I've been trying to put a list together in my head for the past month or so. CC and I came up with a loose list of our favorites of this year, but of course my memory is hazy due to the combination of persistent aging, alcohol and drugs...or something like that. Take your pick.
What follows are my personal favorite albums from 2008. I mean, c'mon, we all like lists, don't we? Either that or we love to hate them. In any case, these are what I really liked this year. There are more, of course, but these ones really stood out. And it's more than likely that I've forgotten something, so go easy on me.
Perfume > Game
Probably my favorite of the year. I fell in love with this album hard and fast. The production by Nakata Yasutaka is pristine, everything is perfectly placed, and there's not a duff song. Seriously. It's a whole lotta fun and very sexy, everybody should have a copy of this.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds > Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
DLD is very much a rock album. Maybe a little less testosterone than the Grinderman album, but sort of in the same vein. At 50+, The guy can still write as well, if not better, than most of his contemporaries. My favorite line is from Hold On To Yourself: She lives in some forgotten song/and moves like she is zombie strong/breathes steady as the pendulum keeps swinging.
And it seems like the well won't be drying up anytime soon. In the past couple years, we've been listening to the soundtrack to The Assassination of Jesse James and The Proposition. And you probably already know that the screenplay for The Proposition was written by Nick Cave. And of course, there was the Grinderman album and now Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!. The hits just don't stop coming when Nick Cave is involved. Apparently, the next Grinderman album should arrive in early 2009. I can't wait.
Portishead > Third
I wonder how many people were disappointed with this album. Third doesn't sound like the Portishead of old. Yeah, Beth Gibbons' undead banshee wail is still there and sounds as powerful and affecting as it ever has, but the music is very different. Listen to The Rip, and let it transport you to somewhere above rainy-day clouds. Or try listening to Machine Gun, as it drags you by the hair, into an assembly-line factory and pummels you into submission. Before the album dropped, when the rumors were swirling, I was definitely interested but I didn't know what to expect. If they had released Dummy Part Two, I suppose it would have been okay, but this is a most welcome change.
Lykke Li > Youth Novels
Until I saw her live, I didn't know a thing about Lykke Li. This past spring, she happened to be supporting El Perro Del Mar (whom I love) and someone recommended I get there early, and so I did. Lykke Li totally stole the show. The album sorta captures her loose and free-spirited personality. I feel like her live show is much more fun, but the good songs on this album are really fucking good.
Pas/Cal > I Was Raised On Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura
This was a recommendation this past summer, from a friend. Very lush and catchy pop music. I really don't know much about this band, but I like this album quite a bit. I dare you to listen to We Made Our Way, We Amtrakked and not whistle along. It cannot be done, I say.
She & Him > Volume One
Zooey Deschanel is super cute and she has a really pretty voice. M. Ward's musical arrangements are...I can't seem to think of a better word than refined. I guess that's why I'm not a professional critic. In any case, the songs are lovely kinda 60s/70s AM radio pop music, seemingly either about love or heartbreak. The cover is a pretty good indicator as to the music contained within.
The Clash > Live at Shea Stadium
Classic concert gets a regular issue. Record company trying to milk profits out of a band long since gone? Possibly, but it's a good show and worth the purchase. I love Joe's intro, "Welcome to the Casbah club", as the band rips into London Calling. This is seemingly for the fans, but I think it would be a good way to introduce someone to the band, as well. Cheeseburger!
David Bowie > Live Santa Monica '72
Another reissue of a classic and heavily bootlegged show. It's taken from an FM broadcast of the concert. This was like the height of the Ziggy Stardust era, the performance is pretty tight. Definitely for the hardcore Bowie fans, but, like the Clash disc, it might serve as a good introduction to somebody who is interested in 70s era Bowie. I especially like Changes, Andy Warhol, Queen Bitch, and The Supermen. I'll always have a soft spot for Bowie, as he was probably the first "cool" artist I liked. Reminds me of those childhood days listening to him.
School of Seven Bells > Alpinisms
Found this one late last month, and it quickly became an obsession. That's how it usually works, right? They were supporting M83 and we caught a few songs of their set. Sorta shoegazey and ethereal dream pop. Listen to Half Asleep, it's like you're soaring in the sky, looking down at everything. Or maybe that's just me.
Calexico > Carried To Dust
For some reason, I usually like Calexico better as a live band than I do their records. This album, however, is a beauty. It transcends my inability to "get" this band in anything other than a live setting. Check out Inspiracion and Slowness, and you might hear what I mean. Absolutely gorgeous.
Aimee Mann > Smilers
Aimee Mann has a knack for turning my angst into words. I also like that she consistently writes about fucked up relationships, since I can totally relate to them. Check out 31 Today, that song really encapsulates middle-aged desperation. Like Bowie, she's another one of those artists that I'll always have room for. I've actually been following her since I saw that fucking Voices Carry video all those years ago. Fact.
Sigur Ros > Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
It's really like two albums, I think. The first half is upbeat and catchy, the second half is somber and majestic. If you're a fan, you'll have this already. If not, I think there are better albums of theirs to get. That said, it's a very good album, although perhaps not by the standards set by their previous albums.
Black Mountain > In The Future
This one is really cool. It dropped early this year and I nearly forgot about it. Kinda 70s, dark, prog rock. It's better than my lame description, really. I love the girl who shares the vocals. She's got this siren wail that totally fits into the music. It's beautiful. Check out Queens Will Play, to hear what I mean. And go see them live, too, it's an intense experience.