ClashMusic.com is breaking off its hibernation, albeit briefly, to wish you all a Happy New Year.

Whatever you’re up to tonight, be it partying with mates at home or heading into town for a big one, be safe and we look forward to seeing you on the other side, for something we’re calling 2009.

2008 has been a great year for Clash and ClashMusic.com, and we’re looking forward to more of the same next year. The biggest and best cover stars, the greatest breaking bands, legends established and to-be, plus all manner of exclusive content. It’ll be quite something.

So, see you on January 5, when ClashMusic.com springs back into action 100 per cent, and January 8 when issue 34 of Clash magazine hits shelves, featuring an exclusive chat with Pete Doherty. For those looking for summary content of the last twelve months, click no further than the options below…

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The Clash Top 40s of 2008 – our top albums and tracks of 2008, counted down chart style. Who’s number one? You probably already know…

Indie Vs Dance – ClashMusic.com bod Nick Annan pits the year’s best indie tracks against their dance counterparts, just for fun. It is for fun, right?

Track of the Day – the best of – ten top picks from our TotD archive. Expect more exclusives in 2009!

Clash’s 2009 Album Preview – we look into our crystal ball to spy at next year’s big albums. Will Winehouse deliver? Aww, who are we trying to kid…

Clash Cover Stars – 2008 saw a slew of famous faces grace the cover of Clash magazine, from the Gallagher brothers to Kanye West, via Coldplay and Hot Chip and Duffy and The Killers and MORE… Here you’ll find snippets from a selection of our cover star interviews.

Flipped Tips – ahead of our Ones to Watch special in issue 34, identifying the new bands that will matter in 2009, here a selection of musicians suggest their tips for the year ahead… Featuring contributions from The Bad Seeds, Esser, White Lies, Dananananaykroyd and more…

The Top Ten Remixes of 2008 – quite simply what it says on the tin!

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See y’all in a few days, and once again: Happy New Year!

The recent chart success of Jeff Buckley’s rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ has delighted the late singer’s mother, who claimed in a recent interview that Buckley himself would have loved the recent fan campaign.

Mary Guibert was married to Tim Buckley in the mid 60s, to whom she had the singer Jeff Buckley. Guibert raised Buckley Jr, and the two were exceptionally close.

Recently a stunning internet campaign by fans in reaction to X Factor star Alexandra Burke recording a Buckley-lite version of ‘Hallelujah’ launched the Buckley version back into the charts. Although it couldn’t dislodge Burke from top spot, Jeff Buckley currently sits at number two in the British charts.

In a new interview with The Independent, Guibert claims that Buckley would have loved the campaign. “I think Jeff would have found this Number One thing very amusing. It’s ironic in so many ways. I mean, here is ‘The X Factor’, run by Simon Cowell, who is supposed to be the ultimate taste arbiter, and they’ve been run to the wire by my son.”

“It’s come about so organically, with no record label pushing it, and I think Jeff would have loved that, and loved his fans for doing it.”

Of her late son, Guibert said “if Jeff had lived, he would now be on a level with Bono”.

“He would have toured the world and had a lifelong career, and at the end of it, he would have been that guy sitting in a wheelchair with the microphone specially lowered six inches, so that we could all hear him sing ‘Hallelujah one more time.”

Amen!

Dearly departed indie icons Dirty Pretty Things had one last request before the curtain came down on a celebrated career – to speak to Clash!

Clash tracked them down to a secret bunker where the band were rehearsing ahead of their final show in London’s Astoria 2 venue. Formed in the wake of The Libertines split, the band was intended as a band of brothers, a new start for Barat after the chaos of his last venue.

However it seems the energy and vitality for the musicians involved has run out, and the astonishing new interview finds the group in reflective mood.

Dirty Pretty Things released their debut album ‘Waterloo To Anywhere’ in 2006, becoming an instant success. Its follow up ‘Romance At Short Notice’ was released this year, and was followed by an extremely emotional farewell tour.

Watch the amazing footage here!

A row has broken out between major label Warner Music and the music website Youtube, with Warners set to remove all copyrighted material from the site after discussions on royalties broke down.

The massive Warner Music group form a significant part of the Recording Industry Association of America, and this move may lead to other labels following suit. Warner Music have a roster that includes Metallica, Madonna and Led Zeppelin amongst many others.

The company have decided to remove all promos, official live footage, unofficial live footage and other copyrighted material after they failed to negotiate a deal with Youtube over shared royalties.

