Monday, January 26, 2009

Favorite CDs of 2008

Well here it is, my list of Favorite Cds of 2008. It might be a little late, but now that the dust has settled and you have gift cards burning a hole in your pocket for iTunes or whatever it might be, perhaps I can help.

Per the norm the list has a few "short" rules. First I have to own the cd, no brainer, but its the cardinal rule. Second, it can't be a best of collection, ep, live album etc. That is really about it.

Regarding the mp3's... "The Man" has been cracking down on blogs hosting mp3s so these are up for about a week and then gone, so if you are curious, want them etc..grab. You can always delete them later.

Okay, onward and upward.

Sadly, there were a few dud records this year that I spent my money on. Lenny Kravitz left me wondering why he even bothers anymore, and the Mars Volta had me scratching my head. Both bands have made my list(s) in the past so hopefully these were their "experimental" records.

I can't go further without a nod to the "Fleet Foxes" record. It appeared on just about every best of list in 2008. I bought it soon after the holidays thinking "if people love it that much I probably should at least check it out", well, I love it. I really love it. I think its unfair of me to put it on the top 20 though since i bought it probably the last day of the year. I am sure it would have made my top 20 easily. Also a nod to Bon Iver as well.

here we go...

***ALL MP3s Have been removed***

20. Tapes and Tapes - Walk it Off

Music bloggers bought in to the hype at the outset with the bands prior record. With some of the dust settling and folks moving on to the next thing Tapes and Tapes released a strong follow up for those patient enough to pay attention. After the hype of "The Loon" not a lot of people seemed to hang around, but there are some catchy tunes for sure.

Download was Hang them All

Buy a copy of it here.


19. Portishead -3


A record that was years in the making that in the end was worth the wait. Portishead has always been mood music for me. I can't really listen to them when I drive, or when I am at work. It always sort of needs a late in the evening, cleaning up after a BBQ in the warm air of the spring/summer just sort of chill background stuff.

Download was Machine Gun

You can buy your copy of it here

18. Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely


Some may view this as a side project, but Jack White (White Stripes) embraces this as if it were a full time gig. With Brendan Benson, Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence each offering up their respective chops the record comes off at times like a jam session, while other tracks are incredibly focused. This is not just "Whites project" as Benson does a fair share of the singing on the record as well

Previous list appearances: Broken Toy Soldiers #6 in 2006.

Download was Consoler of the Lonely

Buy your copy here.

17. Deerhunter - Weird Era/Microcastle

This record either should be way up the list or not on the list at all. One of the more challenging records for me to listen to all of 2008. There are flashes of "what the f" to "holy f**k this is great!". Some of the reviews I had read said that if I don't get it, perhaps I never will, or shouldn't in the first place. The tracks run the gamut of "quiet->loud" and there is a lot of the shoegazer element. The tracks might seem to have an odd direction, but then it all falls in place. It has been a more rewarding listen as time passes, but many may find this a challenge even with the glowing press it got all year.

Download was "Nothing Ever Happened".

Buy it here.

16. Adele - 19

Like lists in years past there always seems to be artists that show up on my list that I'd never expect. After an NPR story on her, and really liking her sound I tracked down the cd and really enjoyed it. Some of this smokey/blues young British women singers might be played out but I don't mind holding on for this one. She seems shocked with he success and appears to be very humble. A strong debut record.

Download was "Cold Shoulder"

You can buy her record here.


15. Sea and Cake - Car Alarm

After going four years between records the band returned with a stellar record in under a year, even tossing in a tour between. The band seems to be on a creative course which is nice for fans like myself. If you are new to the band this is a good representation of what the band is about and if you like this, you'd be pleased with the body of their work. They are not breaking any new ground here, but always a good listen.

Previous list appearances: One Bedroom #16 in 2003 and Everybody #17 in 2007

Download was "Aerial".

Buy it here.

14. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals

Some folks might call it a cop out. A record, of samples (sometimes upwards of 20 per track) spliced together on a computer to make one "song". Yeah I'd roll my eyes too, then I heard it...and had such a ball going "oh I know that song". When you can some how mash up "Whoop there it Is" and "In a Big Country" and make it work..well you've got me sold. A super fun record front to back.

Download was "Hands in the Air"

Buy it here.

13. James - Hey Ma


Yes, the band that made themselves household names with "Laid" re-formed and released a record filled with the stuff that got US audiences to pay attention the first time around. Catchy and sing along chorus's and booming musical segments restore one's faith that James has created a great record. The guitars are flashy on the record but balance well with some ballads as well.

