Fester’s Lucky 13: The Best Albums of 2008

2008 Year-End Summary

It’s been unavoidable that writing about the year in music has focused almost entirely on the business end, ever since the industry started it’s whiney handwringing tradition eight years ago, causing panic with dire predictions of the death of the album, and criminalizing their best customers (those who download a lot of music also tend to buy a lot of music). Let’s set the record straight. Albums, like movies and books, aren’t going anywhere. Movies have survived cable tv, vcrs, video stores, on demand, DVRs, Netflix and bit torrents. Books have survived used bookstores, libraries, and the Kindle. Formants come and go, profits ebb and flow, and retailers open and close. It’s the nature of business. Get the fuck over it.

According to World Wide Albums.net, the top selling albums were from Coldplay (6,570,400), AC/DC (4,627,000), Duffy (4,422,320), Mamma Mia! Soundtrack (3,768,240), Metallica (3,477,000), Madonna (3,339,680) and Lil’ Wayne (3,216,240). Over 40 albums sold more than a million copies, including The Killers which has only been out a few weeks. Several indie artists have done quite well too, with The Ting Tings selling 729,000, Portishead 708,360, Vampire Weekend 656,050 and MGMT 626,500, more than twice as much as T-Pain (300,000). In the 80s, an indie debut album was lucky to sell over 15,000 copies. Death Cab For Cutie, The Ranconteurs, Erykah Badu, Sigur Rós, Gnarls Barkley, Goldfrapp, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Paul Weller, N.E.R.D., The Mars Volta, Cat Power, and In Flames all sold well over a quarter million.

On to the important stuff, the music. Despite the limping economy, it seems that just as many albums were released as ever, probably well over 20,000 titles. This year I spent a little more time with old favorites and reissues, and instead of sampling nearly over 600 titles like I normally do, I heard a little less than 500, and listed just over 420. I heard more albums that I rated as excellent (66 albums at 9+ or better) since 2004 (73). Many journalists yearn for trends they can easily churn out soundbytes, but more than ever, there’s nothing that’s representative. No genres or scenes dominated. I prefer it that way. Instead what we saw were a bunch of individual, unrelated, idiosyncratic flashes of brilliance.

The majority of albums in my top 100 are difficult to attribute to any one genre, from TV On The Radio to Paavoharju, Gang Gang Dance, The Bug, NOMO, The Very Best, etc. 2007 was similar. For example, my #1 album, Burial was supposedly part of the dubstep genre, yet sounded like nothing else, with many tastemakers in the scene even refusing to acknowledge it. In 2008 dubstep failed to make much of an impact, with 2562 and Benga releasing very good albums that didn’t quite have what it took to make the top 100. Meanwhile so called metal bands consistently pushed the limits of what constituted metal, drifting into areas of experimental ambient, drone and noise rock.

For the third time this decade, the artist of the year is TV On The Radio. Can you tell they’re my favorite band of the naughties/oughties/00s? Isn’t it weird that there’s only a year left in this decade and we still don’t know what to call it? It’s interesting to see the difference between when they were relatively unknown, and the Young Liars EP inspired universal fawning. Now that they regularly top a lot of year-end lists, opinions are more divided with amusing accusations that they’re too “worthy” and “soulless.” Those lucky enough to have caught them live in relatively small, intimate venues know better. Interviews with the band reveal them to be pretty charming music geeks who have wide ranging interests in art, culture and politics, and can ramble with the most accomplished stoners. Expect their influence and reach to continue to expand. In Jonathon Demme’s movie Rachel Getting Married (an intensely bittersweet movie that will also top a lot of critics’ lists), Tunde Adebimpe reprises his nerdy character from Jump Tomorrow, even singing a lovely a capella Neil Young cover.

Comeback of the year

It’s hard to tell anymore who was actually gone and who just takes a really long time to make albums, such as Portishead (10 years), AC/DC (8 years) and Max Tundra (6 years). Grace Jones best earned the honor, having pretty much dropped out of music after 1989. Hurricane mixed the best elements of her 80s Compass Point sessions with a strong Massive Attack influence with exciting results. Guns ‘N Roses finally released their follow-up to 1991’s Use Your Illusion. Since I was never a fan of that album, I wasn’t holding my breath. Chinese Democracy didn’t disappoint, as I didn’t really expect that much. It’s okay, but a bit dated.

Debuts of the year

Vampire Weekend, Pete & The Pirates, Air France, White Denim, Eine Kleine Nacht Musik, The Very Best, The Week That Was, Flying Lotus and Late Of The Pier all placed debuts in the top 40.

Overrated of the Year

I find it harder to care about this category as I get older. Perhaps I am more open minded and can understand the appeal of certain artists more easily than before. For example, Fleet Foxes topped many lists, and is likely to be a close runner-up to TV On The Radio on Pazz & Jop. It only made #161 on my list, but I still think it’s a very decent, pretty album. I just found it a bit less exciting than many folks.

Disappointment of the Year

A fair number of artists released albums that didn’t quite reach my expectations, including Gnarls Barkley, Clinic, Sahg, The Notwist, Wire, The Hold Steady, Fujiya and Miyagi, Sigur Rós and Hot Chip. But none of those albums were bad at all. There’s a tie between two artists who I had anticipated with some of the most demanding expectations who fell quite a bit short — Bloc Party and Shortwave Set. Better luck next time, blokes.

Looking Ahead

I’m eagerly awaiting the new albums from Patrick Wolf, Black Moth Super Rainbow, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mastodon, The Knife, Franz Ferdinand, Annie, Antony & The Johnsons, even Animal Collective, who I thought have been a bit overrated in recent years, but sound like they’re taking a direction more to my liking.

— A.S. Van Dorston

Fester’s Lucky 13 — The Best Albums of 2008

  1. TV On The Radio – Dear Science, (DGC/Interscope)TV On The Radio - Dear Science

    Dear Science is certainly going to top the Pazz & Jop poll partly because a lot of writers feel the album neatly summarizes the character, or zeitgeist, of 2008. That’s a piss poor reason. I chose it because the music moves me. Era-defining albums are long gone. The actual mega sellers from Coldplay and Metallica don’t mean much other than people like pleasant soft rock just a bit more than they like good guitar riffs. Dear Science is TV On The Radio’s version of pop. Debuting at #12 on the Billboard chart, it’s their most successful. But they could have easily bent more towards the market by letting Tunde Adebimpe loose with more showboating vocals, and increasing the guitars for those who think “Wolf Like Me” was their only great song. They could have turned the bass up to a thunderous volume to pander to trends among the hipster cognoscenti. I actually wouldn’t have minded that myself. Some have said they could be the new Radiohead. They’re right if they distinguish the Radiohead of the 2000s with the old version. They’re more OK Calculator than OK Computer, more Kid A than Coldplay. TV On The Radio are doing exactly what they want, resulting in sharply divided opinions, as it should be. Anything else would be much less interesting. Full review.

