Believe it or not, albums that came out in the last year are still finding my inbox, mailbox and CD player. You could say 2008 is the year that keeps on giving us great music. But with the first quarter of 2009 about to close, at some point you have to come to an end point on the year that was if the intention is to make a list of your favorites. For me, now is that point.
And what a year for music 2008 was, rock and roll especially. January started out with releases from alternative rock staples Radiohead (the official release of In Rainbows on XL Recordings), Smashing Pumpkins (the overlooked American Gothic EP), and new rock by the likes of Athens, Georgia-based The Whigs. By the time this January came around, I was still discovering new and great music – the Gaslight Anthem being the highlight of this bunch.
In my opinion, 2008 was a heck of year for Southern rock bands (including The Whigs), with the reemergence of that other Athens band (R.E.M.), pleasant discoveries of newer groups such as North Carolina’s The Sammies, and new albums from veterans My Morning Jacket and Kings Of Leon (who also won a Grammy this year for the hit single “Sex On Fire”). Read on to see which of these bands made my favorites list.
The metal world saw veterans take over, with killer releases by everyone from Metallica and Yngwie Malmsteen to Nevermore’s Jeff Loomis, but newer acts like Torche impressed me as well. Though Judas Priest came back with an ambitious and to critics, a “mixed” effort with the double LP Nostradamus, more impressive to my eyes and ears was the Halford Live At Rock In Rio III DVD/CD package, which featured a remastered Halford solo CD Resurrection together with an hour-long concert from the 2000-2001 “Resurrection World Tour,” a lengthy documentary of it featuring Rob Halford in studio with Bruce Dickinson, and much more. This package largely summed up the best material Halford did outside of his Priest work and is no doubt my favorite non-Judas Priest release.
Other favorite music DVDs that came out late last year include the Radiohead-heavy and Nigel Godrich-produced From The Basement – Various Artists live performance DVD (which was released again in March), and the legendary pre-synthesizer-era The Who shows of 1977 and 1969 – featuring the band’s raw and first ever performance of rock opera Tommy – as captured on Live At Kilburn: 1977, a must-have for any The Who fan.
With so many very good-to-great releases to consider for a list of favorites, it was not an easy task to nail it all down to a Top Ten list, so I’ll give you around ten releases that really made a large impression on me and my mp3/CD/DVD players, and then a short list of some other releases I liked.
10. Filter – Anthems For The Damned
Not too many people I know heard or talked about this album, but Richard Patrick made one of may favorite rock-out-with-your-headphones-on releases of the year. Whether it’s radio-ready rockers like “Kill The Day” and “Soldiers of Misfortune” or the dreamy soundscapes of “Only You” and its instrumental companion “Can Stop This,” it’s the best album Patrick has done since the career-defining Title of Record (1999).
9. Putumayo Presents – Euro Groove
It was through an e-card that a PR rep sent Blogcritics last year that I got to sample the first three tracks from this awe-inspiring compilation of great music from around the world. But I wasn’t happy with just samples and so went to a local store and tracked down this classy, varied, and strong collection of ten tracks by artists from Italy, England, Lebanon, Germany, France, and elsewhere.
Euro Groove was an eye-opener for me to be sure and more compilations like this will surely redefine what has been described as “world music,” (which would no doubt please David Byrne). The gorgeous strings on the jazzy fusion track “Destins Et Desirs“ by Lebanon’s Toufic Farroukh, the seductive and electronic ambiance of “Nuit Magique” by Jazzamor, the ambient funk of “Superwhirly” by Guateque All Stars and the urban pop of “Check In” by Fiamma Fumana are my favorites, though all are enjoyable.