Friday, December 19, 2008

Best Albums of 2008 - Part 2 - #20-16

Hey! This is part #2!

PREVIOUS>> Part 1 - Rules and Runners Up


Frightened Rabbit - Midnight Organ Fight
FatCat Records

This rather conventional pop record just managed to squeeze on the list on the merits of both songwriting and sound. I was a bit surprised, since Glasgow breeds almost exclusively boring and overrated bands, but this one actually knows how to rock! Particularly notable, the guitar arrangements are driving and innovative. Yeah, the words are a bit whiny, but most bands' lyrics are, and at least these are from the heart. It's all-around solid pop album with a rough-shod Scottish attitude, perfect for crying in your beer to, but also suitable for rocking out.

Track pick: "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms"


Why? - Alopecia
Anticon Records

I thought about not considering Why? for the list because as I explained, I've left out rap albums. However, a full listen revealed as much indie rock as rap here. Either way, it's a great album of well-performed music, with interesting hip-hop rhythms, beyond-solid drum and guitar work and bold originality. For Ohio-born former high school band dweebs, these guys are pretty ill.

Track Picks: "The Hollows," 'The Fall of Mr. Fifths"


M83 - Saturdays = Youth
Mute Records

If this album's finest moments were more indicative of its overall quality, it would have fallen much higher on the list. M83's electronic shoegaze creates some of the most stunning walls-of-sound of the year, and some of the most interesting hooks too. The album includes too many skippable tracks to win out against the other albums on the list, but if you're thinking of picking up a copy, do it! It may not be solid throughout, but the good stuff is some of the best music out there these days.

Track pick: "Kim & Jessie"


Ponytail - Ice Cream Spiritual
We Are Free Records

Ponytail has beat out Women for the "Best Blatantly Experimental Indie Rock Band That Put Out An Amateur But Promising Release In 2008" award, because while I can compare Women to other post-rock bands, Ponytail goes in a more original direction. I'm not sure how to describe it without making it sound dreadful, and indeed, if you can't handle edgy, you may want to steer clear. High-speed noise rock from guitars and drums plus random whooping and wailing doesn't sound like a good idea, but Ponytail makes it work and makes it awesome. And their entirely fearless approach to musical innovation makes me suspect this may be only a first hint of something truly great.



The Dodos - Visiter
Frenchkiss Records

I tossed this album on the "annoying" pile when I first heard it, but something (I don't remember what) made me go back and give it another try. And yeah, it has its annoying moments, but they don't do anything to counteract the much more important moments of simple, pure beauty. In 14 tracks of percussion-driven indie folk, the Dodos spin quiet tales of love, heartache and regret, without being remotely cliched or whiny. The careful arrangements are so subtle that they might be overlooked if it weren't for the album's consistently killer songwriting. A quirky charmer indeed!

Track picks: "Walking," "Jodi"

NEXT>> Part 3: #15-11
Part 4: #10-6
Part 5: #5-1

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