  2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! (Anti)

    Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

    Long after I assumed Nick Cave had settled into middle age and fatherhood, weepy ballads and over-reaching literary lyrics, he let loose with last year’s unhinged Grinderman project. But rather than a mere letting off steam with an alter-ego, Cave and the Bad Seeds upped the ante with Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!. Among other things, he’s redefined dad rock with a mustachioed, open-shirted louche swagger. He also happened to make his best album in at least 14 years. Arguably it even edges out 1994’s Let Love In and challenges 1986’s Your Funeral…My Trial for his career best. Live review.

  3. Vampire Weekend (Beggars/XL)

    Vampire Weekend

    Like The Strokes’ Is This It, Vampire Weekend’s debut is so immediately catchy it makes one suspicious of its depth and longevity. Seven years later, the former still sounds great, which is a good sign for the latter. Eleven months later, the controversy over their African influences and comparisons to Paul Simon’s Graceland, combined with judgement of their upperclass backgrounds, looks even more ridiculous than it was in the first place. With TV On The Radio, NOMO, Gang Gang Dance, The Ruby Suns and countless others incorporating African-influenced rhythms and guitars, it should be about as controversial as Keef using blues-based riffs. It’s really quite a feat to write deceptively simple guitar pop that doesn’t sound stale and boring. I hope they can pull it off again.

  4. Paavoharju – Laulu Laakson Kukista (Fonal)

    Paavoharju - Laulu Laakson Kukista

    Since I started having interesting dreams about dark Finnish forests and mythical creatures, the Fonal label has provided plenty of fittingly weird music to complement them. Brothers Lauri and Olli Ainala made a splash back in 2005 with Yhä Hämärää. The follow-up has electronic elements replacing dark folk in the forefront. It’s fractured brevity is still intense, but more accessible. The album might seem deceptively modest, but the massively original creativity it injects into pop and dance music will play a big role in the shape of future music.

  5. Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna (Social Registry)

    Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna

    Like Paavoharju, Brooklyn’s Gang Gang Dance also broke through in 2005, with God’s Money. Also similar is that their sound is difficult to pigeonhole. There are elements of post-punk, tribal dub, art-noise, freak-folk, electro-dance, experimental ambient, even some shoegaze. Let’s call it 21st century psychedelia. Liz Bougatsos gives shape and character to many of the songs with wickedly cutting vocals, ranging from Ari Upp (The Slits) style yelps to swooping yodels worthy of Siouxsie Sioux. Saint Dymphna is a major step forward in navigating an anarchic avant-garde world of textures, samples, ambient atmospheres and rhythms, and sorting out convergence with the pop world. We’ll have the likes of Paavoharju, Gang Gang Dance and (with their upcoming album) Animal Collective to thank for making sure music stays interesting the next few years.

  6. The Bug – London Zoo (Ninja Tune)
    The Bug - London Zoo

    For two decades Kevin Martin has been experimenting with electronic music in the forms of jazzy industrial/ambient dub in EAR, God and Techno Animal, and even hip-hop with his Ice project. Far from bandwagon hopping, Martin usually comes up with brilliant new sounds that others take credit for years later. His dub-dancehall project The Bug dates back to 1996 with debut album, Tapping The Conversation, followed up by 2003’s excellent Pressure, which featured a variety of vocalists/toasters, but stomped on tired dancehall formulas with a unique mix of woofer wobbling, distorted low end, glitchy brittle beats and mad dub effects. Elements of this sound were distilled and attributed to the dubstep genre, which might have something to do with the unprecedented popularity of 2008’s London Zoo. Martin takes a step up in talent with collaborators, including Spaceape, Tippa Irie, Flowdan, Ricky Ranking and Warrior Queen. Every performance is amped up with dread, anger or exhuberance, resulting in a cracking powerhouse of an album.

  7. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours (Modular)
    Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

    Australian electro-pop trio Cut Copy released a wonderful debut in 2004, Bright Like Neon Love. With creamy synths and hooks worthy of New Order, it was surprising that it remained an obscurity. Their time wasn’t to come until 2008, when they’re in good company with similar groups Hot Chip, Neon Neon, Hercules and Love Affair, Stereo Image, LCD Soundsystem and more. Cut Copy has the edge in that they augment the dancefloor synth pop with elements of psychedelia and rock, often arranged subtly within the same song. That and more than half of the fifteen tracks sound like hit singles.

  8. Max Tundra – Parallax Error Beheads You (Domino)

    Max Tundra - Parallax Error Beheads You

  9. Max Tundra’s 2002 album Mastered by Guy at the Exchange enjoyed a gradually expanding cult popularity. Part of the fascination involves the fact that he uses an 80s model Commodore Amiga 500 with a cheap piece of sequencing software to splice together impossibly elaborate electro-pop. He continued using the Amiga for the new album, no wonder it took six years. The wait was worth it, as each tune is an embarrassment of dazzling details, polished melodies and squirrelly hooks that flit in and out, giving Parallax Error Beheads You a hyperactive feel. In addition to sugary pop tunes, theere’s the microsample madness of “Orphaned” that recalls recent work by Dan Deacon, while “Until We Die” stretches into an 11 minute elecro-prog opus. It can be disorientating, but makes for richly rewarding repeated listening.

  10. Pete & the Pirates – Little Death (Stolen)

    Pete & the Pirates - Little Death

  11. In 2008 there was certainly no shortage of indie rock. Yet it’s all too easy even for good bands like The Futureheads to get bogged down in the struggle to write fresh songs that don’t repeat themselves. The results are often too workmanlike and fade to grey among the mass of so-so indie. Sometimes it takes a debut album from a bright-eyed bushy-tailed band not long past their teenage years to remind you how simple songs full of yearning and wonder can still inspire goosebumps and perhaps even a bit of jumping around. Just try to resist when “She Doesn’t Belong To Me” crescendoes, and the soaring harmonies on the album opener “Ill Love.”