Previous list appearances: Whiplash #18 in 1997

Download was "Oh My Heart"

Buy it here.

12. Dianogah - qhnnl
The band, who up until this record was a three piece instrumental band (with two bass players), added a female guitar player and decided to sing on some of the tracks. The record is pronounced much like "kennel" and flashes that dual bass melting riff action. Waited a LONG time for this record and was pleased with the end results. Tracks like the heavily bass laden (of course but listen to the punch he gets outta that thing in the download) "qhnnnl" to the funky/guitar splashed with violin "You might Go Off" are stand outs.

Previous list appearances: Battle Champions #16 on 2000

Download was "qhnnnl".

You can buy it here.

11. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid


Elbow has released a few records and they have been met with a sort of silence in the US that may soon come to an end. The album is a semi-dark and moody collection but singer Guy Garvey excells in his role (listen to what he does in the download track). Probably not a cd you'd put on to get a party started, but one you'd be glad you put on later, after most folks have gone. Things can only be on the ups for this band (I hope).

Download was "The Bones of You".

You can buy it here.


10. No Age - Nouns


When you mix a little bit of ambience, some fuzzy guitar and hammering drums it can make for an odd mix. The duo delivers punk rock and pop songs all tossed through the record. If you are a fan of Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jnr. you will probably dig this band. The band is smart at times, getting in and out of the tracks in under 3 minutes and, when the time is right, going a little further with their sonic soundscapes. In the end I wanted just a little more, but that is a good thing, and remember, its just two guys.

Download was "Sleeper Hold"

Buy it here.

09. Boris - Smile


Boris are a band from Japan that up until this record were primarily an instrumental band. The three members loved to push the bounds (and volume levels) of their gear with past records like "Amplifier Worship" and collaborations with other like minded bands such as Sunn O))). At the outset of "Smile" they are rather mellow, but then we get heavier and much louder. The album wraps up with a 13+ minute "Untitled" track that will shake pictures off your wall. If you are up to the task of checking out one of the (what seems like hundreds) of Boris records, this or the prior album "Pink" are good places to start. Then, dig out your wallet as many of their other records are limited run pressings that fetch $50.00+ a pop.

Download was "Buzz-In"

You can buy it here.

08. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend


All aboard the hype machine! One of the most playable records front to back all year. Blogs and music web pages sang this bands praises before the record even came out and the band lived up to a lot of the hype. Catchy pop rock tracks. From their sweaters to boat shoes the band was an easy target to be made fun of, but when you hear tracks like "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" and "One (Blake's Got a New Face) you are hooked.

Who knows what the band will do next. Many "blogbands" die off after their first record, only a few continue to spark interest so time will tell on this.

Download was "A-Punk"

You can buy it here.

07. R.E.M - Accelerate


Ahhhh..no seriously ahhh. For the first time in too many records the band found their rock sensibility. I am a fan of the mellow "everybody hurts" type stuff, but longed for a return to a straight up rock record and this one didn't fail to deliver. The band had new life both critically and commercially in 2008, hoping they don't forget this is what the fans really seem to want. A strong, and welcome return to form.

Download was "Horse to Water"

You can buy it here.

06. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges


Perhaps the best voice in all rock music these days is Jim James. Backed by a stellar band they once again released a strong record and continue to be mentioned as one of the finer live bands in music. Soaring reverb soaked chorus' are the bands selling points, as well as the wall of guitar with that smattering of southern twang. Some long time fans have been a little put off with this record, but the highs outweigh the lows on this record.

Previous list appearances: Z #11 in 2005

Download was "I'm Amazed"

Buy it here.

05. Kings of Leon - Only By the Night

Hey good news..if you are a fan of the band, or a new fan of the band its already not cool to be a fan of the band apparently. In the last few weeks almost every web page I have been to that mentions Kings of Leon slags them off in one way shape of form. If its the US press they are used to it, the band headlines major festivals overseas but hardly can fill a 2800 seat theater in the States. The band is not used to getting the respect so it won't effect them at all, and even if the the "fans" drop by the wayside this record is nothing to be embarrassed about listening to or playing. The howl of Calebs voice alone makes the entire package worth every cent, and hey even if every tom dick and harry chuckles when they hear the title "Sex on Fire" pause for a second, and listen to it. Pretty tasty stuff.

Previous list appearances: Because of the Times #4 in 2007

Download was "Crawl"

You can buy it here.

