Best of 2008-ish…

Okay.  I was hoping to have a more definitive list than this by now.  There are still a couple of things out there that I haven’t listened to (like Sammy Hagar’s new one) and I’m sure there’s some stuff I missed…plus I felt like numbers 9 and 10 on the list were kind of variable…but the top five or so are so strong, that I’m prepared to call this my “Top Ten Records of 2008” list.  Let’s get to it…


10. Gutter Twins – “Saturnalia”

  • This mostly makes the list because I’m a big fan of Mark Lanegan (one of the members). It’s dark and heavy in places, but also has some nice quieter moments. Good listen, but probably too weird for a lot of people.

9. Centro-matic/South San Gabriel – “Dual Hawks”

  • Centro-matic has a really folky alter-ego called South San Gabriel. This is a double disk by the two projects. I like the Centro-matic disk a lot, but have had trouble getting into the SSG one. Still, the Centro-matic disk makes this record more than top 10 worthy.

8. Alanis Morissette – “Flavors of Entanglement”

  • Nice to have Alanis back. This time she’s pissed off at Ryan Reynolds (who she dated) and wrote songs that return to her “Jagged Little Pill” lyrical style. It’s a little dance-heavy, but that doesn’t make it bad. In fact…it’s really good. 🙂

7. The Hold Steady – “Stay Positive”

  • I only got into The Hold Steady this year, and this seems like a good record to come in on. Definitely their nicest SOUNDING record, though arguably a departure from their usual sound. The title track alone makes this one for me, but I also dig the catchy-as-hell refrain of “Subpoenaed in Texas / Sequestered in Memphis.” Really strong effort, even if their long-time fans feel like it’s a departure.

6. Hayes Carll – “Trouble in Mind”

  • Heard this guy open for the Old 97s and fell in love with his songs. If you haven’t heard “She Left Me for Jesus” yet, Google it and prepare to laugh (which, of course, will require a sense of humor…so if you don’t have one, avoid it). Hayes has a really great earthy sound and really fun, Southern-fried lyrics. (Personal favorite, aside from “Jesus” is “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart.”)

5. Metallica – “Death Magnetic”

  • I went on record when this came out as calling it the only thing Metallica’s done in about 10 years that I’ve liked. It’s still awesome a couple of months later and it needs to be on every metal fan’s shelf, or if it’s not there, it should be on their Christmas list. I thought that Metallica would NEVER get on my top 10 list. I thought those days were in the past. But now look. They’re not just in the top 10…they’re in the top FIVE!

4. Old 97s – “Blame it on Gravity”

  • I dig the Old 97s a lot. This one’s catchy and less of a departure as their previous record (though I really enjoyed that one too). Nice listen with plenty of energy, but it’s got some nice relaxing tracks, too. I don’t really know what to say about it. It’s just good.

3. Ray Davies – “Working Man’s Cafe”

  • Part of me wanted to put this at #2 but I dig Aimee Mann just a little bit more, so I couldn’t do it. It just might deserve to be there. Shoot, if I wasn’t letting brand/band loyalty slip into this list and took everything just on pure merit…this one might deserve to be at #1. It’s a masterpiece. Davies’ writing has always had an unmistakable “it” factor, ever since his days with the Kinks. He brought it to this record, too…and he brought it in spades.

2. Aimee Mann – “F****** Smilers”

  • Okay. We all know that I’m weirdly in love with Aimee Mann (though not in the “stalker” way). She’s a huge influence on my solo-writing (though not in Blue Tattoo) and I like pretty much everything she’s done. This one has awesome songs, smart lyrics, and one of the better record titles I’ve heard all year. Big winner with me.

1. Drive-By Truckers – “Brighter than Creation’s Dark”

  • This one shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me. I’m a DBT freak. This is quite probably their best record (though “Decoration Day” will always hold a special place on my record-shelf). It’s more chilled-out than a lot of their previous work — and it’s a “grower” that you might not like as much on the first listen as on the third. But it’s unmistakeably DBT and it’s awesome. I really wish these guys were all over the airwaves, but they just plain aren’t. Hopefully they’ve got an album in them somewhere that’ll change that. Should’ve been this one. If you’ve missed it, you’ve missed the record of the year, and the best record of their career (so far).

Additional Mentions:

  • Black Francis – “Svn Fngrs”
    • Fun enough, but it’s only seven tracks, and the first one is incredibly irritating. Plus, I got a little bit burned by his online store, and that shouldn’t make me feel differently about BF himself…but it kinda did…so I couldn’t put this one in the top 10 as a result.
  • Murray Hammond – “I Don’t Know Where I’m Going but I’m on My Way”
    • At the six-month mark, this one would have been on my list. In fact, it probably still should be. Feel free to substitute this one at either #9 or 10. A lot of people would’ve found it boring…but I loved it.
  • Judas Priest – “Nostradamus”
    • Haven’t heard all of it. The concept is remarkably silly and from what little I’ve heard, it sounds long-winded and weird…but I liked a couple of things, and I’m sure that out of the two-disks it’s made up from, there’s ONE solid record in there somewhere, if not more. Y’know…’cause Priest is awesome.
  • Chris Difford – “The Last Temptation of Chris”
    • This also very nearly snuck onto the list…but I took into consideration that I’ve not lived with it that long and I might just like so much because it’s still so new to me. This is also a possible substitute at #9 or 10…possibly higher, in fact.
  • Alice Cooper – “Along Came a Spider”
    • Stupid but fun.
  • Motorhead – “Motorizer”
    • Sounds like Motorhead, but it’s not one of their best records. If I were doing a top 15-20, this would probably find its way in, though.
  • Felice Brothers – self titled
    • Liked it a lot more when I first got it. Still good, but not top 10 good.
  • Hank Williams III – “Damn Right Rebel Proud”
    • I want to like this more, but frankly III’s starting to wear on me, especially in lyrical content. It’d be nice to have a song that — I don’t know — could conceivably be played on air. But the rate at which he drops the f-bomb, talks about drugs, talks about Satan, and overall just says inappropriate things will make him a pariah for years to come (and that’s coming from ME!). If his next one is more of the same, I might be done with him…musically, it’s still excellent…but I just can’t get past his personality and lyrics. Which brings me to…
  • Guns N’ Roses – “Chinese Democracy”
    • Crap. Absolute crap. Took too long and it’s crap. Plus, Axl is still a complete ass (and that’s coming from ME!). Just crap. Which brings me to…
  • Black Crowes – “Warpaint”
    • WTF happened to the Crowes??? I used to love these guys, but I guess they got high enough and boring enough that it’s just over. Hated the hippie, jam-band, dull show I saw them do a few years back, and this record just fails to deliver on all counts. When it was first seeing press, Rolling Stone gave it a bad review before they even got their preview copy, for which they then had to issue a retraction. Turns out they were right. Sometimes a prophet is a prophet…and for this, the Crowes deserve no profit. (See what I did there?)
  • The Killers – “Day and Age”
    • I had high hopes for the Killers when I heard their first record, but they’ve just not been as good since. Peaked early, I guess. I’m not going to trash this record. It’s passable…but it’s just not what I know they’re capable of, so it’s a little bit of a disappointment. Still singable, but not list-able in the top 10.
      That’s it for this year. Join me next year where I’ll piss off more fans of stuff I don’t like! 🙂

On a side note, the spell-checker on WordPress keeps underlining the word “like” as being misspelled in this post. That’s weird.  Plus it’s doing weird stuff with the formatting and it’s really frustrating me.  Sorry for anything that looks weird or is spelled wrong…it’s more their fault than mine this time.