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Monday, December 29, 2008

Finally, it's here! 2008's top 20 albums

I meant to post this a while ago, but it's been a busy time of year. I hope everyone has had a very nice holiday and here's to having a very safe and happy new year! Enjoy, JP

1.Okkervil River – The Stand Ins

Fuck yeah! I love this album. Their last album was hyped up, so naturally I dismissed it for being acclaimed by all the so called critics, but I can openly admit now that I was wrong, because the “Stage Names” has become one of my favorites. Needless to say, when the new album came out, I got it the day it was released. There was a point where it was all I listened to for days. Great lyrics and incredible songwriting overall make this my favorite album of the year. If you don’t have a copy of it, get it and sit back and listen. I think you will like it.

Key Tracks – Lost Coastlines, Singer Songwriter, Calling and Not Calling My Ex, Pop Lie

Lost Coastlines

Calling and Not Calling My Ex

2. Portishead – Third

Like the rest of their fans, I have been waiting with great anticipation for this album to come out and thank god it was no Chinese Democracy. Unlike Axl, these guys make it worth the wait. A very complex album with a ton of noises going on in the background that seems difficult to pull off, but that is why I attached the live takes of some of these songs because it is quite impressive to see how they pull this off. A great dark trip hop album that will haunt you and make you move. It should not cause night terrors though.

Key tracks – Silence, The Rip, We Carry On & Machine Gun


We Carry On

3. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Beautiful harmonies accompanied by very well orchestrated music is why this was the year’s biggest surprise for me. In fact, I am still kicking myself for not going to see them play a free show at the Petrillo Band Shell this summer. Imagine you caught the beach boys and put them in a cage with Dylan back in the day. It might sound something like this. It also goes extremely well with the holidays.

Key Tracks - He Doesn’t Know Why, White Winter Hymnal, Ragged Wood

Ragged Wood

White Winter Hymnal

4. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

This album was a very nice surprise for this year. This came out with a lot of hype and as always with a lot of hype there is a long way to fall, but this album actually did a pretty good job of living up to it. Picture yourself listening to this while wearing a pastel colored polo with a white sweater tied around your neck lying nicely on your shoulders while walking around with your brand new top of the line Sony walkman. It’s a good feeling!

The album combines simple David Byrne pop with a world music influence to it. I guess if you took the Talking Heads and had them make an afro-beat album; it would sound similar to this. Whether that is your thing or not, this is a very good album and one of my favorites of the year.

Key Tracks – Mansard Roof, Oxford Comma, A-Punk, M79, Campus & The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance


Oxford Comma

5. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals

No other album this year put a larger smile on my face than this album did the first time I heard it. A mash up dance album that is absolutely perfect. Let me tell you the first time I heard Big Country’s “In a big country” mixed with “whoop, there it is!” my mind was freaked.

Key Tracks – Play your part (part 1), Set it Off, No Pause & Hands in the Air. Really, this album should be listed in one take from beginning to end.

Still Here

Like This

Hands in the Air

6. Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Flight

This was given to me by a friend this fall and I couldn’t have been happier to receive it than I did. It was something new that I had not heard but with a sound that was very familiar to what I am used to. This Scottish band blends sounds from bands such as Travis, Arcade Fire, The Shins, Badly Drawn Boy and there is even one song that has a bit of a Ned’s Atomic Dustbin sound. Now, I am just waiting for them to tour with Travis and the Mull Historical Society and call their tour the “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap” tour. I’d go!

Key t racks – The Modern Leper, Heads Roll, Twist, I Fell Better

Heads Roll Off

I Feel Better

7. Sea and Cake – Car Alarm

What could be labeled as Chicago’s very own supergroup, the Sea and Cake continue to keep putting out quality albums that sound completely different than what is out on the music market these days. The musical stylings of Archer Prewitt and Sam Prekop have not sounded better in years and that is exactly why this album has made my top ten. Individually, these guys are absolutely amazing musicians and together they can almost form the Voltron robot of the music scene. If you are unfamiliar with these guys, think of smooth experimental mellow rock and roll.

