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Top Albums 2008

The whole 2008 list

01 Jim White – Transnormal Skiperoo

Fantastically curated Southern Gothic tales full with quirky moral imperatives;  These delicately delicious stories are cloaked in an airy cinematic wrapper of consistently well-executed backwoods/alt.country/Americana soundscapes.

Another fabulous Jim White album in the continuing search for “the gold tooth in God’s crooked smile.”

02 She & Him – Volume One

Simply easy-to-listen-to late-60’s/early-70s California AM radio bliss.  Great originals and sublime covers pulse with a tangible sonic heartbeat, provided by M Ward.  Zooey Deschanel delivers fun, breezy lyrics for classic-sounding love songs.  Ahhh, simple pleasures…

03 Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

A highly nuanced, country-ish romp with intelligent lyrics and slacker-esque emoting.  Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea has far less darkness, despair and self-loathing than previous Silver Jews albums at times bordering on the mildly positive (uplifting even?!?).  This is true modern American poetry, writen on a beer coozy.

“Then he came at me with some fist cuisine” = best lyric of the year.

04 Bubblegum Lemonade – Doubleplusgood

Insanely great throwback 60’s jangle-pop tour-de-force, run through a fantastic, tone-perfect, J&MC-esque reverb filter.  I could live forever with just this sound…

See also: Strawberry Whiplash

05 Gutter Twins – Saturnalia

At times arena-rock, at times bedroom sprawl, Saturnalia is a dark, powerful, and thoroughly modern album covering territory all across the indie-rock-noir landscape.  Sonically adventurous, with endless instrumental nuances, tied together via Lanegan’s rough barritone and Dulli’s swagger.  

06 Throw Rag – 2nd Place

An awesomely manic desert-amalgam of punk-country-rockabilly-garage-kitchensink.  Sloppy, slobbery, ass-out, and carefree – these guys remember that rock is about having a good time.

07 Calexico – Carried to Dust

A full return to the smoky, desert-cinematic, soundscapes they do best.  Filled with sonic drama and unexpected experimental moments, Carried to Dust documents a confidently inspired band coalescing a very eclectic outlook into a relaxed, comfortable whole.

And they’re even better live …

08 Black Keys – Attack and Release

The Keys continue their classic dirty-blues-rock sound, this time having DJ Danger Mouse put a crisp, clean shine over the top.  A much more rounded (and less aggressive) sound, with clever added instrumentation and songwriting depth. &nbsp

09 The Young Republic – 12 Tales From Winter City

Excellent, arty, symphonic pop.  A genre-hopping mix of pop and rock, all faintly underlined with a modern country feel, 12 Tales From Winter City functions as a great winter shut-in soundtrack.  Subtle comparisons to Lloyd Cole are right on the money.

10 The Kills – Midnight Boom

Angular, punky and uber-sexy, this is a raging cool-brat howler.  Hopscotch beats lead jarring guitars and swarming vocals to a seductive and coherent punk-blues destination that is as hip as it is unique.  A supernova waiting to explode.


Other notables:

King Khan & the Shrines – The Supreme Genius of…

Super-duper-great psychedelic garage-rock, big-band style. This collection of tracks from the near-past of the incomperable King Khan are a great re-introduction to their weird brand of awesome. Supreme genius indeed!!!

Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight

Awesome skittering folk-rock anthemz.  Well-executed throughout with a fun bar-rock feel.  The f-bomb chorus of “Keep Yourself Warm” makes this fairly NSFW.

Tilly & the Wall – O

Infectuous, breezy pop-pop-pop fun.  Full of attitude, crazy rythyms, and anthemic shouts.  PS: Have a tap-dancer instead of a drummer…

Johnossi – All They Ever Wanted

A pair of Swedish friends (John & Ossi) cranking up some serious blues-rock-punk action!!

Deerhunter – Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.

Lush, complicated, adventurous ambient-rock.  Has ample space for individual listener head-exploration, with enough structure to soothe.  Has the long-lost ’shoegaze’ scene found a new leader?

Matthew Sweet – Sunshine Lies

One of the masters of power-pop returns (with the usual strong cast) to crank out another album of bright pop hooks, fuzzy guitars, and finely crafted melodies.  Another great addition to the catalog.

Delta Spirit – Ode To Sunshine

A rolicking barroom stomp.  Wobbly roots rock and a rough catch-all style combine to create a boisterous, carefree party.

Black Diamond Heavies – A Touch Of Someone Else’s Class

Staggeringly wild, fuzzed-out organ-drums blues, topped by a Waits-esque howl.  Not for the faint of heart, but devotees will be righteously rewarded.  Feat. an awesome Ike & Tina Turner cover!

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

Tightened up indie-folk full of polished, fun, tunes.  A touch of alt.country rides over the multi-influenced sound, with plenty of aural nuggets in the mix.  

White Denim – Workout Holiday

A great party record, full of wacky tunefulness and deconstructed structures.  Challenging, but worth it.  (DrB’s fave new ‘home-town’ band?)

Radishes – Strychnine EP

Crunchy, punky, heavy-garage-rock with an ‘as great as advertised’ Lennon cover (I Found Out)

The Aliens – Luna

Brilliantly crazy experimental psychedelic-rock brain-melter.  Also crazy-catchy and engaging as hell. (ex-Beta Band members, nuffsaid)

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Sunday at Devil Dirt

Only supremely talented and adventurous artists would dare try to make this pairing work – much less succeed at crafting a sound this coherent and beautiful.  (and Mark Lanegan makes yet another appearance on a DrB list…)

Foxboro Hottubs – Stop Drop And Roll

Highly recognizable, garage-tinted, power-pop-punk.  Not earthshaking, but fun as hell.  (PS: actually a Green Day alter ego)

Gentleman Auction House – Alphabet Graveyard

Very original, very well, done modern indie-pop. Largely drum driven, with energetic and melodic lyrics, they leave plenty of space in the mix – to great effect.

Nightmares on Wax – Thought So…

Catchy, bouncy, dub-inflected, mellow party tracks.  Let the disc roll, grab a drink (or whatever), and watch the party get started.  Another fine N.O.W. release.

band – album

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Too late for the list, but definite contenders