  12. Femi Kuti – Day By Day (Mercer Street/Downtown)
    Femi Kuti - Day By Day
  13. Femi Kuti and his band Positive Force has always been a powerhouse every time I’ve seen him live. Even before his solo debut was completed in 1995, he already had well over a decade experience under his belt, playing in his father’s Egypt 80 band, and forming Positive Force in 1986. Unlike his father, however, Femi’s recording output was not very prolific, and he had trouble measuring up to his own live legacy, let alone his father’s. When his younger half-brother Seun began touring last year with Egypt 80 to considerable acclaim, it seems the Afrobeat crown would be passed once again. A little competition in the family might have inspired Femi, because at 46, he sounds like he’s finally hit the sweet spot on record. Day By Day surpasses any Afrobeat recordings made since the early 80s except for those by Tony Allen, Fela’s drummer and musical director. He exudes confidence on every twist and turn, which include elements of sexy funk, doomy dub, psychedelic soul and wild free jazz, like on outstanding tracks “Demo Crazy,” “You Better Ask Yourself” and “One Two.” This is the shit.

  14. Dungen – 4 (Kemado)

    Dungen - 4

  15. Swedish multi-instrumentalist Gustav Ejstes used to be the primary musician on his first few albums. After the acclaim of Ta Det Lugnt (2004), Dungen has toured the world and naturally evolved into more of a band, notably adding guitarist Reine Fiske. 4 has a more jazzy flavor, thanks partly to Ejstes introducing some piano to the mix of 60s-70s style psychedelic rock. With Johan Holmegard’s Mitch Mitchell juicy drum fills and a fat, fuzzy tube amp sound, it’s one of the year’s most sensual recordings.

  16. Opeth – Watershed (Roadrunner)
    Opeth - Watershed
  17. It’s remarkable that on their 9th album Opeth are still at the top of their game. You can’t say that about too many 18 year old metal bands. Mikael Åkerfeldt and co. continue to gradually evolve from death metal to something pretty original, mixing in classic and progressive rock, switching between clean and “cookie monster” vocals, and occasionally pastoral acoustic guitar. While not as definitively monolithic as 2005’s Ghost Reveries, Watershed succeeds in that it still packs surprises, such as the twists in “The Lotus Eater,” while still leaving you hungry for more, wondering what they’ll come up with next.

  18. Boris – Smile (Southern Lord)
    Boris - Smile

    While many first encountered Japan’s Boris recently with Pink, they’ve actually been active since 1992 and have made 18 albums. Named after a Melvins song, they plunged the depths of low-end heavyness, with entire albums featuring neverending drones. Pink was a revelation in showing they could actually write songs, and even occasionally sing. Smile is both more accessible, with even more shoegaze style vocals and melodies, and less, with some totally slaveringly nutsoid hardcore and noise tracks thrown in. Their range hits all the pleasure and pain spots one could want with heavy music. The last time I saw them live the set was cut short as the amps crackled, smoked and went silent. “Ahhhh, not enough electricity,” said Atsuo in a soft-spoken Japanese accent. The Japanese edition has two songs not included on the U.S. edition, and different versions of a few others.

    All the above albums can be purchased online, even the imports. See the Fast ‘n’ Bulbous Guide to Online CD Shopping for tips.

    The rest of the Top 100

    As always, plenty of artists with very good albums didnt’ make my top 100 — Emilíana Torrini, Lykke Li, Marcelo Camelo, The Hospitals, Howlin’ Rain, Philip Jeck, Gods And Queens, Mark Stewart, Girl Talk, Barbara Morganstern, Fucked Up, The Aliens, Department Of Eagles, Tindersticks, Elbow, The Duke Spirit, The Roots, Deerhunter, Grouper, Little Joy, No Age, Pyramids, Sigur Rós, etc. Click here for the entire list.

  19. NOMO – Ghost Rock (Ubiquity)
  20. Air France – No Way Down (Something In Construction)
  21. M83 – Saturdays = Youth (Mute)
  22. White Denim – Exposion/Workout Holiday (Transmission)
  23. Kasai Allstars – In The 7th Moon, The Chief Turned Into A Swimming Fish And Ate The Head Of His Enemy By Magic (Crammed)
  24. The Horror The Horror – Wired Boy Child (Tapete)
  25. Eine Kleine Nacht Musik (Modular/Island UK)
  26. Black Mountain – In the Future (Jagjaguwar)
  27. Pale Young Gentlemen – Black Forest (Tra La La) (Science Of Sound)
  28. Simon Bookish – Everything/Everything (Tomlab)
  29. Parts & Labor – Receivers (Jagjaguwar)
  30. The Very Best – Eau Mwamwaya & Radioclit Are The Very Best (Ghettopop/Green Owl)
  31. Hammers Of Misfortune – Fields/Church Of Broken Glass (Profound Lore)
  32. Anthony Hamilton – The Point Of It All (Jive/Zomba)
  33. Amadou & Mariam – Welcome To Mali (Because)
  34. TAPE – Luminarium (Häpna)
  35. The Week That Was (Memphis Industries)
  36. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part One (Motown)
  37. The Walkmen – You & Me (Gigantic)
  38. Shugo Tokumaru – Exit (Almost Gold)
  39. Flying Lotus – Los Angeles (Warp)
  40. Late Of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel (EMD Intl)
  41. Black Milk – Tronic (Fat Beats)
  42. Grace Jones – Hurricane (Wall Of Sound)
  43. Gilberto Gil – Banda Larga Cordel (Warner Latina)
  44. Portishead – Third (Mercury/Island)
  45. DJ/rupture – Uproot (Agriculture)
  46. UFOmammut – Idolum (Supernatural Cat)
  47. Made Out Of Babies – The Ruiner (The End)
  48. The Fall – Imperial Wax Solvent (Sanctuary)
  49. Nachtmystium – Assassins – Black Meddle Part I (Century Media)
  50. Dusk + Blackdown – Margins Music (Keysound)
  51. Man Man – Rabbit Habits (Anti)
  52. El Guincho – Alegranza (Mistletone/XL)
  53. Wild Beasts – Limbo, Panto (Domino)
  54. Glasvegas (Columbia)
  55. The Ruby Suns – Sea Lion (Memphis Industries/Sub Pop)
  56. School Of Seven Bells – Alpinisms (Ghostly International)
  57. The Advisory Circle – Other Channels (Ghost Box)
  58. Au Revoir Borealis – Dark Enough For Stars (Utter East)
  59. Stereo Image (Frog Man Jake)
  60. Snowman – The Horse, the Rat and the Swan (Dot Dash)
  61. The Black Keys – Attack & Release (Nonesuch)
  62. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (Disorient)
  63. Toumani Diabaté – The Mande Variations (World Circuit)
  64. Thomas Brinkmann – When Horses Die (Max Ernst)
  65. Caïna – Temporary Antennae (Profound Lore)
  66. Grails – Doomsdayer’s Holiday (Temporary Residence)
  67. Jacaszek – Treny (Miasmah)
  68. Enslaved – Vertebrae (Nuclear Blast)
  69. Tricky – Knowle West Boy (Domino)
  70. Rhymefest – Man In The Mirror (Plugg City/Allido)
  71. Asian Dub Foundation – Punkara (Rinse It Out)
  72. Hercules And Love Affair (Phantom Sound & Vision)
  73. Lau Nau – Nukkuu (Locust)
  74. Robert Forster – The Evangelist (Yep Roc)
  75. Fennesz – Black Sea (Touch)
  76. The Interiors (54 40 Or Fight)
  77. Roots Manuva – Slime & Reason (Big Dada)
  78. The Black Angels – Directions To See a Ghost (Light In The Attic)
  79. Quiet Village – Silent Movie (K7)
  80. Rokia Traoré – Tchamantché (Nonesuch/Tama)
  81. One More Grain – Isle Of Grain (White Heat)
  82. Cloudland Canyon – Lie In Light (Kranky)
  83. Jaguar Love – Take Me To The Sea (Matador)
  84. The Dodos – The Visitor (French Kiss)
  85. Evangelista – Hello, Voyager (Constellation)
  86. Benoît Pioulard – Temper (Kranky)
  87. Johnny Flynn – A Larum (Vertigo)
  88. Adebisi Shank – This Is The Album (Richter Collective)
  89. Korpiklaani – Korven Kuningas (Nuclear Blast)
  90. Why? – Alopecia (Anticon)
  91. Stephanie McKay – Tell It Like It Is (Muthas Of Invention)
  92. Torche – Meanderthal (Hydrahead)
  93. Friendly Fires (XL)
  94. Jamie Lidell – Jim (Warp)
  95. Nico Muhly – Mothertongue (Brassland)
  96. The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing (BMG)
  97. Santogold (Downtown)
  98. Juana Molina – Un Dia (Domino)
  99. Emilíana Torrini – Me and Armini (Rough Trade)
  100. Anthony David – Acey Ducey (Soulbird/Universal)
  101. Lykke Li – Youth Novels (LL)
  102. Marcelo Camelo – Sou (Sony/BMG, Brasil)
  103. Mercury Rev – Snowflake Midnight (V2)
  104. Asa – Loppuasukas (Roihismusica)
  105. Calle 13 – Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo (Norte)