Key tracks – Aerial, On a Letter, Car Alarm, Weekend


On a Letter

8. Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul

OK, I am not going to write much about this, because if anyone knows me they know I love this band and are also probably surprised I didn’t make it my album of the year. Well, although it is good, it is not as good as the others on the list ahead of it.

In this album, Noel and Liam continue to prove that they can write quality songs and are now receiving help from Gem and Andy Bell. Overall, a very good album that shows these guys can still rock.

Key tracks – Shock of Lightening, Waiting for the Rapture, I’m Outta Time, Bag it Up, Falling Down

Shock of Lightening

Waiting for the Rapture

9. The Dodos – Visiter

This Bay Area duo released one of the best new albums of the year and it was the perfect time for this band to hit the streets. Giving the kids who bought the Vampire Weekend album something else to listen to, these 2 guys made a great album that could appeal to the mainstream and all those indie rock nerds too. Sort of an artsy alternative folk act, the dodos can make a pretty big sound with 2 just pieces. Think of something in-between the violent femmes and wilco, with a hint of Elliott Smith.

Key tracks – Walking, Red and Purple, Fools, Winter and Jodi



10. Dr. Dog – Fate

This was one band that I always had on the backburner. Always meaning to listen to them, but never getting around to it. Well, this year I finally did and I found one of the best surprises of the year. This Philadelphia band takes a lot of cues from great American rock and roll legends such as Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys and combines them with some good soulful sounds. Philly Dans La Maison!!!

Key Tracks – The Breeze, Hang On, The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer, From & Uncovering the Old

Hang On

The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer

11. Spiritualized – Songs in A&E

Last year I went to go see Spiritualized play an acoustic show at the Apollo theatre and since then I was sitting with great anticipation to hear this album. When it came out, I was extremely pleased with the final product. As Spiritualized is one of the reasons that I am in love with music, I am also very critical of the things that Jason Spaceman releases because I try to compare everything to his first album Lazer Guided Melodies and I need to learn that nothing will ever be as good as that album.

Jason does continue to blend a very solid balance of drug induced rock and roll with gospel tones. Some may say sacrilege, but I say genius.

Key tracks – Soul on Fire, You Lie You Cheat, Yeah Yeah, I Gotta Fire, Borrowed Your Gun

Soul on Fire

You Lie You Cheat

12. The Raveonettes – Lust, Lust, Lust

It is no secret that I am a sucker for distortion on a bass guitar. When it is done correctly, it can provide you with the COOLEST FUCKING SOUND ON THE PLANET. Now when you accompany that with a hot bass player and REALLY LOUD FUCKING GUITARS, you get the Raveonettes.

Key tracks – Aly, walk with me, Hallucinations, Dead Sound, Blush & You Want the Candy

Aly, Walk With Me


13. British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?

Yes, Yes I do! And if you do too, you will listen to this album.

Key tracks – No Lucifer, Waving Flags, Canvey Island, A Trip Out & All In It

No Lucifer

Canvey Island

14. Liam Finn – I’ll Be Lightening

The son of Neil Finn, Liam is starting to separate himself from his dad’s shadow and make a pretty solid name for him. In this album, you can hear how his dad has influenced his songwriting by showing him how to write beautiful melodies, but you can also hear how musicians like Elliott Smith and John Lennon have influenced him as well.

This album is filled with great songs that can lead one to believe that this kid has a long future in this business.

Key Tracks – Better to Be, Second Chance, Lead Balloon, Wise Man & I’ll Be Lightening

Better to Be

Second Chance

15. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer

Canada strikes again! Not only do our neighbors from the north take care of their residents with health benefits, but they are also exporting awesome these days too. The sophomore album by these French Canadians proves to be a successful follow up to their last album while keeping their quirky heavy rocking synth sound.

