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Home / Articles / Music / CD Reviews /  Creme de la Creme: City Weekly's Top Albums of 2008 Page 1
CD Reviews

Creme de la Creme: City Weekly's Top Albums of 2008 Page 1

By City Weekly Staff
Posted // December 24,2008 -

2008—what a year for music! Creators and consumers of music took full advantage of the Internet as a vehicle for DIY distribution and even collaboration, with bands like Mercury Rev and Parts & Labor calling on listeners to contribute to their latest albums via the Web. Perhaps the interactive and immediate nature of the online community helps inform the eclectic range of great albums released in the last 365 or so days. Other publications’ year-end lists are quite diverse, from Paste selecting She & Him as its No. 1 album to Rolling Stone placing Chinese Democracy in its Top 10. Even our individual lists vary wildly, as evidenced below. We hope one of these artists makes it into your permanent collection.

/The Black Angels, Directions to See a Ghost
The Black Angels could have stopped with Passover (2006) and remained one of my perennial favorites but Austin’s coolest contemporary psychedelic rockers upped the ante with Directions to See a Ghost, a sophomore LP that silences with a resounding howl critics who labeled them as little more than '60s-throwback kitsch. From the hiss and shake of opening track “You on the Run” to the groovy organ pulse driving “18 Years,” Directions strikes a pose nearly as stark and commanding as The Black Angels’ haunting live show. (Jamie Gadette)
/TV on the Radio, Dear Science
I’ve always enjoyed TVotR, but I never thought they lived up to the acclaim lauded upon them by critical wankers. That is, until I heard Dear Science. It’s an album that’s experimental, accessible, heartbreaking and uplifting. Sometimes it breaks you down, and sometimes it rocks the f—king house—but it never fails to be less than brilliant. Final track “Lover’s Day” is the best thing they’ve ever done. (Ryan Bradford)
/The Gutter Twins, Saturnalia
Mark Lanegan is a sexy beast. Oh sure, he put out some good records with Screaming Trees, but it’s his solo work that really turns me on, particularly the overlooked 2004 gem, Bubblegum. If you cream your jeans listening to “Methamphetamine Blues,” featuring Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers), consider making it with The Gutter Twins. Lovingly dubbed the satanic Everly Brothers, Dulli and Lanegan’s professional relationship yields the sort of sound that—depending on the track—makes you want to screw, curl up in a ball or break things (maybe even your own heart. Awww). It’s an unholy musical union so wrong it’s right on. (JG)
/Lykke Li, Youth Novels
Lykke Li has the most instantly infectious-voice in recent memory. Mixing soul and sultry with Manic Pixie Dream Girl sweetness, she carries the spectacular Youth Novels. That’s not to say the music is lacking; the minimalist dance style is the perfect complement to Ms. Li’s vocals. (RB)
/The Devil Whale, Like Paraders
One of the best albums of the year is, once again, locally grown. Neat fact: Brinton Jones penned the bulk of its content prior to becoming a fixture on the Utah County and Salt Lake City music scenes. So all these songs stripped of pretense—all these heartfelt sentiments Jones issues with powerful pipes nearly silenced by a vocal polyp in 2007—offer just a hint of brilliant things to come. Jump to track 5 for your first listen and tell me that’s not a radio hit in the making! Like Paraders also features Jake Fish’s sweet bass lines, killer guitar licks courtesy of hired gun Marcus Bently, who later left to focus on his solo electronic project, Location Location (also worth a listen), plus lush instrumentation and densely layered production courtesy of Seattle’s Shawn Simmons. Next up? The world! (JG)
/The Hold Steady, Stay Positive
The Hold Steady are smart yet accessible and not afraid to be deep and heartfelt. And they can rock too. Separation Sunday continues their line of intertextuality, booze and religion, and it’s the nostalgic soundtrack to a youth full of euphoria and heartbreak. Living in New York City is a lot like living in a Hold Steady song. (RB)

/Silver Jews, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
One of the best living songwriters returns after making good on his band’s name, visiting the Holy Land and getting hitched. His wife/bassist Cassie adds to the album with her salty-sweet vocals charging along hubby David Berman’s wonderfully awkward delivery on infectious jams like “Party Barge,” “Candy Jail” and “Suffering Jukebox.” It’s a little bit country, a little bit rock & roll and a whole lot like nothing else. Long live Silver Jews. (JG)

/Girl Talk, Feed the Animals
Topping 2006’s Night Ripper seemed like an impossible act, but Greg Gillis (Girl Talk) pulled out all the stops with Animals. The samples are broader, the album arc is more coherent and it all comes together with dizzying success. It’s not so much an album as an unapologetic monument in the age of internet music and sound clips. (RB)
/Bill Frost’s One Album Pick of 2008
The Black Keys, Attack & Release
Live at the Crystal Ballroom
The Black Keys made their non-White (Stripes) name as a smash-and-grab blues minimalist duo, cranking out more catchy stomps with just guitar and drums than most “polished” rock “artists” could with a deep bench of instruments, processors and producers. That phase of the Black Keys peaked and exploded with 2004’s Rubber Factory; since then, singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Pat Carney (OK, mostly just Auerbach) have gone slightly more artsy and atmospheric. Attack & Release, guided by WTF?-inducing producer Danger Mouse, isn’t a perfect resolution of the band’s force and finesse, but it is a fascinating experiment and a ballsy move—they could have just put out Rubber Factory 2 and no one would have bitched. Besides, songs like “I Got Mine,” “Strange Times” and “Psychotic Girl” punch like old times, just with a bit more muscle behind the swing. Purists can revel in the sorta follow-up Live at the Crystal Ballroom, a sweat-flinging, fuzz-soaked 18-song concert film the re-establishes the Black Keys as anything but sellouts. (BF)
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