2008 Breakdown

Rock & Pop

The Horror The Horror - Wired Boy Child

Fans of the taut guitar pop of Vampire Weekend and Pete & The Pirates would do well to check out Sweden’s The Horror The Horror, whose sophomore album graduates from Television and Strokes pastiche to their own signature sound. Austin’s White Denim toy with their guitars with riffs reminiscent of The Meat Puppets, scuffed up Royal Trux style, topped with some Captain Beefheart. Pale Young Gentlemen, from Madison, WI, expand on the baroque Eurofolk of their debut with some breathtaking chamber rock arrangements. Also avoiding the sophomore slump, Black Mountain added touches of psychedelic and prog rock to their heavy 70s style riffing. Field Music may be no more, but Peter Brewis continued in a similar vein with The Week That Was. It’s hard to believe after nearly a hundred albums, The Fall can still sound vital and relevant. Hear for yourself. Late Of The Pier has made some of the catchiest electro rock since Tubeway Army, while The Walkmen return back to melancholy form with their fourth album.

  1. TV On The Radio – Dear Science, (DGC/Interscope)
  2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! (Anti)
  3. Vampire Weekend (Beggars/XL)
  4. Dungen – 4 (Kemado) – Sweden
  5. Pete & the Pirates – Little Death (Stolen)
  6. The Horror The Horror – Wired Boy Child (Tapete) – Sweden
  7. White Denim – Exposion/Workout Holiday (Transmission)
  8. Pale Young Gentlemen – Black Forest (Tra La La) (Science Of Sound)
  9. Black Mountain – In the Future (Jagjaguwar)
  10. The Week That Was (Memphis Industries)
  11. The Fall – Imperial Wax Solvent (Sanctuary)
  12. Late Of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel (EMD Intl)
  13. The Walkmen – You & Me (Gigantic)
  14. The Black Keys – Attack & Release (Nonesuch)
  15. The Interiors (54 40 Or Fight)
  16. The Dodos – The Visitor (French Kiss)

Electro/Dream Pop

Air France - No Way Down

Inspired by 80s synth pop, jangly UK bands, 4AD and shoegaze, Electro/Dream Pop is a slippery subgenre I’ve made up (and constantly renamed) to draw some attention to a more delicate side of indie rock. This year’s is one of the best batches yet, with Air France, French pop along the lines of The Tough Alliance (get the UK version that includes the On Trade Winds EP); M83 (also French) makes their most successfully stylized album yet; electro geek Simon Bookish croons some great tunes with pipes similar to his pal Patrick Wolf; El Guincho mixes tropicalia and calypso with gauzy Panda Bear style production; Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe has the most ridiculously flambouyant, warbling falsetto vocals you’ve ever heard, and it mostly works; Scotland’s Glasvegas does the Jesus & Mary Chain thing freshened up with a few twists; New Zealand’s The Ruby Suns do a similar thing as El Guincho, with more Brian Wilson and African influences.

  1. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours (Modular)
  2. Max Tundra – Parallax Error Beheads You (Domino)
  3. Air France – No Way Down (Something In Construction) – France
  4. M83 – Saturdays = Youth (Mute) – France
  5. Simon Bookish – Everything/Everything (Tomlab)
  6. El Guincho – Alegranza (Mistletone/XL) – Spain
  7. Wild Beasts – Limbo, Panto (Domino)
  8. Glasvegas (Columbia)
  9. The Ruby Suns – Sea Lion (Memphis Industries/Sub Pop) – New Zealand
  10. School Of Seven Bells – Alpinisms (Ghostly International)
  11. Au Revoir Borealis – Dark Enough For Stars (Utter East)
  12. Stereo Image (Frog Man Jake)
  13. Benoît Pioulard – Temper (Kranky)
  14. No Tears – Obsessions (Str8line)
  15. Metronomy – Nights Out (Because)

Avant Rock & Out Pop

Parts & Labor - Receivers

Parts & Labor is a noise rock band that took a giant step with last year’s Mapmaker into more accessible territory complete with psychedelic overtones and Bob Mould-like vocals. Receivers is another winner.

