Friday, January 02, 2009

My Best Ten Records of 2008

Well, I could go on & on about how we haven't posted for a month, but hey - nobody wants to hear excuses. But, if I had an excuse, it would look a hell of a lot like this:

With an excuse that cute, are you really going to hold a grudge? Moving on, I realize that most top 10 lists should actually come out before the new year begins, but what are ya gonna do? So, here we go - my favorites from 2008....

Yes, they're over-hyped, over-exposed, over-blogged, blah, blah, blah. I don't care about any of that. This is the record of the year for me. It's a "good mood" starter and extender. It was played a lot during the Grafitti Table sojourn to Mexico and it will always mean sun and fun to me. Sure, it bites off a lot of Graceland, but the songs are great beyond all the afro-pop stylings. And it's biggest saving grace is that it is not a slick album - parts of it even sound like a demo, which just adds to it's abundant charm.

This was probably the most played record of 2008 in the our house/car. The M.I.A. meets Lily Allen meets Karen O vibe was irresistible and addicting. Makes me want to throw up gold glitter, too.

Even if it wasn't just a great story (Tom Petty puts his first band from 30 years ago back together, hauling 2 of his formerly obscure bandmates into the limelight), I would still admire this record. TP is one of my all-time faves, and this record just extends his remarkable career. A laid-back country rock record, recorded live in the studio. Seemingly effortless, but lived in and surprisingly deep. A class act, that Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr.

Ghostly and haunting, these solo demos were luckily given the Nebraska treatment - just put 'em out as is. Again proving that isolation and depression lead to enjoyable music.

Insanely catchy pop songs from the husband & wife power-duo. They abandoned the old claustrophobic vintage keyboards for a fuller sound to no ill effect. The song "Rearrange Us" is definitely my most-played of 2008 (confirmed by iTunes).

Z was the record that finally won me over to these guys. Their earlier stuff was too monochromatic for me, all reverby vocals and Crazy Horse plod. But Z opened the door to new sounds and styles and Evil Urges more than delivered on that promise. I saw them play this summer and it was a stunning show. Guitar wigouts and solid songcraft combining to make them the most exciting American band. (Sorry, Wilco.)

I don't know what it is about these guys. I couldn't hum you a bar or tell you a song title, but I love listening to this record. Experimental, noisy, showgazing, lyrically challenging - yet somehow smooth & soothing and served with a large dollop of playability. Combine this with Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Not Feel, from mainman Bradford Cox's solo project Atlas Sound and you have the twofer of the year.

At first I was less than thrilled by this record - another Neil Young-influenced Americana record featuring a heavily-reverbed lead singer? But the comparisons to Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket slowly wore off after repeated listenings. Over time this record revealed it's unique take on gothic folk-rock (Beach Boys harmonies, for one), and won me over.

This clever duo combined hipster tomfoolery with vintage keyboards and a stellar production job from Dave Fridmann to great effect. Best use of vintage synths since 1983. I challenge you not to sing along to the synth line in "Kids Oracular".

Another band I was never too excited about, but it all came together for me on this one. The combination of Danger Mouse's production work and the fact that it was the only cd in my car for 6 weeks may have helped.

The next 10:

Blitzen Trapper - Furr
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Lie Down in the Light
The Fireman - Electric Arguments
The Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead
The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
R.E.M - Accelerate
Nada Surf - Lucky
She & Him - Volume One
The Whigs - Mission Control


TMNK said...

While I am not familiar with any of the 10 albums, I am very familiar with your excuse for blog absenteeism.

Congrats! Continue forward...reluctantly, yes but oh so relenless. - TMNK

Crustodio said...