About a month ago, a sect of my trusted ears asked me to give up the goods. They wanted to know exactly just what music got dizzle through the trying year that was 2008. What got me back and forth from that good for nothing but a paycheck and headache that I call a job. Well, I skirted the question for far too long. It’s time to put up together a best of 08′ list that will hopefully not look like the rest. Besides, I was planning on posting a blog about my most anticipated musical moments of this upcoming year, but that just wouldn’t jive without doing this ish first.
I’d like to start off with saying that when I hear a record that I really like, on first listen I will quickly shout to the masses, “It’s the album of the year.” I don’t know how many of my friends had to remind me that I said that a countless number of times about a countless number of records. Funny thing is, some of those sounds that I celebrated early on don’t even crack honorable mention. Also, it is important to note that I am ordering these based on, among many criteria, but mainly their replayability and their ability to stir emotion. So, here goes:
Honorable Mention: Dr. Dog-Fate, Okkervill River-The Stand Ins,
M83-Saturdays=Youth, Frightened Rabbit-The Midnight Organ Fight,
Little Joy-Little Joy, Jay Reatard-Matador Singles 08′, Beach House-Devotion,
Department of Eagles-In Ear Park, The War on Drugs-Wagonwheel Blues,
The Felice Brothers-The Felice Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show-Tennessee Pusher.
10) Beck-Modern Guilt
I knew I’d be a fan of this album after hearing the opening seconds of the first single, “Chemtrails.” The entire album is super laid back and Beck and interlaces moods from my Beck triple play, Odelay, Mutations,and Sea Change. It also lends enough funk to the mix to bring Midnite Vultures into the discussion.
9) Black Keys-Attack &Release
A pretty fair release from the explosive duo reigning from Akron, OH. I’m a pretty big fan of theirs (I’ve got a rainbow colored set of vinyl to prove it) and was not disappointed with the change this record brought about. Danger Mouse brought a new element and some much welcomed organ to increase the Keys soul-i-fication.
8)Lil Wayne- Tha Carter III
I really don’t have much to say about this album except that it received an enormous amount of play this past summer. I don’t think that LW does anything necessarily to innovate within the category of music he works in but his flow is absolutely undeniable. Pretty easy for me to say that, even though people are screaming that he’s selling out, he is the best at what he does. Hands down.
7)Girl Talk- Feed the Animals
Another undeniable album that is as infectious as it is clever. I love this man’s work in that every step is carefully calculated. He’s a mathematician, building formulas from beats, rhymes, hooks and all that sweat that pours onto his MacBook Pro while performing. The entire album is a highlight.
6)Kings of Leon- Only By the Night
This album took my by surprise. I’ve liked them since a friend told me that Youth and Young Manhood was better than Is this It. Not quite the case, but that’s a whole different conversation. I think Only By the Night is solid because it capitalizes on the grooves and catchiness that made Aha Shake Heartbreak such a staple in my rotation and melds that with the big and gutsy sounds of YaYM and Because of the Times. The first two singles are hotter than a nymphomaniac with pyromaniac tendencies. Plus, how can one dislike the yelp of lead singer Caleb Followill.
5)Justin Townes Earle- The Good Life
I’ve never wished that I owned a pair of cowboy boots more than when I listen to this album. On the fantastic Bloodshot label, this album is gritty, folky,and twangy. Justin Townes Earle weaves great narratives to some great down home and foot tapping music. Probably the best representation of old school country done well today that I can think of. He makes you feel his songs. Looking forward to checking him out with Jason Isbell @ High Noon Saloon in April.
4)She & Him- Volume One
It’s no secret, or if it was it isn’t anymore, that I dig this combination. It was probably the first record that I stamped “Best album of the Year.” M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel are a perfect match (Ben Gibbard might not agree but…) that produced another undeniable and infectious album that is extremely soulful and hooky. These are sing-a-long songs just as much as they are hum-a-long songs. I must sound so dumb trying to duplicate Zooey’s vocals but like I said it’s absolutely undeniable.
3)The Hold Steady- Stay Positive
If you want emotion to come out from a record, these last three picks flip the bill for me. Whenever The Hold Steady comes on, I know that, to use a way too oft used phrase, “it’s go time.” For some reason Craig Finn’s talky vocals are filled with a swagger and massive amounts of exciting delinquency. Mix that with soaring classic rock guitar. keys and a band that can shout-a-long with the best of em. This album took a while to grow on me but as of now it is right up there with the rest of THS’s albums.
2)Fleet Foxes-Fleet Foxes & Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago
From the minute the play button is pushed, this album will grab a hold of you and not let go until it’s dying breath. Vocals absolutely take the center stage. Sometimes when listening to this it is almost as if the lyrics don’t matter. Justin could be emoting the almost anything and still manage to bring the slightest tear to the corner of your eye or a very large smile to your Chevy Chase. “Skinny Love” will probably go down in my top 10 favorite songs of the 00’s for doing just that. Smiling and crying. That’s what Bon Iver aims to make you do. Oh, and he’s from the desolate yet beautiful city of Eau Claire, WI which makes him 32% cooler.
I loved the Fleet Foxes before I even heard one glorious note. Pitchfork painted such a good portrait of them that it was near impossible to not like them. While I tend to blindly give in to the Pitchfork effect, in this case they were dead nuts. Beautiful harmonies, beautiful lyrics that make you feel like you’re in the great northwest with them. This chills produced from listening to this record may make you grab a blanket or a wooly sweater to warm yourself with in the middle of August.
1)My Morning Jacket- Evil Urges
It strikes me as odd that a record that I didn’t think would make my top ten is in fact my number one. Track for track, this album will move you. It’s explosive, nasty, and what I like to call D-luxe. It brings all the intangibles. It has songs to sing-a-long to in “Thank You Too” “I’m Amazed” and “Sec Walkin'”. Songs to rock to: “Evil Urges” “Highly Suspicious”and “Aluminum Park”. Song’s to reflect to “Smoking From Shooting” and “Two Halves.” And most importantly, songs to groove and shake to in the massive throw down “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream, Part II.” You can easily rock and roll to Evil Urges and this is just another instance where a lack in your ability to feel this record just may also represent a lack or deficiency of your soul.
See you next time…