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The Best Music of 2008

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2008 was a pretty good year for new music.

The Best albums released in 2008 (Album –  Artist):

  1. Brighter Than Creation’s Dark –  Drive-By Truckers
  2. The Evening Descends –  Evangelicals
  3. The Chemistry of Common Life –  F**ked Up
  4. At Mount Zoomer –  Wolf Parade
  5. HLLLYH –  The Mae Shi
  6. Hold On Now, Youngster… –  Los Campesinos!
  7. Liver! Lung! FR! –  Frightened Rabbit
  8. Ice Cream Spiritual –  Ponytail
  9. Jim –  Jamie Lidell
  10. Heretic Pride –  The Mountain Goats

“You! Me! Dancing!” by Los Campesinos!, from their debut album, Hold On Now, Youngster… (also found on the 2007 EP Sticking Fingers Into Sockets)

The rest of the best (in no particular order):

  • 808s & Heartbreak –  Kanye West
  • Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
  • Third –  Portishead
  • We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed –  Los Campesinos!
  • Vivian Girls –  Vivian Girls
  • In The Future –  Black Mountain
  • Distortion – The Magnetic Fields
  • Ferndorf –  Hauschka
  • Life…The Best Game in Town –  Harvey Milk
  • Cities of Glass –  AIDS Wolf
  • Microcastle –  Deerhunter
  • The Odd Couple –  Gnarls Barkley
  • Skeleton –  Abe Vigoda
  • The Midnight Organ Fight –  Frightened Rabbit
  • The Twilight Sad Killed My Parents and Hit the Road –  The Twilight Sad
  • Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea – Silver Jews
  • Methods: (EP) –  Imperial China
  • Sing Along (EP)  –  Caverns
  • Kittens! (EP)  –  Caverns
  • Music Needs You –  Ryan Blotnick
  • Red, Yellow & Blue –  Born Ruffians
  • A Certain Feeling –  Bodies of Water
  • Nouns –  No Age
  • Smile –  Boris
  • Pop-Up –  Yelle
  • Made In The Dark –  Hot Chip
  • Lost and Found –  The Dexateens
  • Long Gone And Nearly There –  Julie Ocean
  • Litany of Echoes –  James Blackshaw
  • Arm’s Way –  Islands
  • Magnificent Fiend –  Howlin’ Rain
  • High Places –  High Places
  • Flight Of The Conchords –  Flight Of The Conchords
  • Christmas On Mars (Soundtrack)  –  The Flaming Lips
  • Street Horrrsing –  F**k Buttons
  • Visiter –  The Dodos
  • Nothing Is Precious Enough for Us –  Death Vessel
  • Drippers and  Bonus Drippers –  Black Moth Super Rainbow
  • Rip It Off –  Times New Viking

Best Re-issue of 2008:

  1. Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul –  Otis Redding

– R.H.

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The Best Albums of 2008 :

1. Is it the Sea – Bonnie Prince Billy : Our favorite melancountry superstar delivers a live album that reminds one of his greatness while examining it in a whole new light.

2. Stay Positive – The Hold Steady : Working class is not a label that readily describes Craig Finn and co but their tales of townies and misguided teenagers are just as funny, touching and perfect in their own scrappy way as ever. The world’s best bar music as interpreted by indie elitists.

3. Glasvegas – Glasvegas : Melodic catharsis in spades delivered by four Glasgowians. This young band is not infallible as a whispered poem over Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata suffers in comparison to the original but they got spirit, energy and stories of absent fathers, wounded teens and overall angst that really should not work as well as they do.

4. We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed – Los Campesinos : Cheeky and clever but much more than that. Nihilists on the outside but pop craftsmen at heart, their ruminations on youth’s assured end in dejected failure are all good fun until you stop and realize they’re telling you the party’s going to be over and there’s nothing you can do.

5. Microcastle – Deerhunter : There’s something ethereal about this band and especially this album. Playing with avant garde ideas without sacrificing listenability, these ambassadors of indie keep winning.

