It wouldn't be a proper round up of 2008 without a look at XLR8R TV, so we sent the previously mentioned data elves out to dig up our readers' favorite episodes of last year—and received some pleasantly surprising results that included The Glitch Mob, Flying Lotus, Kon & Amir, Heidi, and others. But enough banter. Our 10 most popular episodes of 2008 are all here, for your watching convenience.
Labtekwon on B-More
We tapped prolific leftfield rapper/producer Labtekwon for a tour of his beloved hometown–and got more than we asked for. Lab is a true original. His singular aesthetic—a combination of true-school hip-hop, Afrocentrism, free jazz, and dance beats—is rooted in his eccentric West Baltimore upbringing. Here, Lab shows us Harm City history, hack cabs, vegan spots, and long-abandoned housing projects. In other words, parts of Baltimore you might not even see on The Wire.
Flying Lotus' High Score
Steven Ellison, our favorite sculptor of hazy, spacy laptop beats, is no stranger to the comforting bleeps and bloops of the Nintendo generation. He name-checks Mortal Kombat 2 as an influence and credits the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim with giving him his first big break. Here, 'FlyLo' shows off his fluid style as he switches with ease between discussing musical legends in the family (great-aunt Alice Coltrane, cousin Ravi Coltrane) and kicking ass on Street Fighter and Galaxian.
The Evolution of Daedelus
Alfred Darlington, our favorite Los Angeles-based Victorian gentleman, is best known as the prolific producer Daedelus. Here, he charts the evolution of his love of electronic sounds and gives us a private performance on his famous future toy, the Monome.
Book Talk with Xiu Xiu
To anyone familiar with the soul-ripping poetics of experimental indie rock band Xiu Xiu, it should come as no surprise that Jamie Stewart is just as bookish as he is intense. Here, we take him to Moe's Books in Berkeley, California, where he discusses the novel that influenced Xiu Xiu's most recent album, Women as Lovers. He also rounds up a collection of books that represent his range of interests–from darkly political to just plain cute.
Spun Out with Heidi
Heidi is no slouch when it comes to vinyl, being one of the most active members of Berlin's lauded electro-house label Get Physical, a regular player at Berlin's famed Panorama bar, and an instrumental member in getting the Phonica Records/Fabric London scene off the ground. Here, XLR8R editor Vivian Host gets all "invisible jukebox" on this Canadian-born, London-based DJ, as Heidi discusses some of her favorite dance classics.
Glitch Mob Street Warfare
The Glitch Mob is notorious for its live shows—they remix on the fly and seamlessly finish each others' basslines. Here, the crew takes it up a notch by setting up speakers and a generator renegade-style in the crowded streets of San Francisco for full-scale guerrilla beat warfare on the public. What they weren't expecting was that San Franciscans prove themselves up to the attack—in a way that only San Franciscans can.
Jamie Lidell and His All-You-Can-Eat Sonic Buffet
Since he's made the leap from experimental knob-twiddler to 21st century soul crooner, Jamie Lidell has evolved into quite a showman. For his most recent tour, he's ditching his solo looping and visual explosiveness in favor of a raucous, multi-piece live band—all the better to capture the tight orchestrations of his latest album, JIM. Here, Lidell talks to us about finding and keeping his voice (and his audience), invigorating body wash, and the Baltimore Oreos.
Crate Digging with Kon & Amir
We tag along with East Coast producers Kon and Amir as they go digging for 45s on New York's Lower East Side. The longtime duo is renowned in the hip-hop world for its influential compilations (On Track, Kings of Diggin, etc.) and fine-tuned radars for long-forgotten beats. In this episode, they explain the ins and outs of digging and collecting, the special appeal of 45s, and how somewhere, someone will always out-nerd you.
M83's Teen Romance
The swelling uplifts of M83's new album Saturdays=Youth are made all the more majestic by the singular focus of the record's inspiration—being a teenager. Anthony Gonzales (a.k.a. M83) has long had his music described as "cinematic," so it's fitting that he finds so much kinship with the ecstatic firsts and everything-is-possible excitement portrayed in teen movies. Here, he waxes nostalgic about some of his favorite films in the genre, from the canon of John Hughes to the dark camp of Gregg Araki.
James Pants' Golden Oldies
James Pants is a thrift store-scouring, music obsessive from Spokane, Washington, and when we say his music sounds exactly like that description, we mean it as a profound compliment. His newest album, Welcome, is full of spot-on grooves that trip sensors last toggled in 1984. Here, Pants tells us how he went from being a teenage Peanut Butter Wolf fan to a key player on Wolf's label. He also gives us a taste of the "Golden Oldies" act he's warming up crowds with while on tour with Jamie Lidell.