Top Eight of Oh Eight: Music

14 01 2009

I subscribe to the belief that all year end lists have until the middle of the first month of the new year to be revealed. And since mine probably falls a little lower on the value scale than say SPIN, Pitchfork or NME, that would explain the lack of uproar for my delay. And in the spirit of the year, I’m not doing a Top 10 Albums of the Year list – only Top 8 – with ample room for honorable mentions… The envelope please.

Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago
1. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

A Nebraska for a new generation. Haunting, raw and deeply emotional, while also remaining melodic and occasionally even upbeat. Justin Vernon recorded this in a Wisconsin cabin after breaking up with his girlfriend, breaking up with his band and getting really sick. Thank goodness this guy had a string of bad luck.

Kings of Leon-Only By The Night
2. Kings of Leon – Only By the Night
Easily the rock album of the year. Builds upon the maturity, howls and layered sounds of last year’s Because of the Times, while adding some adrenaline and the haze of  top-shelf six pack. The up-tempo garage hooks of yester-year are gone, replaced with a wall of sound that echoes off the arena rafters.

Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
3. Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
A musical memorial to their friend and ex-drummer who recently passed away, there’s is something refreshing and sincere about great hooks wrung with melancholy. They add depth to their New Wave sound with a permanent string section, tapping on the door of grandeur without ever seeming pretentious.

TV On The Radio - Dear Science
4. TV On The Radio – Dear Science

Tap dancing its way between engaging and chaotic, depressive and aggressive, TOTR weaves their signature graffiti and groove to craft a relevant masterpiece that will catch the ear of even the most cynical critic.

Colour Revolt - Plunder, Beg, and Curse
5. Colour Revolt – Plunder, Beg & Curse
Deep fried Modest Mouse with a little more to prove, Colour Revolt has finally settled on a sound that embraces their roots, both geographically and musically, brimming with a nervous tension and dark poetry.

Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreak
6. Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak
Forgiving the abundance of T-Pain influenced AutoTune vocals, Kanye once again refuses to be what he’s supposed to be. On 808s, he’s all but abandons rapping, leaving that primarily to guests like Lil’ Wayne and Young Jeezy. Instead, Kanye goes soul-searching – exploring a new landscape of dark melodies, futuristic beats and rhythms that leave him being surprisingly transparent.

The Black Keys - Attack and Release
7. Black Keys – Attack & Release
Who knew there was still new ground to break in the “Two-Piece Blues Rock” department? With Danger Mouse at the production helm, the Ohio duo toss convention out the window to make more room for flashes of psychedelia, organs and banjos, and an added shine to a sound that’s intentionally rough around the edges.

Okkervil River The Stand Ins
8. Okkervil River – The Stand-Ins
Textured and rich, in both sound and story, Okkervil River rolls with all the bounce and tumble of a gypsy band at sea, peaking with an ambition and idealism that makes you believe everything will be alright.

The next 8:
9. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
What My Morning Jacket would sound like with better hooks. Or a Smokey Mountain off shoot of The Shins and The Beach Boys. You decide.

10. Drive By Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark

Southern to the core – with all its glory, blemish and grace.

11. The Stills – Oceans Will Rise

Recovered nicely from the hangover record that was Without Feathers. This is Canada’s rock n’ roll representative- someone please tell these dorkbags.

12. M83 – Saturdays=Youth

Makes me think of that time I dreamed that The Breakfast Club was a French movie.

Sigur Ros – Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
Sounds like the snow is melting a little in Iceland, revealing some new sounds of optimism.

14. Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal

The Boss’ Latino counterpart. “Always a Friend” is a Top 5 track of the year – easy.

Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
Rilo who? Jenny’s hit her sweet spot somewhere between pop, folk and a telecaster.

16. Black Kids – Partie Traumatic

Over-hyped? Yes. Still fun and catchy? Absolutely.

Ryan Adams, Sleepercar and the Avetts also put out good albums this year, but any more than 16 and this would get out of hand. So there it is. Take it for what its worth.




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