Since Katie and I don't always see eye to eye on music (I listen to "weird stuff she's never heard of"), I will take on a new guest host for the Best Albums and Best Singles of the Year awards... Lilly! Yep, we've got her from now through pretty much all of January while my SiL is in California visiting her family and my bro is on business, well, everywhere.
This is actually one of the easiest lists in which to find candidates as I simply look for "2008" in the Year column in iTunes, but paring it down was so difficult that, this year, I had to make this my final list so I had, at the very least, semi-adequate time to re-listen to all of it. Plus I'm far more passionate about music than I am television or movies, so I feel the need to give the art its deserved due.
Note: All the links below are to iTunes. If you have iTunes, click on them and you can listen to the 30-second sample. You are not locked into buying it by clicking the link. Really.
Anyway, here are my Best Albums of the Year starting at 10 and moving down to numero uno:
Portishead, Third -
I have always loved Portishead's ridiculously ethereal sound and it's nice to have them back after an eleven year absence. Yeah, much better to have them back than Axl Rose. Sorry Axl. Portishead is one of those bands that you just lay back with all the lights turned off and let the music create your environment. Yeah, that's how good it is. I recommend "The Rip."
Mudcrutch, Mudcrutch -
Sounds like an alt metal band, doesn't it? Good thing I read about this project in Rolling Stone or I might never have known that this is, in fact, Tom Petty. Years before the Heartbreakers, he had a bluegrassy band called Mudcrutch. They never released a single album. However, one or two Mudcrutchers moved on with him to the Heartbreakers, but he never forgot his other pals and they all got back together last year for an album. A damn fine album. The first Tom Petty album in years that I've dug wholly. I recommend "Lover of the Bayou."
Duffy, Rockferry -
Last year, Amy Winehouse made us love a more jazzy style tune. Then her pervasive exposure in tabloids made us hate her. Luckily we now have the similar, but slightly more sophisticated Duffy jumping in on the scene. And I'm thankful as I love that Winehouse sound but can do without ever actually seeing her freak self again. I recommend "Mercy."
Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman -
I will make this review as simple as possible... any artist that can make me unabashedly want to shake my ass anytime I listen to him/her perform regardless of where I might be deserves a "Best of" ranking. 'nuff said. Oh, and this has such a great early 80s Michael Jackson vibe to it that I love it. Okay, so it wasn't truly 'nuff said. Now though. I recommend "Closer."
Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs -
I love everything Death Cab does and I preorder it with no reservations whatsoever. Albums like Narrow Stairs reaffirm what little faith I have in the recording industry since a vast majority of what they put on the market is sheer crap. So, thank God somebody took notice of Death Cab and signed them and allow them to record music on their own terms. I recommend "Cath..."
R.E.M., Accelerate -
I was admittedly a bit scared when I heard that R.E.M. was releasing another album. It's been quite some time since they've truly moved me and for good reason... can you remember their last good album? It's been a while, hasn't it? Well, this one knocked me out and I've listened to it repeatedly throughout the year. I recommend "Supernatural Superserious."
Nada Surf, Lucky -
I really have no idea how I got into Nada Surf. Before I started listening to them, I knew of nobody that I personally knew who was a fan or had ever really heard of them. But I've been a fan for quite some time now and was ecstatic when the iTunes New Music Tuesday podcast reported the release of this album. Happy days for the Kapgar! I recommend "Weightless."
Amos Lee, Last Days at the Lodge -
I've said enough about Amos lately so I won't subject you to anymore. But I love it. I recommend "Listen."
Coldplay, Viva la Vida -
Frontman Chris Martin reported that he was feeling stagnant after the first three albums that he and the guys in Coldplay had released. That they'd gotten in the proverbial "rut." So they hired new producers and put out one of the best albums I've ever heard from them. Not everybody is as keen about the shift in their sound. It's not quite so dramatic as some bands changing their sound, but it's noticeable to longtime fans. I like it. I recommend "Violet Hill."
Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue -
Ah, my lovely red-haired songstress. I don't know what it is that I love so much about your voice, but it grabs me and won't let go. Damn you. So why does Jenny feel the need to record aside from her band, Rilo Kiley? Well, her solo stuff, save for an errant song or two, is not nearly as uptempo as what she records with her band. Plus she gets to bring in cool guest artists like Elvis Costello. I recommend "Carpetbaggers" with Elvis.
And now for my Best Singles of the Year list. No explanation, just a list. And not in order of favoritism, simply alphabetical. Why 21? I dunno. It was 25 and I pared it down a little bit, but it's at least still legal.
- Chris Brown "Forever"
- Chester French "She Loves Everybody"
- Coldplay "Viva la Vida"
- Death Cab for Cutie "I Will Possess Your Heart"
- Fall Out Boy with John Mayer "Beat It"
- John Legend with Andre 3000 "Green Light"
- Amos Lee "Listen"
- Jenny Lewis "Godspeed"
- The Killers "Human"
- The Kills "Cheap and Cheerful"
- Nada Surf "I Like What You Say"
- Ne-Yo "Closer"
- Nine Inch Nails "Discipline"
- Portishead "Machine Gun"
- R.E.M. "Supernatural Superserious"
- The Raconteurs "Salute Your Solution"
- Tokyo Police Club "Tessellate"
- Vampire Weekend "A-Punk"
- Volumen Cero "El Mar"
- Weezer "Pork and Beans"
- Kanye West "Love Lockdown" - Not as good as the Letterman live version, but still worthy.
Damn, there was a lot of good music this year.
Happy New Year, everyone!