Wednesday, January 28, 2009

10 Albums of 2008

I'd been meaning to do a post on music for a while. The ten albums (not necessarily) from 2008 that really made the year for me. It was going to be written over break, but then I never actually got around to it. So here at long last is Nathan's list of the 10 albums that made 2008 for me.

We'll start at the beginning of the year with a little promo that I got from my friend Duke. Jason Anderson's sophomore release, Tonight actually came out in 2007. With only 8 tracks one would think it's a light release, but he breathlessly plays out pop gems that run almost 10 minutes each. His sound (supposedly a marked departure from his more stripped down acoustic) verges on motown and classic songs of the later 50s. Favorite song is "July 4, 2004"

Following not long on those heals was a release I'd been dearly waiting for. Mike Doughty's fourth release (Fifth if you count Smofe + Smang) post-Soul Coughing "Golden Delicious." Following his first two albums, Skittish and Rockity Roll, Mike filled out his sound with a band reminiscent of the Dave Matthews Band minus the horn section. Scrap on Bass and Pete on drums, and from time to time other artists. For this album they added a fourth, Dan Chen on keys. Favorite Song is "I Just Want the Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep on Dancing"

Earlier last year Mike Doughty started a record label The Snack Bar. The first band he signed to it was a little group called the Panderers. I don't know much about them other than that they are the most badass sounding group I've ever heard, and I wish I could find more. They have a self released album called "Songs That Bang" that I've never heard, and from what I've found is nearly impossible to get a hold of. But their 4 song EP, Hotshot's Boy, has been rocking my iPod for a year. Their song Shane is the inspiration for one of the bad guys in my novel. It's also my favorite song from the album.

Duke plugged me into Cloud Cult with their album, The Meaning of 8, but it didn't stick with me. While his brain was exploding over interesting lyrics and even more interesting instrumentation I was left hanging and saying "ok, now what?" Then this last year he tossed me "Feel Good Ghosts (Tea Partying Through Tornadoes)." My brain finally exploded and I learned a real appreciation for this band. And it's more than just their music that hooks me. They are the most "green" band I've ever heard of, conscious of the environmental footprint they make and managing to reduce it to zero. Check out "No One Said it Would Be Easy."

Regina Spektor is one of those discoveries of a lifetime for me. I'd vaguely heard her those few times I listen to pop radio, but never actively. Then over spring break while out in LA I heard her album "Begin to Hope" on an 8 hour drive north to San Francisco. Back in Chicago I sought out the rest of her sound, and it's now a staple of my iPod. My favorite song is not off this album actually, but is still good "Us"

I have a large music collection. It makes every listening a discovery. This is true for the next two artists who I discovered on my iPod during my week up at Houghton Lake. The first is the Dear Hunter. This is the side project of the former frontman of The Recieving End of Sirens, this is a massive undertaking to make a 6 album concept with an overarching story. The sounds range from Beach Boys harmony, to the post punk sound that is popular on many alternative stations, to dabblings in Sergeant Pepper's brilliance. I couldn't pick an individual album of the first two acts that are out because they are such a cohesive unit. I eagerly await Act 3, due out sometimes soon. Song to check out is "Smiling Swine" off of Act 2.

The other artist I discovered was equally as sporadic with his sound. Magnet is the moniker of Norwegian born Even Johansen. Also discovered on my iPod during my week at Houghton Lake. His sound ranges from a very Jason Mraz-esque folk rock sound, to covers of Bob Marley and dabblings in an almost Rat Pack jazz. Off of his album, The Simple Life, definitely check out the opening track, "The Gospel Song.

There isn't really a whole lot more that I can say about Coldplay's recent release Viva La Vida. It's been topping the charts. It's the best album they've put out yet, filling out their airy synths with more textured and full string sections. I'm in love with the title track.

I recently saw Frightened Rabbit in concert at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. They played most of their entire album, The Midnight Organ Fight. The first time I heard the album I fell in love with the first track, "The Modern Leper," but in listening to the album in preparation for the concert my favorite song would have to be "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms." The singer has a very unique voice flavored by his thick scotish accent.

Snow Patrol has created a sound that I've been in love with since I started college and was introduced to their album, Final Straw. Eyes Open, their sophomore big label release blew my mind with the sort of title song "Open Your Eyes." Now on their third major release, A Hundred Million Suns, they have reached a level of awesomeness, building on the sound they were perfecting in Eyes Open. Their ability to texture and layer and create slowly swelling songs that turn into sweeping arena epics are second to none. My favorite song is the first movement of their big CD closing epic, "The Lighting Strikes: (1) What if this Storm Ends?"

And that is the 10 albums that moved me through 2008. Download them. Love them. Let me know what you think.