December 22, 2008

elephant journal presents the Top Ten Albums of 2008.


Here are my top ten albums of 2008, hope you enjoy. Leave me a comment below and let me know if you suggest anything else, or disagree with my picks!


Fleet Foxes – Self Titled  
Why is this the best of ’08? It’s new, refreshing, and sounds nothing like the other bands of 2008. As mentioned in my previous blog, it’s more along the lines of the warm harmonious sounds of the 60’s and 70’s.
Favorite Songs? White Winter Hymnal, Ragged Wood, Blue Ridge Mountains
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? When the piano enters “Blue Ridge Mountains” at 2:03 and Robin Pecknold sings: “In the quivering forest, where the shivering dog rests, our good grandfather, built a wooden nest.” Magical!
Interesting Notes? They have many more records in them, they’re from Seattle, and they have wooly beards.


My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
Why is this the best of ’08? Pure unadulterated rock & roll, anchored by funky grooves. No one does it like MMJ. This music is not for everyday, it is for big moments.
What songs rise to the top? Highly Suspicious, Touch Me I’m Going To Scream (Part 1 & 2), I’m Amazed
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? When Jim James explodes in a ball of funk nasty falsetto fury and sings 9 octaves higher than any other rock and roll band and/or Mariah Carey.
Interesting Notes? Full disclosure: I used to work for MMJ’s booking agent… which means I have been rocking out to the Jacket for a long time. In fact, Jim James introduced me to Bookers bourbon. It packs a punch.


Blitzen Trapper – Furr
Why is this the best of ’08? It’s a mix of old school American folk tales with a splash of hard rock. Where else where you hear tales of murder, hard travels, and psychedelic americana?
What songs rise to the top? Furr, Black River Killer, Stolen Shoes and a Rifle.Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? The haunting pedal steel on “Stolen Shoes and a Rifle”.
Interesting Notes? The album cover rocks really really hard.


Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Why is this the best of ’08? You know the story. Dude holes himself up in woods. Dude cuts down trees and builds cabin. Dude hunts wild animals. Dude emerges with musical masterpiece. 
What songs rise to the top? Lump Sun, Blindsided, For Emma
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? In “Skinny Love”, when he sings out “And I told you to be patient…” with SO much emotion.
Interesting Notes? I bet he used a chain saw to build his own cabin. Lame. An axe would make him so much cooler. Seriously though, this album takes some listener focus, but it is great.


Keane – Perfect Symmetry
Why is this the best of ’08? From the get-go, this album makes me want to shake my hips, pump my fist, and conquer the world. 80’s dance influenced well-written hand-clapping brit-rock.
What songs rise to the top? Better Than This, Again & Again, Love Is The End
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? From “Pretend That You’re Alone”, “I wonder what I’d do if I could wake up every morning with a clean slate, I’d burn through the cites, tear through the town cos there’s no deals to make”.
Interesting Notes? in ’06, Coldplay released a blah boring album called X&Y. Keane released “Under The Iron Sea”. Not only did Keane’s album have a better album cover, but it was better overall. But maybe not in ’08…


Coldplay – Viva la Vida
Why is this the best of ’08? It’s just up there with anything. Yes, overplayed. But it’s just too good to omit from the list.
What songs rise to the top? Death And All His Friends, Lovers in Japan (Reign of Love), Lost?
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? “No, I don’t want to battle from beginning to end, I don’t want to cycle or recycle revenge, I don’t want to follow death and all of his friends”. It’s mantra of breaking away from the cycle of death, and living with love. It shakes me into living a more purposeful life. 
Interesting Notes? The acoustic bonus tracks of “Lost?” and “Lovers in Japan”  that are available via iTunes are amazing!


JayMay – Autumn Fallin’
Why is this the best of ’08? It’s clever, funny, quirky, sweet, and catchy. Her voice is so attractive, and she plays on words in the coolest way. Do I have a crush on her?
What songs rise to the top? Gray or Blue, Blue Skies, Sea Green See Blue
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? The xylophone and background vocals in “Gray or Blue”.  And the lyrics, “I can’t keep staring at your mouth without wondering how it tastes”… her wordplay is brilliant.
Interesting Notes? Her debut album is on the biggest jazz label ever, Blue Note Records.


Daniel Lanois –  Here Is What Is
Why is this the best of ’08? Daniel Lanois is a true original. Known for producing albums like U2’s Joshua Tree, Lanois is a sound guru… creating the lushest tones mixed with deeply spiritual music… it’s really a work of beauty.
What songs rise to the top? Where Will I Be, I’m Not Fighting Anymore, Here Is What Is
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric?  “I’m not fighting anymore, gonna let it all go, the mountain of a man, like the sun on the snow, I’m not fighting anymore, not keeping score, gonna let it all fade…”
Interesting Notes? The pedal steel sounds amazing throughout the album, and Garth Hudson (The Band) plays keys. Oh, and you can buy this direct from his website.                


Mason Jennings – In The Ever
Why is this the best of ’08? Mason satisfies my appetite for melody, humor, and spirituality. I get bored easily with singer-songwriters, but I can’t get enough of Mason!
What songs rise to the top? I Love You and Buddha Too, Your New Man, How Deep Is That River
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? The combo of a simple tambourine, playful piano, and the funny yet sincere lyrics saying “I love you Jesus… and Buddha too”.
Interesting Notes? His publishing company is called Mystical Pony of The Stars Music…. hilarious!


The New Frontiers – Mending
Why is this the best of ’08? How can a little known Indie rock band sneak into my top ten? Because this album is absolutely brilliant. The melodies are gorgeous and catchy, the guitar tones rich, the lyrics inspiring…  my favorite album of the year!
What songs rise to the top? Mirrors, Strangers, Passing On, This Is My Home… they’re all great!
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? “Life is what it makes of you, so don’t be afraid to walk alone. Babies scream when they are born, so I’m not afraid of passing on”, from the song “Passing On”.
Interesting Notes? OH Sh*T!! They broke up last month!! Bummer bummer bummer. I hate it when that happens!!

Also, be sure to check out my recent blog on the Fleet Foxes! For more music we here at elephant like, check out Mr. Boulder Theater Kirk Peterson’s write ups.

Blog by Rusty Ralston


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