Best of 2008 – Avalanche

Avalanche

2008 Top 10 Albums
Having read a few ‘best of’ lists already, it seems that many find 2008 a disappointing year for music. I, on the other-hand think that 2008 year was far better than 2007 with plenty of records that will make my permanent rotation. Here are my most played albums of 2008 in no particular order.

Cut Copy – “In Ghost Colours”
I loved “The Cutters” New Order-channeling synth debut ‘Hot Like Neon Love’ but this record blew its doors clean off. How this synth-pop masterwork isn’t topping every Top 10, is beyond reason.

Hot Chip – “Made in the Dark”
Anytime you have Kylie Minogue clamoring for your songs (as ‘The Chippers’ do) then you are doing something right. Like many on this list (Cut Copy, Ladytron, and Ruby Isles) this is a standout New Wave synth record. Hot Chip probably has more song-writing depth than Cut Copy, but this record isn’t quite as consistently awesome as “In Ghost Colours”. Do I see a modern Beatles vs. Stones rivalry brewing?

Laibach – “Volk Songs”
These eastern bloc agro-industrial behemoths provide 13 anthems, one for each of 13 countries some of which include ode’s to Russia, USA, Turkey, and Vatican City (!?!). The tracks are loosely based on each country’s national anthem as well as text from important leaders – a multi-nation nationalistic anthem album. Now that is a concept album.

Ladytron – “Velocifero”
‘Velocifer’ is a beautiful and consistently great synth-based record. What a great year for keyboard driven bands.

Ruby Isles – “Night Shot”
This is the return of the mastermind of one of my all time favorite bands, I Am The World Trade Center in the form of the recently formed Ruby Isles. If you like your synth pop driving and bouncy, this album has some rare gems.

The Kills – “Midnight Boom”
Outside of perhaps the very stylistically different Dean and Britta, The Kills make the best m/f duet going. This band of bad-ass drum-machine backed rock is the coolest outfit going. “Midnight Boom” is a concerted move forward from their previous two stellar records. A Must have.

The Weather Machines – “Bones and Brains”
The Weather Machines and their “Bones and Brains” ep makes the best (and only!) entry out of the West Coast. The Weather Machines with their slight ‘Big Star’ leanings make for the latest in the great tradition of excellent Portland, Oregon based bands.

Bauhaus – “Go Away White”
With “Go Away White” Bauhaus managed to come up with a record that sounds like a long-lost never released Bauhaus album. I was expecting a ‘what-might-have-been’ and got a prequel instead which I didn’t think was even possible.

Jeremy Jay – “A Place Where We Could Go”
If Jeremy Jay had a better backing band, I could see this guy putting out full-tilt hum-dinger of a record in the near future. Jeremy Jay has some of the trappings that befall singer-songwriters but I have to say I enjoy this record.

Oranges Band – “Are Invisible”
This, the latest from The Oranges Band, is straight up killer hook-laden rock and roll. This former Lookout Records Baltimore based band hopefully should become more ‘visible’ with this record.

Side Note:
The Wedding Present – “El Ray” should be on here, but I was out of town when they played NY, and since I was expecting to get the record at the show, haven’t heard it yet. My bad.

Here are two albums that, by all rights, should be on this top 10 list but aren’t because, well, I am a petty, nit-picking jerk:

Magnetic Fields – “Distortion”

At the onset of this year, this was a sure-fire Top 10 record. Although many of the songs are characteristically prime Merritt, this album disappoints a bit due to their own ridiculously high expectations set by previous output and poor production.

Rosebuds – “Life Like”
Probably due to officious pressure from fans and/or critics The Rosebuds largely ditched the keyboards that I thought suited them so well in the “Night of the Furies” record. They lost the keyboards and I was a bit let down, so this one just misses my Top 10. Tsk Tsk.

2008 Top 10 Shows
If 2008 was a good year for releases, it was a monster great year for live shows. I had a tough time getting this list down to 10. I was pretty good about posting a track from the most memorable 2008 shows, so be sure to check out the TSOI archive, when available, if you want to hear a track and comments about the top 2008 shows. It is worth noting that most of these are veteran bands, which doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but should come as a heads-up to the young bands. Again, in no particular order:

Siouxie Sioux – Irving Plaza (see Feb 21 TSOI post)
Peter Murphy – Blender Theater (see July 03 TSOI post)
Killing Joke – Irving Plaza (see Nov 21 TSOI post)
Low – Bell House (see Oct 29 TSOI post)
Daniel Higgs (Lungfish) – Knitting Factory (see May 09 TSOI post)
Dean and Britta – Zipper Factory (see Nov 10 and Sept 09 TSOI posts)
Swervedriver – Bowery Ballroom(see June 26 TSOI post)
Wire – South Street Seaport (see June 13 TSOI post)
Laibach – Town Hall(see June 18 TSOI post)
Vaselines – Southpaw (see July 29th TSOI post)
Some Honorable Mentions:
OhGr – Blender Theater
Robyn Hitchcock/Nick Lowe/Elvis Costello – Grand Ballroom (see April 24 TSOI post)
Matt and Kim – Club Exit (see Aug 01 TSOI post)
Hercules and Love Affair (see Aug 13 TSOI post)
Echo and the Bunnymen – Radio City Music Hall (see Nov 12 TSOI post)

Stinkers:

There were a few stinkers this year:

My Bloody Valentine – Roseland (see Oct 17 TSOI post)
Yaz – Terminal 5
These old farts started so early that they were done by the time I showed up at 9:30. Lame.
Oasis – Terminal 5 I was inordinately lucky to get tickets for this rare club performance but Oasis canceled due to a Gallagher brother injury, which somehow didn’t prevent them from monkeying around at the Paul Weller show the day before they were to perform at their canceled gig.(see Oct 01 TSOI post).

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