Best Albums of 08


Nov 25 2008, 22h27

Best Albums of 08

10. David Cook: (November)
Apart from the occasional artist I would argue that the Idol franchise is full of shit, however David Cook is one of those rare exceptions. Crowned this year’s winner of American Idol he specialises in emotive rock. Think of him as a male version of Amy Lee or Hayley Williams. He impressed me on Idol with his Chris Cornell inspired cover of Billie Jean and his power ballad take on Lionel Ritchie’s Hello. He repeats much of the same formula here, but its very effective. Stand out tracks include Idol winning ballad The Time Of My Life, pop orientated Declaration and metal influenced Bar-ba-sol. A must have for any fan of rock music.

9. A Million Trillion Stars (June)
Fronted by C List actress Taryn Manning (best known for co-starring with Britney Spears in the movie Crossroads) Boomkat’s sophomore release is barely available in the US let alone here in Australia. That is unfortunate because Taryn is a far better singer than actress. The album primarily consists of electro pop beats with an R&B sensibility. Highlights on the album include Elated, Lonely Child, and Instead. This album is great to put on at a party or to cruise along with while it plays on the IPOD.

8. Don’t Look Away (January)
This album first came to my attention when Kate co-starred on my favourite TV show One Tree Hill. It is particularly obvious that Michelle Branch influences Kate as they craft similar types of songs. Fans of that genre, which specialises in confessional type song writing will enjoy this. My favourite tracks include the rock infused Only Fooling Myself, the easy going Top of the World and the very poppy It’s Only Life. As this is her debut album and Kate is only 20 I can’t wait to hear her future albums, she is a talent to watch.

7. In Ear Park (October)
The 2006 album Yellow House by Grizzly Bear is an album I enjoyed immensely when I discovered it last year. Its lead singer Daniel Rossen returns to his original band Department of Eagles this year for its first full length album. If you like Grizzly Bear you’ll love this, as it contains many of the same ingredients that make that band so good. Specifically the unusual melodies and the slow builds from soft to loud can be found here. These are particularly evident on the title track and Phantom Other. Even if you’ve never heard of either band, I fully recommend this album for anyone who wants try something outside his or her comfort zone you will be rewarded.

6 Acid Tongue: (September)
The lead singer of indie rock outfit Rilo Kiley returns with her second album. Her debut effort Rabbit Fur Coat was heavily influenced by country, but this album has a distinct blues feel to it. However, it is in the ballads where the albums songs stand out. Songs such as Godspeed and Black Sand highlight what a wonderful voice Jenny has. Another highlight includes the nine and half minute epic The Next Messiah as it demonstrates how multifaceted the album truly is. A must have for baby boomers who love The Eagles and Jackson Browne as well as fans of the increasingly mainstream indie pop scene.

5. Narrow Stairs: (May)
Death Cab for Cutie are one of my all time favourite bands. This is not their best album, but it is still very, very good. Yes, they are becoming increasingly popular but they are one of the innovators of this decade’s trend towards indie pop. This album continues that tradition, but tries to mix up the styles more. Ben Gibbard’s lyrics are still first class and the band appear to be tighter than ever, particularly on Long Division, Bixby Canyon Bridge and I Will Possess Your Heart. However, they can do better and they will.

4. Lenka (September)
The only Australian on the list is probably the best artist the country has produced this decade. The former lead singer of criminally underrated ambient pop act Decoder Ring, Lenka has produced an album of quirky pop treasures that was completely unexpected. Her songs are full of whimsy that others try to convey, but come across behaving like dickheads. Songs such as The Show, Knock Knock and Trouble Is a Friend are memorable not only because they are catchy, but also because they are intelligent.

3. Field Manual (January)
Lead guitarist of the aforementioned Death Cab for Cutie and super producer Chris Walla put out a solo record that matched my high expectations. Intensely political and personal he not only uses his enormous expertise to great effect, but he creates a wonderfully cohesive album full of pop gems. Our Plans, Collapsing and St Modesto showcase just what a prodigious talent Chris is, as he creates an album that is both polished and raw. This is a work of musical artistry that must be heard.

2. Dreaming Of Revenge (February)
Kaki’s fourth album is mighty impressive, particularly as she seems to get better with each release. An expert in instrumentation, the album consists of seven symphonic tracks and four tracks with lyrics. The latter tracks Life Being What It Is, Pull Me Out Alive, Saving Days In A Frozen Head and 2 O’Clock are all sublime demonstrating not only how far she has come as an artist, but also the ability too be emotive as well as introspective. The instrumentation will hook you in, but the lyrics will capture you.

1. The Chase (October)
The album may seem conventional on first listen it is anything but. Marit was formerly a member of Norwegian teen pop duo M2M, but has since blossomed and matured in extraordinary ways. Her first album Under The Surface was very good, but The Chase is extraordinary. The album is sophisticated yet simple relying upon elaborate pop hooks and lyrical imagery. It can be enjoyed on a number of levels: as bubblegum teen pop, as a mature and analytical comment on the human condition, or as a pensive exercise that lets the orchestration wash over you. This is an undisputed masterpiece that I will consider as a seminal album. With so many brilliant songs its impossible to pick a favourite. Just enjoy it all and be amazed.

In Ear Park


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