True story: it was around June of this year and I began lamenting the lack of real awesome albums that 2008 was (by then) producing. I was running down some of the albums that I enjoyed up to that point and it began to look like things like a Cat Power covers record would be making the list, followed by a whole slew of re-issues. Normally, I don’t like changing the rules for the Baker’s Dozen list, but it did seem that I would have to, just to make sure that I’d be able to house thirteen titles while completely ignoring any honorable mentions.
Thankfully, the second half of the year changed that and the list you’re seeing below became a lot harder to compile. That’s usually the sign of a good year, and I’m convinced that 2008 was indeed that.
So the first thirteen are those records that I think any self-serving music fan should aquire with the honorable mentions…the “other” thirteen titles…are ones that I’d still recommend checking out as I enjoyed them immensely and continue to spin them to this day. On some titles, links to a complete review are included.
If there are titles that you think should be added, just comment.
If there are titles included here that you think shouldn’t be, you’re wrong.
1.) SPIRITUALIZED – Songs In A&E
Jason Pierce comes back from a near death experience and rejuvenates a band that had a near death experience creatively as well.
2.) SHEARWATER - Rook
35 minutes of brilliant grandeur, made even more impressive coming off the heels of their first hints of greatness with Palo Santo.
3.) BOB DYLAN - The Bootleg Series Volume 8: Tell Tale Signs
Volume 8 shows us that Dylan’s creative resurgence didn’t necessarily begin with his last three outings. Even twenty years ago, Bob was able to produce items of impressive esteem and, even more strangely, put many of them away that finally become unearthed here.
4.) DEERHUNTER - Microcastle
Microcastle confirms what Cryptograms alluded to. While not at divisive as its predecessor, it continues a trend of rich vitality of a band whose importance has not been fully realized.
5.) CENTRO-MATIC/SOUTH SAN GABRIEL - Dual Hawks
One of America’s best-kept secrets who’s only downfall may be with their prolific output. Even at double the size, Dual Hawks contains enough wonderful performances to warrant the girth and greater scrutiny from a larger audience.
6.) ERYKAH BADU - New Ameryka Part 1: 4th World War
Sure, there are huge gaps in this overreaching concept album, but there is nobody today that seems to be taking these kinds of chances and pouring this level of emotion into every step/misstep that they do.
7.) MARTY WILSON-PIPER - Nightjar
Wilson-Piper’s best album comes at a time when both he and The Church have become criminally slighted by both the music press and among the musicians themselves that lift directly from their wake.
8.) AMANDA PALMER - Who Killed Amanda Palmer?
Palmer may be America’s best audio/visual performer around today, packaged in a weird conglomeration of sexual ambiguity and music hall kitsch. It may be incredibly calculated at times, but her bravery, talent, and enthusiasm are a blast to watch/hear.
9.) PORTISHEAD – Third
To emerge from a decade-long hiatus and still sound this vital is impressive enough. But Portishead also sounds like they’ve used that time to come up with a release that tops their prior output. Emotive, challenging, and a step ahead; Portishead continue to grow and grow up.
10.) OKKERVIL RIVER - The Stand-Ins
The second in a two-part series of releases that…I’ll be damned…nearly matches the high-water mark set by The Stage Names. Will Sheff is one of those rare talents that understand his best comes when he surrounds himself with likeminded greatness, even when he sets nearly impossible deadlines.
11.) THE FALL - Imperial Wax Solvent
New band, new year, new Fall album. And, surprise surprise, it’s another worthy contender in a catalog that contains some of rock’s most important releases. Someone should tell Mark E. Smith that he’s not supposed to be making albums this good so late in his career, but then again, no one tells Mark E. Smith anything. It’s a trend that has served him well.
12.) MOTORHEAD - Motorizer
Finally! An album that matches the iconic logo and fabled history. There’s no new ground broken with Motorizer, but something has gotten up Lemmy’s ass to the point where he’s finally stood up and made an album that belies his age and matches his past.
13.) LOVE IS ALL – A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night
It may have a tad more production than Nine Times The Same Song, but it’s equal to its immediate affection and worry-free charm. Even with war, economic strife, and other forms of political dilemma, there’s nothing that tops the war between the sexes and the impact that a little ass shaking can have on one’s spirit..
DISFEAR-Live The Storm
SILVER JEWS-Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
BROKEN WEST-Now Or Heaven
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS-Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
CRYSTAL STILTS-Alight Of Night
TESTAMENT-The Formation Of Damnation
THE MELVINS-Nude With Boots
ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS-Momofuku
AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB-The Golden Age
THE BREEDERS-Mountain Battles