Surprisingly, there was actual good music recorded in the past year! No, you couldn't find any of it on MTV, since they were too busy showing the girls on The Hills pretending they were on a reality show. And VH1 was too committed to showing the chick from I Love New York taking STD medication, so they had their hands full too. And I'm not sure if they played any of it on the radio. Too many damn Jonas Brothers songs.
So, if you were curious and/or bored off your ass, here's my list of the ten best albums of 2008:
10. Sloan - Parallel Play My favorite Canadian band since The Guess Who (and they're way less fat), Sloan keeps making these extremely catchy power pop records. And nobody cares outside of our canuck friends. If anyone sees me bopping my head back and forth in my car, chances are I'm listening to this album. Or simulating getting a blow job to make me look cool.
9. Foxboro Hot Tubs - Stop Drop and Roll So the boys from Green Day decided to release an album of retro, British Invasion-style rock and roll under a mysterious psuedonym named the "Foxboro Hot Tubs." It didn't work, everyone knew it was Green Day. But holy crap is this a fun little record. Every song sounds like it was recorded in the 60's (with "Alligator" sounding EXACTLY like the Kinks' "You Really Got Me.") Surprised they didn't get their asses sued for that one.
8. The Black Crowes - Warpaint Tremendous comeback album from the Crowes, their first in seven years. I was hoping for a legendary, pissed off breakup record (Kate Hudson divorced lead singer Chris Robinson prior to this) but it ended up being a straight-up, basic set of southern jam rock that the Crowes are so good at delivering.
7. Nikka Costa - Pebble to a Pearl Costa and her incredible voice comes through with her best album yet of funky soul music, which sounds like it could've been recorded thirty years ago. If ever there was an album that could make my lame, uncoordinated, white ass jump up and dance, this is it.
6. Juliana Hatfield - How to Walk Away A few of you know about my intense love for Juliana Hatfield, bordering on creepy at times. Her latest album finds her working with more production and guest musicians then she's had in years. It's a sad breakup record, but Juliana often sings of hope among all the melancholy and disappointment she feels. And check out her breathy, non-caring vocals on "Just Lust." Awesome.
5. The Fratellis - Here We Stand My favorite band from Scotland (I can't really think of any others though), the Fratellis' second album continues the fun and catchy hooks from their 2007 debut Costello Music (which a song was featured on a long-running itunes commercial.) If I had a bar band, I would write songs like this, provided I had any talent.
4. Beck - Modern Guilt I continue to be amazed that this guy can produce great records one after another. All with different styles and genres. Sometimes he's a folk musician singing nonsensical lyrics and other times he's this dancin' maniac playing kick-ass rock and roll. Then there's the time he brought that string puppet show out while playing on SNL. Well, this is another awesome Beck album and it seems for the first time he's singing about the state of the world, so there's an ongoing sense of dispair to go with the goodness.
3. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely Another album from Jack White's side project. Even better than the first, this may be the greatest collection of pure rock and roll songs I've heard in the last five years. These guys are so good, it almost makes me mad.
2. Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue I had a hard time deciding the placement of the next two albums, as this one and my #1 choice could easily switch places depending on what mood I'm in. Lewis is the frontwoman for the great indy band Rilo Kiley, and this is her second solo effort. The album is divided into these great piano-driven ballads where Lewis unleashes her inner Joni Mitchell, and these awesome bluesy rockers where she unleashes her inner Dusty Springfield (Dusty in Memphis-era, anyway.) Just listen to songs like "The Next Messiah" and "Jack Killed Mom" and you'll see why this is the coolest, funnest record of the year. Christ, it makes me feel cool just listening to the damn thing! But I gotta admit I'm still a little weirded out that Jenny used to be a child actor and was in that Fred Savage movie The Wizard.
1. Sheryl Crow - Detours A few years ago Sheryl Crow was in a loving relationship with that bike guy and did an okay, sort of bland record Wildflowers about her being in love. Since then, the romance has ended, she developed early stages of breast cancer, and she realized the state of the world was causing her to get more political. Hey, what a better time to make a new album! With the personal stuff, Crow also covers a variety of issues here (the war, Hurricane Katrina, the price of gas, etc.) but she does so in a way that doesn't sound preachy. And it grabs you immediately since these are the strongest set of songs Crow has written since her second album (Sheryl Crow) As soon as she hits that first "Shine" on "Shine over Babylon" you can truly FEEL how good and important this record is. In a fair and just world, "God Bless This Mess" could've been this generation's "Blowin' in the Wind." "Gasoline" could've been this generation's "For What It's Worth." "Out of our Heads" could've been this generation's "Give Piece a Chance." But this ain't the 60's and no one really pays attention to that kind of stuff anymore. Oh well, the album still gives me goosebumps when I listen to it, so that pretty much sums it all up.
So, there you have it. I encourage anyone with free time and extra cash to check these albums out. Or go to amazon and listen to the samples if you're curious at least. Or let me know if you think I'm full of malarky and you want to share your favorites from the past year. Whatever works.
Fuck Vampire Weekend.