SO, my good buddy from work Chad did a best of 08' list for all ya all. Also, check out my brother Kyle's list, Jay's Book List, Scott's List, and Neil's list, not to mention my killer list in the archives under December of 08', over there in the margin. Chad's list is super strong. Check em.
Just under the wire, a list of my top ten albums of the year in a generally ascending order of majesty...
10. Algernon Cadwallader- Some Kind of Cadwallader. LP/CD
These kids (and I stress kids, the average age in the band is 21) from Philadelphia have constructed an pop gem so blatantly inspired by Cap’n Jazz that it would be unforgivable, if it weren’t so fucking good. Clever, quirky, playful, and inspired, these ten songs inspire the 19 year old emo kid in me to make some hyperbolic simile likening their sound to a beating heart in the rotting corpse of genre ravaged by theatrics and commodification, but the 32 year old just wants to ask, “How the fuck have these guys heard Cap’n Jazz?”
9. Have a Nice Life- Deathconsciousness. 2X/CD
While there are scattered less-than-stellar moments over the course of this double CD, it remains nothing less than an astounding achievement. Catchy, droned out indie-goth songs performed and recorded by two guys over a period of two years in a bedroom and then self-released. The double CD comes with a book researched and co-written with a comparative religions teacher drawing parallels between death consciousness and the cross-cultural invention of religion, all for ten bucks. Punk as fuck.
8. Ceremony- Still Nothing Moves You. LP/CD
This Northern California hardcore band have graduated from flawlessly rehashing Slap A Ham style blistering hardcore to creating a masterpiece of a record that truly advances the genre. Incredibly fucking dark, ridiculously heavy one moment and frenetically fast the next, this record is a monster. It’s difficult to pick a favorite lyric but I would have to say “Fuck the government with your fist!” gets the trophy for most rad youth crew vocal since Crucial Youth’s “Cross on green for a positive scene!”
7. The Middle East- The Recordings of the Middle East. LP/CD
I know next to nothing about this group of individuals hailing from Townsville, Austrailia except that they live in shithole town next to a huge fuckin reef. They supposedly broke (and then unbroke) up but somewhere in the process have written a great album that is a sort of confluence of Nick Drake, Radiohead and Sigur Ros. Beautiful.
6. Sigur Ros- Med Sud i Eyrum Spilum Endalaust. LP/CD
Speaking of... my award for song and video of the year definitely goes to Gobbledigook, the opening track from Sigur Ros’ unpronouncable new one. It’s also a really great album even if there is a stretch in the middle that sounds like it was lifted from the soundtrack of Far and Away, (Ron Howard’s epic tale of the travails of Irish immigrants when the US was young and still attempting to manifest its destiny.) It contains what I believe to be their first English lyrics which could have been cringe worthy but ended up being lovely. Plus, I saw them from the absolute worst seat in the Greek Theater and it was riveting, the only band that has improved each of the 4 times I have seen them.
5. The Dodos- Visiter. LP/CD
It should be a requisite that every drummer go through a metal phase because the fellow who comprises the rhythm section of this San Francisco psych-folk duo definitely sessioned some double bass before co-creating one of the most rhythmically inventive albums this side of Animal Collective. It also doesn’t hurt that the singer is an accomplished blues guitarist capable of writing melodies (within a genre that couldn’t bore me more) that feel fresh and exciting.
4. Portugal the Man- Censored Colors. LP/CD
This band has long been a guilty pleasure but this album is so good that I am stepping out of the closet. These guys from Wasilla, Alaska by way of Portland, Oregon have crafted in my opinion 2 of the best albums of the millenium, 2007’s somber Kid A-ish “It’s Complicated Being a Wizard” and 2008’s “Censored Colors”, a record so different that the only recognizable links are the name and the voice. But man, what a fucking voice. John Gourley’s soulful melodies are the sweetest tones to come out of a white man since Astral Weeks. It’s an album that echoes the Beatles, Zeppelin and the Police but is still totally Portugal the Man. It’s simple and inspiring and sincere. Classic without being retro.
3. Evangelicals- The Evening Descends. LP/CD
I like to imagine that these Norman, Oklahoma weirdos met at a Flaming Lips show in the mid-nineties frying on acid and overjoyed to find other individuals who shared their love of spacey indie-rock, Italian Horror, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. A completely underrated album that sounds like Tim Kinsella joined the Unicorns and brought along a smoke machine.
2. Ruby Suns- Sea Lion. LP/CD
One of my absolute favorite albums of the new millenium. Ruby Suns mastermind Ryan McPhun makes Sea Lion a journey around the globe refracted through a prism of psychedelic indie-rock. What should come across as an exercise in leacherous trend-jumping is in actuality a sparkling, wide-eyed, irreverent work of genius because it all feels tempered by trademark New Zealand humility, like Ryan genuinely loves the melodies that somehow came through him. and does his best to bashfully present them. Our generation’s Os Mutantes.
1. Beach House- Devotion. LP/CD
The fact that my fiancee and I got engaged while listening to this
album in Hawaii probably has considerably influenced my opinion that it is the most genuinely romantic album in years, but fuck, this girl can sing. Kinda like a dreamy, dark, trpoical update of the very best moments of Fleetwood Mac, created by couple of angels from Baltimore.
Beach House: "Used To Be"
Portugal the Man: "