Key Tracks – Soldier’s Grin, Language City, California Dreamer, The Grey Estates

Soldier’s Grin

The Grey Estates

16. Broken Social Scene Presents…. Brendan Canning – Something for All of Us

The second album in the series of “solo” albums called Broken Social Scene Presents, Brendan Canning takes us on a tour of his contributions to the Canadian Rock and Roll Collective. Showing that he is the Ying to Kevin Drew’s Yang, Brendan puts together a collection of different types of sounds ranging from experimental and straight forward rock and roll to even a disco tune. More of a composer than a front man, Brendan shows all the broken social scene fans with this album that he is one of the main reasons the band has such a fantastic sound.

Key Tracks – Something for all of us, Hit the Wall, Churches Under the Stairs, Love is New

Hit the Wall

Churches Under the Stairs

17. Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell

A fun little band from Canada. I know it seems like all things coming out of Canada are pretty fucking cool these days, but these guys can actually stand up and prove it. I’ll admit it that these guys are not for everyone, because they can be a little teeny boppy, but on a whole they have a nice blend of 80’s synth pop and punk rock. Normally I would say this combination would be annoying, but they seem to pull it off pretty well. Think of a more rocking version of the Rentals.

Key Tracks – In A Cave, Juno, Tessellate & Your English is Good


In A Cave

18. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Real Emotional Trash

The former lead singer of Pavement comes out with possibly his most accessible album since the last Pavement album. Still showing off his quirky side, Malkmus combines that talent with some amazing pop and rock and roll hooks. A pleasant surprise for the year and still keeps hope alive that one day a new Pavement album will arrive.

Key tracks – Dragonfly Pie, Hopscotch Willie, Gardenia & We Can’t Help You

We Can’t Help You


19. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

The big “IT” album to start off the year, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this album from this dance group from New York. A lot of hype, but still a lot of good tunes on this debut album. Overall this is just a fun piece of work that will make you get up and move. Great listening to have a party to or to even just clean your home too.

Key tracks – Time to Pretend (one of the best singles of the year in my mind), Kids, Electric Feel & Weekend Wars

Time to Pretend

Electric Feel

20. Travis – Ode to J. Smith

Ah, OJ Smith, he just can’t go away, well until this album came out. Has anybody else noticed that it was only a matter of weeks after this album was released in the states that OJ was finally put behind bars? Coincidence? Not sure, but either good job! Anyway, the Scottish rock sensation known as Travis, follows up last year’s album with another great piece of work. If these last two albums would have followed “The Man Who,” these guys would still be playing large venues in the states.

Key tracks – Something Anything, J. Smith, Chinese Blues, Long Way Down & Last Words

Something Anything

J. Smith

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

30 - 21

30. Black Keys – Attack & Release
The Akron, OH duo got Danger Mouse to produce this album and you can definitely tell which songs he had an influence on. From what I have read, this album was originally supposed to be a Black Keys and Ike Turner album, but due to Turner’s death this past year, DM went on and produced a full black keys album. I’m still interested to how that album would have sounded. Oh well, here are a couple songs from Attack & Release.

Strange Times

I Got Mine

29. Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
I gave up on these guys because their album in my opinion was about as boring as you can get. Well, I decided to give this album a shot and to my surprise it turned out to sound more like their older albums then their newer ones. A little more rock and a little less bore the shit out of me is always a better combination.


I Will Possess Your Heart

28. Land of Talk – Some Are Lakes
Canada continues to export awesome in the form of great rock and roll. This album was given to me by a friend and it has been in heavy rotation since then. If you like Sleeter-Kinney or liked Belly back in the day, check this out.

Some are Lakes

Yuppie Flu

27. I’m From Barcelona – Who Killed Harry Houdini?
One of my favorite albums in 2006, I’m From Barcelona’s album “Let me introduce my friends” was my feel good hit of the year. In fact it was so good, I put it on last year’s list too because it was released in the states in 2007. Well, their first album may have been super poppy, but the new album is quite dark. The band still packs the stage and the studio with 20+ members, so it is still fun, but despite the singles the new album has more melancholy friends than poppy ones.

