Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Best Records of 2008

01. Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark

This sprawling two-record set is a near perfect snapshot of people living life on America's margins.

02. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes/Sun Giant

I was so taken by their 'beard' inducing performance at San Francisco's Bottom of the Hill in June of this year, I traveled up to Portland in late July to see'em at The Doug Fir. In between shows I did find time to actually listen to the record - again, again and again. While I do prefer them in a live settting (the execution of their four-part harmonies are as good as I've ever heard), I find the record to be just short of perfection. What we have is a group of guys that use cross-pollination of sound to the fullest - folk, gospel, choral, rock and what the pundits like to call,"baroque harmonic pop." Musically, they're a modern day Band. Vocally, along the lines of CSNY & The Beach Boys. As for the MMJ/Band of Horses comparisons, I don't hear it. While the utilization of a piece of outboard gear (reverb) can create vibe and atmosphere, it will not write songs for you.

A classic for the new age.

03. The Dexateens - Lost and Found

Proficient, inspired, Southern garage rock. It’s not an exaggeration to say that they just might turn into one of the next great rock 'n' roll bands.

04. Peter Bruntnell - Peter and the Murder of Crows

Terrific, sparse arrangements. Bruntnell’s voice is his second finest asset, second only to his songwriting.

05. Hayden - In Field and Town

Cutting, poignant and spiteful, Hayden's conversational, wistful voice can make anything sound authentic.

06. The Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Grave

With his ramshackle delivery, nimble fingerpicking, and whimsical lyrics, you get a sense that the Tallest Man on Earth has spent a lot of time absorbing Harry Smith's Anthology of Folk Music and The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

07. Robert Pollard - Is Off To Business

As the first full release for his new record label, Guided by Voices, Inc., this record is the start of a new era and if it's a sign of what’s to come, then Pollard’s long-time fans should rejoice.

08. Blitzen Trapper - Furr

A focused collection of rustic, freewheeling tracks that sound like the lovechild of The Dead and The Kinks.

09. Dungen - 4

Swedish revivalists, 'DOONG-un', continue to make genuinely great psychedelic music that seems to go relatively unnoticed.

10. Chris Mills - Living in the Aftermath

For fans of songcraft, hooks and flat out rock 'n' roll. I still wonder how in the hell no one knows who Chris Mills is.

The Best Records of 2008 (Part Two to follow)

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