Best of lists are always fun, if not controversial. Candidly, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on this one, so if it was written on another day, it may have looked differently. Still, this lists represent my favorite new music in 2008. Enjoy.
10) Ode to Sunshine, Delta Spirit: this one had to make the list, if only because several songs were stuck on my head for so many months. What makes Ode to Sunshine so interesting is that somehow it channels an era long forgotten while simultaneously sounding extremely fresh.
9) New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War, Erykah Badu: Dear Ms. Badu, I’ve bought all your albums, but it’s been almost a decade since you delivered something as relevant as this one. Welcome back, we missed you.
8)The Stand Ins, Okkervil River: one of my favorite bands over of this decade, it’s nice to see Okkervil River break out this year (relative statement for an indie rock band). While I still prefer Black Sheep Boy to the last two releases, all of Okkervil River’s albums should find themselves on “best of” lists every year; Will Sheff may be the greatest storyteller of his generation.
7)Dear Science, TV on the Radio: an eclectic band that continues to grow, TVOTR just gets better, especially lyrically. With their latest, they bring their signature sound - which is to say a bit of everything from DuWop-to-Bowie-to-The Pixies.
6)Esperanza, Esperanza Spalding: welcome to Sunday mornings in our house. This album went on last spring and has been in heavy rotation ever since. Apparently in her young 20’s, Esperanza may be the new face of jazz.
5) Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes: if 2008 was the year of the intimate record, Fleet Foxes debut is a huge contributor in making it so. If this is what folk rock sounds like in the new millennium, then I’m in.
4) Carried to Dust, Calexico: if music is supposed to evoke a sense of feeling, then Calexico are truly masters of their craft. Always fun, balancing a lot going on with a beautiful simplicity, Calexico sometimes feels like a southwestern Funkadelic.
3) Furr, Blitzen Trapper: like My Morning Jacket, people tried to pigeonhole these guys as a next-gen jam band, when they’re clearly so much more. Who cares what genre they’re in – Blitzen Trapper is a wonderful group that is getting better with each album.
2) You & Me, The Walkmen: their fascination with Bob Dylan is always present, especially in how they play the role of modern troubadours. But, make no mistake – this is a New York City rock n’ roll band through and through. Listen to this album.
1) For Emma, Forever Ago, Bon Iver: You know when music can feel frozen like a moment in time? This album will forever be the winter of ‘08 in our family. Tender, sweet and even haunting, For Emma, Forever Ago, is a special record. Surprisingly (to me, anyway),Bon Iver somehow captures the magic of the album live - seeing their show only amplified my love of this masterpiece.
Special mention goes to:
Evil Urges, My Morning Jacket: definitely a love it or hate it, I’m in the former camp. This band continues to expand sonically – and, have fun.
Oracular Spectacular, MGMT: sorry I missed them live, but I still couldn’t stop listening to this one. With TV on the Radio and Yeasayer, they’re one of the more fun, diverse bands around.
In The Future, Black Mountain: is it 1971? Shhh… don’t tell Black Mountain.
Volume One, She & Him: speaking of throwbacks, this album is timeless. Reminds me of the music my parents “made me” listen to.
Two Men With the Blues, Willie Nelson/Wynton Marsalis: unlikely duo (although, Willie + anyone is possible), this live performance is phenomenal.
Lie Down In The Light, Bonnie “Prince” Billie: always under the radar, Prince delivers yet another excellent album.