Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top 10 Albums of 2008

Holy Freaking CARP (intentionally misspelled) that last post was long...

My friend Scott and brother Derall recently made their list of the best 10 albums released in 2008, subsequently hitting me up to post mine. I made up a list, with my own twist, and posted it to Facebook. I'd like to now post it here so you all can see what this music snob is listening to currently. I'd also like to draw attention from the verbose epic post of yesterday. So...copied and pasted from Facebook, with links to download respective songs:

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Derall and Scott, the pressure is unbearable. Quite frankly, I don’t have much of a clue what was released in 2008. I don’t really stay on top of new releases and instead prefer to find my music through The Bible or friend recommendations. So here is my list of new music TO ME in 2008. Some of it was found all by my lonesome, and some was referred by Derall and Paul. But in any case, here is my top 10 list of albums for 2008:

10) Marching Band – Spark Large
Released this year, Marching Band suggests a combination of Belle and Sebastian rhythms and Kings of Convenience voices. At times very catchy, eclectic instrumentation, and fun vocals. Sometimes reminds me of The Shins. Check out Gorgeous Behavior.

9) Neil Diamond – 12 Songs
If you don’t like Neil Diamond, you have no soul. Scientific fact. This album was recommended to me a few years back and I just never got around to giving it a listen until this year. This is Neil stripped down and raw. All acoustic and very bare. Reminds me of late Johnny Cash, where all hype and image were gone and all that was left was music in the soul. Rick Rubin is a god. Oh Mary FTW.

8) M. Ward – The Transfiguration of Vincent
Yes I know, I’m slow to catch the M. Ward train. I’d been trying for a year or so with Post War and Transistor Radio, but nothing grabbed me. I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to be impressed with guitar or vocals. Or both. Turned out to be neither. But the light finally came on this year with Transfiguration of Vincent, courtesy of the track Let's Dance. Minimalism at its finest.

7) Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
My favorite Bird track is actually “MX Missiles”, but this album just has to be given a nod for its aggressive eccentricities. Not typical Bird in my opinion. Very much outside the box. I love the violin touch in Spare-Ohs.

6) Martin Sexton – Live Wide Open
My first exposure to Sexton was from a live version of “I Thought I Knew Ya” courtesy of www.archive.org, aka The Llama. Blues rock at its finest, and Martin has got some serious vocal range. Hallelujah FTW.

5) Bishop Allen – The Broken String
This is where the list gets brutal, like Sophie’s Choice of which child to keep and which to send to the gas chamber. This band is awesome. I got to see them live at Kilby Court and had a great time at the show. Very upbeat and great instrumentation, i.e. ukalele, steel guitar, marimba, xylophone, and those little piano things where you blow into one end with your mouth and press the keys with your fingers. Rain is a great example of he BA hook.

4) Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Another band I got to see live this year. Many great things require some effort to appreciate, and Fleet Foxes took some effort for me. The recording clearly tries to evoke a baroque feel, so the instruments sound muted…but the harmonies are incredible. I mean retarded good. Several killer tracks to choose from here, but I’m going to go with Ragged Wood as my fav.

3) Great Lake Swimmers – Bodies and Minds
Unbelievable group here. Gorgeous vocals and very simple-but-lovely musicianship. Sometimes minimalist, but always pretty. I missed seeing these guys at Kilby this year and I may never forgive myself. Imaginary Bars wins as my favorite track from this particular album, but I’m including a link to their video for Rocky Spine from the album Ongiara simply for its hilarity and bass player's beard.

2) The Mountain Goats – Get Lonely / The Sunset Tree
I just can’t choose between these two albums, so I won’t. This very nearly made my #1 on the list. Brilliant, descriptive, quirky lyrics mixed with an odd voice that I just “get.” Almost always acoustic, usually odd, and typically stripped down, this band tells stories. Woke up New and Pale Green Things from their respective albums are songs I will NEVER tire of.

1) Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
One of the best tips I’ve ever had in the history of my musical lifetime was to check these guys out. Thanks Derall! I have no specifics or particulars. This is just a joy-filled sonic experience. Melodies and musicality. Each and every track is worth hearing and I’ve never once skipped a song when listening to this album. The best album in my word in 2008. I could make a strong case for “Detlef Schrempf” as my favorite from the album, but No One’s Gonna Love You is the track that really grabbed me first. I love the persistent little electric pulse throughout the song.

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