• Favorite albums of 2008.

    8 fév. 2009, 23h16m

    Below are the top twenty albums of 2008: no compilations, best of's, or EPs. Yeah, it's about a month late. But, in my defense, it was a really busy year and i had several tough choices to make. After the top two or three, the rankings don't really matter very much. And before you ask, For Emma, Forever Ago was 2007.

    20. Colour Haze - All
    Taking much of their inspiration from Sabbath, Hendrix and krautrock, German power trio Colour Haze have been blazing a trail of stoner rock for nearly 15 years. Elephantine riffs and rolling rhythms mutating over long stretches of time, All is at times cliched but nevertheless a fuzzed-out, swirling ride of meditative jams and psychedelic bliss.

    19. The Wave Pictures - Instant Coffee Baby
    Wonderful, sincere lyrics perfectly capturing everyday events and emotions and a quirky, unforgettable voice falling somewhere between Davy Henderson and Finn Andrews, Instant Coffee Baby is a unique English gem presented in an unshowy C86 setting.

    18. Blue Sky Black Death - Slow Burning Lights
    Recorded in 2007, singer Yes Alexander provides vocals for the normally hip-hop Blue Sky Black Death's sixth release and third of 2008. (They actually had five in '08 if you include their production of Gutta's - Heads Will Roll and the instrumental release of their 2006 album The Holocaust). The alluring, ethereal voiced Alexander, also of the band The Casual Lust, shifts this album into breezy, dream pop territory.

    17. The Tom Fun Orchestra - You Will Land with a Thud
    An indie band with the word orchestra in it's title normally has it there for irony's sake. It's more often a lone guy with a half dozen Casios or a trio of ragged and sloppy folk rockers. With nine members, the term nearly makes sense for the sweeping, raucous Nova Scotian Tom Fun Orchestra. Included are: a trio of guitars, violin, upright bass, accordion, banjo, drums, mandolin, clarinet and trumpet. The gruff, Tom Waits-ian voiced lead singer proves to be a wonderful anchor to an energetic, chaotic, but always melodic group.

    16. Lite - Phantasia
    It seems that many of the inanely labeled ‘math rock’ bands fall into a trap of mechanical rhythms and syncopated guitar that often lack much excitement Technical, virtuous but also very hard-hitting and at times even contemplative, Phantasia is able to breathe some life into this supposed genre.

    15. School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms
    Twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza have incredibly alluring voices and their passionate, perfectly harmonized vocals define this dream pop wonder.

    14. Sennen - Where The Light Gets In
    Tagged as both shoegaze and post rock but not quite either, Sennen's long-overdue full length debut proves they have without a doubt mastered opposite ends of the dynamic spectrum, from the noisiest rock to the softest ballads. Vocals are either absent or arranged into soft, sweetly sung harmonies. Sennen might have been formed according to specific formulas, but the way in which they mix them up makes this album a much richer, multi-layered experience.

    13. Peter Broderick - Float
    Brodericks' second release of the year, Home, seemed to have gotten the bulk of the press. Odd, as Float is clearly the better release. Perhaps the folk based Home is more accessible than the classical sounding Float? Regardless, Float is a sparse, cinematic and atmospheric album containing not just piano but also violins, cello, drums, banjo and guitar. The youthful Broderick (also a member of the band Efterklang) may be ushering in a new beginning of modern classical music.

    12. Moscow Olympics - Cut The World
    Formed in the summer of 2006, the members of Philippine band Moscow Olympics must have been creating music for much longer than the two years the band has been active. Moscow Olympics’ smooth blend of post punk and shoegaze proves to be nothing short of brilliant. Cut the World certainly leaves you wanting more and it's brevity may be it's only flaw. Their music nearly seems like a resounding roar directed at anyone who deems post punk and shoegaze as genres that are dead or irrelevant.

    11. The Night Marchers - See You In Magic
    The Night Marchers (led by John Reis, former member of Drive Like Jehu, Rocket from the Crypt and Hot Snakes) are just here to have fun. Garagey, punky and noisy with the faint aroma of the Flamin' Groovies and The Nerves, the San Diego band's debut is pure, unapologetic rock 'n' roll.
    Open Your Legs

    10. Murder by Death - Red Of Tooth And Claw
    Like 16 Horsepower, Murder by Death explore a darker side of country-rock with lead singer Adam Turla owing much of his sound to Johnny Cash and Nick Cave. His low baritone meshes nicely with each of the songs, infusing them with aggression and a certain weariness as well.

