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Home / Articles / Music / CD Reviews /  Creme de la Creme: City Weekly's Top Albums of 2008 Page 2
CD Reviews

Creme de la Creme: City Weekly's Top Albums of 2008 Page 2

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


/Bonnie Prince Billy, Lie Down In The Light
Will Oldham sounds downright upbeat on this gorgeous album buoyed by aching harmonies courtesy of Ashley Webber whose voice bears a striking resemblance to that of her twin sister Amber (Black Mountain). “So Everyone,” is true romance in stereo. If I ever get around to getting hitched, this will be my Pachelbel’s Canon: “Oh lady. Oh boy. Show how you want me and do it so everyone sees me.” (JG)

Doomtree, Doomtree
Criminally underrated Minneapolis hip-hop collective’s highly anticipated group debut might be a golden ticket out of obscurity, though, arguably, their strength owes much to the cutthroat life: “We/ be/ all in the struggle, man/grind hard/ twenty-four seven, man.” The hunger is palpable—and evenly divided. Each artist’s defiant determination bleeds through individual strengths, from Dessa’s assured grace under fire to Otter’s smooth-talkin’ cynicism and Mictlan’s confrontational roar. And the beats? This is the wine-pairing of production. Eclectic instrumentals massaging rhymes into position… Good things come to those who wait. But, uh, let’s hope the next album drops before 2016. (JG)

CarCrashLander, Mountains On Our Backs
Most of Portland recognizes Cory Gray as a consummate multi-instrumentalist spicing up works by Norfolk & Western, Decemberists, and others. But I was introduced to Gray through a little ditty called “Gold Sunset” off CarCrashLander’s debut, which I immediately picked up two days before Mountains On Our Backs arrived in the mail. Lord! It’s even better than the first outing by Gray’s solo project, linear and chaotic, sad and romp-tastic, full of smart arrangements highlighted by Gray’s keys and trumpet, jazz drums and face-melting guitars drenched in reverb and other downright psychedelic effects. It’s loud and quiet and loud, but not like the Pixies. Pick it up. Now. (JG)

Imaad Wasif with Two-Part Beast, Strange Hexes
Folk Implosion/Yeah Yeah Yeahs touring guitarist Imaad Wasif glides from the shadows with an intoxicating work of medieval black magic. Wasif establishes himself as a solo artist to watch, wielding his axe as a magic wand to transform basic declarations of love and longing into devastating testimony: “Well I’m lovesick. It’s panoramic.” Strange Hexes is sweeping, psychedelic and heavy, man. It smolders. (JG)

Land of Talk, Some Are Lakes
That Elizabeth Powell rarely enunciates actually informs her unique power as a singer—songs like the title track and “Got a Call” hit hardest when she’s basically slurring her words into a ball of unadulterated emotion. Powell ditched music school to “train” on her own, and the hard-knock study’s unique talent shines all over this debut produced by her buddy Bon Iver. It’s a cathartic work, full of soul bearing and calling out men who break things. It rocks like it’s 1993—in a good way. The one thing I took away? Even tomboys get the blues, but “you can’t keep down a girl who loves music.” (JG)
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/Okkervil River,The Stand Ins
Third time’s a charm. Prior to The Stand Ins, Okkervil River’s sound just didn’t do it for me. The band seemed pretentious and, well, boring. But this album, man, this album is hmm-hmm good. Not sure what it is—maybe the arrangements better highlight Will Sheff’s brilliant songwriting. He’s a true wordsmith whose romantic stories contain nary a cliché—a rare breed these days. His songs read like serialized dramas, and I hang on every word. (JG)

Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak
Heartbreak is one beautiful mess of an album. After the hit-heavy Graduation, West tones it down with an utterly bleak, futuristic album full of raw emotion. West’s ego can get tiresome, but he’s never conventional. I’m guessing this will become a fan-favorite given some time. (RB)

Man Man, Rabbit Habits
More troupe than band, Man Man makes ugly and exciting music. If you lament the day when Oingo Boingo went from being circus performers to rock band, then Rabbit Habits is your album. (RB)

Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours
In Ghost Colours sounds like the 80s or the subsequent backlash never happened. It’s a redefining dance album without any hint of irony or hipster posturing. Unlike other electronic bands (cough MGMT cough), they can slow it down without sounding cheesy. (RB)

Shearwater, Rook
Jonathon Meiburg has one of the most haunting voices in music and it suits Shearwater’s music beautifully. Rook has somehow managed to capture the fear, awe, beauty and trepidation of our natural world and turn it into music. If Wordsworth had been a musician, his music would’ve sounded like this. (RB)

Fucked Up, Chemistry of Common Life
I’m always wary of “experimental” punk, and the flute intro to the album definitely had me thinking schtick when I first heard it. But “Son the Father” (first track) becomes one of the most unhinged, balls-out song I’ve heard in a long time. And the album just gets better after that. (RB)

/ No Age, Nouns
No Age use layers of noise to create beautifully-textured rock. Although the band is mostly known for their live shows, Nouns does a fine job of translating their passion and creativity onto record. Not since Daydream Nation has a band effectively used noise to their advantage. (RB)
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