  1. Paavoharju – Laulu Laakson Kukista (Fonal) – Finland
  2. Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna (Social Registry)
  3. Parts & Labor – Receivers (Jagjaguwar)
  4. Shugo Tokumaru – Exit (Almost Gold) – Japan
  5. Portishead – Third (Mercury/Island)
  6. Man Man – Rabbit Habits (Anti)
  7. Snowman – The Horse, the Rat and the Swan (Dot Dash)
  8. Thomas Brinkmann – When Horses Die (Max Ernst)
  9. Quiet Village – Silent Movie (K7)
  10. One More Grain – Isle Of Grain (White Heat)
  11. The Black Angels – Directions To See a Ghost (Light In The Attic)
  12. Evangelista – Hello, Voyager (Constellation)
  13. Adebisi Shank – This Is The Album (Richter Collective)
  14. Mercury Rev – Snowflake Midnight (V2)
  15. Stereolab – Chemical Chords (4AD)
  16. The Aliens – Luna (Pet Rock)

Experimental & Ambient

NOMO - Ghost Rock
NOMO was hatched at the University of Michigan by a jazz studies geek in 2003, and by 2006 they perfected their blend of African rhythms, avant-garde jazz and funk on their second album, New Tones. Ghost Rock adds some dub and Brazilian elements to the mix, while guests like Hamid Drake and Josh Abrams help elevate their sound to a whole new level.

  1. NOMO – Ghost Rock (Ubiquity)
  2. Eine Kleine Nacht Musik (Modular/Island UK)
  3. TAPE – Luminarium (Häpna)
  4. The Advisory Circle – Other Channels (Ghost Box)
  5. Grails – Doomsdayer’s Holiday (Temporary Residence)
  6. Jacaszek – Treny (Miasmah)
  7. Nico Muhly – Mothertongue (Brassland)
  8. The Hospitals – Hairdryer Peace (Load)
  9. Philip Jeck – Sand (Touch)
  10. The Fun Years – Baby, It’s Cold Inside (Barge)
  11. Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid – NYC (Domino)
  12. Hauschka – Ferndorf (Fat Cat)
  13. Max Richter – 24 Postcards In Full Colour (Fat Cat)
  14. The Lucky Dragons – Dream Island Laughing Language (Marriage)
  15. Eric Chenaux – Sloppy Ground (Constellation)
  16. Grouper – Dragging A Dead Deer Up The Hill (Type)

Electronica, Techno & Dance

DJ/rupture - Uproot
After home runs in a row with Minesweeper Suite (2002) and Special Gunpowder (2004), DJ/rupture collaborated with different artists for one of the best mix albums of the decade. If The Bug hadn’t taken all the thunder, Martin ‘Blackdown’ Clarke and co-producer Dusk might have gotten more attention for their dubstep opus, a tribute to London’s ethnic diversity and multiculturism, where you hear everything from Bollywood and Eastern mysticism to stone hard dancehall steppers.

  1. The Bug – London Zoo (Ninja Tune)
  2. DJ/rupture – Uproot (Agriculture)
  3. Dusk + Blackdown – Margins Music (Keysound)
  4. Tricky – Knowle West Boy (Domino)
  5. Asian Dub Foundation – Punkara (Rinse It Out)
  6. Hercules And Love Affair (Phantom Sound & Vision)
  7. Fennesz – Black Sea (Touch)
  8. Santogold (Downtown)
  9. Clark – Turning Dragon (Warp)
  10. Lykke Li – Youth Novels (LL)
  11. Ellen Allien – Sool (Bpitch Control)
  12. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals (Illegal Art)
  13. Barbara Morgenstern – BM (Monika)

  • Alex Moulton – Exodus (Expansion Team)

    Heavy Rock

    UFOmammut - Idolum

    Italy’s UFOmammut formed in 1999, influenced by Kyuss, Blue Cheer and 70s prog rock. On this album they cover the usual doom touchtones and gauzy post-metal, peaking with the nearly half hour “Void…Elephantom.” I can’t believe I hadn’t heard these guys before. Brooklyn’s Made Out Of Babies are considered metal by many, but to me they sound like an uholy union of Babes In Toyland with The Jesus Lizard circa 1991. Their third album displays vocalist Julie Christmas at the peak of her powers. Truly frightening.

    1. Boris – Smile (Southern Lord) – Japan
    2. Graveyard (Tee Pee) – Sweden
    3. Colour Haze – All (Elektrohasch) – Germany
    4. Dead Man – Euphoria (Crusher) – Sweden
    5. Torche – Meanderthal (Hydrahead)
    6. Siena Root – Far From The Sun (Transubstans) – Sweden
    7. UFOmammut – Idolum (Supernatural Cat) – Italy
    8. Made Out Of Babies – The Ruiner (The End)
    9. Ancestors – Neptune With Fire (North Atlantic Sound)
    10. Valkyrie – Man Of Two Visions (Noble Origin)
    11. Earth – The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull (Southern Lord)
    12. Jaguar Love – Take Me To The Sea (Matador)
    13. Caïna – Temporary Antennae (Profound Lore) – France
    14. Sahg – Sahg II (Regain) – Sweden
    15. Blood Ceremony (Rise Above) – Canada
    16. Dozer – Beyond Colossal (Small Stone) – Sweden
    17. My Sleeping Karma – Satya (Elektrohasch)
    18. Totimoshi – Milagrosa (Volcom)
    19. Burning Saviours – Nymphs & Weavers (Transubstans)
    20. Gods And Queens (Robotic Empire)
    21. Fucked Up – The Chemistry Of Common Life (Matador)
    22. Grand Magus – Iron Will (Rise Above) – Sweden
    23. RPG – Worth The Weight (RPG)
    24. Wetnurse – Invisible City (Seventh Rule)
    25. Endless Boogie – Focus Level (No Quarter)
    26. Mars Volta – The Bedlam In Goliath (Universal/GSL)
    27. Harvey Milk – Life…The Best Game in Town (Hydra Head)
    28. Melvins – Nude With Boots (Ipecac)
    29. Hackman – Enterprises (Small Stone)
    30. Dead Meadow – Old Growth (Matador)
    31. AC/DC – Black Ice (Columbia)


    Hammers Of Misfortune - Fields/Church Of Broken Glass

    San Francisco’s greatest fantasy metal outfit Hammers Of Misfortune have reached a peak with their fourth album, or is it fourth and fifth? Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi is no longer in the lineup, and with him went the more overt Thin Lizzy/Iron Maiden influences. John Cobbett has more than enough ideas to sustain the group, however, in this epic double album. In the black metal-prog territory, Chicago’s Nachtmystium just edged out Sweden’s Enslaved to win the favor of those who like their Pink Floyd laced with symphonic satanic metal.

