Best Albums of 2008
- Baseball Project - Vol. 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails
Just on the surface, this great album about baseball is worth hearing, but what it tells us on a deeper level is its (and baseball's) case for greatness.
- Bigelf - Cheat the Gallows
All that's grand gets both celebrated and criticized on this amazingly present retro album.
- De Novo Dahl - Move Every Muscle, Make Every Move
The year's most fun record. "Shout" is is pure joy.
- Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen - Parasols and Pekingese
Yeah, she's playing a ukulele and it's amazing.
- Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
Why didn't anyone ever realize how well punk and Springsteen went together before this?
- The Clash - Live at Shea Stadium
The only band that matters show that even fame couldn't ruin them.
- Tanya Tagaq - Auk ~ Blood
This is an album worthy of Mike Patton's contributions, yet strong (and weird) enough not to be overshadowed by them.
- They and the Children - Home
The limits of intensity get pushed by this album. Incendiary would be an understatement.
- Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath
Once again, the Mars Volta give us all that's cool about prog and nothing that sucks. Crazy talent mixes with crazy minds.
- Sharks and Sailors - Builds Brand New
The influence of 90s alt rock on this album goes in unexpected directions.
- Spitfire - Cult Fiction
Anger can be based on love just as easily as hate.
- The Drift - Memory Drawings
The Drift once again makes an indie rock record whose principal influence is Ornette Coleman.
- TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Is this the future of rock music? TV on the Radio get more accessible without compromising on innovation.
- Mad Tea Party - Found a Reason
Yes, another album which prominently features the ukulele made the list. These are great rootsy tunes with soul and a great sense of quirky fun.
- Strangers Die Every Day - Aperture for Departure
Godspeed You! Black Emperor is the best melding of classical and rock. This band is the next best.
- Thursday/Envy - Split LP
Thursday is a band that has progressed tremendously and Envy is the perfect compliment.
- Hours and Hours: A Tribute to Seaweed
The tribute album concept is old and tired, or so I thought until I heard this. No one, probably even Seaweed themselves, had any idea that their influence spread this widely. This is the way a tribute should be created.
- The Devil and the Sea - Heart vs Spine
The Devil and the Sea is another fantastic heir to Black Flag's free jazz approach to punk and metal.
- Twilight Hotel - Highway PrayerThese Americana (or is it Canadiana) songs tell great human stories.
- Gypsy Pistoleros - Para Siempre
Yeah, I know it's essentially a re-release of last year's album, but a big step forward in production and a fine cover of "La Vida Loca" push this one into the top albums of 2008 whereas they just missed the year before.
- Lady Lovelace and the Calculator Death Machine - Music for Two Musicians
This has My Bloody Valentine, chamber music and everything in between...and it works.
- Thao - We Brave Bee Stings and All
Twee pop can be dangerous ground, but Thao navigates it successfully, making an album of strange, catchy tunes.
- Buffalo Killers - Let It Ride
Many of those treading the paths of 70s hard rock forget the soul. Buffalo Killers do not.
I saw a number of fine DVD releases in 2008, but three stand out:
About a Son was simply a series of Kurt Cobain interviews, but it was amazingly well-filmed in his old stomping grounds and rather than fill it with Nirvana's music, Death Cab for Cutie's Bed Gibbard supplies some great tracks that allow the focus to be on Cobain's words rather than the hype of Nirvana.
If All Goes Wrong is both a concert and documentary about Smashing Pumpkins two "residencies" in Asheville, NC and San Francisco. Rather than being a rehash of their hits, it is a bold artistic statement and the documentary is an interesting insight into it.
The very best DVD of the year though was The Who's Kilburn 1977, featuring both the Kilburn show as well as a rougher recording from 1969. Both shows demonstrate exactly why the Who was great.
With all this about the best, I should also include at least something about the bad albums. While there were a few real stinkers this year, they all pale in comparison to Judas Priest's Nostradamus. This album of ego-driven nonsense has all of the filler that is often a necessary evil on concept album, yet not a single track that makes the filler worth siting through. It's crap on all levels. Shame on Priest. They should have known better.
For some alternate views of what was great in 2008, check out these sites:
Heavy Metal Addiction
Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Time Machine
Bring Back Glam
All Metal Resource
The Ripple Effect
Rock Of Ages
Layla's Classic Rock
Hair Metal Mansion
The Metal Minute