A statement from Warner Music reads, “We simply cannot accept terms that fail to appropriately and fairly compensate recording artists, songwriters, labels and publishers for the value they provide.”

Youtube have yet to make statement in response.

Pop superstar Michael Jackson has announced that he is not suffering from ill-health, as some would claim, and is in fact planning a world tour it has been reported.

The ‘Thriller’ star’s fans were rocked by sensational claims made by unofficial Jackson biographer Ian Halperin that the singer is half-blind and deep in ill–health. Halperin suggested that Jackson may need a lung transplant as he suffers from alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency, emphysema and chronic gastrointestinal bleeding.

However Jackson’s spokesperson said that these claims are simply a publicity stunt for the author’s new book. The statement says:

“Concerning this author’s allegations, we would hope in the future that legitimate media will not continue to be exploited by such an obvious attempt to promote this unauthorized ‘biography.’ The writer’s wild allegations concerning Mr. Jackson’s health are a total fabrication. Mr. Jackson is in fine health, and finalizing negotiations with a major entertainment company and television network for both a world tour and a series of specials and appearances.”

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have unveiled plans for an exciting new ‘Best Of’ which is set to be released exclusively via Wal Mart in January.

The Boss has announced a new compilation of track featuring the cream of his work with the E Street Band. His long time collaborators and backing group, the E Street Band played on some of his most iconic albums. However, as a result recordings from non-E Street Band albums (hello, ‘Nebraska’) will be omitted.

Released on through Wal Mart, The Boss is mimicking the AC/DC release strategy that saw the Australian group race to the top of the charts.

Bruce Springsteen releases his new ‘Best Of’ on January 13th, and it will feature the following tracks:

‘Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)’
‘Born to Run’
‘Thunder Road’
‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’
‘Badlands’
‘Hungry Heart’
‘Glory Days’
‘Dancing In The Dark’
‘Born in the U.S.A.’
‘The Rising’
‘Lonesome Day’
‘Radio Nowhere’

Bruce Springsteen releases his new studio album ‘Working On A Dream’ on January 27th.

Merry Christmas, war is over!

The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) has announced it will end its policy of suing people caught illegally downloading music. Previously, the industry body had plans to take anyone caught file-sharing to court often resulting in high profile cases that in many cases caused adverse publicity for the industry as a whole.

In a statement issued on Friday, the RIAA insisted that it will work with ISP’s to prevent piracy.

“We think this is going to be a different form of stick, but we absolutely think this will be a meaningful alternative approach that will have a significant impact,” an RIAA spokeswoman told Reuters.

Since 2003, the music industry has filed over 35,000 lawsuits against alleged pirates. The RIAA represents the major labels which include Warner Music, EMI, Universal, Sony and other huge music companies.

Legendary musical genius Prince has appeared to preview a brand new track over the weekend on a mysterious new website, it has been reported.

The ‘Purple Rain’ star debuted the soul-influenced track ‘There Will Never B Another 1 Like Me’ on the website mplsound.com – however, just as news reached many fans the site disappeared. MPL is the postal abbreviation for Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis, and you never know, the site may bear more gifts in the future.

The track lasts for just over six minutes and namechecks late Motown funk hero Rick James.

Prince has been busy of late, inviting Los Angeles radio station Indie 103 into his home to play them a selection of new tracks. However, a release has been delayed due to a dispute with every single record label on the planet, as Prince apparently “wants nothing to do with record labels, so he’s meeting with people to figure out how to operate at his level without a record label.”

Quite simply, the best albums and the best tracks of the year…

Our Top 40 tracks of 2008 were arrived at by a combination of reader votes and editorial opinion. Every one of the hundreds of nominations was counted, considered and either approved or rejected (yes, we caught a few sneaky bands trying to nominate their own songs!).

The below is just a list of these best songs. You can see the full top 40 with comments and video clips HERE.

Our albums of the year were reached after much argument in the Clash office. Our high-tech system – Post-It notes stuck all over one wall of our London HQ – soon sorted the wheat from the chaff, as records favoured by only one of many scribes were sidelined by those attracting numerous votes. Read interviews with selected acts and commentary on all entries in the current issue of Clash magazine (issue 33, Kanye West cover).

You’ll notice a degree of crossover – could it be that these acts are, in a way, the best of 2008?