    1. Opeth – Watershed (Roadrunner)
    2. Gojira – The Way Of All Flesh (Prosthetic/Red)
    3. Valkyrie – Man Of Two Visions (Noble Origin)
    4. Hammers Of Misfortune – Fields/Church Of Broken Glass (Profound Lore)
    5. Nachtmystium – Assassins – Black Meddle Part I (Century Media)
    6. Enslaved – Vertebrae (Nuclear Blast)
    7. The Gates Of Slumber – Conqueror (Profound Lore)
    8. Korpiklaani – Korven Kuningas (Nuclear Blast)
    9. Burst – Lazarus Bird (Relapse)
    10. Genghis Tron – Board Up the House (Relapse)
    11. Cynic – Traced In Air (Sem)
    12. Testament – The Formation Of Damnation (Nuclear Blast)
    13. Esoteric – The Maniacal Vale (Season of Mist)
    14. Krallice (Profound Lore)
    15. Meshuggah – Obzen (Nuclear Blast)
    16. The Sword – Gods Of The Earth (Kemado)
    17. Lair Of The Minotaur – War Metal Battle Master (Southern Lord)
    18. Rotten Sound – Cycles (Spinefarm)
    19. Disfear – Live The Storm (Relapse)
    20. Amon Amarth – Twilight Of The Thunder God (Metal Blade)
    21. The Haunted – Versus (Century Media)
    22. Motörhead – Motörizer (Steamhammer)
    23. Metallica – Death Magnetic (WB)
    24. AC/DC – Black Ice (Columbia)
    25. Wold – Stratification (Profound Lore)
    26. Bloodbath – The Fathomless Mastery (Peaceville)
    27. Ascend – Ample Fire Within (Southern Lord)
    28. Dragonforce – Ultra Beatdown (Roadrunner)
    29. Gama Bomb – Citizen Brain (Earache)
    30. Hail Of Bullets – Of Frost And War (Metal Blade)
    31. Origin – Antithesis (Relapse)
    32. Neuraxis – The Thin Line Between (Prosthetic/Red)


    Kasai Allstars - In The 7th Moon, The Chief Turned Into A Swimming Fish And Ate The Head Of His Enemy By Magic
    Kasai Allstars is the third volume in the Congotronics series. As the name suggests, they’re a supergroup of the top talent of Kinshasa, Rep. of Congo, including members of Lusombe Madimba, Tandjolo, Dibua Dietu, Basokin, and Masanka Sankayi, who were featured in Vol. 2. The music is drawn from a tradition of erotic dance and ritual trance ceremonies. Eau Mwamwaya & Radioclit Are The Very Best is a mix tape where Malawi born London furniture store owner Mwamwaya covers the likes of Vampire Weekend and M.I.A., along with some infectious originals. A proper album should be comign in the next year.

    1. Femi Kuti – Day By Day (Mercer Street/Downtown) – Nigeria
    2. Kasai Allstars – In The 7th Moon, The Chief Turned Into A Swimming Fish And Ate The Head Of His Enemy By Magic (Crammed) – Congo
    3. The Very Best – Eau Mwamwaya & Radioclit Are The Very Best (Ghettopop/Green Owl)
    4. Amadou & Mariam – Welcome To Mali (Because) – Mali
    5. Gilberto Gil – Banda Larga Cordel (Warner Latina) – Brazil
    6. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (Disorient) – Nigeria
    7. Toumani Diabaté – The Mande Variations (World Circuit) – Mali
    8. Rokia Traoré – Tchamantché (Nonesuch/Tama) – Mali
    9. Juana Molina – Un Dia (Domino) – Argentina
    10. Marcelo Camelo – Sou (Sony/BMG, Brasil) – Brazil
    11. Calle 13 – Los De Atrás Vienen Conmigo (Norte) – Puerto Rico
    12. Vinicius Cantuaria – Cymbals (Naive) – Brazil
    13. Natacha Atlas & The Mazeeka Ensemble – Ana Hina (World Village) – Egypt
    14. Aterciopelados – Rio (Nacional) – Colombia
    15. Sonantes (Six Degrees)
    16. Orquestra Contemporânea de Olinda (Som Livre Apresenta)
    17. Marcelo D2 – A Arte Do Barulho (EMI Brasil)
    18. Melingo – Maldito Tango (Manana) – Argentina
    19. Bajofondo – Mar Ducle (Decca) – Argentina-Uruguay
    20. Umalali – The Garifuna Women’s Project (Cumbancha)

    New Americana, Country & Folk

    Johnny Flynn - A Larum
    Member of British folk group Sussex Wit showcases some impressive songwriting talent, and er, wit.

    1. Johnny Flynn – A Larum (Vertigo)
    2. Department of Eagles – In Ear Park (4AD)
    3. James Blackshaw – Litany Of Echoes (Tompkins Square)
    4. Death Vessel – Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us (Sub Pop)
    5. Jape – Ritual (V2)
    6. Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop)
    7. Shearwater – Rook (Matador)
    8. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Sunday At Devil Dirt (V2)
    9. The Gutter Twins – Saturnalia (Sub Pop)
    10. Sun Kil Moon – April (Caldo Verde)
    11. American Music Club – The Golden Age (Merge)
    12. Calexico – Calexico – Carried To Dust (Quarterstick)
    13. Laura Marling – Alas I Cannot Swim (Virgin)
    14. Lambchop – OH (Ohio) (City Slang)
    15. Blitzen Trapper – Furr (Sub Pop)
    16. Martha Wainwright – I Know You`re Married But I Got Feelings Too (Drowned In Sound)

    Hip Hop & Rap

    Flying Lotus - Los Angeles

    If you didn’t do some serious digging, you might agree that Nas was right last year that hip hop was dead, if you can’t stand the likes of Lil’ Wayne and T.I. Luckily we have Curtis Cross, aka Black Milk, formerly of Detroit’s Slum Village, hitting his peak with Tronic, a hard hitting album that draws on some awesomely brittle cyber funk, such as Gary Numan’s “Bombers” on “Hold It Down.” Finnish rapper Asa has another album. I wish it was easier to find. Chicago’s Rhymefest made a hilarious mix-tape tribute to Michael Jackson, complete with real interview snippets with the King of Pop that he interacts with.