04. Russian Circles - Station

It is no secret that instrumental music has been "doing it" for me the last few years. When bands need to resort to instruments to fill the "void" and let me interpret what they are intending to do is always a fun. Running from atmospheric to downright hard rock I found this to be the cd I listened to in the car the most the last few months. Just a good rock record, open for interpitation. In the end, remember that it is just three people making this music.

Download was "Harper Lewis"

You can buy it here.


03 - The Hold Steady - Stay Positive


They have been called everything from Americas Best Bar band, to the band that saves rock and roll. Craig Finn has a distinct vocal style and its no surpise the band bows at the altar of Bruce Springsteen. Foot stomping, fist pumping rock anthems soaked in domestic beer. There are "lighter waving" guitar solos, and keyboard runs that will bring miles of smiles. Get a six pack of Pabst and fall in love.

Previous list appearances: Boys and Girls in America #1 in 2006

Download was "Sequestered in Memphis"

You can buy it here.



02. TV On the Radio - Dear Science


The band puts zero in to the cover art for their cds, really..its time to step up, but if you sacrifice the music any for the sake of cool cover art, a paper bag cover will do. The band has grown into more of spawn of the Talking Heads at times ditching some of their more dance tracks of the past. Although hardly a "dance band" the band mixes many genres to create another stellar work. Only the third full length release from the band, the bar has been set high.

Previous list appearances: Return to Cookie Mountain #7 in 2006

Download was "Dancing Choose"

You can buy a copy of it here.

01 - Sigur Rós með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (translated) with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly


There are very few bands, at least to me right now, that challenge me at every listen. They have me put on the most critical ear and move me unlike any band making music at this time, its that simple. I make no apologies for this. Some fans were not smitten with this record, and many people really loathe this band from the get go. It can be a challenging listen at times, as are all their records, but each one has been a rewarding experience. This is not cookie cutter simple 4/4 back beats with poppy hooks, you have to "listen" to what is happening and then you will see not only this band and record in a new light, but you will begin to have a little more of a critical ear to what you listen to every day.

The song I selected is called "Festival". If you are new to the band this might be a little bit of a challenge for the first four minutes with Jonsi's very high voice, and him singing in Icelandic. Get yourself to about 4:39 and close your eyes..then at about the 7:00 minute mark the song will slowly build and it will freaking CRUSH you starting about 7:39 for the next 2 1/2 minutes prepare yourself for some of the most over the top moving music you have laid your ears on all year. When it all comes to a crashing end, hit replay..trust me..its okay if you sit there with your mouth slightly agape..it happens to me every time I listen.

Previous list appearances: Hvart/Heim #2 in 2007, Takk #1 in 2005, ( ) #3 in 2002 and Ágætis Byrjun #1 in 2001.

Download was Festival"

You can buy a copy my favorite record of the year here.

If you care about last years list, you can look at that here.

Happy 2009 and thanks for reading.

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7 Comments:

At Monday, January 26, 2009 11:27:00 AM , Anonymous Jason said...

The list! The list! Christmas in January.

I think I bought a total of 5 CDs this year (4 of them in your Top 7), so I will once again not be making a list.

 
At Monday, January 26, 2009 12:38:00 PM , Blogger Evil Speakers said...

Great Job T!
You've given me the motivation to get my list completed.

 
At Monday, January 26, 2009 7:43:00 PM , Blogger Jenny G said...

I'm always amazed by how much you know about music. I still need to get Girl Talk.

 
At Tuesday, January 27, 2009 2:13:00 PM , Anonymous Mike R said...

Great list Todd! I love the new James, was also shocked by the goodness of REM, Kings of Leon...awesome choice. But I'm surprised...no Airborne Toxic Event? I know they are probably an "in" pick at this point but that is a great album. Thanks as always for the recommendations.

 
At Tuesday, January 27, 2009 5:35:00 PM , Blogger Ello said...

I seriously feel so out of it! I only know very few on this list. Must find out more about them!

Great job as always!

 
At Friday, January 30, 2009 12:47:00 PM , Blogger Trish said...

Always like reading your recommendations March . . . it's such a great way for me to tap into what's new in the music world.

Good to hear that REM is still recording . . . they were one of my favorites back in the day.

 
At Sunday, February 01, 2009 2:28:00 PM , Blogger JamieSmitten said...

Definitely an interesting list of bands that I have heard, but not purchased. And no Kanye this year, thank goodness!!

 

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