Añejo Mockingbird

Used to be this place was mostly about music and pop culture, but it's slowly morphed into a launching pad for finding our foster greyhounds new homes. So be it. We love the hounds and are more than happy to use our modest little blog page to reach out and snag some attention for these greyt dogs... Oh, we'll still post the occasional odd music review or rant at the state of the Redskins from time to time, but they'll hafta take a back seat to the dogs 'til further notice

Location: Pennsylvania, United States

Music geek who appreciates everything from power-pop to indie-rock and most everything in between. I especially dig Reggae and its predecessor, Ska.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Best Albums of 2008

Don't call it a comeback, even if for some artists it certainly was. '08 saw the return to form of several acts that had been battling mediocrity for a wee bit longer than necessary. Below is the list of albums that I listened to most this year - there are a lot of really good albums out there that I can't list because I just didn't get the chance to hear/buy them all...

25. Switches - Lay Down The Law Super fun garage rawk from the UK, catchy and loud with the amps turned up to eleven.

24. Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line Indie band that both mines and updates late '80s, early '90s Cure and The Smiths.

23. Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple Heady mix of many musical styles condensed into a funky R&B stew. Nothing here is as catchy as "Crazy" from their previous album, but the album is better because of its consistency across all tracks.

22. The Explorers Club - Freedom Wind If you didn't know any better, upon listening to this disc, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a lost Beach Boys album. Amazingly good album that fans of the Beach Boys should pick up immediately. It's not aping Brian Wilson and Co. it's a lovingly crafted homage.

21. Smash Palace - Everybody Comes and Goes A blend of Beatle-esque power-pop, and Britrock with bits of Americana squeezed in from time to time.

20. Gojira - The Way Of All Flesh Death metal with many twists. The band's French; their name's Japanese (Godzilla); they're all about saving the environment via the warnings in their songs. This disc isn't for the faint of heart; those willing to listen with open minds will hear a lot of melody under the thunderous riffage. Although the vocals are firmly in the "growly" category, they do change them up a bit throughout the album. A great album that fans of Mastodon should dig.

19. REM - Accelerate Yep, it's a comeback. Yep, it's vintage REM. Yep, it's about damn time. My review here.

18. Roger Clyne And The Peacemakers - Turbo Ocho One of the best bands going rebounds from last year's disappointing album with a new batch of tunes built via a musical experiment. The band went to Mexico for eight days with the goal of writing and recording a song each day for this album's release - thus the name of the album. A remarkably cohesive set of songs that are simple, energized, catchy, and enthusiastic. The band threw in 3 extra songs that are fan favorites that have been around in one form or another but hadn't yet seen a proper release 'til now.

17. Panic At The Disco - Pretty. Odd. Band ditches their previous emo sound for a poptastic piece of psychedelia. A surprisingly good album.

16. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins A companion piece of sorts to last year's The Stage Names, which was fantastic. Will Sheff can always be counted on to make great, cinematic rock and roll albums in which stories are always unfolding.

15. Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul Yep, it's a comeback. Yep, it's vintage Oasis. Yep, it's about damn time. My review here.

14. Amon Amarth - Twilight Of The Thunder God More death metal in the best-of? Yeah man. This is an album full of hooks and melody, filled with songs about Norse battle Gods and such that sails the seas of what followers term Viking/Battle metal. Big fun to be found here.

13. Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak Whatever you think of Kanye as a rapper, he certainly knows his way around melodies and all of those things that make for interesting pop music. The vocals here are Autotuned and vocodered but they fit in wonderfully with the music. A pop experiment that works much better in real life than it does on paper. Worth checking out.

12. Why? - Alopecia This is a difficult album to categorize. It's kinda indie rock ("Fatalist Palmistry"), kinda alt/experimental hip-hop ("By Torpedo Or Crohns") and it has some very serious hooks. Whatever you call it, it's very good. Be warned: the lyrics are dark and sometimes head-scratchingly explicit ("Good Friday"). If you're feeling adventurous, this should be a considered purchase.

11. Old Crow Medicine Show - Tennessee Pusher Flat out fantastic mix of folk, bluegrass, and countrified rock. This album was crafted, not made.

10. AC/DC - Black Ice Yep, it's a comeback. Yep, it's vintage AC/DC. Yep, it's about damn time. My review here.

9. Coldplay - Viva La Vida Forget the haters, they're brain-damaged. This disc is chock full of hooky, hooky goodness. Anthems that stick with you wherever you go. Yeah, Chris Martin's not the world's greatest lyricist, you'll be too busy singing along to notice.

8. Cloud Cult - Feel Good Ghosts Bubbly, electro/pyschedelic pop in the manner of the Flaming Lips. Craig Minowa plays most of the instruments here, even though it's under the band's name. Cloud Cult albums always deal with spirits and spirituality and the search for answers and/or peace. This band does everything it can to help with the environment, from planting trees to make up for the paper used in the CD liner, to buying carbon credits for their album's carbon footprint. A great album from many angles.

7. The Favorites - Bright Nights, Bright Lights 2nd best power-pop album of the year. Those bemoaning the fact that Fountains Of Wayne didn't put out an album this year can find happiness with this one.

6. Michael Franti and Spearhead - All Rebel Rockers Best reggae album I heard this year. Very hooky melodies and a lot of fun to listen to. Mixes some contemporary sounds in, but maintains an old-school feel. Not as overtly political as past Spearhead albums, consequently it's more fun.

5. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound A throwback rock album that shows its debt to early Bruce Springsteen. This album came out of nowhere - I just downloaded it a few weeks back and fell in love with it immediately. Well worth your time if you like Springsteen, Petty, et al.

4. Nada Surf - Lucky The best power-pop album of the year hands down. Ebola level catchiness - 'Nuff said.

3. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes Fantastic album that absolutely lived up to all the blog hype. Great music, great voices and harmonies. There are no weak spots on this album. It's jangly. It's folky. It's a gorgeous sounding album that deservedly captured the top spot on many year end lists.

2. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive Another incredible album from the best band in America. There's currently nobody that can match the songwriting and storytelling that comes from Craig Finn and bandmates. These guys just keep churning out album after album of well-crafted rock songs that stick in your ears like they were glued there.

1. Earth - The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull
Best album of the year by far and a somewhat surprising choice for me. This album is an instrumental album that flies its freak flag under the drone/doom metal category. I like catchy, melodious stuff, and at first glance you wouldn't think this disc would be anything approaching catchy and melodious. You'd be wrong for thinking that, though. I reviewed this album at the beginning of the year and loved it then - I love it just as much now. A brilliant album that is always revealing new layers of gorgeous sound every time it plays. Read my review at Trees And Things, download the MP3 linked in the review and then listen to Earth on Pandora or wherever. You may find yourself as surprisingly enthralled as I've been. If you are, please pick up this superb disc; my favorite release of 2008