Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Paddy's Top 10 Albums of 2008

10. Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs

Death Cab are a band who go from strength to strength, and had achieved cult sensation status with their last album, Plans. The follow-up was therefore going to be difficult, but is a commendable effort; although not as melodic and powerful as ‘Transatlanticism’, it is a rich and vibrant album with a very individual sound, and has one of the best songs ever written on it, ‘Cath…’, a song which reminds us why Ben Gibbard is one of the greatest songwriters alive today.

9. Johnny Foreigner – Waited Up ‘Til It Was Light

2008 has been a big year for Johnny Foreigner, who released their debut album proper over the summer in the midst of a lengthy tour which included Reading, Leeds and Latitude, among other festivals, at all of which they gave sterling performances. With intelligent lyrics, distinctive guitar tone and the boy/girl vocal harmonies down to a tee, this is an excellent album – surely the first of many from these bright young things.

8. Sam Isaac – Sticker, Star and Tape EP

Despite being based around already released singles and re-recordings, this EP chronicles some of Sam Isaac’s best work to date. His sound is augmented by slick production and instrumentation, which combine to make his songs emotional and powerful, in particular ‘Annie, Why Are You So Angry?’. This EP is only a taste of what’s to come when Sam releases his debut album proper next year, so keep him on the radar.

7. The All New Adventures of Us – Best Loved Goodnight Tales

TANAOU originally released this album on vinyl only. They have since relented and released it on CD, but the initial charm surrounding the vinyl is indicative of what it is that makes them a very special band indeed – their craft for enchanting and exciting folk-pop. Everything about them is beautiful and elegant, right down to the record sleeve, which resembles an old and cherished book. It is the kind of music which never fails to raise a smile.

6. Attack In Black – Marriage

A real breakthrough for Canada’s Attack In Black, this album was released there last year but only made its way to the UK in 2008 after a tour with City and Colour (Dallas Green of Alexisonfire) brought them some well-deserved attention. They manage to make a coherent and rousing sound of a fusion of punk and country music, which is no mean feat, as well as having honest and intelligent lyrics. A fantastic album from start to finish which takes the listener on a real journey.

5. Slow Club – Let’s Fall Back In Love EP

One of many bands I’ve simply fallen in love with this year after seeing them at the Latitude Festival. Their simple, stripped-down sound is brave, but idiosyncratic; it does not feel like turgid, acoustic singer-songwriter whining, but is stirring and harmonious. The two voices complement each other very well, and their songs are carefully crafted to show this fact but not overdo it. A thoroughly commendable effort from a band who’ve not been around all that long and don’t have a full length album to their name yet.

4. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound

An album which makes its own hype seem like an understatement, The ’59 Sound is an album full of grand songs, by turns crushing and stirring, and always brimming with raw emotion. The influence of Springsteen practically bleeds from the speakers, but somehow you don’t begrudge them it; they’ve taken Bruce’s best aspects and made them their own, with endearing, plaintive vocals and narrative lyrics. Definitely a band to watch in 2009.

3. Hot Club de Paris – Live at Dead Lake

Not actually a live album but a polished yet still raw studio album from Liverpool’s finest, whose debut album Drop It ‘Til It Pops was filled with neat vocal harmonies and affirming vocal lines, which helped to forge Hot Club’s extremely distinctive sound. On Live At Dead Lake they have taken this a step further, with even more melodic and intelligent indie-pop songs, which manage to sound tuneful while still angular and mathematical. One of the best bands in the UK at the moment.

2. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

The Hold Steady have grown quite steadily in popularity with each album they’ve released. With their fourth, Stay Positive, they really hit their stride, their idiosyncratic take on classic rock becoming an entirely new and surprisingly modern sound. I’ve deliberately not made a ‘best gigs of 2008’ list yet because I’m seeing them next week and am sure it’ll be incredible, because of this album, which is life-affirming but gloriously nihilistic in parts.

1. The Age of Rockets – Hannah

I wanted to put this album at number one because The Age of Rockets have had little to no press in the UK, and they really deserve it. This is an album which delivers from start to finish with a sound unlike any other; the closest comparison would be the Postal Service, but The Age of Rockets take their beautiful electronica to another level with strings, vocal harmonies and elegant orchestral arrangements. This album is only available on US import, but I would recommend it wholeheartedly.

Near Misses

Hollie Rogers – Let Me Be The Shadow of Your Dog

A beautiful, soulful album of acoustic folk from the best thing to come out of Cornwall since the Cornish Pasty.

Ben Folds – Way To Normal

Strange but intriguing album from the piano-pop genius, which was clearly therapeutic for him – a commendable and brave thing to do.

Weezer – The Red Album

Not as classic as their earlier work, but still contains some fine examples of why Weezer always deliver when pop-rock is needed.

Tim and Sam’s Tim and The Sam Band With Tim and Sam – Put Your Slippers on EP

Magical instrumental music which has been described as ‘post-folk’; definitely great for enjoying with a cup of tea.

Top 10 Singles

10. Twin Atlantic - What Is Light? Where Is Laughter?
9. Ben Folds ft. Regina Spektor - You Don't Know Me
8. Tubelord - Feed Me A Box of Words
7. Such Great Heights - Would I Still Have Friends If I Believed I Was A Wizard?
6. James Yuill - No Pins Allowed
5. Scholars - Recovery Monday
4. Rod Thomas - Same Old Lines
3. Slow Club - Christmas TV
2. Luke Leighfield - 60,000 Miles/Have You Got Heart?
1. Emmy the Great - We Almost Had a Baby

1 comment:

Hollie said...

Ah! What a pleasant surprise to see such a nice comment about my album! Thank you!

Hollie x