6. You and Me – The Walkmen : The Bob Dylan comparisons become ever more pronounced especially with frontman Hamilton Leithauser affecting nasally intonations. Still, their chief appeal is heartfelt, esoteric storytelling, aged and cackling.

7. Skeletal Lamping – Of Montreal : The hype machine finally broke down and Kevin Barnes began to tumble critically while selling out shows. The music, however, is just as inventive and grand as it ever was. Though lacking the darkness of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Barnes’ latest is rife with the new ideas he keeps discovering and surely will stand more prominently in the cannon once the sobering influence of time takes hold.

8. Modern Guilt – Beck : The dream team of Beck and The Gray Album mastermind Dangermouse creates surprisingly ignored quality tunes. Beck is still haunted by his demons from Sea Change but he still finds time to offer Dangermouse jubilant, sampled pop ditties to wash down the depression.

9. Saturnalia – The Gutter Twins : An album that abounds with apocalypse throughout as two musical legends push each other to the limits of their sensibilities, one high the other low.

10.That Lucky Old Sun – Brian Wilson : A musical legend who seems to be experimenting with the harmonies and arrangements that have fascinated him throughout his career not for the audience’s benefit but his own. The results are as reliably stunning as ever.

Honorable Mention: 808s and Hearbreak – Kanye West, Untitled – Nas, A Larum – Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, The ’59 Sound – The Gaslight Anthem

– Vman

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The Oscars are Tonight…

“It’s interesting to be nominated for Best Director, Best Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Screenplay, but not Best Picture. I don’t know what else you have to do to make a picture.”

– Julian Schnabel, director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. (In good humor he followed with, “But it’s all good . . .”)

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And some thoughts about the nominations…

Initially, I thought the Best Picture race might be confusing. (as in: tight race) But it looks like No Country For Old Men will have no problem winning that award. Was it the best film of 2007? No.

My thoughts initially: Tom Wilkinson over Javier Bardem. Now it looks like Bardem has this race locked. There are some Holbrook hopes, which are nice to see, but it’s unlikely anyone but Bardem will take home the award for best actor in a supporting role.

Initially and beyond: Honoring Elizabeth: The Golden Age? Are they crazy? At least slightly?

Initially: I am shocked that Schnabel got the nod for best director (good for him), but why did The Diving Bell & the Butterfly get no nod in the foreign film department? Now: I still believe the film should have received a nod for best foreign film (and how about 4 Months, 3 Weeks, & 2 Days?!?! Really! That is quite a tragedy. It actually has been confirmed for some time, but this year it is clear to see that the Academy is truly crazy.) and I can see why Schnabel was nominated (I did not think he did not deserve it. I just thought the Academy liked more obvious directors). It’s good to see the screenplay was nominated as well, because that definitely helped in the direction of this film.

Surf’s Up is one of the greatest accomplishments in animation for the year 2007? What?!

Daniel Day-Lewis needs to win Best Actor. He is a craftsman and the best part of There Will Be Blood. Why is In the Valley of Elah being honored here? The Darjeeling Limited was better than that (but that’s not even saying much because Limited was one of the brightest spots in the year 2007. Need I go more in depth…).

Initially: Best Director is tight as well. Now: Well, I guess it still is. In a way. At least between two films. Michael Clayton is not stylish or creative enough (in the directing department) to win and Juno is just…kind of a surprise (although both are good films). Diving Bell is worthy of the award, but it doesn’t look like it stands much of a chance. So it’s between No Country and Blood. Which is prettier to look at? Probably Blood. Which is better made? It’s probably about even. The industry folks say the Coen Brothers will win for No Country. Between the two, I like the feel Paul Thomas Anderson gave Blood. Even though it’s more likely his cinematographer and Day-Lewis gave it that feel. Oh well. Blood‘s visuals are a little more creative than those of No Country. But between them, it is still close.

That’s all.

– R.H.

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