    9. The Weepies - Hideaway
    Husband and wife duo Deb Talan and Steve Tannen follow up their 2006 release, Say I Am You, with another indie-folk gem. The album plays to their strengths: tight songwriting, beautifully layered harmonies, and the kind of sweet, introspective lyrics that tug at your heart.
    How You Survived the War

    8. Firewater - Golden Hour
    Tod A's authentic and righteous lyrics, covering his divorce and George Bush among other topics, unexpectedly merge well with the eastern influenced music. Golden Hour is a travelogue of the three years he spent in India, Turkey, Pakistan, and Indonesia, where he used local musicians to highlight these angry yet poignant songs.
    This Is My Life

    7. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
    Wonderful melodies and catchy choruses make this album highly accessible and belie the sometimes dark, sad lyrics. It's impossible not to be drawn into the warm, quivering vocals driving this Scottish band's sophomore effort.
    Old Old Fashioned

    6. Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark
    In perhaps what is their least 'rock' album, the Truckers have released a group of diverse, exciting, slightly twisted tales of the American South. At 19 songs, perhaps it is a bit too long, but there are too many great tracks here for that to be much of an issue.
    Daddy Needs A Drink

    5. Boston Spaceships - Brown Submarine
    Robert Pollard (of Guided by Voices fame) releases yet another classic. Brown Submarine is a pop punk album, made by and for kids who've worn out the grooves on their Cheap Trick and dB's records. Even at 50 years of age, Pollard can still write pop songs better than most: catchy, infectious, fabulous pop songs no longer fashionable, actually they never were fashionable.
    You Satisfy Me

    4. The Abbasi Brothers - Something Like Nostalgia
    Defying easy genre classifications, Yousuf and Amman Abbasi create intricate, dreamy soundscapes using digital instruments, electronics, guitar, piano and found sounds. It's hard to be believe this is their debut, as mature and polished as it sounds.
    Stacey's Day Parade

    3. Blue Sky Black Death - Late Night Cinema
    DJ's Kingston and Young God created a bold, diverse set of songs for their fourth release. Backing their dense production, guitar, keyboard and drum work are further contributions from violinists, organists, trumpeters, synth players and vocalists. On their first release of 2008, the duo showcase amazing versatility, with influences from lounge to electro.

    2. Robert Forster - The Evangelist
    Former writing partner to Grant McLennan (who co-wrote three of these songs before his untimely death) in The Go-Betweens, Forester has crafted a very moving and unsurprisingly melancholy tribute to his long time friend. Haunting and wistful, yet never sentimental, it's some of his best work in or out of the Go-Betweens.

    1. The Drift - Memory Drawings
    San Francisco’s The Drift specialize in chilled out post rock influenced by jazz and dub. While more guitar based post-rock bands (Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky) focus on tension and release in their slow building epics, The Drift occupy a more relaxed zone. Their sophomore effort contains some wonderful trumpet work, with the drums and upright bass perfect compliments.

    Other artists who released great albums in 2008:

    The Gaslight Anthem, Blood On the Wall, Okkervil River, Titus Andronicus,Evangelicals, Bowery Boy Blue, Neil on Impression, Upcdowncleftcrightcabc+Start, Shugo Tokumaru, Sun Kil Moon, The Daysleepers, Randy Newman, Matthew Robert Cooper, God Is An Astronaut, Calder, The Hold Steady,Anathallo, Abigail Washburn, The Black Keys, Parts & Labor, John McKenna, Tearwave, No Age, cruyff in the bedroom, Followed by Ghosts, Mr. Bear, State Bird, Throw Me The Statue, The Postmarks, Helms Alee and Why? among others.

    For those following links from: Portishead, Fleet Foxes, Santogold, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Jack Johnson, The Kooks and Nine Inch Nails i genuinely hope i've educated you.
  • Favorite albums of 2007.

    10 jan. 2008, 1h14m

    No Best of, Re-releases, compilations etc. The album has to contain mostly new material.

    20. The Most Serene Republic - Population

    The Toronto band's second full length features more obscured vocals and aggressive rhythms. It's an unpredictable ride pushing and pulling you in every direction.

    19. Crippled Black Phoenix - A Love of Shared Disasters

    Formed by members of Electric Wizard (stoner), Pantheist (funeral doom) and Mogwai (post rock), Crippled Black Phoenix is an eight member art-rock supergroup with a supremely original sound that impressively merges classic, Victorian-era instruments with more contemporary ones.

