Albums Of The Year: 15-1
A few days ago, we gave you part one of our albums of the year list. Today we bring you the best of the best from a wide range of artists who brought the noise this year. We’ve fought it out amongst our ATH writers for weeks and these are the albums that we all loved. These 15 albums went into thunderdome and emerged victorious. Follow the jump to see if your favorite band made the Top 15 of 2008.
David Gedge has been at it for decades. He’s not concerned with what anyone thinks anymore, and now he’s back together with famed producer, Steve Albini, their first album together since Seamonsters. The production makes for a hard-hitting album, full of plenty of wit, which is what you come to expect from a writer like Gedge. Guitar sound alone makes this album one of the stronger albums of the year. Gedge is back in full swing, and we are the better for it.
14. The Dodos – Visiter
Jangly folk guitars looped with various percussion instruments, predominantly drums, makes for a unique listen. What most didn’t expect was for this album to continually seep into their subconscious as simple melodies melded with a creative touch. Some songs took you for an adventure, while others stayed right at home; all these songs hit home. Welcome to the big leagues, fellas.
Painted dark with, well, distortion, the unpredictable baroque-pop of Stephin Merritt and friends continues to please. Whether throwing out witty tunes about hating California girls or the shame of being too drunk, Magnetic Fields always seem to be taking aim at us all, but with a one-eyed wink. It’s great to see that a band with such gifts is willing to push the boundaries rather than rest on their much deserved popularity.
After an experiment in rock with Garden Ruin, Calexico stayed with what they know best for their stellar 2008 release. This album will be added to the impressive and expansive Calexico discography along with some of their best work. Need we say more?
It’s hard not to like this band because when they are on, they are completely on. Dear Science definitely had some spectacular moments that won the favor of interested parties, but it also went in some interesting directions, like in “Red Dress.” Still, the band is always going to be one of the more interesting listens of the year when they release something. Such are the gifts of these fellows.
Austin is quickly being introduced to a new hero, though this one has been laying in wait for years. Nothing was more fitting for a score to your favorite movie; nothing deserved to be this operatic. Gentle piano covered the album as the sounds rose and fell in unison. It’s one of those albums where you can tell that the person writing the music took a great deal of care in his or her creation. Truly a beautiful piece of work.
9. The Black Keys – Attack & Release
What do you do when you put out a fairly mediocre album and want to make a change to spice things up a bit? Call up Danger Mouse to produce your new record. Everyone from Beck to Gorillaz have called on the famed Gnarles Barkely DJ to produce their albums, but none of those artists have put out an effort like Attack & Release. Danger Mouse took the old Black Keys sound and added a dash of hip-hop with just a little bit of spooky to create what may stand as the band’s best effort to date. If the jazz flute on “Same Old Thing” doesn’t do it for you, well sir, maybe you need to lighten up.
When you encounter something from your past, you always seem to wonder where it’s been; especially when you look back on it with such fondness. Coming across this album reminded us all of how great power-pop could be, and is. You’ll be hard pressed to find a bad song on this album, and most people will find that you can listen to over and over again. Let’s all welcome back the glory of clean guitars and perfect percussion.
David Berman has been writing great songs longer than most of his contemporaries. He comes back big here, writing great country-tinged tunes that immediately won us over. The female vocal during “Strange Victory, Strange Defeat” gets us every single time we hear it. It’s always good to know that this guy is around keeping it going for all of us. Keep on taking that “Party Barge”, Dave.
The band cleaned up their sound, perfecting and building upon the foundation they put down with their last album. “God and Suicide” was one of the year’s great tunes, and that was just one of the great tracks that came with this album. A perfect mix of slow burners with power-funk-rock anthems; this album was a great spin from start to finish.
A certain ex-Unicorn really seems to have his hands all over the place these days. This was his second album of the year, but definitely a more complete album than his effort with Islands. “The Sound” was one of the best songs we got our hands on this year, and it only just started there. In all honesty, this album spun as much, or more, than any other album we listened to this year. To top that off, it never gets old. Never.
We all know about the Grizzly Bear association, so let’s just leave that out of this equation. In Ear Park came out at just the perfect time; the album fit perfectly with the changing of seasons and the necessity for bedroom music. Clearly Mr. Rossen has a future here, should other things not work out, but let’s just hope that both his projects pan out as beautifully as this one.
Jason Spaceman returned in 2008 with a newfound respect for life, and in that respect, he wrote an album dedicated to Accidents and Emergencies. Nothing felt as downtrodden and honest as “Soul on Fire,” but still made you want to push forward. The sincerity in the song-writing makes each song on here, minus the various Harmonies, worthy of listening to time and time again. Go to sleep with this record, and you’ll be grateful Jason came out of the A & E with this album for all.
This is a popular album, and it will make a lot of year end lists, perhaps even making it to the top. We here at Austin Town Hall loved their debut album, and we were honestly won over by their fantastic live show at the Mohawk this past summer. A possible detractor is that you might not always be in the mood for listening to this band, as it takes a lot to absorb it all. Regardless, this is one of those debut albums that is sure to stand the test of time.
Not many people will love this band nearly as much as we do at ATH; the band’s initials are D & D! What made this a great record, besides the songs, was that you could put this on no matter what mood you were entertaining. Shower? Throw on that D & D record! Dinner party? Throw on that D & D album! Crying? Listen to that sweet D & D music! Their male/female vocals, draped neatly over Dylanesque-Rolling Stones-ish songs, guaranteed multiple spins in our record players. For us, there wasn’t a more perfect album than this one. We stand by our love for this band. All hail your Dutchess and Duke.
So fans of ATH, how’d we do?