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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Album - The Bakerton Group - s/t
The Bakerton Group - s/t
a spot for Ty Tabor's "Balance," which I have no doubt will
Here is my top 10 favourite records released in 2008. To be honest, I only bought about 15 records released this year, and a whole lot of older records. That being said, I believe that this is a good list, and that the reason these 10 made the list is that I actually believe they are good enough to buy. This list is in alphabetical order and the numbers are for organizational purposes, not ranking.
1. Becoming the Archetype- “Dichotomy”
Epic Progressive Death Metal. Great music, solos, vocals and production. Easily this band’s best record, they have finally learned to write catchy songs and not just riffs.
2. Brave Saint Saturn- “Anti-Meridian”
The highly anticipated third part to the Saturn Five Trilogy lives up to expectations, blowing the previous BS2 records out of the water, and also showing improvement over Five Iron Frenzy’s heyday. Great hooks, melodies and excellent lyrics make this electro-pop disc a winner.
3. Child Bite- “Fantastic Gusts of Blood”
Experimental post punk based on Greek mythology. Excellent vocals reminiscent of Pere Ubu, and spastic music that is as strange as it is catchy. Also check out their remix EP “Exquisite Luxury” also released this year.
4. Jon Foreman- “Fall / Winter / Spring / Summer”
Jon Foreman’s four EPs based on the seasons take him out of Switchfoot’s hard rock territory and place him into the realm of acoustic folk and pop. Excellent lyrics and great music that truly wouldn’t fit into the realm of his full time band. It doesn’t matter that the four seasons concept doesn’t play out in the songs, they are great slices of pop regardless.
5. Joy Electric- “My Grandfather, The Cubist”
This one is certainly a grower, not jumping out at me as quickly as Ronnie’s other records. That being said the minimalism of the music and vocals truly draws me in on repeated listens. One of JE’s best, and after 23 releases that is saying a lot!
6. Mars ILL- “Black Listed Sessions”
Not one, but two complete revisions of the classic “Blue Collar Sessions” EP. Dust consistently improves the beats, and guest producer Beat Rabbi does great on his two tracks as well. Manchild’s unchanged vocals are as convicting as ever. If Dust continues to write beats this good I don’t care if he does every Mars ILL song seventeen times, I’ll still want it. This two-disc set is a limited edition of 250 with excellent art, so pick it up while you still have the chance.
7. Norma Jean- “The Anti Mother”
Cory Brandon is not Emo. His vocals however, are blisteringly visceral and full of emotion. This album candidly discusses Brandon’s divorce, and his pain is palpable and convicting. Easily the best post-Scogin Norma Jean record.
8. Trenches- “The Tide Will Swallow Us Whole”
This sounds nothing like Haste the Day. If you get it just because of Jimmy Ryan’s presence behind the mic you may be disappointed. This is super sludgy metal, often mid-paced and epic. Comparisons to early Warlord are not without reason. In a word it is great.
9. Thrice- “The Alchemy Index Vols. 3 & 4: Air & Earth”
The most experimental music from Thrice yet. The air disc is light and airy, and the Earth disc is acoustic folk country. It takes some getting used to but it is excellent. Dustin Kensrue’s gorgeous voice and spiritually convicting lyrics shine in any musical setting.
10. Underoath- “Lost in the Sound of Separation”
The most organic sounding Underoath record, void of the vocal layering of past records, this sounds raw and live. The band has now perfected the dichotomy between pummeling metal and catchy hooks.
Fleet Foxes- S/T, Brendan
Canning- Something For All of Us…,
In order of best:
Bob Dylan--Tell Tale Signs
In approximate order (best at top):
Wishbone Ash - Argus Then
It is particularly hard to
rate these in specific order because they
The Top Ten of 2008
Of course I’ll hate myself
in the morning, when I wake up and say, “awww – how did I forget that one,”
but, for better or worse, here’s what I hope will be a fairly diverse list
of CDs that stayed with me, impressed me, or surprised me last year. Some
of them might be border-line in terms of release date, but they belonged
more to 2008 than 2007, for sure. I’ve decided to think in terms of categories…
Here's my top 10 records released in 2008, in NO PARTICULAR ORDER, with a few lines about each.
