In line with tradition, here is my unordered, incomplete list of awesome albums from 2008. Things seem a bit folk heavy for me. Interesting. Do share your thoughts.
Small Sur – We Live in Houses Made of Wood
MP3: Small Sur – Roots
A subtle beauty, a gentle giant of a release from a local treasure. Bob Keal is calling us all back to nature; it’s a wondrous journey.
Zomes – S/T
Warm and addictive melodies make this album glow as Asa Osborne meticulously tinkers with tone and form.
Arbouretum/Pontiak – Kale Split
MP3: Pontiak – Green Pool
Two spectacular bands pay homage to the great John Cale, and bring along some of their own material to boot. Win/win.
Beach House – Devotion
MP3: Beach House – Gila
A glittering gem of a release, ornate and lush. Not to mention all the positive Baltimore PR they’ve been gathering.
Matmos – Supreme Balloon
Our fair city’s resident transplanted experimental superstars. How can you resist? You can’t.
Lo Moda – Replica Watches
MP3: Lo Moda – Real Real
Never has a band been so hard to pin down, so damn likable and addictive. The maturity of their songwriting is almost without compare, taut and diverse.
Imperial China – Methods: EP
Picking up where it feels like Q and Not U left off, Imperial China’s EP is a short-but-sweet blast of angular and textured experimentalism that has felt sorely lacking in DC where precious, diabetes-inducing indie-pop and overly ironic rock have prevailed as of late.
Caverns – Kittens! EP
A late-comer, sneaking in just under the wire at the end of December, this EP is the visceral punch in the gut and stab at the heart that I was waiting for all year. For me, instrumental rock doesn’t get much better than this.
CANNOT BE STOPPED – Mountain
I really remained firmly against one-man drum acts. Until I heard Farley Miller’s CANNOT BE STOPPED project. Consider me converted.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!
Ah Nick, do you never falter? Probably my favorite in his catalog, hands down. And that’s impressive.
These New Puritans – Beat Pyramids
An invigorating, underappreciated album filled with mesmerizing beats, a maelstrom of post-punk guitars, and dripping with the influence of dub and hip-hop.
High Places – High Places / 0307 – 0907
One of those times transcendent actually means something, High Places dropped TWO albums of zen-like beauty and inventive experimentalism.
Shearwater – Rook
MP3: Shearwater – Rooks
Achingly melodramatic, at times bordering on histrionic.
And I love every second of it.
Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet – S/T
Redefining how I view globalized music, truly proving that music is a language with universal aspects that can be tapped into, regardless of your culture of origin.
Probably my album of the year, if I had to choose one.
Horse Feathers – House With No Name
Folk meets classical amidst the twirling counterpoint of gentle string lines and gorgeous vocals.
Nina Simone – To Be Free
A timeless talent with a luscious voice with near-limitless range that could woo legions of men. This 3-CD and DVD box set is probably one of my most valuable purchases of 2008.
The Bug – London Zoo
Bass. Dub. Love.
At first I was slightly non-plussed about this record. But over time it became one of my most frequently spun all year. A dose of adrenalized, bittersweet joy.
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