Yet another year has passed and it’s time to name the top ten best albums of 2008. You will have heard of a few but may not have heard of others. If you’re looking to be exposed to new music, expand your musical horizons or you're just bored check out these albums online.
As I have written previously I am NOT a fan of Christian music because Christian rock has no redeeming artistic or social value, in that it neither inspires people to worship nor to appreciate great music. The restrictions placed on Christian musicians by both the Christian record labels and existing fan base, crush out all true artistic growth, every spark of originality or individualism — as if being original or different wereun-Christian or sinful. That said, just because someone celebrates their love of a mythological being (God in this instance) by making artistically barren music doesn't necessarily mean they don't have talent, artistic vision or originality. In the case of singer-songwriter Derek Webb - most famous as part of the Christian band Caedmon’s Call - and his equally talented and successful wife Sandra McCracken, that is certainly untrue, as evidenced by the release of their debut duet EP, Ampersand.
This is the first collaboration from these two deeply personal performers and a true joy to hear. Webb and McCracken's voices perfectly complement each other, harmonising playfully, dancing together in joyous vocal foreplay. McCracken's voice is a mixture of Emmylou Harris and Shawn Colvin, rootsy, warbling, and gently, elegantly loving. And Webb's voice is a mixture of buttery smoothness and raw passion, like a good spicy whisky. And the same can be said of their musical styles; McCracken is a bit alt-folk, with country tinges and Webb, alt-country with rock colour. This collaboration sees the best that both these talented artists have to offer, what it doesn't offer are references to religion or Christianity – thank jebus.
One of my favourite former Band of the Week bands, The Ruse have finally released their newest masterpiece, Midnight in the City. Filled with stunning creamy, rich, Celtic-flavoured soundscapes and dreamy, warm, sensual vocals, Midnight in the City has earned this place on my top ten list. The Ruse's signature sound is reminiscent of Snow Patrol playing U2 songs with Travis arranging the music. Fabulously Brit-rock sound is surprisingly coming from an L.A. band, but it is such a melodic, cultivated sound you'll hardly care. That said, with Midnight in the City you can hear The Ruse beginning to push their sound to a new level. In fact I am willing to admit that the only reason the that Midnight in the City isn't higher in my countdown is simply because I would like to see this band push their sound a bit further, to develop their impressive talents to new levels. The Ruse are a band who's talent, vision and drive are the stuff of legends and I have no doubt that one day these guys will be rock gods.