Could be, could be…

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The Clash Top 40 Tracks of 2008

(Commentary and videos HERE)

1 MGMT – ‘Time To Pretend’

2 M.I.A. – ‘Paper Planes’

3 Kings Of Leon – ‘Sex On Fire’

4 Vampire Weekend – ‘A-Punk’

5 Wild Beasts – ‘The Devil’s Crayon’

6 Santogold – ‘L.E.S. Artistes’?

7 The Bug – ‘Poison Dart’?

8 British Sea Power – ‘Waving Flags’?

9 Buraka Som Sistema – ‘Sound of Kuduro’?

10 Portishead – ‘Machine Gun’

11 Hot Chip – ‘Ready For The Floor’?

12 Gang Gang Dance – ‘Princes’?

13 Elbow – ‘Grounds For Divorce’?

14 Dizzee Rascal/Calvin Harris/Chrome – ‘Dance Wiv Me’?

15 Crystal Castles – ‘Courtship Dating’?

16 Kanye West – ‘Love Lockdown’?

17 DJ Mujava – ‘Township Funk’?

18 Oasis – ‘Shock Of The Lightning’?

19 Kid Cudi – ‘Night & Day’ (Crookers remix)?

20 Mystery Jets – ‘Young Love’

21 Benga & Coki – ‘Night’?

22 Chairlift – ‘Bruises’?

23 Late Of The Pier – ‘Heartbeat’?

24 Dananananaykroyd – ‘Pink Sabbath’?

25 Fuck Buttons – ‘Bright Tomorrow’?

26 No Age – ‘Teen Creeps’?

27 Foals – ‘Cassius’?

28 Friendly Fires – ‘Paris’?

29 Deerhunter – ‘Nothing Ever Happened’?

30 Bon Iver – ‘The Wolves (Acts I & II)’

31 Johnny Foreigner – ‘Salt, Peppa & Spinderella’?

32 My Morning Jacket – ‘Highly Suspicious’?

33 Roots Manuva – ‘Buff Nuff’?

34 Coldplay – ‘Viva La Vida’?

35 Black Lips – ‘Bad Kids’?

36 High Places – ‘From Stardust To Sentience’?

37 Fake Blood – ‘Mars’?

38 Lovvers – ‘No Romantics’?

39 Cats In Paris – ‘Foxes’?

40 Mogwai – ‘BatCat’

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The Clash Top 40 Albums of 2008

(See issue 33 of Clash magazine for interviews and more)

1 Kings Of Leon – ‘Only By The Night’

2 Vampire Weekend – ‘Vampire Weekend’

3 Late Of The Pier – ‘Fantasy Black Channel’

4 Foals – ‘Antidotes’

5 Benga – ‘Diary Of An Afro Warrior’

6 Elbow – ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’

7 TV On The Radio – ‘Dear Science’

8 Santogold – ‘Santogold’

9 Gang Gang Dance – ‘Saint Dymphna’

10 The Bug – ‘London Zoo’

11 Laura Marling – ‘Alas, I Cannot Swim’

12 White Denim – ‘Workout Holiday’

13 MGMT – ‘Oracular Spectacular’

14 Coldplay – ‘Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends’

15 Portishead – ‘Third’

16 Aliens – ‘Luna’

17 Deerhunter – ‘Microcastle’

18 Oasis – ‘Dig Out Your Soul’

19 Mystery Jets – ‘Twenty One’

20 Neon Neon – ‘Stainless Style’

21 Bon Iver – ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’

22 Dr. Dog – ‘Fate’

23 Emiliana Torrini – ‘Me And Armini’

24 Hot Chip – ‘Made In The Dark’

25 Fleet Foxes – ‘Fleet Foxes’

26 Wild Beasts – ‘Limbo, Panto’

27 My Morning Jacket – ‘Evil Urges’

28 Hercules And Love Affair – ‘Hercules And Love Affair’

29 Why? – ‘Alopecia’

30 Friendly Fires – ‘Friendly Fires’

31 British Sea Power – ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’

32 Primal Scream – ‘Beautiful Future’

33 Eine Kleine Nacht Musik – ‘Eine Kleine Nacht Musik’

34 No Age – ‘Nouns’

35 The Killers – ‘Day And Age’

36 Flying Lotus – ‘Los Angeles’

37 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – ‘Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!’

38 Adele – ‘19’

39 Cadence Weapon – ‘Afterparty Babies’

40 The Last Shadow Puppets – ‘The Age Of Understatement’

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And that’s that for 2008. We’ll see you in 2009 with our first issue of the year in shops on January 8, featuring a world exclusive interview with Pete Doherty (check out our preview videos) alongside articles on Ben Kweller, Animal Collective, Diplo and many more. Oh, and some small thing called Ones To Watch 2009. Be there, or be without the best music coverage money can and, in the case of this here site, can’t buy…

Ask any musician how they would categorise their sound and they’ll fall back on the old “it’s all just music”, or “there are only two types of music: good and bad”.

