Monday, January 12, 2009

Favorites of 2008

Don't you hate those best of the year type lists almost as much as rhetorical questions? I know that I do. No one gets to listen to every album so it seems a bit presumptuous to compile a list of "The Best Albums of. . ." list. So my list is a little less self important. While these may not be the best five albums of 2008, they are my favorites of 2008.

Vampire Weekend-"Vampire Weekend" The song "A-Punk" was everywhere this year past year and for good reason. The record is a breath of fresh air full of short, catchy pop tunes. The record was recorded in spacious surroundings and features dripping wet guitar tones. Many songs have a The Clash punk sensibility infused with a Paul Simon world music vibe and feature lots of non-standard rock instruments to keep the listener interested.

Belle & Sebastian-"The BBC Sessions" Those Scottish bastards snuck this one out on me. The first couple of songs sound like they were recorded at the bottom of a garbage can with cassette recorder that has speed stability problems. The rest of the album sounds good enough to enjoy the performances and the last four songs, which to date haven’t been released on any of their studio albums are nice additions to their body of work. Make sure to get the Limited Edition. It contains an extra CD with a live 2001 Belfast performance. The covers of The Beatles "Here Comes the Sun" and Thin Tizzy’s "The Boys Are Back In Town" are well chosen and are very enjoyable.

Black Keys-"Attack & Release" was originally planed as a collaboration between Dan Auerbach, Patrick Carney (or The Black Keys as they are collectively known), Ike Turner and producer Danger Mouse. However with the passing of Ike Turner this became impossible and so it became a Black Keys project. Recorded in just 14 days the album has a strong DIY feel from the water color and pencil cover to the hand built recording console that was used during the sessions. What are any of the songs about? For the most part who cares? This isn’t a record about lyrics. It’s about the sound, the feel, and the groove. An atmospheric tour de force. While moments on the album remind me of this band or that , overall the album doesn’t remind me of anything else. The Black Keys are very much themselves, creating their own art. With little regard for how it will be received. Seemingly unaffected by corporate interests and focus groups. Something all too rare today. For a more thorough discussion please check out my full review.

Supergrass-"Diamond Hoo Ha" I literally couldn't wait for it to be released in the United States so I ordered from in Canada. Every great band has one album that can be viewed as a turning point. The work where they stop being the sum total of their influences and transcend them to become something completely unique. These collections are marked by a confident, self assured sound where risks are undertaken without sounding "risky." "Diamond Hoo Ha" demands to be given that role in Supergrass's catalog. At some point I’ll be reviewing this collection for Big Black Disk.

David Gilmour-"Live In Gdansk" The five disk (Three CD’s and 2 DVDs) version available exclusively from Best Buy. The performance of "Echos" is truly EPIC. The sound is just beautiful on the whole set and the picture quality of the concert is probably the best I‘ve ever seen. The first two of the CD’s contain the majority of the concert. The third CD contains bonus tracks from other stops on the tour, including a great performance of "Wearing The Inside Out" with the late Richard Wright on vocals. The first DVD is an edited version of the concert and a documentary. The second DVD contains a generous offering of performances taped for various TV appearances and the "On An Island" studio album in 5.1 surround. Plus an envelop containing numerous other goodie souvenirs including a postcard, ticket, backstage and artist‘s passes, Custom David Gilmour guitar pick, 7 photo prints, double sided poster and 24 page booklet. This package has immediately become one of the most prized possessions in my library.

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