Paper Planes


26. Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster!
There is something about bands from Wales that make me happy. Everything from Gorky’s, Stereophonics to the Super Furry Animals, the place is always good for putting out some good music and this album from Los Campesinos is no exception to that rule. Kind of wild and all over the place, but has a solid melody and behind each of the songs on the album. And besides, in the video to Death to Los Campesinos, a unicorn comes out of an amplifier and kills the bass player. Pretty bad ass when you think about it and a rather unlikely way to go.

Death to Los Campesinos

You! Me! Dancing!

25. Little Joy – Little Joy
This side project by the drummer of the Strokes may show some people that the drummer may have more influence on the band’s songwriting than originally have thought. A lot of the songs sound like the strokes, but with a different vocal type. Think of the strokes with a little more of a world sound. Overall a very good album.

Next Time Around

No One’s Better Sake

24. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
Modern day rock and roll at its best! These guys just plain rock and have a lot of fun doing it. Just hit play, smile and enjoy.

Constructive Summer

Sequestered in Memphis

23. Beck – Modern Guilt
Another Danger Mouse produced album makes my list in a very quiet way. Most everybody loves Beck because they think he is so hip and original, but when he gets on his dark side kicks, people tend to drift away. Luckily for me, that’s when I think his songwriting is his best. This album would have been much higher if it were not produced by Danger Mouse. All his stuff sounds the same, so I get kind of bored with it. Regardless, another solid album by one of America’s better modern song writers.

Gamma Ray

Modern Guilt

22. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
This 24 year old singer / songwriter has been influenced by a lot of different musicians on this album. You have songs that you can hear Dylan, the Kinks and Richards playing. A quality piece of work that should be on a regular rotation on anyone’s ipod or cd player.


21. Radiohead – In Rainbows
This album should be much higher on the list, but since it really came out last year, I just couldn’t let it crack the top 20. There really isn’t anything left to be said about this band that has not been said already. And if you haven’t heard this album yet, well, hit play.


All I need

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Best of 2008, 40 - 31

40. Clinic – Do It!
From the same place that brought the world the Beatles, we have some sort of a new wave punk hybrid with hospital masks. These guys are great and I think that if I would have listened to this album a lot more than I did it would have been much higher on my list. Anyway, here are a couple songs off the album

The Witch


39. Neon Neon – Stainless Style
OK, I know right off the bat that this will not be for everyone, but neither is this list as a whole. Let me see what I can make if I were to put Super Furry Animals (the band, stay way PETA) in a blender with Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. It would probably sound something similar to this album. Only if I could listen to this while cruising in a Delorean.

I Told Her on Alderaan

I Lust U

38. Be Your Own Pet – Get Awkward
Very straight forward angry suburban kids. It has it’s moments and it’s kind of fun to hear punk rock girl sing about zombies. The second song was recorded for the album was banned in the states. Gotta love our 2nd amendment.

The Kelly Affair


37. Santogold – Santogold
A decent combination of some r&b, reggae, electronic rock, punk and dance music. Not great, but the album on a whole has it’s moments.

L.E.S. Artistes

You’ll Find A Way

36. Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
Usually these guys would be much higher on my list because they were one of the few bands out there that would bring the rock and roll to the stage. Well, some might say when bands get older, they mature, I say they stop rocking. Some of the songs are OK, but there is no Velvet Snow, California Waiting, or McFearless on this album. Despite that, there is still some quality music on this album.

Sex on Fire

Use Somebody (mark my words, this song will be used in some upcoming bad chick flick)

Slow Night, So Long (I had to attach this to remind people why this band is so good)

35. David Byrne & Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
I love the Talking Heads. Need I say more?

Strange Overtones


34. Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
I know, I know, it’s Coldplay. Call me what you wish, but this is a pretty good album. Darker than their last with a little more of an edge.

