[Before Scott gets to his more complicated list, the meat of this post, I am going to do a quick Geoff Klock favorite albums of 2008 list. I wish I could participate better in this: I have been doing better buying a lot of music this year, but not enough FROM this year to talk intelligently even about such a personal thing as a favorite. But nevertheless here are the six 2008 albums I have:
6. Bobby Digital's Digi Snacks, -- This was weak, I thought, except for the second track. Just not that memorable.
5. Flying Lotus's Los Angeles, -- This was a lot more atmospheric than I was looking for. Nothing sticks with me.
4. Wu Tang Clan's 8 Diagrams -- This had a lot of good stuff on it, but did not hold together well as an album.
3. Kanye West's 808s and Heartbreak -- This is a weird one, and still requires deliberation: my first impression is that I love the production but found the lyrics really disappointing. It ends with a live track of Kanye rapping in Singapore and that seems like the best audience for the album: people that do not know what the words mean.
2. The GZA's Pro Tools, -- Strong stuff in a solid short album.
1. T.I. 's Paper Trail -- This is definitely the favorite. Celebratory and just FUN which is primarily what I am looking for. "On top of the World" and "Life Your Life" are the real standouts.
The AV Club put out a top 30 albums of 2008. That is going to be a sort of list for me for a while: I am going to try various stuff on that for the next few months. Here is Scott:]
(Note: As the title indicates, these are, more or less, just my favorite albums of 2008 and, as we’ve discussed before, my preference is for the Rock. I invite anyone whose preference is for the Hip-Hop [or the Pop, Country, Indie or Polka for that matter] to make their own post for the blog!)
Well, it’s the end of the year and all the big magazines are doing their ‘Best of the Year’ pieces. Both Spin
and Rolling Stone have named TV On The Radio’s ‘Dear Science’ their number one album; an album, that from what I’ve heard, isn’t really all that impressive: If I had wanted to hear a Beck album I would have bought the new Beck album… which is exactly what I did. Also, Rolling Stone continues to prove my point about Dylan being overrated (or perhaps just overpraised). When we had our discussion here, I named Dylan as a possible contender for ‘Most Overrated’ artists based primarily on the fact that magazines like Rolling Stone are constantly giving highest marks to WHATEVER he releases, often naming said album the best album of the year. This time around, while he doesn’t take the top spot, he manages to land the number 2 position with ‘Tell Tale Signs- The Bootleg Series Vol. 8’, a collection of unreleased rarities recorded between 1989 and 2006. Granted, I haven’t heard this and, in fact, it may be a transcendent collection of tunes, but I find it hard to believe that a handful of tracks that Dylan didn’t think worth releasing in the first place that were recorded during a pretty hit-and-miss portion of his career is the best album of 2008. If it were, say, some long lost recordings from his mid-sixties renaissance, then it would be more understandable. But, even then, would that be more relevant than music actually making its debut in 2008? In my own year-end-best-of I put such albums in a sort of ‘best of stuff that isn’t really new this year category’… kind of like a ‘Best Re-issues’ category. If not, I probably would have put the bonus disc included with the Reissue of U2’s Boy as my number 2 album.
However, in a more roundabout way, am I guilty of the same thing as Rolling Stone? Of all my artist, the ‘youngest’ artist listed, other than the Killers, is The Raconteurs… whose band members have actually been around for about 10 years in one way or another. Do I no longer appreciate new music? Is my lack of appreciation for TV On The Radio just the result of me growing old … have I finally entered the phase of ‘These Kids and Their Music Today’? I certainly hope not. Anyway, let me know if there’s something that you think I should check out… especially something by a newer artist; I’m always looking for something new to listen to. Maybe I’m just getting picky in my old age.
Anyway, here are my pics:
10. Black Ice- Ac/Dc- It has been hailed as their best album since Back In Black; probably not entirely true since, song wise, it’s really only their best since 1990’s Razor’s Edge. With a band like Ac/Dc, it’s really about just capturing their sound and Brendan O’Brian deserves credit for making them sound better than they have in decades.
Momofuku- Elvis Costello- This album manages to combine the sounds of his previous two ‘rock’ albums, Delivery Man and When I Was Cruel, without being quite as good as either of them. That sounds like a slight, but this is still a solid album from one of the best singer-songwriters in the business.
8. Day & Age- The Killers- I keep waiting for the Killers to release their masterpiece and, while Day & Age might be their best overall album yet, it still lacks any songs as brilliant as “Somebody Told Me” or “Mr. Brightside.” With their last album, as a side effect of touring with U2 and listening to too much Springsteen, they made a failed attempt at ‘earnestness.’ Fortunately, for this album they remembered they were from Las Vegas and managed to stay in more familiar territory without losing any of the grandiosity and scope that they experimented with on Sam’s Town.