    1. Flying Lotus – Los Angeles (Warp)
    2. Black Milk – Tronic (Fat Beats)
    3. Rhymefest – Man In The Mirror (Plugg City/Allido)
    4. Roots Manuva – Slime & Reason (Big Dada)
    5. Asa – Loppuasukas (Roihismusica) – Finland
    6. Dan le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip – Angles (Sunday Best)
    7. Kano – 140 Grime Street (BPM)
    8. The Roots – Rising Down (Def Jam)
    9. Q-Tip – The Renaissance (Universal Motown)
    10. Invincible – Shapeshifters (Emergence)
    11. Subtle – ExitingARM (Lex)
    12. Messiah J & the Expert – From The Word Go (Inaudible)
    13. Danny! – And I Love H.E.R. (Badenov/1911)
    14. Madvillain – Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remix (Stones Throw)
    15. EPMD – We Mean Business (EP Records)
    16. The Cool Kids – Bake Sale EP (Chocolate Industries)
    17. Nas (Def Jam)
    18. Common – Universal Mind Control (Geffen)
    19. T.I. – Paper Trail (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
    20. Young Jeezy – The Recession (Def Jam)
    21. Lil’ Wayne – Tha Carter III (Cash Money)

    R&B, Soul & Dancepop

    Anthony Hamilton - The Point Of It All

    Modern soul singers with an ounce of Southern grit are a rare species these days, and with D’Angelo and Bilal still missing, Anthony Hamilton is all the more valuable. His Bill Withers and Bobby Womack influenced pipes are better than ever on his fifth album. Erykah Badu impressed many with her wildly eclectic storytelling that taps into George Clinton’s space madness. Part One: Return of the Ankh was originally scheduled for a fall release, but I assume her label wanted to space out the goodies a bit. Let’s hope they don’t wait as long as Grace Jones — 19 years! While she may have dabbled in the studio some in between, Hurricane is her first official release since 1989, and it looks like Ms. Jones has been listening to some Massive Attack. Awesome. Stephanie McKay, a former member of Brooklyn Funk Essentials, has worked with Tricky and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. Her second album should really get more attention than it has. Another Anthony, another southern soul singer influenced by Bill Withers, but also the folky soul of Terrier Callier, who I finally got acquainted with this year thanks to the reissues. The more the merrier.

    1. Anthony Hamilton – The Point Of It All (Jive/Zomba)
    2. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part One (Motown)
    3. Grace Jones – Hurricane (Wall Of Sound)
    4. Alice Russell – Pot of Gold (Six Degrees)
    5. Stephanie McKay – Tell It Like It Is (Muthas Of Invention)
    6. Anthony David – Acey Ducey (Soulbird/Universal)
    7. Jamie Lidell – Jim (Warp)
    8. Solange – Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams (Geffen)
    9. Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It (Columbia)
    10. Al Green – Lay It Down (Blue Note)
    11. Girls Aloud – Out Of Control (Polydor)
    12. James Hunter – The Hard Way (Hear Music)
    13. Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple (Atlantic)
    14. Kanye West – 808s And Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella)
    15. The-Dream – Love/Hate (Def Jam)
    16. Ne-Yo – Year Of The Gentleman (Def Jam)
    17. Estelle – Shine (Atlantic/Homeschool)
    18. Pink – Funhouse (La Face)
    19. N.E.R.D. – Seeing Sounds (Interscope)

    Older albums discovered in 2008

    1. Finntroll – Ur Jordens Djup (Century Media) 07
    2. UFOmammut – Lucifer Songs (Supernatural Cat) 05
    3. NOMO – New Tones (Ubiquity) 06
    4. TAPE – Milieu (Häpna) 04
    5. Sigh – Hangman’s Hymn: Musikalische Exequien (The End) 07
    6. One More Grain – Pigeon English (Victory Garden) 07
    7. Seu Jorge – América Brasil O Disco (EMI/Naive) 07
    8. TAPE – Opera (Häpna) 02
    9. Made Out Of Babies – Coward (Neurot) 06
    10. UFOmammut – Snailking (American Music Cartel) 04
    11. UFOmammut – Godlike Snake (American Music Cartel) 00

    Albums I missed before I made the lists

    Nothing more frustrating than getting recommendations of imports the last week of the year that I couldn’t possibly find in time, unless I’m lucky enough to be able to download. No such luck with these.

    1. Sonantes (Six Degrees)
    2. Secret Shine – All of the Stars (Clairecords)
    3. Blackstrap – Steal My Horses and Run (Tee Pee)
    4. Umalali – The Garifuna Women’s Project (Cumbancha)
    5. Marcelo D2 – A Arte Do Barulho (EMI Brasil)
    6. Maga Bo – Archipelagos (Soot)
    7. Unni Løvlid – Rite (Grappa)
    8. Wildbirds & Peacedrums – The Snake (Caprice)
    9. Orquestra Contemporânea de Olinda (Som Livre Apresenta)
    10. Windsurf – Coastlines (Internasjonal)
    11. Efdemin – Carry On: Pretend We Are Not in the Room (Curle)
    12. Helios – Caesura (Type)
    13. Johan Agebjörn – Mossebo (Lotus Pike)


    The Individuals - Fields/Aquamarine

    Finally, for the first time ever on CD, for fans of The Embarrassment, Spiral Jetty, dBs, Bongos and The Feelies, it’s the long elusive, The Individuals! Considering Bar/None packed it full of B-sides and alternative takes, it’s a good sign that they’d do the Feelies right if the rumors are true that they’re also reissuing them. Hmm, and then maybe Spiral Jetty… Danseparc is the second part of a trilogy where producer Daniel Lanois played the Brian Eno part to the Muffins’ Talking Heads. Great stuff. The Rodriguez album has made a big splash in the music media, and it has a great back story. But the Terry Callier reissues have been unfairly ignored. Having first released a folk album in the early 60s, Chicago-born Callier released a trilogy of brilliant folk-soul albums that measure up to the best of the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Donny Hathaway, and arguably surpasses early 70s albums by Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Hopefully Verve will reissue the third installment, I Just Can’t Help Myself (1975) within the year.