01 - Thrice - "The Alchemy Index Vol. 3 & 4: Air & Earth"
If their 2007 EP "The Alchemy
Index Vol. 1 & 2: Fire & Water" hinted at anything, it was that
the experimental direction begun on their previous record "Vheissu" was
but a portent of things to come. "Vol. 1: Fire" revealed that Thrice can
still melt faces with blistering post-punk rock even when they play with
bizarre timings and unique structures, and "Vol 2: Water" revealed an entrancing,
largely synthesized, beautiful ambient Thrice we had never heard before.
02 - Brave Saint Saturn - "Anti-Meridian"
Not only the best BS2 record, but the best thing Reese Roper has ever written and performed vocals for - and that includes Five Iron Frenzy. A brilliant ending to the loose story arc begun back on "So Far From Home" and continued on "The Light of Things Hoped For". Lyrically strong, musically strong, and very highly rated independent release out of the remains of what will always be one of Third Wave Ska's greatest memories.
03 - Underoath - "Lost In The Sound Of Separation"
Blistering, anthemic, organic, pulsating with purpose, raw, passionate, and ultimately the best Underoath record to date. Structurally remarkable as it almost unilaterally avoids the trappings of traditional verse-chorus, and sonically/lyrically impressive as it comes across with a remarkable juxtaposition of distortion and clarity.
04 - Emery - "Where Broken Hearts Prevail EP"
Quite simply, this is a wonderful hybrid of the sounds explored on "The Question" and "I'm Only A Man". In short, they've taken the best parts of both, made a hybrid, tightened up the screws, and unleashed their best album ever - the only downside is that it only lasts 7 tracks.
05 - The Classic Crime - "The Silver Cord"
Not exactly known for pushing envelopes musically, The Classic Crime do manage to outdo their previous work both in terms of scope and in terms of sound - with the tasteful appearance of quite a few new instruments (the least of which is not frontman Matt MacDonald's visceral yells, a welcome addition). Overall, there's a whole lot more depth and maturity here, resulting in one of the best rock albums in recent memory.
06 - Becoming The Archetype - "Dichotomy"
Quite simply, Becoming the Archetype finally realized their remarkable potential on this album. Moving out of riff-city and into epic-metropolis, and from "we can write sweet bits for songs" to "we do write great complete songs". Consequently, this is the year's must-have metal record. A completely mind-blowing re-imagining of the classic hymn "How Great Thou Art" stands as an example.
07 - Dustin Kensrue - "This Good Night Is Still Everywhere"
Thrice frontman Dustin Kensrue releases his second solo effort, this time a Christmas record. Questionable choice? Sure. Fantastic results? Absolutely. Eight covers (only one or two that are unremarkable) and two amazing originals. This one will see regular rotation for many years to come.
08 - Mars Ill - "Black Listed Sessions"
Mars Ill's producer and deejay extraordinaire DJ Dust has been remixing their records since 2003, and the results are consistently as good or better than the original mixes. In this double-take on their previous "Blue Collar Sessions" EP, Dust provides us with some amazing reimaginings of classic tracks. They are so good that they might as well Blacklist them, for their release upon unsuspecting eardrums might cause the musical equivalent of a hydrogen bomb attack.
09 - Deepspace5 - "Bake Sale"
Upon finding themselves label-less
after a brief stint on Gotee Records, rap supercrew Deepspace5 set out
to record and release their third album independently. To fund the effort,
they recorded and released this incredible 10-track equivalent of a grade
school bake sale (hence the name) to raise funds for putting out album
#3 (which will be called "The Future Ain't What It Used To Be"). The results,
as always, are spectacular. Challenging beats coupled with
10 - Copeland - "You Are
1. Coldplay- Viva La Vida
2. Christopher Ames- Everyday With You
3. Ben Folds- Way To Normal
4. Conor Oberst- S/T
5. Relient K- The Bird and The Bee Sides
6. Anberlin- New Surrender
7. Starflyer 59- Dial M
8. The Hold Steady- Stay Positive
9. R.E.M.- Accelerate
10. The Afters- Never Going Back To OK
Bill Mallonee- Lower Case
Death Cab For Cutie- Narrow