19 December 2008

2008 In Review: Albums

Think I read something last year that said something like "2007 was a strong year for album releases... because every year is a strong year for album releases." I tend to agree. Lots of good stuff. I'll follow my example from last year and list in groups of 10. As always, a strange mix of jazz, rock, pop, etc. But that's the way I listen, so why change. I think I can honestly recommend everything up to about #60. Never got around to doing any CD reviews this year, so some comments do follow. Happy to give out more opinion on others down below.


The top 10 (alphabetical):

Apollo Sunshine -- Shall Noise Upon
A real masterpiece of an album. Not sure how a band that is so loose and carefree on stage can put together something so crisp and concise. I'll be writing more about Apollo Sunshine in the near future.

Marco Benevento -- Invisible Baby
This one came out real early in the year (as his next one will in 2009) and has had plenty of time to stew in my soul. I believe Marco has been in my top ten by himself or with the Duo for several of the past year. Not much more I can say about the guy.

Blitzen Trapper -- Furr
I feel like if I had any talent at all and could make music, this is the music that would result from my various influences. Perfect balance of good songs, rocking, grooving... definitely the big surprise for me this year. Looking forward to seeing these guys live in February.

Broken Social Scene presents... Brendan Canning -- Something for All of Us
Personally, this is my favorite Broken Social Scene album. A bass players sensibilities and songsmanship brought to the big, bad sound of the BSS.

Gnarls Barkley -- The Odd Couple
I'd couple this and the Racounteurs together with almost the same comments, even though the music couldn't be more different. Darker, deeper and more complete than their first effort. Doesn't sound like a "side project" any more. Less poppy, radio-friendly hits = more meat on the bone.

Stephen Malkmus -- Real Emotional Trash
This list is in alphabetical order, but make no mistake about it, this is my album of the year. Top to bottom, each song has "classic" potential. I've not yet determined the number of times I can listen to this before getting sick of it... such a number may not exist. Even my 4 year old digs half the tunes on this one.

Medeski, Martin & Wood -- Zaebos
MMW put out 3 awesome albums this year and Zorn released at least 3 awesome Masada Book 2 discs. In the Venn Diagram of groovy, Jewy awesomeness, this one makes the grade. Classic, deep funky shit. Out there just enough to make it interesting. A perfect Chanukah present.

My Morning Jacket -- Evil Urges
I guess part of me is disappointed that this didn't quite live up to "Z." Still, the more I listen, the more deeply I fall in love with MMJ. This is more of a repertoire-builder than a game changer -- that album we all know they still have in them. Blazing rock riffs, Prince falsetto rip-off and some touching lyrics. I don't think this album is as sick as they intended it to be, but it's still pretty sick.

The Raconteurs -- Consolers of the Lonely
See above. Damn, this thing shreds. If they play their cards right, we might look back on the Raconteurs in 20 years the way we look back at Zeppelin right now.

John Zorn -- The Dreamers
I guess you'd file this under jazz, but as with all Zorn's music, there are no genres and no boundaries. This album stretches from Funkadelic Maggot Brain guitarotechnics to groovy surf music to offmetered brilliance to straight piano jazz without one jarring moment. It helps to have, pound-for-pound, the most talented musicians playing your music. At that, JZ does not fail. Even if you think you'd never want to listen to anything like this, it's a must have for any discerning music lover. Yes, that good.

11-20 (alphabetical)

Cyro Baptista -- Banquet of the Spirits
Bar Kokhba -- Lucifer
The Black Keys -- Attack & Release
Drive-By Truckers -- Brighter Than Creation's Dark
Aimee Mann -- @#%&*! Smilers
Medeski, Martin & Wood -- Radiolarians I
The Sea and Cake -- Car Alarm
Todd Sickafoose -- Tiny Resistors
TV On The Radio -- Dear Science
McCoy Tyner -- Guitars


Beck -- Modern Guilt
Steven Bernstein -- Diaspora Suite
Death Cab For Cutie -- Narrow Stairs
The Fiery Furnaces -- Remember
Fleet Foxes -- Fleet Foxes
Jenny Lewis -- Acid Tongue
Man Man -- Rabbit Habits
Edgar Meyer/Chris Thile -- s/t
Jenny Scheinman -- Crossing the Field
She & Him -- Volume One


Ryan Adams & the Cardinals -- Cardinology
Andrew Bird -- Live In Montreal
Dr Dog -- Fate
The Felice Brothers -- The Felice Brothers
Bill Frisell -- History, Mystery
Stanton Moore -- Emphasis! (On Parenthesis)
Ratatat -- LP3
Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog -- Party Intellectuals
Secret Chiefs 3 -- Xaphan
The Wood Brothers -- Loaded


Grand Archives -- The Grand Archives
Charlie Haden & Friends -- Ramblin' Boy
Medeski, Martin & Wood -- Let's Go Everywhere
JJ Grey/Mofro -- Orange Blossoms
Of Montreal -- Skeletal Lamping
Old Crow Medicine Show -- Tennessee Pusher
What Made Milwaukee Famous -- What Doesn't Kill Us
Robert Walter -- Cure All
John Zorn -- Filmworks XX
John Zorn -- Filmworks XXI


AC/DC -- Black Ice
Theresa Andersson -- Hummingbird, Go!
Mike Gordon -- The Green Sparrow
Juno -- Soundtrack
Daniel Lanois -- Here Is What Is
Brad Mehldau Trio -- Live
Tift Merritt -- Another Country
Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band -- Whole Fam Damily
Jenny Scheinman -- Jenny Scheinman
John Zorn -- Filmworks XIX


Calexico -- Carried To Dust
Cat Power -- Jukebox
Kimya Dawson -- Alphabutt
Girl Talk -- Feed the Animals
Jimmy Herring -- Lifeboat
I'm From Barcelona -- Who Killed Harry Houdini?
Sonny Landreth -- From the Reach
The Mars Volta -- The Bedlam in Goliath
Marc Ribot -- Exercises in Futility

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