Thursday, December 18, 2008

Favorite Music of '08...for me

All the usual disclaimers are included. I am not a musical expert. There are still 10,000 albums released this year that I haven’t heard. These are simply favorites. I make no claim to these being the best of anything, besides a favorite list for me. And I’m sure there are 10-15 others I could have thrown on here with a little more thought and my would look a bit different had it not been running for only 2 months and I could get that damn iPod scrobble to work...ever. That being said, this list is waaay too long already. A few thanks (for either introducing or making an album available)…to Manley for The Bad Plus, Right Away, Great Captain!, and Torche…to Josh Hurst for The Bug and Steinski…and Ryan Ohlerking for Squarepusher. No discernable order here with the exception of the first entry.

The Gaslight Anthem - The ‘59 Sound - Last years “Sink or Swim” was an outstanding cross of a younger Springsteen with Against Me! as a backing band. This time around the song-writing is better and Brian Fallon and the rest of the band seems to have come into their own.

Chuck Ragan and Austin Lucas - Bristle Ridge - It’s Chuck Ragan, what else do I need to say?

James - Hey Ma - Best known, if known at all for their single “Laid” in 1994, James’ first album in 7 years is equally catchy, heartfelt, and political.

Squarepusher - Just a Souvenir

Koushik - Out My Window

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Sunday at Devil Dirt - Lanegan’s second collaboration this year is with Belle and Sebastian’s, Isobel Campbell. Campbell left the group around 2002, but her second record with Lanegan is thing of beauty that most B&S fans would enjoy.

The Gutter Twins - Saturnalia - The second that includes Mark Lanegan. Known to most as the singer of Screaming Trees, who, though they were definitely among the best of the Seattle bands in the early 90’s, they never really caught on found big success like so many others. Lanegan, however, has gone on to do some really nice solo work as well helping out with Queens of the Stone Age and this duo with former Afghan Whigs singer, Greg Dulli.

Good Old War - Only Way to Be Alone

Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life - How can I not like a band whose name describes the current state of my life? Oh, the album is really good too.

Foxboro Hot Tubs - Stop Drop and Roll!!! - It’s nice to see Green Day go loose on this (though I think they still had plenty of fun with American Idiot).

The Grand Archives - The Grand Archives - I know everyone went apes hit over Band of Horses a few years back. Admit it, you did, lol. Guitarist Mat Brooke left after their first album, and formed TGA. Personally, I am preferring TGA, but don’t mind BOH.

The Drones - Havilah - Some reviewer, I think it was on sputnikmusic, described them as a mix of Neil Young, Black Flag, and Tom Waits. Better than I could do. That, along with excellent lyrics make for a nice little combination.

Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation’s Dark

Damien Jurado - Caught in the Trees - Damien’s new album is very good. I have yet to find the “Denton, TX” for this album (I.e. - something I put on repeat and play again and again), but I like the open band arrangements as a nice counter to the more sparse stuff of the past.

Calexico - Carried to Dust - Introduced but still not gotten by many thanks to their split with Iron and Wine. This still garners a response from many of “Didn’t they do that one thing with Iron and Wine?” Calexico are definitely an acquired taste, but one worth acquiring.

Asher Roth - Don Cannon and DJ DRAMA present The GreenHouse Effect Vol. 1

Aimee Mann - @#%&*! Smilers

Dear and the Headlights - Drunk Like Bible Times - Though I’m not quite understanding the tours with bands like Jimmy and Paramore (other than possibly trying to extend their audience), every about this band's second album resonated with me. Plus, who doesn’t want to get drunk like Bible times?

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid - Kinda slow, Britpop stuff I guess you could call it. Always been a fan and the new album doesn’t disappoint.

Dillinger Four - CIVILWAR - Compared to Portishead, I only had to wait 6+ years on this one. However, in the punk community with generally tiny attention spans, that is a lifetime. Some have complained that they are following more of punks new trends and that they are singing about being middle-age. Hmmm. Last time I checked they are hitting middle-age and frankly, I don’t like a lot of punk’s new trends.

Butch Walker - Sycamore Meadows - You may disdain him for previously being the front man of the Marvelous 3, but this guy’s songwriting ability is pretty amazing (to me). And the fact that he is top-notch producer doesn’t hurt either. This shit just sounds great.

Ray Lamontagne - Gossip in the Grain

The Notwist - The Devil You and Me

Paul Baribeau - Grand Ledge - In the vain of folk punk like Andrew Jackson Jihad, only its actually better, and those guys are pretty good.

Portishead - Third - Hmmm…let’s see, how long did we have to wait for this? 11 years? Is it as good as that? Of course not. But is it still pretty damn good and yet different from the first two as well? Yes.

Right Away, Great Captain! - The Eventually Home

Son Lux - At War with Walls and Mazes - It feels like this should only be background music, but somehow manages to transcend that.

Steinski - What Does it All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective - It means the best of this turntable genius.

The Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Graves

Tom Gabel - Heart Burns - Against Me! front man doesn’t take a break in the year following “New Wave”.

Torche - Meanderthal - Doom metal with pop sensibilities played to perfection. Incredibly catchy.