Life In Technicolor (This is just a very big instrumental, a very good one at that)

Violet Hill

33. Albert Hammond Jr. – Como Te Llama?
A very good pop rock album by the guitar player from the Strokes. His last album was a very pleasant surprise and this one, although not as accessible as the last, is still as solid piece of work.


Bargain of the Century

32. Elf Power – In A Cave
One of the coolest bands to come out of the Elephant 6 collective, but then again, there are very few bands that came out of that group that suck. A slight departure from their other albums, but it still has that TRex sound to it! (sorry, but I could only find one song on youtube, so I linked their myspace page. Owl Cut, Spiral Stairs and Paralyzed are all from In A Cave)

Spiral Stairs


31. Hot Chip – Made in the Dark
Dance baby, Dance! More electronic 80’s dance syth music for the list from London. This one is a little more dance than 80’s but still a damn good time.

Ready for the Floor

One Pure Thought

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Best of 2008 List, 41 - 50

This year I have decided to expand my list to a top 50 because there was just way too much out there to listen to in 2008. Here are my picks at 41-50. I will try and post these pretty regularly so I don't lose track. Enjoy!

50. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
Depending on the day of the week, I find myself liking these guys, but just don’t ask me what day. At number 50 with a bang!

Dancing Choose

Golden Age

49. Supergrass – Diamond Hoo Ha
As a whole, this album is just ok, but it does have some great individual songs. In fact, every now and again, you can hear the rockin’ Supergrass of old.

Diamond Hoo Ha Man

Bad Blood

48. The Verve – Forth
OK, the reason this is on the list is because it is number 49 and it has been way too long since we have heard new material from the combo of Ashcroft and McCabe. After listening it to a couple of times, it turned out better than I expected, but that “Love is Noise” single is complete shit because of that stupid sample in it. Fuck that. Ashcroft, you are better than that, at least I thought you were. Anyway, here are a couple of tracks from the album that I think are worthwhile. One is a decent single and the other is a song that reminds you of what the Verve once were, a psychedelic rock and roll machine!

Rather Be


47. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
A lot of people really liked this album, but I could never get completely into it. Don’t get me wrong, it has some pretty good rock and roll songs on it, but it just didn’t have much staying power. These guys are great musicians and make my list for that and for the fact that they are amazing live.

I’m Amazed

Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2

46. Tapes n’ Tapes – Walk it Off
Ok, I just like the way the first couple of songs on this album rock. Nothing more.

Hang Them All


45. Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us
Kind of lame, but there are some really catchy pop songs on this album. I know, it’s not for everyone, but give it a listen to if you want. Trust me, there are much worse husband and wife duos and Lawrence, Kansas doesn’t usually produce much in the realm of music.

Get Better


44. REM – Accelerate
After that shit album they put out a few years ago, the boys from Athens, GA brought out the guitars again. Not their best work, but a solid album that reminds you of their talents.

Supernatural Superserious

Living Well is the Best Revenge

43. Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping
Well, it is not as good as Cold Lamping with Flavor, but it does have it’s moments. Another band from Athens, GA makes the list and provides us with some solid tunes. Lead singer Kevin Barnes has been labeled by some as the next Bowie, but I just don’t see it. Just because you are weird and dance around wearing make-up does not make you rock god! Here are some songs from the album with putting your teeth into.

An Eluardian Instance

Id Engager

42. Nine Inch Nails – The Slip
Well, Trent may not be the sad man we once knew on pretty hate machine and the downward spiral, but he still can deliver some angry strong rock and roll. On top of that, it no longer takes him seven years to put out new material. Just for that he makes the list.



41. The Walkmen – You & Me
After their last album and hearing about how bad these guys are live, I wrote them off completely. Well, let me thank eMusic for giving me extra credits, because that is why I bought it. A unique or annoying voice accompanies these dark haunting riffs.

In the New Year

On the Water