    18. Eisley - Combinations

    I guess thirty-five year old men aren't supposed to listen to Eisley, but i can't help myself. More adventurous than their debut, Combinations continues with more beautiful pop harmonies now with touches of rock, folk, and strings.

    17. And Also The Trees - (Listen For) The Rag And Bone Man

    Their tenth studio album in twenty-seven years has a rich, organic sound due to the introduction of a double bass, zither and piano. This might be their most mature release yet, very intense and atmospheric.

    16. Colour - Heaven

    Heaven is the third release from these New York shoegazers. There's a little more low end feedback than in previous albums to go with the guitar wash and verbed out vocals.

    15. The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or Swim

    Sink or Swim is their debut full length. It's furious guitars, big choruses and joyful lyrics take me back to my teenage years.

    14. Maia Hirasawa - Though, I'm Just me

    Maia is a Japanese woman from Sweden who sings epic pop songs. She has a quirky style quite reminiscent of Regina Spector -- only less annoying.

    13. Blu & Exile - Below the Heavens

    That early hip-hop sound that so many people bitch and moan about missing and saying that it’s nonexistent is still around after all. Below the heavens is a very intimate album with introspective, intelligent and always on-point lyrics relateable to anyone.

    12. Baroness - Red Album

    Progressive tinged sludge full of colossal riffs highlighting a complicated yet still very musical album.

    11. Maserati - Inventions for the New Season

    Dominated by heavily effected guitars, their songs push forward at an ever-increasing pace, which they rely on for intensity rather than the usual quiet-to-loud dynamic of most post rock.

    10. Turin Brakes - Dark On Fire

    The change in direction seems to have alienated quite a few fans. There are just too many great songs here to dismiss this album. Largely overlooked and under-rated, It may take some time, but i think the full weight of the album will eventually be realized.

    9. Blue Scholars - Bayani

    MC Geologic is a spoken word preformer from Seattle and DJ Sabzi is classical/jazz trained pianist. As second-generation sons of working-class immigrants, this Seattle duo keeps the music grounded with less postering and more storytelling.

    8. Wintersleep - Welcome To The Night Sky

    Ten sweeping, soaring songs intelligently crafted with a diverse, unconstrained style.

    7. Dalek - Abandoned Language

    Abandoned Language is Dalek's fourth outing. Influenced by the likes of Faust, this rap duo combines weathered beats with harse noise.

    6. Alcest - Souvenirs d'un autre Monde

    Alcest was formally a french black metal outfit. This may explain the how this debut full length has slipped by so many undetected. Except for guest vocals on Sur l'autre rive je t'attendrai, Neige does all the work himself. Though the guitars are very harsh, Souvenirs d'un autre Monde is a shoegaze album by any estimation that matters. I'll admit my enjoyment is somewhat lessened by the French vocals, which are enough to keep it out of the top five.

    5. A Place to Bury Strangers - A Place To Bury Strangers

    Some of the songs had been released on an EP and others on CD-R. But i believe it still qualifies for the list. As an extension of Oliver Ackerman's band Skywave, APtBS continues on with the amped up and fuzzed out shoegaze which is, at times, almost danceable.

    4. American Steel - Destroy Their Future

    After a brief stint as the band Communiqué, the bay area group reformed in early 2007. Retaining the more pop punk sound of Communiqué, Destroy Their Future is the group's best effort under either name.

    3. Sigh - Hangman's Hymn

    The world's most creative black metal band returns with a devastating vengeance. With elements of thrash metal, classical, jazz, and even traditional Indian music, their seventh release is a diverse and relentless masterwork. If you follow trends, there is not a chance
    in hell that you will even consider listening to this stuff. If you are a self-taught listener, Sigh is out there to get you.

    2. Hearts Of Black Science - The Ghost You Left Behind

    The debut album by this Swedish duo, should appeal to just about everyone from "indiepeople", to ravers and maybe even metalheads. Underneath all the dark electronics they're really just an melancholic pop group, however.

    1. Parts & Labor - Mapmaker

    P&L's fourth album brings forth a wall of drum clatter and static guitars amped to 11. Pure energy propels endless riffs into the stratosphere.

    Honorable mentions:

    Trans Am - Sex Change
    The Ladybug Transistor - Can't Wait Another Day
    Primordial - To The Nameless Dead
    Jesca Hoop - Kismet
    Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
    EL-P - I'll Sleep When Your Dead
    Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Living With The Living
    Neurosis - Given To The Rising
    Jeru the Damaja - Still Rising
    Ceremony - Disappear
    Panda Bear - Person Pitch