I give to thee...MY 10 FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2008...
If I still followed my usual pattern, this would be a list of my 42 favorite albums of 2008
, because I'm 42
years old, and that's how I did my annual list since 1983
, but you know what? I'm 42
years old, and I just ain't got that kinda jam anymore...Plus, when the ButterScotch Threshold
collapsed upon itself through the Doom Portal
back in the winter of 2007
, well, let's just say I'm still in a rebuilding phase.HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHP
10: Fuck Buttons: Street Horrrsing [ATP] [Download At eMusic] I blathered about Post-Rock a few weeks ago when Mogwai streamed on S4TW, wondering what the fuck it was and what it meant, deciding, I guess, that it tended to involve long, textural jams, with simple melodies that are slowly built upon and mutated...And here we have Fuck Buttons, a band that builds monstrous, epic jams with keyboards and synths, going from a nearly silent extreme to that other extreme that absolutely blasts, and then back again to the pretty...This is how to do heavy without guitars. 09: Torche: Meanderthal [Hydra Head] [Download At Amazon] And this is how you do heavy with guitars, in a variety of styles and genres...From Doom through Pop Metal to Metalcore and Math Rock and back around to some Sludge and Doom Pop and a bit of Emo Thrash...Some of these tunes will singe yr ear hairs, others will merely be a hot blast of wind to the face, others are a punch to the gut and a knee to the teeth, but all of it is so brilliantly recorded that it sounds more thunderous than it really has any right to sound. I hope Josh Homme took some notes, cuz in his corner of the musical world, the game's done changed... 08: NOMO: Ghost Rock [Ubiquity Records] [Download At eMusic] When I featured NOMO on S4TW back in July, I wrote that Ghost Rock was "quickly becoming my favorite recording of 2008", and well, here we are at the start of 2009, and this rock-solid collection of "Post-Afrobeat" songs still hangs tough at #8. And this really is great stuff - borrowing liberally, of course, from the likes of Fela Kuti, and Kokono No. 9, and fusing that with modern electronics, and contemporary Euro-Jazz ala Jaga Jazzist or Shining...Kalimbas collide with clarinets, and congas mix with trombones and saxophones, and here's some Nigerian Polka, there's some Malian Swing...Meanwhile, fat loping bass runs all the way through, and so they touch on Dub and Reggae as well...This is a good groove, babycakes, heady and haunting and still it'll make you move...
07: Marnie Stern: This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That [Kill Rock Stars] [Download At eMusic] I must admit, I find myself rather attracted to Marnie Stern...She's short and blonde and perky and cute, and she might be the only musician alive, male or female, who can rock a headband and make it work, and that includes Keith Richards...And she's got these small cute hands, and they're perky too, the way they play the fuck outta her guitar, the way they are able to actually play these crazy-assed songs that she's got running through her head, and trust me, these songs are anything but easy...Which is maybe why this album doesn't rank higher...I mean, speaking strictly from an aesthetic p.o.v., Marnie Stern's music is easily the most unique stuff I've heard in several years, and more to the point, I've never heard anything quite like her ever, and that counts for a ton in my book...But this isn't an easy listen from beginning to end, and I find myself listening to 3 or 4 songs at a time, rather than the entire album, and this is a list of my favorite albums, after all...Anyways, I love you Marnie Stern, you are truly amazing.
06: Paul Weller: 22 Dreams [Yep Roc Records] [Download At eMusic] I'd have to agree with other Paul Weller aficionadoes, 22 Dreams isn't his best album, but it's still an ambitious, sprawling collection of impeccably written songs that touches on every style and aspect of his career thus far, and even a few new ideas thrown into the mix, which is what we still expect (and still receive) from the man after 30+ years in the game...Rustic balladry...Soulful Punk...Crusty Power Pop...Swaggering Rock'n'Roll...A voice that I believe is only getting better with age, singing lyrics as smart and detailed as ever, and you know what? He's a a rather remarkable guitar player too...21 new Paul Weller tunes? Hell yeah!
