Top 10 Releases of 2008


Jan 9 2009, 4h58

10. Chuck Ragan & Austin Lucas - "Bristle Ridge" - Not quite as good as Chuck's solo album last year, but let's be honest, what is? Anyway, this is an awesome collection of country-influenced folk songs. Obviously the Ragan-penned songs are the ones that stand out, but Lucas is no slouch. If you liked Feast or Famine (which you did), you should check this out.

9. Tom Gabel - "Heart Burns [EP]" - This one would be a lot higher on the list if it weren't for the first two tracks. Fortunately, the rest of Gabel's first solo endeavor is fantastic. "Anna is a Stool Pigeon" is probably my favorite track. In fact, just delete the first two tracks and download the two digital bonus tracks (one of which is an acoustic version of the opening track and puts the album version to shame), and you'd have something that borders on perfection.

8. Wingnut Dishwashers Union - "Never Trust A Man Who Plays Guitar" - Technically this is really just Pat the Bunny's collection of the songs he's written over the past two-ish years and have been released variously, but these songs are just fantastic folk-punk. Pat writes some the most honest, powerful, songs I've heard - even if some are intentionally silly.

7. The Waffle Stompers - "Black on Black [EP]" - I got a pleasant surprise when some ska band from Jersey played a Long Island bowling alley show this summer. It's pretty poppy, and some of the songwriting would seem cheesy if it didn't have such a genuine feeling to it...I only wish this was a full-length album, because its shortness is its biggest flaw.

6. R.E.M. - "Accelerate" - R.E.M. is one of my favorite bands, but their recent albums have been pretty lackluster. However, they seem to have found some inspiration, because "Accelerate" is excellent. The politics in it get a little pretentious at times, but Stipe is such a poetic songwriter that it's hard to fault him. This album is what 1994's "Monster" should have's just a few years late.

5. Dillinger Four - "Civil War" - The long-anticipated fourth album from D4 doesn't disappoint. While it doesn't quite have the raw feeling of their first few records, the band represents on it a melodic prowess that is a force to be reckoned with. It's in a similar vein to 2002's "Situationist Comedy", and it's definitely a natural progression for the band; that's not to say that they've lost their edge, these songs are as hard-hitting as ever...they've just matured - which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

4. Royal City Riot - "Whatever You Please" - I'm usually not much for the more mellow, reggae-centric ska bands, but RCR injects just the right amount of soul music into it. I have listened to this album on every long car ride I've taken since I got it this summer. "Paumanok" is my favorite "Long Island" song (of which I have a few) of all time. And, as awesome as this album is, their new songs from what I've seen live are even better.

3. Frank Turner - "Love, Ire & Song" - My biggest musical regret of 2008 is missing my chance to see Frank Turner live a few months ago. This album is as catchy, as raw, and as British as you can be. Great melodies and clever lyrics, held together with a sense of wistful yet intense songwriting that has become a huge influence on my own songwriting in such a short amount of time.

2. The Homecoming Queens - "A Sound You Once Knew" - If you're friends with me, I've probably made you listen to this. If you really want to know more, check out the review I wrote on iTunes.

1. The Gaslight Anthem - "The '59 Sound" - When I saw Gaslight open for the Bosstones last December, I had no idea the greatness I had stumbled into. "The '59 Sound" isn't quite as perfect as the band's 2007 debut, "Sink or Swim", but it pushes the band into new, yet somehow familiar territory, as the band explores different influences in solidifying their sound. They don't hide their hero worship for Springsteen (nor should they) on this album. The lyrics are laced with nostalgia and a sense of growing up that tugs at the heart just enough. Brian Fallon has a knack for storytelling that few can match. No, this may not be an anthemic punk record like its predecessor; it's a damn good rock album. And honestly, these days, those are few and far between.

Fuck Chinese Democracy


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