Various Artists - The Wire: And All the Pieces Matter - Five Years of Music from The Wire - Various music selections from the what is possibly the greatest and least rewarded television drama in history. Plus its got some nice snippets of memorable lines from episodes, plus Tom Waits’ theme song from season one, plus 3 other versions from ensuing years (why Steve Earle’s from season 5 was used on his own album and not this is beyond me - but it‘s worth checking out as well).

The Wood Brothers - Loaded - Like it wasn’t good enough for Chris Wood to be playing in Medeski, Martin and Wood. He had to go create this nice little folk act with his brother Oliver.

The Bug - London Zoo

Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 - Well, first of all, it’s Bob Dylan. But seriously, there is some really good shit on this, and to think that this stuff didn’t make the albums. Plus it has two versions of “Dignity”, one of my favorite Dylan tunes of all-time.

Bears - Simple Machinery - Indie-pop from Cleveland, OH that resonates very well with me.

The Bad Plus - For All I Care - Favorites from Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Wilco and others jazzed-up in the best ways possible.

Alejandro Escovedo - Real Animal - Not sure about the pointy shoes, but the songs are quite good.

Able Baker Fox - Voices - I like the collaboration that Small Brown Bike and Casket Lottery did 6-7 years ago. This seems like a pretty logical step forward with both bands now being defunct.


  1. i wonder if i'd like the Bears?

  2. Oh man what a huge list. Now I realize that my forth coming list of 55 albums will be a heckuva long read. oh well. I actually enjoy that I haven't heard most of the ablums on this list. lists where I know them all are boring and make me think that its all been sought out and discovered. This makes me think otherwise.

    I'm wondering about that squarepusher. I used to be into him but the last few albums I wasn't really feeling. This ones a goodie though?

    I've also heard good things about that koushik from a variety of sources. I got it but haven't really listened to it yet.

    I figured you'd like that Fucked up. Although I'm not much of a rocker anymore, It was pretty decent and I could see real rock dudes loving it.

    While I'm not completely convinced by the new Damien Jurado, I can't get enough of either of those first two songs.

    I don't know about that portishead neither. I think it was the ridiculous weight after which they ought to have been a totally different band probably. It didn't suck but I don't know...

    Steinski! The Wire! Alejandro Escovedo! Caskett Lottery! Whoo!

    Meanwhile Bob Dylan remains my number one most overrated music person. sorry.

    Finally, Torche - Meanderthal, sounds kinda interesting. Maybe I will check them out.

    Well there is probably more to be said, but I'm tired.

  3. if Dylan is the most overrated...who would be second?

  4. I'm with you on Dylan, Paco. If he had died in a fiery plane crash circa 1975 maybe not. But he's gotten a free pass from too many people recently based on his first decade of output.

    I would vote Pete Townshed or Jim Morrison at number 2. Compared to everything else that was going on at the time, the Who and the Doors sound kind of boring.

    So when is PPM's list coming?!

  5. And Scott, have you heard Lanegan's collaboration with Soulsavers? It's my own personal fav of his. I haven't kept very good track of him since then.

    Plus your inclusion of the Wire's soundtrack makes me want to do a Wire list, but I still haven't gotten around to seasons four/five. What am I waiting for!?!

  6. Jonny (and Paco), I do agree that Dylan IS overrated, just not the most of all time (Zeppelin is definitely near the top in my book to name one). And speaking of 1975, if he had died in a crash I think I could take it as long as he had finished "Blood on the Tracks", my own personal fave.
    As for Soulsavers, I am at fault for not checking that out yet, but after reading a few things about it, I definitely will in the immediate future.
    As for the Wire, seasons 4 and 5 may actually be the best, which is saying something after the first 3. I agree, I could definitely see a list on that sometime :)

  7. Oh mos def, Zeppelin, too. I wonder if a lot of our animosity is due to this baby boomer definition of classic rock as "rock in its purest form," as if nothing released by a new band after the mid-70s can hold a candle to the classic rock age.

    *Punk rawk all the way!*

    Also, I think Blood on the Tracks was recorded in '74, so we're safe with changing history in my homicidal time machine. Some day, maybe after I turn 40, I'll give Dylan's "Christian" albums another go (Slow Train, Saved, etc). When I first heard them, they just sounded kind of lame.

  8. I'm gonna go with Jim Morrison and Led Zeppelin too. What was the deal with all junior high nail polish sniffers loving The Doors? Older Siblings to blame? And I think you may be onto something with your theory of our animosity jonnu.

    On dylan, I don't really care that much if other people like him, but I don't even like "his early good stuff." I always feel like people revere him for lots of non-musical things (poet, icon, prophet or something...) which is probably what annoys me the most. Additionally his remaining cred from any of this music or various parts of his persona have got to be out the window based on what he has been doing now, which is, to put it kindly, totally lame/sell-out/old man. Things which may be fine but sad for most aging rockers, but not appropriate for an "icon" or "hero of the zietgiest" or whatever he is supposed to be.

    In other news I am excited to hear that you think the 5th season of the wire is good, scott. I am about done with the 4th and so far think that the 2nd was the weakest. I heard from some people that they were disappointed 5.

    J-ron, PPMs list is still forth coming. Selections are picked but I am still writing pointless little snippets about items. For some dumb reason I decided to make a list of 55 albums, a huge and idiotic task.

  9. Thats okay if others were disappointed with 5, I was not. The only thing I was disappointed with was that they only got 10 episodes to wrap it up, instead of 12-13.


Leave it or Lost it!