montreal at Roseland, NYC. Kevin Barnes on a live white horse? Try to beat that!

1. The Morning Benders
2. Miniature Tigers
3. Chairlift
5. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band


Modern Mystery’s Top 25 Songs of the Year

Finally here it is.  Modern Mystery’s Top 25 Songs of the Year! Yes this was super hard to compile, and yes we left some stuff out, but here is what we consider our personal Top 25. Our Number 1 Spot truly deserves it.

Tomorrow we reveal our Top Records. Oh what fun!

1. Miniature Tigers- Last Night’s Fake Blood
2. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin- Heers
3. Morning Benders- Damnit Anna
4. Chairlift-Bruises
5. MGMT- Kids
6.  Matt Pond PA- First Light
7. Of Montreal- For Our Elegant Caste
8. Casper and the Cookies- Little King
9. Sloan- Cheap Champagne
10. Ryan Adams-Fix It
11. Conor Oberst- Souled Out!!!
12. Sam Roberts Band- Them Kids
13. Okkervil River- Lost Coastlines
14. Vampire Weekend- Oxford Comma
15. Spinto Band-Summer Grof
16. Franz Ferdinand- Ulysees
17. We Are Scientists- Impatience
18. Mason Proper-Lock and Key
19. Ra Ra Riot- Dying is Fine20. Toyko Police Club- Graves
21. She & Him- Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
22. Hollerado-Americanarama
23. Annuals- Confessor
24. Santogold/NERD/Julian Casablancas- My Drivethru
25. Mae Shi- Run to Your Grave

Getting Inspired with Aaron from Chairlift

CMJ was a crazy week. Quite frankily, I still haven’t recovered. I was able to see a good amount of bands live, but I was also lucky enough to interview a few of my new and favorite upcoming bands.

On late Tuesday afternoon, I had the chance of seeing Brooklyn-by-way-of Colorado band, Chairlift, play a stellar show at Piano’s. I arrived a few minutes into their set and already, the crowd was out the door. It was literally packed like a sardine can. The band was brilliant on stage bringing their debut record ‘Does You Inspire You’  to life. Never have I seen a band that early in their career be so cohesive on stage. Everything about their performance was flawless…and that was only their first CMJ show of the week (and day).

After the show,  I had the chance to meet up with Chairlift co-founder and songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Aaron Pfenning next door for an interview at the Cake Shop. Pfenning, a charismatic early 20 something opened up about how the band formed, their future plans, and of course, the Ipod commercial.

How did Chairlift form?

We formed in Colorado. Caroline and I met in a economics class and bascially I was sitting behind her with sunglasses on and like a big leather jacket. We had a Chinese professor. It was a small lecture class and he was like ‘Can someone please draw the United States?’ and Caroline got up and drew a picture of the United States and it looked like a whale, well to me I thought it looked like a whale. It was actually an accurate portrayal of the United States. Then everyone had to get up and draw their city and say where they’re from. I got up, and I’m from Colorado, but I said I was from the Bay Area, because it looked like the mouth of the whale. So I went up and I drew a mouth on the thing, and I basically turned her drawing into a whale (laughs). So I lied and said I was from the Bay Area and then we stuck out, you know? It was just a class full of douche bags, and Caroline and I just hit it off and traded CDS and then we started making music together.

Caroline and I moved to New York, then Patrick moved to New York seperately, and we just ran into him totally, randomly in Union Square. I had never met him before but I’d seen him play jazz  before; He’s a really good jazz player and plays vibraphone. And then, actually, right here! (The Cake Shop), Patrick saw Caroline and I play a show. It was just the two of us here at Cake Shop and right after that, Patrick walked up and was like ‘Uh can I be in your band?’ and then we started playing with Patrick.

I had read that you originally wanted to write music for haunted houses. Is that true? Or is that a total lie?

Yea, its true. Caroline used to bring me to a place called the Broker Inn and its a really creepy hotel, almost no one there, and Patrick would actually play jazz there (Laughs). Every Friday night was jazz night. The owner totally would wear like, a toupee and a really weird couple would walk around and ask ‘Are you enjoying yourself?’ and so that kind of rubbed off. So Caroline and I started…I had a shed in my backyard and we started to improv and making weird music at night, because nighttime was the only time we could do free stuff. So we decided coming up with ideas for haunted house soundtracks. Haunted house music is so textural and I think it can teach you alot of things about coming up with composition.