    1. The Individuals – Fields/Aquamarine (Plexus/Bar/None) 81-82
    2. Martha And The Muffins – Danseparc (RCA/Cherry Red) 82
    3. Terry Callier – What Color Is Love (Cadet/Verve) 72
    4. Fripp & Eno – Evening Star (EG/Discipline) 75
    5. Rodriguez – Cold Fact (Light In The Attic) 70
    6. Eddy Grant – Walking In Sunshine [Deluxe Edition] (Ice/Universal) 79
    7. U2 – War [Deluxe] (Island) 83
    8. The Replacements – Let It Be 84
    9. Buzzcocks – Another Music In A Different Kitchen 78
    10. Buzzcocks – A Different Kind Of Tension 79
    11. Eddy Grant – Killer On the Ramage [Deluxe Edition] (Ice/Universal) 82
    12. The Lines – Flood Bank (Acute) 81-83
    13. New Order – Movement [2 CD] (Factory/Rhino) 81

      Awesome African 60s & 70s Compilations

    1. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo De Cotonou – Vodoun Effect (Analog Africa)
    2. Kante Manfila & Sorry Bamba – Clash Mandingue: Manding Dance Music of the 60’s (Oriki Music)
    3. African Scream Contest: Raw & Psychedelic Afro Sounds From Benin & Togo (Analog Africa)
    4. Nigeria Disco Funk Special: The Sound Of The Underground Laos Dancefloor (Soundway) 1974-79
    5. Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro-Rock & Fuzz Funk (Soundway) 1971-79
    6. Highlife Time: Nigerian & Ghanaian Sounds From the 60s & Early 70s (Vampi Soul)
    7. Fela Kuti – Lagos Baby 1963-69 (Vampi Soul)

    Click here to see the entire list of reissues.


    1. TV On The Radio – Golden Age
    2. Vampire Weekend – Campus
    3. Pete & The Pirates – She Doesn’t Belong To Me
    4. Anthony Hamilton – Fallin’ In Love
    5. Hot Chip – Are You Ready For The Floor
    6. Ra Ra Riot – Ghost Under Rocks
    7. Tricky – Council Estate
    8. Late Of The Pier – Space And The Woods
    9. Cut Copy – Out There On The Ice
    10. The Walkmen – In The New Year
    11. White Denim – Heart From All Of Us
    12. The Bug – Poison Dart (ft. Warrior Queen)
    13. Jamie Lidell – All I Wanna Do
    14. Air France – Collapsing At Your Doorstep
    15. Grace Jones – This Is
    16. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Moonland
    17. MGMT – Time To Pretend (Columbia)


    1. Slough Feg – Double Door, Aug 9
    2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Riviera, Sep 29
    3. Ed Harcourt – Schubas, Jul 18
    4. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – House Of Blues, Jun 30
    5. Mission Of Burma – Pitchfork, Jul 18
    6. TV On The Radio – Riviera, Oct 22
    7. The Mars Volta – Aragon, Apr 20
    8. Yeasayer – Schubas, Feb 8
    9. White Denim – Metro, Apr 11
    10. Boris – Pitchfork, Jul 19
    11. Gutter Twins – Metro, Mar 7
    12. Interiors – Empty Bottle, Sep 24
    13. Swervedriver – Metro, Jun 14
    14. White Rabbits – Schubas, May 20
    15. Pale Young Gentlemen – Schubas, Oct 19
    16. A Place To Bury Strangers – Schubas, Feb 17


    1. The Dark Knight
    2. WALL-E
    3. Kung-Fu Panda
    4. Horton Hears A Who
    5. Iron Man
    6. Rachel Getting Married
    7. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
    8. The Forbidden Kingdom
    9. Hancock
    10. Surfwise
    11. Tropic Thunder
    12. Spiderwick Chronicles
    13. The Fall

    Haven’t seen: Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, Ghost Town, Let The Right One In, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Penelope, Pineapple Express, Sex Drive, Synecdoche New York, The Tale Of Despereaux, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Other decent flicks: The Visitor, Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Run Fatboy Run, Be Kind Rewind, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Women, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Baby Mama, Over Her Dead Body, 27 Dresses, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.


    David Sheppard – On Some Faraway Beach: The Life And Times Of Brian Eno

    Three years ago I was thinking about how, along with Lee “Scratch” Perry, Brian Eno is associated with nearly a quarter of my top 100 favorite albums. Such a quirky, fascinating guy with a restless intellect really should have a biography. My wishes were answered with this beautiful, 450+ page hardcover.

    The writing was a bit precious and flowery in the beginning, but soon gets down to business, and does a great job of covering his life in narrative detail without getting boring (at least for your average music geek). Who knew that the dorky, balding skinny bloke with the feathers would be scoring twenty times more ass than Ferry? Sounds like it was 95% because of his gift of gab, while Ferry was more awkward and took a few years to grow into his suave dracula-lounge-lizard phase. I’m listened to everything as I read it. It’s illuminating, knowing the story behind Roxy Music, the Fripp collaborations, his first solo album, The Winkies, Manzanera’s album, solo and ambient work, Bowie, Ultravox, Devo, Talking Heads, etc. It covered everything pretty much to my full satisfaction, adding new levels of appreciation of his work and life.

    1. David Sheppard – On Some Faraway Beach: The Life And Times Of Brian Eno
    2. Austin Grossman – Soon I Will Be Invincible
    3. Daniel J. Levitin – This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
    4. Clinton Heylin – Babylon’s Burning: From Punk to Grunge
    5. Mark LeVine – Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam
    6. Stephanie Kuehnert – I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone
    7. Jonathon Lethem – You Don’t Love Me Yet
    8. David J. Schwartz – Superpowers
    9. Elizabeth Hay – Late Nights On Air
    10. Jancee Dunn – Don’t You Forget About Me

    Older Books Read in 2008

    1. Tom Robbins – Skinny Legs And All (1990)
    2. Roddy Doyle – The Commitments (1987)
    3. Jonathan Coe – The Rotters’ Club (2001)
    4. Jonathon Lethem – The Fortress of Solitude (2004)
    5. Craig Thompson – Blankets (2003)
    6. Thomas Pynchon – Mason & Dixon (1997)
    7. Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett – Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990)
    8. Iain Banks – Espedair Street (1987)
    9. David Katz – Solid Foundation: An Oral History Of Reggae (2003)
    10. Lewis Shiner – Glimpses (1993)
    11. Rudy Rucker – White Light (1980)
    12. Paul Ford – Gary Benchley, Rock Star (2005)
    13. Joey Goebel – The Anomolies (2003)
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