Bollocks!

Us journalists types love to categorise, we can’t help it. Who do you think comes up with all those ridiculous sub-sub-genres?

While 2008 has been a great year for cross pollination and inter-genre inbreeding, we can’t help but wind up our two favourites, those old rivals ‘Indie’ and ‘Dance’, and gather a crowd shouting “fight, fight, fight”.

So, here we stand behind the bike sheds ready to hold the jackets of 2008’s best tunes as we goaded them into a face-mashing frenzy.

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The Draw

We’ve randomly selected 16 songs from our Top 40 tracks of 2008, squashed them into pigeonholes and are now poised by the ClashMusic tombola ready to draw combatants.

First up, in the ‘Indie’ corner, our rather weedy looking gladiators are:

‘Bruises’, Chairlift

‘Grounds For Divorce’, Elbow

‘Highly Suspicious’, My Morning Jacket

‘The Wolves’, Bon Iver

‘Shock of the Lightning’, Oasis

‘Paris’, Friendly Fires

‘A-Punk’, Vampire Weekend

‘Pink Sabbath’, Dananananaykroyd

And, glaring ominously at the indie kids from beneath their hoodies, the ‘Dance’ contenders:

‘Poison Dart’, The Bug

‘L.E.S. Artistes’, Santogold

‘Courtship Dating’, Crystal Castles

‘Ready for the Floor’, Hot Chip

‘Paper Planes’, M.I.A.

‘Dance Wiv Me’, Dizzee Rascal & Calvin Harris

‘Machine Gun’, Portishead

‘Night’, Benga & Coki

Getting things rolling, we draw titles from the tombola and have at it…

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Round 1

‘Bruises’ Vs ‘Ready For The Floor’

Up first, as heard on the iPod Nano ad, ‘Bruises’ by Brooklyn newcomers Chairlift versus Clash cover stars Hot Chip with ‘Ready For The Floor’. While we hailed Chairlift as one of 2008’s newcomers, Hot Chip are victorious with a modern classic. Winner = ‘Ready For The Floor’

‘Highly Suspicious’ Vs ‘Paper Planes’

Tennessee’s hair-bear bunch, My Morning Jacket, pitch in the mutant funk of ‘Highly Suspicious’ against M.I.A.’s stateside-slaying ‘Paper Planes’ with Jim Jones’ falsetto taking it after much tussling. Winner = ‘Highly Suspicious’

‘Grounds For Divorce’ Vs ‘Courtship Dating’

A quick one this as 2008 was easily Elbow’s year. Taken from their Mercury winning album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, ‘Grounds For Divorce’ easily kicks Crystal Castles’ plagiarising asses. Winner = ‘Grounds For Divorce’

‘Poison Dart’ Vs ‘Shock Of The Lightning’

Oasis returned in fine style this year with the rush of ‘Shock of the Lightning’ and its attendant album, but it was but a variation of all that’s gone before; ‘Poison Dart’ meanwhile was just of the rocket from Saturn. Winner = ‘Poison Dart’

‘The Wolves’ Vs ‘L.E.S. Artistes’

Bon Iver created some really beautiful music as ‘The Wolves’ aptly demonstrates but, as the end of the year approaches, we’re in party mood and ‘L.E.S. Artistes’ is better to dance to. Winner = ‘L.E.S. Artistes’

‘Paris’ Vs ‘Dance Wiv Me’

The inclusion of a certain Calvin Harris negates our usual admiration for Dizzee and makes Friendly Fires’ ‘Paris’ the clear, and deserved, victor (the cowbell helped too). Not to mention Harris’ horribly awkward dancing when they performed this acoustically on the Glastonbury coverage. Winner = ‘Paris’

‘A-Punk’ Vs ‘Night’

Four Ivy League grad students versus the sound of the London streets: it’s like a modern take on the Sharks and the Jets. While Benga & Coki go for the gut, Vampire Weekend’s ‘Upper West Side Soweto’ academic approach wins out for us. Winner = ‘A-Punk’

‘Pink Sabbath’ Vs ‘Machine Gun’

The war of the bloody minded. Despite persevering with a ludicrously awkward name, Dananananaykroyd and their ‘Pink Sabbath’ lose out to the legendary Portishead on account of their first single in ten years being so ridiculously difficult. Winner = ‘Machine Gun’

Vampire Weekend – ‘A-Punk’

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Round 2

No ridiculous X Factor style pauses from me, it’s straight on with Round 2.

