Top Albums of 2008

I’ve been having a bit of a busy January and now it’s almost over! I have a lot of catching up to do!

I realize I never got around to posting my top records of 2008. I got a bit overwhelmed with it and instead of just not contributing one to the various music lists I’m on, I put together a top 10 and then just listed alphabetically the rest of the records I listened to a lot in 2008. Forgive me, I had quite a rough December!

I’m pretty conflicted about everything, except my top two. There’s so much I never got around to buying in 2008, with a lot still in my list to buy from various places. I will have to say that while I’ve always loved music and it is truly my drug, I really think 2008 is when I’ve gone back to the true “kid in a candy store, oh, you really must listen to this….lots of exclamation points, etc” sort of feeling of music.

I know a lot of people feel it wasn’t a great year for music, but I’ve been diggin’ lots and lots of new stuff, and revisiting old stuff too (Feelies anyone?). The internet, myspace, facebook, bebo, google reader, and internet radio has really now more than ever made it a global experience for me. If I even tried to name all the great new bands I’ve found out about this past year, I’d truly explode!
here it is:

1. Frightened Rabbit-Midnight Organ Fight/Liver! Lung! FR!
I’m combining the electric and live acoustic albums since no matter how, where or when the songs are played, this album definitely rocked my world this year. They were on my radar before I started prepping for SXSW, but I must tell you, sometimes a live gig just punches you in the gut. It was that Wednesday afternoon day show, where I was feeling a bit glum, uncertain at how my experience of my first SXSW in 13 years would go…a bit bummed to be on my own so-to-speak, but then I realized I’m not sure if anyone would want to follow me all the places I wanted to go. the amazing raw energy and emotion in these songs and the performances that go into them is a lot like the raw energy and emotion that’s swirling in my head at any given moment. I realize and recognize it daily. and while it’s not necessarily the same things Scott Hutchison is writing and singing about, I can completely identify with it.

2.Two Cow Garage-Speaking in Cursive
While I didn’t have an advance of this as some are so lucky to have had, I have been “friends” with a bunch of these songs for quite some time. It’s their best yet and as I always say, Micah and Shane are like the younger brothers I’ve never had.

3. Dropkick-Dot the I
must be Scotland’s most prolific band, with the first of two releases for 2008. While I’ve never met or spoken with any of them, it’s become sort of an inside joke that I’m their biggest fan! ok, maybe not really, but when I finally get to Scotland, the trip would not be complete without seeing them live! This record continues their lush Scottish pop sound

4. R.E.M.- Accelerate
I’ve been a fan since I was about 15 or 16 years old. I can appreciate and even love everything they’ve ever done, but I took on this record with reckless abandon, and it proves you can have fun with a rock n roll record and be socially/politically conscious while doing so.

5. Attic Lights-Friday Night Lights
I have had a couple tracks from blogs and the one on emusic for a couple months, but it wasn’t until I was seriously sorting out my top 10 that I just HAD to have this. And one night in the last week of December, I wasn’t going to sleep until I did. I listened to nothing more the last week of 2008 than this album. It definitely helped me out of the doldrums of December 2008.

6. Marching Band-Spark Large
As if my obsession with Scottish music isn’t enough, I’ve developed one for Swedish pop again. Thanks to listening to the “Three from Leith” podcast, I immediately downloaded this from emusic as soon as I could.

7. Oppenheimer-Take the Whole Midrange and Boost It
my Belfast friends, sophomore album is lovely. another band that is basically the younger brothers I’ve never had. I “adopted” them a few years back,
and might have frightened them initially. They are the first band I
didn’t personally know or had friends who knew them, crash at my place
when they’re in town. “Look Up” is a great pop song and the kids dance
to it (I have video proof!) no song is over 4 minutes and I love that
there’s a song called “Fireworks are illegal in the state of NJ”
because it reminds me of the night I was there with them in Atlantic City, on the beach setting off fireworks, knowing full well as the only American amongst 6 Belfast residents, that the AC police would show up almost immediately. In fact, of the times they’ve had brushes with the law in the US, I’ve been present for two of them!

8. Dropkick-Patchwork
the 2nd release of 2008. I joked that they aren’t working hard enough and 2009 should see 3 records, not just two. This is the more “alt-country” album of the two. more pedal steel and banjo. I didn’t have as much time with this one, but a couple of the songs are ones I go to regularly and any time the songs come up on shuffle, I turn it up and sing along.

9. Neil Halstead-Oh! Mighty Engine
another late edition…riding the train home to NJ for Christmas, I hadn’t put together a playlist of my potential top 2008 records, but I did have a video podcast on my laptop that I watched of Neil Halstead perform most of the songs off this record, and realized I needed to get the album asap. I heart Neil and my favorite show I’ve ever seen of his was solo acoustic matinee at IOTA one year. you could hear a pin drop it was so quiet and the crowd so attentive.

10. Elliott Brood-Mountain Meadows
Postcarder (, Tualla gets credit for turning me on to them. I tend to hit repeat on “Miss You Now” a lot. this was a tough spot to fill, because there’s
so many records that could have been here too.

here’s the rest, in alphabetical order that were in consideration…as I said, there’s a ton I never got around to buying, and my head’s a swirl in sorting it out. these records just didn’t get as much spin or didn’t stand out, but are still favs. I really do think that my listening habits have been affected by the shuffling on ipod:

Beach House-Devotion
British Sea Power-Do You Like Rock Music?
Broadfield Marchers-The Inevitable Continuing
The Broken West-Now or Heaven
Roger Bryan & The Orphans-Recovery
Pelle Carlberg-The Lilac Time
The Decks-Becoming Nightblind
Dr. Dog-Fate
The Duke Spirit-Neptune
Electric Touch-Electric Touch
Escape Act-Loosely Based on Fiction
The Explorers Club-Freedom Wind
The Fratellis-Here We Stand
The General Store-Mountain Rescue
Green Peppers-Adventures in the Slipstream
Mic Harrison & The High Score-On the Right Side of the Grass
Juliana Hatfield-How to Walk Away
Have Gun, Will Travel-Casting Shadows as Tall Giants
The Heavenly States-Delayer
Cliff Hillis-The Long Now
Hollow Horse-Escaping from a Submarine
Japanese Motors-Japanese Motors
Julie Ocean-Long Gone and Nearly There
The Lodger-Life is Sweet
The Meadows-First Nervous Breakdown
The Mural and the Mint-Private Pockets
Old 97’s-Blame it on Gravity
Popup-A Time and A Place
The Quarter After-Changes Near
Will Quinlan & The Diviners-Navasota
Ryebender-Hollow and Drifting
She & Him-Volume One

Top songs of 2008:
1. Frightened Rabbit-The Modern Leper
2. Two Cow Garage-Skinny Legged Girl
3. The Heavenly States-Lost in the Light
4. Dropkick-Breakdown
5. Marching Band-For Your Love
6. Attic Lights-Bring You Down
7. Elliott Brood-Miss You Now
8. R.E.M.- Man-Sized Wreath
9. The Fratellis-Acid Jazz Singer
10. The Lodger-The Good Old Days

I’m sure there’s tons I’ve forgotten, but most of what’s missing from my list compiled here, isn’t here because I haven’t bought it to add to my collection yet.

ps. I want to give The Swimmers and IKE records an honorable mention.
I had both in 2007 at official cd release parties, so I included them
in my 2007 list.

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