Music of 2008
Because you care, my favorite albums (except for the two EPs) of 2008:
1. Calexico – Carried To Dust
This is one of those albums I just don’t have much to say about. It’s just good. The kind of album I select on my iPod or my PC without thinking. My exposure to them is still pretty limited; I have their previous album and A Feast of Wire and that’s it. Best song: Victor Jara’s Hands.
2. God Is An Astronaut – S/T
These guys have always been close, but never quite there for me. Post-rock isn’t exactly a sparsely populated genre and I have a habit of listening to post-rock albums constantly for about a week and then discarding them. This one is different. They seem to have finally shown more than glimpses of promise. Best song: Shadows.
3. Agalloch – The White EP
Yeah yeah, this isn’t an album. I don’t care. It’s too good for me to leave it off here. The conspicuous absence of folky acoustic pieces was the only downside to their previous album, Ashes Against the Grain. This EP somewhat makes up for that. Best song: Birch White.
4. Opeth – Watershed
I was nervous about this one. Two new members and a previous album that showed some worrying problems (but was still pretty good). It didn’t look promising. In the end, however, they released an album that had some new elements (keyboard solos!) and better songwriting. There’s an over-reliance on abrupt soft LOUD dynamics and they’ve had better metal riffs in previous albums, but overall it’s an excellent album. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that they’re not going to make another MAYH or Still Life, but I’m interested to see where they’re going now.
5. The Decemberists – Always a Bridesmaid EP
Another EP that I think is too good to leave off the list. Less epic than The Crane Wife, but more of what makes The Decemberists so good: catchy songs. Valerie Plame has been stuck in my head for a good two weeks. There’s only one weak song in the bunch (I’m Sticking With You) and even it’s not too bad. Best song: Record Year.
6. Evergrey – Torn
Count me as someone who was not impressed with Monday Morning Apocalypse. My opinion of that album has improved, but it’s still can’t compare to the three albums preceding it. Torn, in my opinion, is a return to form. Good progressive metal with Englund’s dramatic vocals. It’s good to see they haven’t screwed up that formula.
7. Sigur Ros – Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
This one was kind of a false start. I didn’t really like it when it came out, but after deciding to give it another chance, I’ve found that I really enjoy it. There’s some interesting new sounds, some good (Gobbledigook) and some not (Ára bátur). The worst you can say about it is that it serves as a warning about what happens when you allow post-rock bands near orchestras. Best song: Gobbledigook.
8. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
I’ve never really gotten into Nick Cave’s music. That’s because he had a song on the Batman Forever soundtrack and I had that album when I was in elementary school. And I absolutely hated that song. So I avoided him. Then I saw the Dig!! Lazarus Dig!!! music video and found it weirdly amusing. That lead to some reconsideration of my opinion and I found that I really like this album. Best song: Dig!! Lazarus Dig!!!
9. Russian Circles – Station
This isn’t Enter. This makes me irrationally sad. Enter is so good that I’m pretty sure this would have to be the album of the decade to keep me from being disappointed. It’s not fair, but I can’t help it. Still, I listened to it some more last week and it’s definitely good, so it gets a spot. Best song: Youngblood.
10. Mogwai – The Hawk is Howling
I’ve soured a little on this one, since it seems to have fallen into the “listen to constantly for a week then discard” category I mentioned previously. Still, it has some strong melodies and while it’s no Young Team it’s hardly as bad as Pitchfork seems to think it is. Best song: I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead.
Joe Satriani – Professor Satchafunkilus and The Musterion of Rock
Yeah, it has a terrible title, but it’s enjoyable.
Martriden – The Unsettling Dark
Very solid Scandinavian blackened death metal. Except, they’re from Montana. It doesn’t seem right.
Metallica – Death Magnetic
I mention this because it doesn’t suck, which is the standard to which I now hold Metallica. Despite having a song called The Unforgiven III, there are some decent songs on here. Too bad it’s marred by the aggressively awful mastering.