It's become an annual rite of passage in the music business.
Every year, the trade papers are filled with stories about how this year was worse than last year. If the music execs were hoping we'd get so tired of reading that story that we'd start to ignore it — you know, 'the boy who cried wolf' routine — it hasn't happened. Instead, the tearing of clothes, the wailing, and the gnashing of teeth have only reinforced the idea that there is no good music being made these days so you might as well not buy any of it. That's genius level marketing if I ever heard it.
The first thing I need to say about this list is that a lot of great albums released in 2008 didn't make it. This is just my Top 10. There was plenty more where this came from. In order to make the process of narrowing down the list just a bit more manageable, I opted to exclude compilations, live albums, re-issues, and EPs.
That means David Gilmour's excellent Live in Gdansk was excluded, as was Glen Phillips' wonderful EP Secrets of the New Explorer. Both are worthy of mention owing to the repeated listens I gave each throughout the year. As for what did make it, we've got jazz and we've got blues. We've got Southern rock veterans, British rock titans, and standard bearers of the ancient Seattle sound.
10. The Gutter Twins - Saturnalia: I guess this is me showing my age. I grew up on Screaming Trees and Afghan Whigs and am an outspoken, unapologetic Mark Lanegan fanboy. Saturnalia is a bit uneven but the strength of the good (the opening trio) makes up for an occasional lesser cut.
9. Coldplay - Viva La Vida: I wonder if this album was all part of Brian Eno's evil plan to get U2 to hunker down and make something great. Bono is a competitive sort who likes the idea of fronting the biggest band in the world. I don't know if Coldplay holds that title, but their collaboration with Brian Eno yielded a surprising and fantastic record. Coldplay sound much less emo and a lot more anthemic this time out and it suits them well. The opening 1-2 of "Life in Technicolor" and "Cemetaries of London" and the closing "Death And All Of His Friends" frame the album brilliantly.