You’ve been playing with a lot of great bands lately. Which show or tour has been your favorite or the most memorable?

Uh (pauses)…I want to answer accurately. I think the Ariel Pink tour was definatly the best tour. Yea, definatly the best tour. Austin, Texas with Ariel Pink. It was an outdoor venue called Mohawk. It was outside with palm trees and we had really good barbeque right before. It was just a really good feeling. The after party was great, there was like the prerequisite red pick up truck in the front yard, and just like a stereo playing in the yard the whole night. And Ariel, that was his best show too.

Were you nervous about going into the studio to record your first full length?

No, because we’ve been working on it for so long. We’ve been working on all the songs since Caroline and I met, I mean one of the first songs we wrote together is on the album. Like that one country song ‘Don’t Give a Damn.’ Like its kind of the one love song on the album. So yea, that ones on there and um, a lot of these songs have been a journey that have been written and I’ve been working on recording them the entire time. So that one has been recorded like four different times and we actually didn’t even record that one in the studio. I recorded that one up in Connecticut. So we did some, or alot of the recording on our own, and then the other part of the recording we did in the studio. We recorded everything over the course of nine months, so it was a long time. There was nothing nerve wracking. Definatly we were not nervous because it was kind of just being really dorky and making music that we wanted and wanted to hear.

You’re really good live, very cohesive. Sometimes new bands don’t have that, but Chairlift seems to be dead on.

The one thing with the live has always been limiting because physically the three of us obviously can’t play everything that has been recorded at once. Only specific things we’re able to do but we have to pick and choose.

Some bands, to make what they did in the studio, have to bring in extra members for their live show, which can be kind of weird.

Right, yea. We though of having other people come on stage, filling in the other parts, but we figured out ways to make it work. I think it works better with three people. Its kind of weird having someone onstage just shaking a tamborine and they only come on for a couple of songs. I always thought thats so cheesey. If anyone ever joined Chairlift, they would have to be multi-instrumental. I hate when people go on stage and go off.

You mean you don’t want to take some guy on tour to play tamborine? (Laughs)

Yea! We paid for him. We’d pay for his tuna salad everyday (Laughs)

What is your favorite thing about being on tour?

Not having to pay rent!

What is your least favorite thing about being on tour?

Not having a home, being homeless.

If you weren’t in Chairlift, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be studying Continental Philosophy (nods), Yea Continental Philiosophy.

What was the first instrument that you learned to play?

The trumpet. The trumpet (Pauses). I just wanted to make sure and ask myself.

Where does Chairlift’s lyrical inspiration come from?

Its pretty straight forward. It has nothing to do with us living in Colorado. Yea, we’re trying to make Chairlift sexy. Trying to make the word Chairlift sexy. Its a simple enough word!

How did the whole Ipod commercial come about?

Uh, its a…Its like a big fog of mystery. No one really knows. We played a show in L.A. and the next day or something, Apple, they sent us an e-mail and thats about it. We just don’t really know. Somehow Apple really has their ear to the ground and..have you heard of a radio station, KCRW in Santa Monica?

Yes, definatly.

Their music director, I think she chose the first couple of songs for the Ipod commercials. I think she chose Jet for that very first one, and I think she found Feist. We played in L.A. once and one of the DJ’s girlfriends saw us and brought our CD which had on it an early version of that song (‘Bruises’). So I think maybe she took it in. This is just my hypothesis (Laughs).  I think maybe KCRW had something to do with it, but i’m really not sure. They play such good music.

Better than New York. Do we even have one station here that plays good rock music?

Hmm,  oh wait there’s one…Oh wait, thats a Jersey station.

I get one from Conneticut (WXCI) that I can get like, in my driveway but nowhere else. How do you feel about all the media attention that Chairlift has been getting? I saw you on the front of Yahoo a couple of weeks ago, and you were mentioned in Spin’s MGMT cover story this month.

Oh yea? A lot of our stuff I don’t even know about. Our tour manager called me last night and said ‘I heard your song on ‘The Hills.’ I don’t even know what ‘The Hills’ is.

Its a fake reality show.

I don’t even really totally understand all of it. Just spell my name right! (Laughs) The New York Times misprinted Patrick’s name. He was upset about that. But yea, it sucks because they actually spelled it right on the paragraph above it!

What does the near future hold for Chairlift?

