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2008 Year End Best Of

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I have to say 2008 was easily one of the best music years I've had in a long time. Lots of recordings that ranged from really good all the way up through wonderful. Admittedly, what you read in the list below does not wholly correspond with my review ratings, but I'm looking at what I've been listening to with the most enjoyment. So, with that in mind, here's what I'd rank as my

          10 Favorite Records of 2008:
  1. High Places by High Places. When we first encountered this NYC act at SxSW, I thought that perhaps I'd just let the atmosphere influence my high opinion. I got this record, and I was wrong. Phenomenal unique, and you should listen to it.

  2. End of the New Country by Get Help. This is a fairly low-key record that is incredibly listenable. Sort of lo-fi and fairly minimal, it's just an album that stays in my CD player.

  3. Just Look Them Straight in the Eye and Say…POGUE MAHONE by The Pogues. 5 discs of Poguey goodness with most everything being either an obscure release, a live recording, or a demo. Some of the organization is a bit annoying (material related to If I Should Fall From Grace With God is split between discs 2 & 3), and I'm not sure I really needed three demos of Fairytale of New York, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit this is in my heavy rotation.

  4. Dynamos by Club Awesome. Back on my 2007 list, I pretty much begged for this Atlanta band to release an album. They did, and it's great. An upbeat album that's just filled with dancy Indie Pop tunes.

  5. Receivers by Parts and Labor. This is another mighty fine album out of New York. I don't think it's quite as noisy, so to speak, as their previous release, which makes this positively expansive and poppy.

  6. The Wishes and The Glitch by Say Hi. As our European writers would say, this record was a grower for me. At first, this was a little disappointing after the phenomenal Impeccable Blahs, but this darkly moody little record finally took its place in my listening schedule.

  7. Dinosaurs Turn Into Birds by The Silent Kids. Another Atlanta band who was long overdue for a record release, this album flows well from beginning to end with the noisier tunes (such as Radio Was Unplugged) being both crunchy and catchy. Great guitar work, Indie style. Only it's best not to listen to the Soccer Riot song when you're stuck in traffic on the Connector, as the gunfire can be a little unnerving.

  8. Ornament by The Liverhearts. I've been hearing Atlanta's The Liverhearts play these tunes for years and year, so it was nice to have them collected in one location. Post punk with a throbbing rhythm section that just makes me drive faster.

  9. Pardon Me, Are Those Your Claws On My Back? by Faceless Werewolves. Speaking of driving faster, listening to this one cuts a good ten minutes off my drive-time. Slightly snotty garage rock for those of us who really like our recordings a little dirty.

  10. Ghost by Parade. I'm not sure if this has formally been released yet, but it's been in my heavy rotation if only for the wondrous White.


Now, I realize there may be some startling omissions from the list above. Honestly, I think that, had I managed to make more time to listen to the records below, they would have worked their way into my top 10. So, here are three album from 2008 that I haven't purchased yet and/or haven't listened to enough:

  1. Microcastle by Deerhunter.
  2. Life Like by The Rosebuds.
  3. Songs in A & E by Spiritualized

On the other hand, there are two records from 2007 which I didn't really listen to until this year. And both of these albums are quite wondrous and should have been on my list from last year:

  1. A Child But In Life Yet a Doctor In Love by Magic Bullets. I think every person I've played this echoey, bouncy disc to has gone out and bought a copy. There is both great songwriting and great musicianship on display and I think more people ought to hear it.
  2. Peel by Peel. I don't know why I never picked up the debut album from these Austinites, but it's a fun mix up a styles that varies from song to song. Kind of like Headlights with a bit more twang and introspection, in my opinion.

Still, in the end, I've always liked live performances. And 2008, like all previous years, is absolutely no different, except perhaps that there are few overall shows and more single performances listed below. So, without further commentary, I present my

            Top 10 Live Moments of 2008:  
  1. Polvo at the EARL, 05 December 2008. I heart Polvo. I always have. I think for the month leading up to this show, I'd occasionally just yelp out "Polvo!", and then laugh. And you know what? I was not disappointed by their performance. If anything, they're even better and tighter than I remember.

  2. Spiritualized at The Variety Playhouse, 23 July 2008. This was an awesome show, in all senses of the word. The backing band was together, and the backing vocalists were phenomenal. But in the end, I think it was the way J Spaceman pulled the entire venue into his world that was most impressive.

  3. Magic Bullets, day show at Red Eyed Fly, SxSW, 14 March 2008. PostLibyan really wanted me to see this band because he thought they sounded a bit like one of our old Atlanta bands. He may have been mistaken with that comparison, but this San Francisco band was just breath taking with the way they combined stage presence and dreampop.

  4. Jukebox the Ghost at The Drunken Unicorn, 08 October 2008. I didn't really get this band before I caught them opening for Say Hi. Funny piano-based rock combined with self-deprecation to charm me. And I don't normally like piano based music (comes from all those years playing piano myself, I suppose).

  5. British Sea Power w/ Film School at the EARL, 21 April 2008. Great rock band plus great rock music equals great rock show. And Film School, as usual, were intense and fun.

  6. Atlas Sound at The Variety Playhouse, 26 August 2008. Opening for Stereolab, Bradford Cox forgot which of his electronic bits played what, so he kept apologizing. Combine that with the wall of sound and pop that came from the stage, and I thought this was one of the better sets I've seen this year.

  7. Say Hi at Red Eyed Fly, SxSW, 14 March 2008. I don't think I've ever seen Say Hi play to a crowd that was both full and there to listen to them. Eric Elbogen and his drummer pulled out the stops and the crowd just ate it up. And I danced right along with everyone else.

  8. For Against at The EARL, 8 November 2008. A great show that came across better than I could have imagined.

  9. Peel, day show at The Hole in The Wall, SxSW 13 March 2008. This set was looser and more mellow than the evening show we also saw. It could have been because things were running late or it could have been the pitchers of beer. I don't know, but either way Peel just shined.

  10. Oh No Oh My at the Drunken Unicorn, 25 August 2008. Cheerfully quirky pop at a show which had few attendees. Everyone's loss.

Unfortunately, I missed five noteworthy shows in 2008, all of which are ones that I wish I could have been at:

  1. The Silent Kids/Luigi/The Preakness at The EARL, 28 March 2008
  2. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin at The EARL, 27 April 2008
  3. Dead Confederate at The EARL, 20 September 2008
  4. The Sun and The Moon at The East Atlanta Icehouse, 7 November 2008
  5. Part and Labor at The Star Bar, 14 November 2008
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