Best of 2008
1) What Made Milwaukee Famous / What Doesn’t Kill Us / Barsuk
Hook-laden and sometimes challenging, the sophomore release from the Austin band mixes New Wave and classic pop influences. It gets better upon repeated listening.
2) Paul Weller / 22 Dreams / Yep Roc
Weller’s most diverse solo album to date. A mix of songs and styles that most artists—and labels—wouldn’t dare to release.
3) Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings / 100 Days, 100 Nights / Dap Tone
A great ’70s style soul singer with one of the tightest backing bands around—an unforgettable mix
4) Richard Hawley / Lady’s Bridge / Mute
The Sheffield crooner is back with another can’t-miss collection of velvety ballads
5) Joe Jackson / Rain / Rykodisc
His voice has never sounded better and his trio is sparse but powerful
6) The Last Shadow Puppets / Age of the Understatement / Domino
When the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and The Rascals’ Miles Kane collaborate everything is cool—down to the CD jacket. Hopefully it will lead people to discover earlier arbiters of cool David Axelrod and Scott Walker whose vibes flow through the disc.
7) Matthew Sweet / Sunshine Lies / Shout Factory
It’s not quite Girlfriend, but it’s pretty damn close
8) Portishead / Third / Mercury
A great return that moves beyond the whole trip-hop trap.
9) Mgmt / Oracular Spectacular / Sony
Psychedelic indie pop that out Flaming Lips the Flaming Lips
10) Jim Noir / Jim Noir / Barsuk
Second album from worshipper of Brian Wilson. More electronic and experimental but just as melodic as his first.
10) Oasis / Dig Out Your Soul / Reprise
Oasis likes The Beatles. Who knew? The influence is there but with a new spin. And there’s even a sitar!
Also deserving attention: Billy Bragg / Mr. Love And Justice; Fleet Foxes / Fleet Foxes; Vampire Weekend / Vampire Weekend; David Ford / Songs For The Road; R.E.M / Accelerate; James / Hey Me; Duffy / Rockferry; Jeremy / Pop Explosion; Band of Horses / Cease to Exist; Glen Campbell / Meet Glen Campbell; Crosby Tyler / 10 Songs of America Today; Old 97s / Blame it On Gravity; Michael Carpenter & The Cuban Heels / EP
Best reissue: The Jesus And Mary Chain / The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides and Rarities
Best tribute CD: Beautiful Escape: The Songs of the Posies
Best series: BBC live recordings