We have three new music videos. Alot of touring. We’re headlining shows in Europe in November. We’re doing that. I’ve never been there and then (pause), actually we’re starting to work on another album. The music videos are more immediate though. We’re going to make a music video for every song on the album and then release a DVD.

Very cool. I have a DVD like that from one of my favorite bands, but I got the European one by accident and it doesn’t play in my DVD player!

Really? Do a lot of bands do that?

Very few. Its kind of rare. What is your favorite album of all time?

Well the albums changing all the time. My favorite album changes all the time. Right now it would be Air ‘Talkie Walkie’. Yea, I think its my all time favorite. it will probably be a different album next week.

I can never decide on one album that is my favorite. Its ever changing. I don’t even know why I ask people that question.

No,  its a good question to ask because its interesting to see how people respond. Alof of people would say like, ‘Revolver’ and like always answer with that. Its kind of boring to me, so my favorite album always changes. Air, if we had to work with any other band right now, it would be Air. I really want to work with those guys.

I saw MGMT remixed one of your songs…

Wait, we’re on of them? They did, oh yea I know. I think its pretty brilliant. I like it kind of more than the original. I wish we could figure out a way to play the remix (Laughs).

Just bring MGMT on stage every night! (Laughs) What was the first band that you were a part of?

Well I had been doing solo stuff up until I met Caroline pretty much. I’ve always had, I guess people…I sort of had bands but never had a real serious band so to say.

Like talent show bands?

High School talent show bands…Radiohead cover bands (Laughs).

What made you decide to move from Colorado to New York?

Because living in Colorado had run its course. Caroline transfered to NYU to finish art school, and I didn’t want to quit Chairlift. I didn’t want Chairlift to stop being Chairlift. So I moved here. I was going to move here anyway.

Who are your influences, new and old?

Older Pink Floyd, Hank Williams, The Association…they did ‘Cherish’ (Starts to sing ‘Cherish is the word…’)  A lot of the golden oldies, Tommy James and the Shondells, the 50’s gold era. The new stuff, John Maus, Black Dice, Atlas Sound, very much into Atlas Sound.  Sebastian Kelly, he’s from Paris. French. I think think he’s friends with Air, thats why I like him.

Are you stalking them? (Laughs)

Grizzly Bear, I’m a huge fan of Grizzly Bear. Their live show is so…I think they have the best live show I’ve ever seen.

Last question of the day…What board game can you kick anyone’s ass at?

Does chess count?

It could, its a board game. One band answered ‘Ping Pong’.

Ping Pong?! Which band was that?

The Morning Benders.

Thats a beer game. How about Ouija Board? Thats a good answer.

Win against the dead.

Backgammon, no, yea, I think Ouija board is the best answer. I can beat anyone at Ouija board.

 As long as they come through you win (Laughs)

Pretty much! (Laughs)

Chairlift is Aaron Pfenning, Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly.
(Note Aaron’s name is not spelled Aaaarin Pefing. Haha) 

Check out Chairlift on their Myspace

Chairlift Release Party

Chairlift has just announced that their release party will be taking place tomorrow night, September 30th, in New York City.  Of course this is for their upcoming release “Does You Inspire You” out tomorrow on Kanine Records.

The fun takes place at The Tribeca Grand, 2 Avenue of the Americas, New York City.  It starts at 9pm and ends at midnight. The band will be playing live. This is beyond awesome. I’m telling you, this record is going to be indie rock huge. Go see it if you can!

Check out Chairlift’s Myspace for more tour dates

Download Chairlift Earwig Town

Chairlift “Bruises”

When I worked at a certain record label in New York City, I had met a boy named Aaron, who was in a band called Chairlift. I’m not going to lie, I had no idea who the hell Chairlift was at the time, but the name always stuck with me.  I’d hear it every now and then the past year with phrases like ‘…is playing with Mixel Pixel.”

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when a friend of mine asked me ‘Who is that band in the new Ipod nano chromatic commercial?!’.  We both agreed that we needed to find out who was the maker of this catchy song. I kind of needed it in my life. 

Doing a quick search, I discovered it was actually Chairlift! The song ‘Bruises’ is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs of the year. Caroline Polachek’s voice has to be one of the most, just gorgeous voices, i’ve heard in a while. I’m very excited to hear the whole record. I already am claiming it as a year end Top 10 canidate.

Chairlift releases their debut record “Does You Inspire You,” on September 30th.  The band is also going on tour with Yeasayer this fall so be sure to check out the tourdates.

Check out the band at their myspace: