And so here it is… the stunning climax to my 2008 “Best Of” list.
And by climax I mean that I already posted what was supposed to be the final post in this series. And I mean that I may go back and add one or two more albums to my “disappointment” list. And I mean that I reserve the right to post a few additional lists, including favorite concerts of the year, favorite books read, etc. etc. Because, seriously, I know you really care about these things.
So without any further ado…
Ten Albums That Renewed My Faith In Humanity,
As Well As Music’s Ability To Heal The Human Soul,
And Made Me Wish (As I Always Do) That I Knew How
To Write A Damn Song And/Or Play A Freakin’ Instrument
Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago [buy]
Not a surprise, I assume. Seems like everyone’s into this album these days, even my much-hated NPR. (Yes, I’m that much of a cultural snob that I even look down on NPR. Congratulations to me.) But there’s no denying how raw, powerful and real this album is. And it’s one of those few albums that can function both as a make-out album (see: “Skinny Love”) and devastatingly depressing drink-yourself-comatose music (see: “The Wolves (Act I and II)”). So it’s kinda got everything.
Chris Mills, Living In The Aftermath [buy]
Someone needs to explain to me why no one knows who Chris Mills is. And someone needs to explain to me why I had to accidentally discover this album through eMusic, rather than through Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan, or any of the today’s other leading purveyors of rock music taste. If you’re a fan of actual rock songcraft and songwriting, and hooks, and flat out rock and roll, do yourself a favor and get this album ASAP.
Frightened Rabbit, The Midnight Organ Fight [buy]
There was a period there that I really thought this would be my #1 album of the year. Who knows, if I were actually ranking albums, maybe it would be. Few things excite me more in life than heart-on-your sleeve, shamelessly earnest, catchy rock and roll (there’s a reasons that The Frames are my favorite band). And this album has that in spades. And their live show is pretty spectacular too.
Grand Archives, The Grand Archives [buy]
Pretty much the definition of the “sad sack” album. With maybe one exception (the Broken Social Scene-esque “The Crime Window”), the songs on this album are pretty, breezy, and entirely without testicles. But there were times this year that that’s exactly what I needed, and this album fit the bill to a T. There are very few albums in my collection that are better to listen to while sitting on the couch putting out resumes via email. (Feel free to use that in your PR materials, fellas.)
Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy [buy]
Let’s get this out of the way – this ain’t Appetite for Destruction; this isn’t the greatest rock album ever made; this is a grandiose, overproduced testament to Axl’s ego. But, honestly, I don’t give a crap – it’s a spectacular album. The 1-2-3 punch of “Chinese Democracy”->”Shackler’s Revenge”->”Better” that opens the album is among the best examples of true rock and roll of the decade. And songs like “Street of Dreams”, “There Was A Time” and “Prostitute” are the logical followups to “Estranged” and “November Rain” (both of which I love). And then there’s “Catcher In The Rye”, which I already mentioned is one of my favorite songs of the year. So, yeah, make your jokes, tell me how it’s not GnR without Slash and Duff, and tell me that Axl is a crazy, ego-driven jerk. I don’t care. This album rocks.
Hey Rosetta!, Into Your Lungs [buy]
So Chris over at The Battering Room has sadly been a little quiet this year in terms of blogging, but he still had a massive affect on my year in music by introducing me to Canada’s Hey Rosetta!. As Chris told me, if you like The Frames, you’re gonna like Hey Rosetta!. In other words, if you like songs that start soft and build and build and build to huge resolutions, and (here’s that term again) wear their hearts on their sleeves, well, you kinda need to introduce yourself to this band. Start with Into Your Lungs, but be sure to get their excellent first disc, Plan Your Escape, too.
The Hold Steady, Stay Positive [buy]
Almost as soon as I named The Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America as my favorite album of 2006, I regretted it. I liked the album a lot, but in retrospect I think I kinda felt like I owed it to the band after years of being a fan. If I had to rewrite that list now, Gang of Losers would be my easy #1. So I’ve been very careful with Stay Positive since it came out this summer, and tried to make sure that I didn’t overpraise it or be too standoff-ish with it. Looking back on the year, though, I’m now confident that Stay Positive is a fantastic rock album from start to finish. And, more importantly, it’s a true album, where you actually need to listen to the whole thing to truly enjoy it. So this is a pick that I’m not gonna regret down the road.
The Jet Age, What Did You Do During The War, Daddy? [buy]
I mentioned the other day that Julie Ocean’s album is one of the two or three best albums that you hadn’t heard. Without question, What Did You Do During The War, Daddy? is another. If there’s one word that sums up this album, it’s power: powerful guitars; powerful bass; unbelievably powerful drums; and a powerful message – the story of one man’s search for meaning in an increasingly-crazy and violent world. I honestly don’t think there was an album released this year that will kick your ass as hard as this album. And I’m not just saying this because I know these guys. This is a legitimately great disc.
Lightspeed Champion, Falling Off The Lavender Bridge [buy]
Who knew that one of the guys who used to be in Test Icicles would turn out to be an amazingly talented songwriter with a taste for orchestral Americana-inspired indie rock? Definitely a front runner for my #1 album of the year if I were actually doing real rankings.
Mystery Jets, Twenty One [buy]
It took me a while to get into this album. Its 80’s-inspired feel is a drastic departure from the band’s proggy debut, Making Dens. But once I took a step back and accepted the album for what it was, I started to love it. Considering how many dour, depressing albums made my list this year, Twenty One’s youthful exuberance was the perfect antidote. Not a bad song on the album.
SeeqPod – Playable Search