Think you were done reading 2008 year-end lists? Not quite! Here’s the rundown of my three favorites from a great year of tunes.
1. Dear Science, - TV on the Radio
Rolling Stone is getting some stuff right these days, and one of them is putting TV on the Radio’s most accessible album to date at the tip-top. For years I had been wondering when I would have my first experience listening to a masterpiece album when it dropped, and Dear Science, provided the opportunity. Tunde’s “Ba-ba-bas” on “Halfway Home” signal an album loaded with singalongs sure to fail as fans attempt to create the hauntingly beautiful voices of Tunde Adembimpe and Kyp Malone. “Family Tree,” my favorite song of 2008, moved me almost to tears from the ethereal piano and perfect place shaker beat. Its line “cozy red rainbows” is one of the most interesting bits of imagery I have heard in today’s popular music. The album ends with a bang, literally. Malone’s song “Lover’s Day,” is a song lyrically about fucking, and a march-worthy tune to back it up.
2. In the Future - Black Mountain
Being a sucker for some good Psychedelia, I loved Black Mountain’s In the Future. Listen up, Zeppelin fans, if you haven’t heard this record yet, I’d highly recommend it. Stephen McBean’s songwriting is the basis for a band that knows how to flesh out a song. Dazzling key work and intense drums keep the record sounding full during the balls to wall rock and roll Black Mountain can create. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the sound is Amber Webber’s soulful, pleading voice. Its eerie beauty propels this record to heights of beauty, and high on my list (“Highs” seem to be a motif and creative tool for the members of Black Mountain).
3. Evil Urges – My Morning Jacket
Despite the scrutiny, the soul inspired LP from MMJ this year proves to be one of the most forward moving pieces of rock, while getting in touch with the “golden age of music.” A nearly immediate starkness is the funk-metal song “Highly Suspicious.” Carl Broemel provides the throat-shredding titular chorus while Jim James does some Prince inspired squeals. Its oddball sound can alienate some devotees, but seeing the track live solidifies it as a misunderstood piece of Rock & Roll gold. There is familiar territory for MMJ in this release as well, as in “Aluminum Park,” which could be a stripped down version of a track off Z. The eight-minute disco closer is one of the best tracks James and Co. have put out, and makes for a great outro for my number three album of 2008.
These albums, in my opinion, rocked the harder than most other albums released this past year (except for Chinese Democracy, of course). Also, it kind of pains me not to put Fleet Foxes, Jay Reatard, and the Hold Steady on here, but that just gives an example of how good 2008 was for new music.