Posted by: cosborn | December 24, 2008

Top Albums of 2008

Granted, this isn’t original, but I wanted to get my favorite releases from the year posted. A few disclaimers: these may NOT be the best albums of the year. I’m not a critic or a musician. I’m just a fan, so these are simply the 2008 releases that seemed to find their way into my CD player or onto my i-Pod more than others.

Old 97’s – Blame it on Gravity.

Blame it on Gravity

Blame it on Gravity

The Old 97’s delivered their first new studio albums in several years, and they delivered a real gem. I’ve grown to really love Satellite Rides and Too Far to Car. And I enjoy Fight Songs. This newest release is becoming my favorite. I might not have selected Dance With Me as the first single, but this song has really grown on me – much like the whole album. My Two Feet, The One, No Baby I, and Here’s to the Halcyon are all really great songs. The Old 97’s headlined Twangfest here in St. Louis this year, and they played a blistering, rousing and wonderful 28 song 2+hour show. They featured this record, and this is a band truly worth seeing live. In the meantime, this is a terrific release, and it’s pretty easily my favorite of the year.

Tift Merritt – Another Country

Another Country

Another Country

I have no idea what this lady is like, but her music is extremely likable. Another Country features my favorite song of the year – Broken. It was nominated for Song of the Year by the Americana Music Association.  She has a great ear for melody, and this collection of songs has been a  delight since I bought it. In addition to Broken, Something to Me, Keep You Happy and Tender Branch are really nice songs. Here’s hoping Tift Merritt releases another album in 2009.

 

Teddy Thompson – A Piece of What You Need

A Piece of What You Need

A Piece of What You Need

 

http://www.teddythompson.com/home.aspx – is the URL to Teddy Thompson’s website, and I encourage you to explore it. You can listen to this terrific album, and you won’t be disappointed.  Teddy is Richard and Linda Thompson’s son, but he is not nearly as morose as his father. However, he is just as gifted. This collection of songs features really catchy hooks and melodies, great singing and excellent guitar fills and riffs throughout. In particular, I really like In My Arms and The Things I Do.

 

REM – Accelerate

REM Accelerate

REM Accelerate

Where have these guys been? Remember when REM was a really essential band? Every release used to be interesting, different and exciting. Well – they lost their way for several years – especially after they signed that big deal with SONY. Accelerate is a much welcome return to form. I was really surprised to read a very favorable review of this record in Esquire, and that piqued my interest. I listened to a few tracks, and bought the CD. This is one of my favorite REM releases ever. It may be due to my long held affection for this band more than the actual quality of Accelerate, but this is a really good effort. The first few tracks really hit you with a high level of intensity, and it never really lets up.

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raising Sand

Raising Sand

Raising Sand

I was so prepared to not like this record. I’d heard the hype, read the critical acclaim, yada, yada, yada. And then a friend got me a bootleg copy of them performing the old Led Zeppelin song Black Dog in concert. That cinched it for me – I bought the record. My first listen left me more than a little disappointed, but I kept hearing a different track here and there, and every time I heard a track, I really liked it. So – after making some time to really listen and absorb this record, I must admit – it’s really good. T-Bone Burnett put the project together, and it really works. I think the reason I needed some time to get into this record is that it’s very subtle. After repeated listens, it’s the subtlety I realy love about it. I also had the pleasure of seeing them at the Fox Theater in STL for an amazing show.  They’re great performers, it’s a great record, and it turned out to be my most pleasant surprise of 2008.

Hayes Carll – Trouble in Mind

Trouble in Mind

Trouble in Mind

Speaking of pleasant surprises – Hayes Carll hit my CD player with a vengeance this year. He opened, with The Hubcap Stealers, for the Old 97’s at Twangfest at the Pageant Theater in St. Louis. I’m not always on top of new artists the way I’d like, and I’d never heard his music before that show. The band – the aforementioned Hubcap Stealers – was great. They were so polished and tight that is was a great way to get introduced to this very charming storyteller. He won Song of the Year from the Americana Music Association for She Left me for Jesus. It is a GREAT song! I still chuckle when I hear it, and if you aren’t familiar with it – hit his web page and give it a listen. I’ve backfilled my collection with Carll’s release – Little Rock, too. I am really looking forward t his next record.

John Hiatt – Same Old Man

Same Old Man

Same Old Man

John Hiatt has been one of my favorites for years, so I’m not even going to pretend to be objective. He’s got a distinctive voice that is getting more expressive with age. He still puts on a great show, and this record certainly won’t disappoint fellow fans. I think part of why I like him so much is that so many of his songs are personal and are about “stage of life” things I really understand.

 

Lucinda Williams – Little Honey

Little Honey

Little Honey

 

She’s odd, quirky, weird and any other similar adjective you want to use. She’s also hugely talented, and this is a good record. I really love her voice, but I recognize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But this is a worthy effort, and it’s getting some attention from even mainstream music press like Rolling Stone.

Shelby Lynne – Just a Little Lovin’

Just a Little Lovin'

Just a Little Lovin'

 

This is a very nice tribute to Dusty Springfield. Shelby Lynne takes a pretty big risk re-recording some of these tracks, but it works. I really like I Only Want to be With You. I heard an interesting interview with Shelby Lynne on NPR around the release date, and she had some cool things to say about recording The Look of Love. It was a bit intimidating, according to Lynne, but she really treats the song well.

The Derailers – Guarantied to Satisfy

Guaranteed to Satisfy

Guaranteed to Satisfy

I’d agree with this title. This IS a very satisfying record. Here is another band I truly like. These guys – twangy thought they are – really play fun, interesting music. The first track – Bad, Bad Girl is country music exactly as it ought to be played. Ignore that over-produced pabulum Nashville keeps hoisting off on the public, and try something really authentic sounding. These guys are good, and I’m really looking forward to their next release, too!

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