Sunday, December 21, 2008

And so it comes to my top 25 albums of 2008. This was quite hard, as outside of the top half dozen or so there were a lot of good solid records that could have made up the numbers.

Also there were several albums that may well belong on the list but, I just have not given a good enough listen too to include, so, sorry: Elbow, Glasvegas, Kings of Leon, Amanda Palmer and others.

So, the question is, was there one album that stood out from the crowd? For me, yes, and for the second year running it came from Nick Cave. Dig Lazarus Dig continued a rich vein of form that Nick has been minning for the past few years, and so was the record I have returned to most often in 2008.

1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig! Lazarus Dig!!: - From the opening bars of the title track this is a wonderful record.
2. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive : Some people have were not as keen on this album as they were with Boys & Girls in America. It was true that this album was less of a progression than they had made musically on previous records, but it worked for me, with the band delivering a handful of the best things they've written to date in the guise of: 'Slapped Actress', 'One for the Cutters', and 'Sequestered in Memphis'. [New stuff also sounded great live]
3. Todd Rundgren - Arena: Despite my better judgement this came very close to actually being my album of the year. It is like a mini greatest hits package, but without the need for the albums that the tracks needed to be on first.
4. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes: The US and UK critics have been falling all over themselves about the Fleet Foxes. If they weren't talking about MGMT (and most were) then they were talking about this folkie throw back harnessing Beach Boys harmonies moxed in with a Little CSNY and more. Hard after a few listens not to be pulled in.
5. Laura Marling - Alas I cannot Swim: Yes, is does sound like it was written by a young girl, and a bit twee in places, but that is actually part of the charm of this album. Duffy and Adele may have gotten most of the coverage, but Marling was the one that won me over. Potentially a huge talent.
6.Metallica - Death Magnetic: Oh yes indeed. Turn those guitars up to 10. A True monster of an album, and containing a host of great tracks, such as: Cyanide; The Day that Never Comes; Judas Kiss; and Unforgiven III. A true return to form.
7. Nine Inch Nails - The Slip: The best free album of the year. Not something that was ever going to convert you to the NIN cause, if you were not already a fan, but a pretty strong offering all the same.
8. Teddy Thompson - A Piece of What You Need: Third album from Teddy, and after time out for an album of country covers it was back to the kind of wonderful folk/country tinged pop that made his debut album such a delight. Like father Richard, the boy knows how to craft a catchy tune.
9.The Gutter Twins - Saturnalia: Idle Hands is possibiliy my favourite track of the year. Whilst the rest of the album cannot quite live up to that, it remains a very good rock record.
10. Sons & Daughters - This Gift: My favourite record out of Scotland this year. A very underated band, and album.
11. Gemma Hayes - The Hollow of Morning: Big fan of Gemma (and she was great at Union Chapel)This was an assured record, full of wonderful songs.
12. Thea Gilmore - Liejacker: Another fantastic songwriter. More stripped down than she had been for a while, but still great stuff, and a cracking cover of You Spin Me Right Round.
13. Motorhead - Motorizer : No, really, I am serious. I would not have expected to say so, but this is a really great album. There is no re-invention of the wheel going on or anything - it sounds exactly like a motorhead album, but tracks like Runaround Man, and English Rose, were there best in years.
14. Rick Springfield - Venus in Overdrive: Over produced to within an inch of its life, but I have always been a sucker for Rick. During the late eighties, early nineties this man was the definition of what pop/rock was. Anyway, this was a bit of a return to form.
15. Ingrid Michaelson - Be OK : This isn't really a proper album as such, but a collection of previously unreleased songs, demos, covers and live recordings (A portion of the proceeds go to Stand Up To Cancer) But it was still a great collection, and reminded me why she deserves to be better known that she is.
16. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago: Like Fleet Foxes, this came from nowhere and showed that folk-type music was still cool.
17. The Fireman - Electric Arguments : Paul McCartney released his best solo album in years last year, and followed it up with his third outing as The Fireman, and surprisingly good it was too.
18. Camille - Music Box: Ever so slightly mad, but with an outstanding voice and the ability to write a song that includes meowing that transends the stupid.
19. Duffy - Rockferry: I tried to resist the charms of Duffy, but eventually she wore me down, and I had to admit I really liked like record.
20. Bob Mould - District Line: A return to the kind of material that made Sugar such a great band - just check out soongs like: The Silence Between Us.
21. The Cure - 4:13 Dream : He's still not the happiest bunny, and still cannot apply make-up, but I was pleasantly surprised by what is the best Cure album in years. Although the Duran Duran impersonation on Bond Theme attempt, Sleep when I'm Dead, I could live without.
22. The Knees - Sexual Radio: It was a tosh up between this and the Be Your Own Pet album for a spot in the top 25, but The Knees get it, with an album that makes me smile when I listed to it. Can't say better than that really.
23. REM - Accelerate: Kept it short and it worked. Very much a back to basics album for REM and it reminded me what a fine band they are still capable of being.
24. Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke: Again, it was a bit of a toss up between this and The Killer's album. Both are snyth-pop records, and both did nothing for me on first listen. However both have slowly worked there way into my mind over the past month or so. I choose Ladyhawke in the end because, it sounds fresher, and because Sam's Town is still a better Killers album.
25. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: Not vintage Adams by any stretch but still a strong record.

I'll end with a predictions bit. One's to watch in 2009:

Emmy the Great
Little Boots
Florence and the Machine
Black Mountain
Thomas Tantrum
The Knees