Thursday, January 15, 2009

2008 Top 10

In no particular order...

Flogging Molly - Float (Side One Dummy) Just about every band with access to a mandolin and a tin whistle is now a Celtic rock band. But few will ever be able to turn out an album even remotely resembling Flogging Molly’s fourth proper record. From the opening jangly chords of “Requiem for a Dying Song,” to the album closer, Float is flawless all the way through.

Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound (Side One Dummy) It’s no secret that punk rockers love The Boss, but Gaslight Anthem’s sophomore release is a practically a love letter to Springsteen, with a few nods to everyone from Roy Orbison to the Counting Crows. With perfect sing-along working class odes to everything from classic cars to Miles Davis, The ’59 Sound is proof that this band is bound to be around for decades to come.

The Loved Ones - Build & Burn (Fat Wreck Chords) One of Philly’s best punk bands is starting to move a little further away from the punk camp and settle for more of a straight ahead rock sound, but there’s no complaining here. Build & Burn, their second full length release and most experimental record so far, is also their strongest lyrically and hopefully a prelude for what’s to come next.

The Clash - Live at Shea (Legacy) A few tracks from this New York, early 80’s opening gig for The Who have popped up on records here and there, but Live at Shea is the first time The Clash’s historic show has been available from start to finish. The set could almost stand in as a greatest hits disc for the band with songs like “Train in Vain,” “Spanish Bombs” and “London Calling.” I don’t care how big of a Who fan you are, there is no doubt the punk rock upstarts from England owned this night.

The Riot Before - Fists Buried Deep in Pockets (Say-10) These Richmond kids get my vote for most underrated album of the year. Drawing inspiration from other DIY outfits like Hot Water Music and Smoke or Fire, between basement shows and VFW Hall gigs, The Riot Before managed to turn in a stellar second album, brimming with blue collar punk rock anthems like “Election Day” and “Threat Level Midnight.”

Tim Barry - Manchester (Suburban Home) Former Avail front man Tim Barry picked up an acoustic guitar a few years ago and hasn’t let go of it since. On his latest, Manchester, Barry seems to have perfected the punk/folk hybrid, bringing politically-charged lyrics (“South Hill”) and angst-tinged vocals all backed by subtle acoustic guitar and drums. The genre is ideal for Barry’s distinctive, emotion-laden voice that sounds just as powerful when he’s not competing with distorted guitars.

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive (Vagrant) Listening to Stay Positive, the latest from New York by way of Minneapolis band The Hold Steady, it’s kind of hard to believe bars existed before these guys were around to play in them. The Hold Steady strip away all pretentiousness and faux attitude in favor of substance and solid songwriting. Stay Positive is the best record Tom Petty never wrote this year.

Osaka Popstar - Rock 'Em O'Sock 'Em Live! (Misfits Records) It was hard to believe that this punk rock super group, comprised of refuges from The Misfits, The Voidoids and The Ramones, could top their 2006 debut Osaka Popstar and the American legends of Punk, but adding the immediacy of a live audience managed to do just that. A hybrid of originals and covers recorded at a small Jersey club show finds the band in their element. Can’t wait to see how they are going to top this one.

Ninja Gun - Restless Rubes (Suburban Home) Ever wondered what the son of a Valdosta, Georgia pig farmer would write about? Judging from songs like “Red State Blues” and “Restless Rubes,” it’s pretty much about feeling out of place and being stuck out in the middle of nowhere. The band’s sophomore record is a packed with amazing roots-based rock songs that would make Gram Parsons shed tears of joy.

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend (XL recordings) There’s a reason why everyone from the trendy indie kids at Pitchfork to the Boomer-loving editors at Rolling Stone all threw Vampire Weekend into the their Best of ’08 lists: there is no getting around how great this release is. Recorded by over-educated, African drumming-obsessed, children of privilege, I wanted nothing more than to write this album off as more undeserved hype from the next big things, but from the first track on, the record is one of the most exciting releases in years, even if it’s members ironically wear boat shoes and pop up the collars on their pastel polo shirts.

1 comment:

The Professor said...

Do you have Osaka Popstar's debut album? If so, could I borrow it? :)