Were These Really the Best Songs of 2008?

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The Gutter Twins

Maybe Rocks Off spent a lot of 2008 with his head in the archives, but he was paying attention to new stuff too. Occasionally. It's as easy as satellite radio, channel 47's (Ethel/Alt Nation) weekly new-music hour Submission/Transmission. Monday night, S/T happened to be playing its picks for the past year.

One thing is immediately apparent: the '90s are back, big time. The Black Keys' "Strange Times" is total Soundgarden, the Kills' "Tape Song" almost out-Breeders Kim Deal (for real) and the Gutter Twins actually are two Clinton-era holdovers, ex-Afghan Whig Greg Dulli and no-longer-Screaming Tree Mark Lanegan. Radiohead is ubiquitous.

So, besides the Raconteurs, Elbow's disquieting "The Bones of You," and TV on the Radio's "Crying" (love it), what else is out there?

Glasvegas, "Geraldine": Oh boy - Stone Roses plus the Killers. A little Echo, a little Furs. Women will melt. So will some boys. The bridge is almost an exact rip of Jesus & Mary Chain's "Head On" - no wonder people love 'em. About a social worker, according to the last line. (Note: the Scottish band's self-titled debut was named Album of the Year by UK music weekly New Musical Express, and will be released in the U.S. next month.)

Santogold, "L.E.S. Artistes": OK, maybe she's all right. Too Karen O not to be at L.E.S.t a little charming. Maybe Sheila E, too?

MGMT, "Electric Eel": Prince commandeers the Flaming Lips' spaceship/studio; hilarity (and much coitus) ensues. Deserves a spot on the Naughts' best indie sexxx-jam list, maybe near the top. MGMT played Walter's last January, you know.

Coldplay, "Life in Technicolor": Seems like the more Rocks Off likes one of Coldplay's songs, the more those songs sound like U2. So why doesn't he just listen to U2? Just look at the title... see what he's talking about?

Vampire Weekend, "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance": Rocks Off knows the kids don't stand a chance. Obviously. He still doesn't get it. Sorry.

Kings of Leon, "Use Somebody": Last song. Rocks Off just doesn't know. Seems like all his female friends (and quite a few dudes) are gaga over Only by the Night, and he certainly salutes the Followils' pursuit of the rock and roll lifestyle, but the music just doesn't quite hit the mark. He knows the last thing Kings want to sound like is 3 Doors Down; maybe they just can't help it. - Chris Gray 

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