05: The Tallest Man On Earth: Shallow Grave [Gravitation Records/CD Baby] [Download At eMusic] The Tallest Man On Earth hails from Sweden, and alot of critics and fans have been talking about how this newcomer is the next Dylan, and of course they've been throwing out Woodie Guthrie's name as well, cuz what else ya gonna do when confronted with this guy's voice and guitar and songs? It's not that his voice sounds exactly like Bob Dylan's, but there's something there approaching the spirit and soul of the young Dylan, qualities difficult to explain. Personally, he sounds a bit like Mike Scott from The Waterboys to me, but that's an easy way out. This is simply a collection of stripped down Countryfolkblues tunes, rich with songcraft and lyrics, and it may not be quite as mesmerizing as Bon Iver, or as weird as Fleet Foxes, to name two other stellar Folk artists of 2008, but The Tallest Man On Earth is definitely the most traditionally heartfelt, rustic and real of them all this year.
04: Deastro: Keeper's [eMusic Selects] [Download At eMusic] Is it Dance Rock? Synth Pop? I dunno, but it's beautiful and loud (I'll forgive the poor EQing) and full of high-energy synth-heavy music that was made by a previously unknown 22 year old kid down in his parent's basement in Detroit, and that's gotta count for something...His hybrid of electro and indie rock (with some New Wave and even some Prog Rock thrown in for good measure) is rather stunning for someone so fresh - full of interesting ideas and lovely melodies, and I can only wonder what this Randolph Chabot will do in the future...Death Cab For M83, what you got? PLUS+++That's one of the strangest album covers I've seen in awhile...Oh my!
03: Jucifer: L'Autrichienne [Relapse Records] [Download At Amazon] This longplayer is 21 songs that cover every conceivable style of Electric Blues, Hard Rock, and Heavy Metal, plus some other things that run the margins and the in-betweens...Performed by a husband and wife duo that live in a Winnebago...Words cannot express the breadth and depth of this recording. Some of these songs are as insanely heavy as anything else on the Relapse label, and if you are familiar with Relapse, you know what I'm talking about...At other times, they do PJ Harvey better than Polly Jean herself has been doing lately, and if you think that the Raveonettes, The Kills, or even The White Stripes are the epitome of male/female power rock duos working these days, well then I'll know you don't know yr shit very well, cupcake. Jucifer. Get on it and get it on... 02: Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend [XL Recordings] [Download At eMusic] It's wiry and sparse New Wave Pop, and yet, the simplicity is deceptive, and the deception is sweet to my ears. Afro-Pop mingles with British Ska and hipster NYC New Wave, and Vampire Weekend is the perfect fucking name for this band and their music (this album cover is pretty outstanding too) because it's made for exactly those kinds of boho students and struggling dayjob-working artists who turn into vampires on the weekend, drinking seriously and dancing casually straight towards morning to literate and energetic music, a killin' house party where everyone involved is more than cool with The Indestructible Beat Of Soweto and More Songs About Buildings And Food, and when the band kicks in to a stripped down version of "You Can Call Me Al", everyone smiles and sings along without irony. So, Vampire Weekend has made a singularly good-to-great debut album, and now the pressure's gonna drop. What can they do next? Where can they go and where are they willing to go with their music? Is there a "Life During Wartime" in their future? Because if they stay in this place, and make another record too much like this one, well, that will be a shame. This one needs to stand alone, if it's going to stand up to time and opinion in the end...
01: Fucked Up: The Chemistry Of Common Life [Matador Records] [Download At eMusic] More than a few critics and casual listeners have been mentioning Husker Du when they talk about Fucked Up, and it's a comparison that's impossible to ignore, I suppose...When the band is going at full-bore, they do indeed sound a band dead set on re-inventing Zen Arcade...The Chemistry Of Common Life is a larger-than-life record, enormously ambitious by Hardcore standards, and more than willing to ignore many of the genre's rules, written and unwritten, in order to make something approaching monolithic. This is a beautifully heavy record (and that includes Pink Eye's growling, howling vocals), dense with ideas and countless melodies and riffs and layers and sounds that it stands up remarkably well to repeated listens. A record with legs, and quite possibly a classic in the making. My favorite record of 2008.
Labels: album covers, Blather, Deastro, Fuck Buttons, Fucked Up, Fucking Metal, Hank Ranks, Jucifer, Marnie Stern, music, NOMO, Paul Weller, The Tallest Man On Earth, Torche, Vampire Weekend, X-Mas