I don’t claim this is any sort of definitive best of 2008. There are many albums I want to buy that I haven’t yet, and I’ve got a small stack of albums I have bought that I haven’t absorbed yet. This is the best of what I’ve heard from 2008 so far. My picks here will shock absolutely no one who is a regular reader of this site.
I don’t think 2008 was a very good year for music. Since I started reviewing albums for this site in June, I’ve rated exactly one album four stars out of five (Mudcrutch) and none higher. Let’s hope 2009 is a better year, and that there are some 2008 treats that I will soon discover that will change my opinion of this year.
Except for Mudcrutch, albums are in no particular order. Links are to my original review.
How square is it to have a Tom Petty album at the top of a best-of list? Well, that’s how it is. You youngster musicians out there are just going to have to work harder if you want to convince me to be hip.
Mudcrutch – Mudcrutch
Tom Petty reunites his original band with stellar results. “Scare Easy” is the killer single that Tom manages to put on every album, but the whole thing is great.
Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight
Thanks to Jason for turning me on to this band. “Heads Roll Off” is a good candidate for song of the year.
Rocket From the Crypt – All Systems Go, Vol. 3
Is it fair to list a bunch of demos recorded between 1997 and 2000 as one of the best of 2008? Why not? Do you think that album that came out in January was recorded in 2008? This just took a little longer to get released.
Essentially a lost album from a band I adore, and randomly stumbling across it at the record store was my happiest musical surprise this year.
“No Way At All”:
The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
The Jesus and Mary Chain may not record any more, but their disciples do. Here’s the lovely “Blush.”
Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal
Austin legend does it again. “Sister Lost Soul” is another contender for song of the year. I’d embed it, but the copyright police have yanked it. Can’t have you hearing it! It might make you want to buy the album or something. Nope, can’t have that.
Bitch Session Continues: Here’s a decent live version, but not being able to share the studio version with you really sticks in my craw. It takes a special kind of genius to think that making it impossible for people to hear a not-very-famous musician is the best method of convincing people to plunk their hard-earned money down for an album by said musician.
Martha Wainwright - I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too
I thought this well-reviewed album would get more attention. Maybe that’s why I write on a blog for free instead of having a career as a hot-shot A&R guy (A&R job offers welcome). Here’s “You Cheated Me.” Video mildly not safe for work.
Paul Westerberg – 49:00
A welcome return to form for the former Replacements frontman, and only 49¢!
Some Songs Worth Mentioning
This section is especially random.
“If I Don’t See You Again” by Neil Diamond
I panned the album, but this song is amazing. Get it back together, Neil! I love you at your best.
“Lost Coastlines” by Okkervil River
Jason didn’t care for The Stand Ins. I liked it better, but not “best of year” better. This song is pretty great, though.
“Russian Roulette” by Jesse Malin
It might not be right to include a cover on a best-of list, but I was stoked to hear a great version of an unjustly obscure song.
My review of his album, On Your Sleeve, is here.
“Plan to Marry” by Lucinda Williams
A rough patch on the second half stops Little Honey from making my best-of list (although it’s still worth your time), but this song is a thing of beauty.
As for this year in pop…
“Bad Influence” by Pink
After the stunning I’m Not Dead, Funhouse was a letdown. It wouldn’t be a Pink album, even a mediocre one, without some killer tracks, though, and there are some here. “So What” is the big single, and I like it a lot, but “Bad Influence” is the one that gets stuck in my head for days on end.
Wind me up and watch me go!
“Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis
There wasn’t any glorious, guilty-pleasure radio pop in 2008 as awe-inspiring as last year’s “Umbrella” by Rihanna, so far as I know. This one from a Simon Cowell discovery comes closest.
So that’s it for this year! I’ve really enjoyed our first year of (mostly) music-blogging. Special thanks to my co-bloggers for always coming up with fascinating posts. It’s pretty cool to look forward every day to seeing what’s new at your own blog. I think this would be my favorite music blog even if I didn’t write for it.