The best of 2008


OK

It’s that time of year again. The wrap. After a great deal of deliberation I have arrived at my Albums of the year and my best of 2008 CD.

You’ll not be surprised to see my usual heavy inclusion of female singer songwriters, although in percentage terms they are rather lower than usual – only about 25%. There’s more Rock ‘n ‘roll than previous years. Don’t know why. Just a good year for rock I suppose.

In no particular order my albums of the year were.

Dig Lazarus Dig!!! by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Reviewed here. A total classic that is full of cracking and totally unique songs. I absolutely adore this record.

dig-lazarus

Third by Portishead. Ten years in gestation it was worth every second of the wait. Eerie, disconcerting. Unique. I reviewed it here.

portishead-third

22 Dreams by Paul Weller. I’m not a fan usually, but this record is wonderful. Reviewed here.

paul-weller-22-dreams-4337311

The Very Best of Ethiopiques by various artists. What a wonderful discovery. In a classic year for world music, in particular african stuff this blew me away as I explained here.

ethiopiques

Welcome to Mali by Amadou and Mariam. Just in. Just Wonderful. This Malian couple make stunning fresh pop music. Not had time to review it yet.

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The Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow. Deserved winners of The Mercury Prize. This album came from nowhere and was a hot contender for my album of the year. I reviewed it here.

elbow_-_the_seldom_seen_kid

Only by the Night by Kings of Leon. They just keep getting better. This is a fine record with great grinding melodies.

kings-of-leon

Stay Positive by The Hold Steady. What a wonderful, opoetic record. The other big contender for album of the year. Reviewed here.

hold_steady-stay_positive

Glasvegas by Glasvegas. Yikes. Scotland’s best this year. Huge sound great lyrics and Geraldine is a gem of a song. Reviewed here.

glasvegas

A Piece of What You Need by Teddy Thomson. This is a great underground folky, rocky album by the son of Richard and Linda Thomson that has been on heavy rotation this year. I suspect Jeana would have it as her album of the year. Very good. Reviewed here.

tedthompson

Juno Soundtrack by Various Artists. One of the movies of the year and a cracking soundtrack to go with it. Another one that received heavy rotation in the spring and summer. Reviewed here.

juno

Aman Iwan by Tinariwen. Last but certainly not least it was actually released in 2007 but it only came to my attention this year. The third of my much loved African albums on the list. Reviewed here.

tinariwen

I have to say in conclusion that Dig Lazarus Dig!!! wins my overall album of the year.

And so, to my best of the year CD…

As usual, if you want a copy you need only ask.

Probably the hardest decision of all was to leave off One day Like This by Elbow in favour of Starlings, but my rules only allow one song per artist.

Overall I thought 2008 was a vintage year and I think this might be my best ‘best of’ yet…

Here’s how it pans out.

1. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
2. That’s not my name by The Ting Tings
3. Cler Achel by Tinariwen
4. The Rip by Portishead
5. Come On Over (Turn Me On) by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
6. Have You Made Up Your Mind by Paul Weller
7. Freeway by Aimee Mann
8. Family Tree by TV On The Radio
9. Lights Out by Santogold
10. In My Arms by Teddy Thompson
11. You Cheated Me by Martha Wainwright
12. Geraldine by Glasvegas
13. Starlings by Elbow
14. Daydreamer by Adele
15. The Age Of The Understatement by The Last Shadow Puppets
16. Crawl by Kings Of Leon
17. Lord, I’m Discouraged by The Hold Steady
18. 5 Years Time by Noah And The Whale
19. Sabali by Amadou and Mariam

So good was this year’s stock that I’m strongly considering a ‘B sides best of”.

What do you think?

The aforementioned One Day Like This would feature, as would a couple of tracks from the Very Best Of Ethiopiques, and a great Karine Polwart song called Sorry are among the contenders…

Recent listening – Glasvegas


It’s hard to write about phenomena that are gestating in your back yard.

Glasvegas are Scotland’s latest phenomenon and with with some merit.

My mate Iain, who should have no real connection with this band (he said ageistly), has been quietly raving about them for a year or so.

He was right.

Much has been written about the Spectorish ‘wall of sound’ they create and the similarity to Jesus and Mary Chain. Well, for a start I can reveal that they are as far removed from Phil Spector as I am.

What is intriguing about the production of this record though is the sheer intensity of it – that’s the ‘wall of sound’ I think reviewers are referring to.

But it’s not the volume or the depth of the music that creates that, so-called, wall, it’s the relentlessness of it (for instance there are actually no start and stops between tracks – it’s just a fuzz.)

This is a big and important aspect of this record because it makes it epic.

The vernacular in the vocals are well catalogued but this is one of those rare records (I suppose like White Stripes and Foo Fighters) where actually the drumming is the essence. And the wall.

It is tribal, incessant, preternatural. It is what drives the record forward.

Plenty folk have had their say.

I approve. It is, for me, a much more interesting breakthrough than the flim flam of Franz Ferdinand which has most certainly not stood the test of time.

monumental


I’ve been catching up on old Jools Holland Shows and I’ve only a few left before I am in real time.  Imagine my delight then to fall upon this – Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds playing probably the best song I’ve heard this year (perhaps The Rip by Portishead excluded).

Just dwell on this won’t you.

Look at the passion of every single member of this immense band.  And try to work out thier average age.  I’ll give you a clue.  Cave is 50 and for my money he looks one of the youngest.  The boy on Rock and Roll violin is sublime.

Later in this particular show I stumbled upon this.

My mate Iain Hawk has been raving about Glasvegas for months in a visionary sort of way. This demonstrates why – thier own song; Geraldine.  One thing I really like about them is the way they’ve inverted the usual rock and roll cliches.

The drummer’s a burd.  And bloody good at it too, despite the lack of a bass drum (Yes, I know… White Stripes…)

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