7. In Rainbows- Radiohead- I almost didn’t include this one since, in a very big, groundbreaking way, this album actually came out last year (and thanks to someone at the local Wal-Mart accidentally putting it on the shelves too early; I also bought my hard copy of the album last year). Part of me keeps wishing that Radiohead would just make a kick ass rock album, but, nevertheless, I enjoy anything they do and this is probably their best collection of tunes since Ok Computer (even though it sounds NOTHING like Ok Computer).
6. Modern Guilt- Beck- Beck does something different on just about every album. This one is his version of Psychadelic Garage Rock. As always, he puts his unique spin on it and, as always, it’s excellent.
5. Death Magnetic- Metallica- Their best album since the Black Album and their heaviest since And Justice For All…, Death Magnetic is Metallica speeding up in their old age; the tempos are faster, the songs longer, the results their most satisfying work in 17 years.
Accelerate- REM- The songs could have been better but the band is playing with more energy than they have in a decade. The 10 years since Bill Berry left the band have seen a lack of direction in the studio even as they remained a top notch live act; coming hot on the heels of last year's live album, Accelerate manages to capture some of the magic in the studio.
3. Viva La Vida Or Death and All of His Friends/Prospekt’s March- Coldplay - I was initially disappointed with Viva La Vida because the album felt unfinished and, had the band not released the Prospekt’s March EP, they would have probably come in a spot lower on this list, but, with said EP, they finally managed to ‘finish’ the album so to speak. It would have been better if they had done so in the first place and, while I feel Coldplay still has their best album ahead of them, “Viva La Vida” and “Violet Hill” are, by far, the best songs they have produced to date.
Consolers of The Lonely- The Raconteurs- Jack White and company allow themselves to embrace excessiveness… which, next to something like Chinese Democracy, still sounds like a dude with a banjo and a couple of cymbals strapped to his kneecaps…. But, nonetheless, the album is a delightful combination of garage-rock, blues, bluegrass, classic rock and over-the-top balladry.
Chinese Democracy- Guns N’ Roses- Ok, granted, this probably gets a certain level of ‘extra credit’ so to speak because A) It was actually finally released and B) unlike most of the albums on this list that were either about what I expected them to be (REM, Metallica) or a little disappointed with (Coldplay) this album FAR EXCEDED my expectations. Axl’s not the most brilliant lyricist in the world and Chuck Klosterman’s description of the album’s lyrics as “Appropriately Narcissistic”, is pretty much, the most accurate evaluation that I have heard… but, then again, that’s the way his lyrics always were. Otherwise, the album is filled with brilliant musicianship, catchy melodies and lush arrangements. This is not an album meant for ear buds or computer speakers; it’s meant to be blasted from the best sound system you have available. A refreshing approach when most albums tend to go for a mix, like The Killers latest, that sounds better coming through one speaker in my factory issue car stereo, than it does my home sound system. At the end of the day, Rose and company managed to make a top notch album that, for the most part, successfully managed to evoke the classic Guns N’ Roses while still managing to sound modern, no small feat in and of itself, but , given the expectations placed on this album, isn’t that one the most reasonable?
Honorable Mention- Jukebox- Cat Power- This was actually my number 10 album before I decided to include In Rainbows.
U2’s reissues of Boy, October, War and Under a Blood Red Sky. Totally high quality packaging with great liner-notes and plenty of rare, unreleased and live tracks with each album. Under A Blood Red Sky is released on DVD for the first time and looks/sounds gourgeous. The two disc versions of October and War may not be essential to the more casual U2 fan but the bonus disc with Boy is excellent including some of their most hard to find and unreleased tracks from the earliest days of their career. And, of course, it’s all remastered so it sounds great. Keeping my fingers crossed for the re-issue of Achtung Baby sometime in the near future.
The Police- Certifiable- (CD/DVD) I couldn’t afford the couple of hundred dollars it would have costs me to ACTUALLY have gone to see the band on this tour but the 20 bucks I paid for this excellent 2-CD, 2 DVD set is a nice consolation prize. The band is in fine form here and I’m continually amazed at the amount of sound they are able to create with just the three of them on the stage.
The Who- Live At Kilburn 1977- There’s precious little video of the original Who, live in their prime, this two disc set (that also features most of a set from the ‘Tommy’ tour) corrects that omission in the bands DVD catalogue.
Top Songs of 2008:
5. “Rock And Roll Train”- Ac/Dc
4. “Violet Hill”- Coldplay
3. “Consolers of The Lonely”- The Raconteurs
2. “Salute Your Salution” –The Raconteurs
1. “Viva La Vida”- Coldplay