I heard a LOT of new music this past year. Quite a bit of it though, seemed mediocre to me. Some albums would have a few great songs, but also a lot of filler. Is that a consequence of the single song sales on iTunes and other online music outlets? Is the complete album dying as an art form? I hope not. Whether I get them on CD or full-album downloads, complete albums are still how I listen to music. Here are the best ones I heard in 2008.
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
The fresh and unique sound of Vampire Weekend made this my favorite album of the year. It’s also the best debut album of 2008. See my post from last February for a review of Vampire Weekend.
Kathleen Edwards – Asking for Flowers
I really should have written up a full review of this album. For the past five years Kathleen has released three solid records, and I think this one stands at the top. She has a definite talent for songwriting, singing and musicianship. She can go from quiet and introspective, to loud and raucous, and everything in between. Kathleen and her band also performed my favorite concert of 2008.
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
This band plays straight rock and roll with vivid, storytelling lyrics. They’ve been compared to Springsteen and the E-Street Band, which is spot on.
Cowboy Junkies – Trinity Revisited
See the review of Trinity Revisited I wrote back in August.
2008 was a banner year for neo soul music. I’ve got three outstanding titles in that category:
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – 100 Days 100 Nights
Sharon Jones has a classic soul voice reminiscent of soul singers from days gone by, and the Dap-Kings do an excellent job backing her up. As an aside, this disc was actually released in 2007, but I didn’t discover it until I received it as a surprise Christmas gift. It’s such a good record, it deserves to be highlighted, even if I am a little late.
Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple
I posted a review of The Odd Couple last summer.
Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It
Raphael Saadiq (formerly of Tony! Toni! Toné!) has a sound that comes straight out of Motown. Hearing his voice makes you wonder if he’s got DNA from Smokey Robinson. This album is very strong, and features guest artists like Stevie Wonder, Josh Stone, and Jay-Z.
Big Blue Ball
A few weeks ago I wrote a review of Big Blue Ball.
The Verve – Fourth
The Verve reunited after ten years and released an excellent album. While I do like Richard Ashcroft’s solo records, when he’s with the other members of The Verve, the music is over the top. I’ll give them the best comeback award of 2008.
Sun Kil Moon – April
See the review of April I posted earlier this year.
- Alejando Escovedo – Real Animal
- Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
- Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Cardinology