Top Ten List Revisited: 2008

My 2008 list wasn’t bad. At the time, I think I thought it was bad, but looking back I stand by a lot of the choices, if not the actual order. (You can read the original post here.) I have a few revisions, but it’s not a complete re-do by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve become a fan of a few things since that have reshuffled the list and in hindsight the number one wasn’t the number one, so that left room to rethink the order of the whole thing. Let’s get into it.

What I listed at the time:

  1. Drive-By Truckers – “Brighter than Creation’s Dark”
  2. Aimee Mann – “Fucking Smilers”
  3. Ray Davies – “Working Man’s Café”
  4. Old 97s – “Blame it on Gravity”
  5. Metallica – “Death Magnetic”
  6. Hayes Carll – “Trouble in Mind”
  7. The Hold Steady – “Stay Positive”
  8. Alanis Morissette – “Flavors of Entanglement”
  9. Centro-matic/South San Gabriel – “Dual Hawks”
  10. Gutter Twins – “Saturnalia”

REVISED Top Ten Records of 2008:


1. Ray Davies – Working Man’s Café

As near as I can figure, I just hadn’t listened to this one enough to realize it was the album of the year at the time. It’s really unquestionable. I was wrong to place it anywhere BUT the top. There’s not a miss on the record, and it’s ridiculous that there isn’t a copy of this sitting in everyone’s home all of the time. (By the way, this record was technically released in 2007 in the UK, but it came out in the US in 2008, and I’m going by that date.)

Favorite Tracks: “Peace in Our Time” and “One More Time”


2. Drive-By Truckers – Brighter than Creation’s Dark

It strikes me that I may be more in love with the specific memories of this record coming out than I am with the record itself…but that’s fine. I still maintain that it’s their nicest SOUNDING release, even if–let’s be honest–it’s a little too long and feels like they tried to show too many sides of the band at once. Plus, given her exit from the band, I now have a bitter taste in my mouth regarding Shonna Tucker’s songs–and I wonder if I should have had that all along. But the stuff that works on this record provides some of my favorite DBT material, and when I think of this record, I think of a particular snapshot of my life that I actually kind of miss now. And that’s what music’s FOR…so this still belongs high up on the list, even if hindsight might drop it another number or two if I look back in another few years.

Favorite Tracks: “3 Dimes Down,” “The Righteous Path,” “The Man I Shot,” “Checkout Time in Vegas,” and “A Ghost to Most”


3. Aimee Mann – Fucking Smilers

This stands as one of my favorite Aimee Mann records to-date. (All time favorite is probably “The Forgotten Arm,” but I think this is a close second.) I don’t have much new to say about it. It’s fun while still showcasing Mann’s moody lyrics. It’s catchy as hell, but doesn’t sound like it’s trying to be. It’s a great record and one of the best album titles I’ve heard in a long while.

Favorite Tracks: “Looking for Nothing,” “Borrowing Time,” “31 Today,” “The Great Beyond,” “Medicine Wheel”


4. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

Apparently MMJ’s dominant fan base was split on this record, with many people thinking it was too much a departure from their usual sound. Proof that people are fucking idiots. This record is great. It’s not only one of the better albums of the year 2008, it probably (in an unbiased list) belongs in the top ten of this decade. It flows from track to track seamlessly and leaves you wanting more. Brilliant. (Pity that I thought “Circuital” was terrible.)

Favorite Tracks: “Evil Urges,” Both Parts of “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream,” and of COURSE “I’m Amazed”


5. Metallica – Death Magnetic

I had this at #5 on the old list and I’ve got it at #5 on this one. It’s a strong record. It’s the metal record that fans of the band had been waiting for since “And Justice for All” and I really hope they don’t fuck it up with the next thing they release. As avid blog readers will know, I was thrilled by Metallica’s collaboration with Lou Reed (“Lulu”) and I think “Death Magnetic” helped pave the way for that. This record proved that Metallica could still write a good record when they focus and drop the bullshit…and I hope–I SO hope–that happens again soon.

Favorite Tracks: “That Was Just Your Life,” All Nightmare Long,” and “The Judas Kiss”


6. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

This one moved up a little on the list. Because I like it more now that I did then. Obviously. Okay…this is NOT The Hold Steady’s best album. It’s very much a departure piece for them. But that actually might have something to do with why I liked it so much. I like when a band is unafraid to stretch, grow, and try new things. There’s experimentation all over this record. Some of it works flawlessly. Some of it doesn’t. But it’s brave, it’s fun, and it’s different. And that’s no bad thing.

Favorite Tracks: Sequestered in Memphis,” “Lord, I’m Discouraged,” and “Stay Positive”


7. Old 97s – Blame it on Gravity

Again, we have here an example of a record that isn’t necessarily the band’s BEST album, but it is one that works on all of the right levels. Taken on its own, it’s a great record (and a good jumping-on point, if you need one). Held up against the rest of the band’s catalog, it’s not their best. So what? Not every record can be your best one…great is still great, even if you’ve done better, and the 97s have nothing to be ashamed of on this one. This record has some of my favorite 97s tracks on it, and sees my player a couple of times a year. So it’s still on the list.

Favorite Tracks: “The Fool,” “No Baby I,” and “The Color of a Lonely Heart is Blue”


8. Elvis Costello – Momofuku

I didn’t know about this album when I made my list in 2008. A recent masterpiece from the dying days of Sound City. Recorded almost on a whim (though Costello’s got so many records, one begins to wonder if any of them WEREN’T) and classic Elvis from start to stop. One of the best records of the latter part of Elvis Costello’s career, and one I’m disappointed in myself for missing at the time. I’ve been in love with every record since “The Delivery Man” (2004) and this might be top of the list–or at least in the top 3. Pick it up. Seriously.

Favorite Tracks: “No Hiding Place,” “Flutter and Wow,” and “Pardon Me Madam, My Name is Eve”


9. Murray Hammond – “I Don’t Know Where I’m Going but I’m on My Way”

Murray is the bassist and one of the vocalists in the Old 97s. I picked this album up at a 97s gig, expecting it to be Southern Rock. What I got was Southern Gothic. Those old, old hymns that scare the shit out of people mix with original compositions in a sparse, moody, at times either boring or hypnotizing or both record that is more a journey into Murray’s soul and upbringing than it is an album. It’s a treat to have someone lay themselves so bare before you as he did on this record. And it’s sad to know that most music fans wouldn’t make it through one sitting. Look…I’m not saying it’s ideal to listen to it while driving…but I am saying it’s worth listening to while thinking.

Favorite Tracks: “What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?,” “Next Time Take the Train,” “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down,” and “I Believe, I Believe”


10. Alanis Morissette – Flavors of Entanglement

I stand by everything I said in my post from 2008. And that’s enough…because I’m tired of writing. 🙂

Favorite Tracks: “Citizen of the Planet,” “Underneath,” and “Not as We”

Honorable Mentions:

  • Centro-matic/South San Gabriel – Dual Hawks (Still like it, but haven’t listened to it much.)
  • Gutter Twins – Saturnalia (Still really, really good. Just got bumped due to space.)
  • Trouble in Mind (I still like the record, but in hindsight, it’s an “honorable mention,” not a “top ten.”)
  • Bob Mould – District Line (Almost promoted it to the Top Ten in this re-write…but just not ***quite***. Although this is one of Mould’s best records.)
  • Alice Cooper – Along Came a Spider (I like this album a lot more than a lot of people seem to. I stand by it.)
  • …and the other stuff I listed as honorable mentions at the time! 🙂

Before you know it, it’ll be 2009…