Left representing Indie we have:

‘Grounds For Divorce’, Elbow

‘Highly Suspicious’, My Morning Jacket

‘Paris’, Friendly Fires

‘A-Punk’, Vampire Weekend

While the Dance fraternity offers:

‘Poison Dart’, The Bug

‘L.E.S. Artistes’, Santogold

‘Ready for the Floor’, Hot Chip

‘Machine Gun’, Portishead

So, firing up the tombola once more…

‘Ready For The Floor’ Vs ‘Paris’

One of the great new acts that made themselves heard in 2008, Friendly Fires unfortunately can’t overpower Hot Chip who really hit their stride this year with their ‘Made in the Dark’ album. Give the losers a couple of albums and we’ll have a rematch. Winner = ‘Ready For The Floor’

‘Highly Suspicious’ Vs ‘L.E.S. Artistes’

While I have nothing but admiration of My Morning Jacket and their ever-expanding sonic palette, ‘Highly Suspicious’ isn’t quite a career highlight for them. Its weirdness is its primary appeal. ‘L.E.S. Artistes’, on the other hand, stands as perhaps the highlight of the ‘Santogold’ album. Winner = ‘L.E.S. Artistes’

‘Poison Dart’ Vs ‘Grounds For Divorce’

Whereas ‘Poison Dart’ previously secured passage based on its ridiculously up-to-date sounds, here its anonymous nature wilts under the sheer goodwill and charisma of Elbow’s Guy Garvey. Winner = ‘Grounds For Divorce’

‘Machine Gun’ Vs ‘ A-Punk’

While we applauded Portishead’s singular choice of comeback single, we perhaps don’t want to hear it that often. So, unfortunately, Portishead fall foul of the festive spirit as you can’t really bop around to their staccato assault. Winner = ‘A-Punk’

Hot Chip – ‘Ready For The Floor’

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Round 3 – Semi-Final

Down to the Semi-Final with four of the year’s strongest tracks keeping pace. We still can’t call it between ‘Indie’ and ‘Dance’ – either could win out, so let’s plough on.

Holding up their end, the best and newest of Indie:

‘Grounds For Divorce’, Elbow

‘A-Punk’, Vampire Weekend

Equally, Dance offers up an established act and a new face:

‘L.E.S. Artistes’, Santogold

‘Ready for the Floor’, Hot Chip

‘A-Punk’ Vs ‘Ready For The Floor’

We love Hot Chip. Hell, we put them on the cover in January, but we also delight in new music and Vampire Weekend are one of 2008’s most exciting bands. Both geek-tastic, the bands would probably get on great were they not locked in our gladiatorial battle to the death. Winner = ‘A-Punk’

‘L.E.S. Artistes’ Vs ‘Grounds For Divorce’

One sassy female versus five Mr Potato Heads – just as well we ain’t shallow enough to base our choice on looks. Still, the slinky ‘n’ sleek ‘L.E.S. Artistes’ easily outruns the plodding, mournful ‘Grounds For Divorce’. Winner = ‘L.E.S. Artistes’

Elbow – ‘Grounds For Divorce’

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Round 4 – The Grand Final

The moment has arrived, tuxedos have been donned and the shining lights of their respective genres stand ready to put forth their cases. Vampire Weekend and Santogold are both favourites round these parts, which makes for an especially bitter face-off…

‘A-Punk’ Vs ‘L.E.S. Artistes’

So, the final takes place on the mean streets of NYC between the Philadelphia-born and raised Santogold and the Columbia University-educated Vampire Weekend boys (pictured, top), both commendably reflecting the city’s eclectic, vibrant culture from their encampments at either end of the musical spectrum. Differences aside, both acts arrived fully formed in 2008 with a clear manifesto and accompanying image, both media savvy, educated acts with clear intentions as to what their work meant. While Vampire Weekend have progressed as expected with a bit of touring, Santogold has planted the seeds for what will undoubtedly make the future hers for the taking. With collaborations lined up with artists including The Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Jay Z, Kanye West, and having just completed a Coldplay support slot, she is clearly making friends in high places. For all the buzz surrounding both acts this year, Vampire Weekend may go onto be a really good band while, in Santogold, we might just have an artist to replace the increasingly redundant Madonna.

CHAMPION = ‘L.E.S. ARTISTES’

Santogold – ‘L.E.S. Artistes’

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Check out our ranked Top 40 tracks of 2008, when they’re not going head to head (!), by clicking HERE.