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John’s Top Ten Albums of 2008

Hey, hey, hey! Looks like it’s my turn to whip out my top ten favorite albums of 2008. My list is probably not as hip or diverse as Sean or Colin’s, but out of what I heard these were the tunes I enjoyed. So without further ado, here’s a list of stuff about things that I think sound good.

10. Louis XIV – Slick Dogs And Ponies
A lot of people seemed to dislike this album, but Louis XIV is an odd band so I’m not surprised. Many complain that their lyrics are misogynistic or sexist, but as the band has time after time stated, they’re just having a laugh and don’t mean anything by it, it’s just rock and roll. All the reviews I read never divulged much further than the lyrics, which is a shame because despite it’s imperfections there’s some surprisingly unique material on Slick Dogs And Ponies. Some of the highlights include the excellent ballad “Hopesick”, the Glam Rock charged “Guilt By Association” and “Air Traffic Control” which is probably one of my favorite singles of the year. The production may be a little sloppy from time to time and it’s certainly not as memorable as it’s predecessor, but I rather enjoy it’s raw presentation. Not to mention that this material sounded fantastic live when I saw them open for The Killers in 2007.

9. Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
Death Cab albums tend to wear me out after awhile, but Narrow Stairs has such a lush and polished feel that I couldn’t resist it’s indie charm. Ben Gibbard’s innocent voice is a beautiful guide through some of these catchy compositions, especially at the beginning. I love the first four tracks but honestly find the rest occasionally forgettable and a little lacking in exciting melodies, but it all sounds so serene that I still enjoy the overall experience. With the direction this band is moving in I have nothing but high hopes for the future and can’t wait to see what they dish out next

8. The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely
Taking on a more traditional rock approach; Jack, Brendan, Patrick and other Jack show off their bluesy side with Consolers of the Lonely, an in your face slice of Americana rock that I found to be a pretty satisfying followup. I’ll admit at first I wasn’t to taken by it, but after listening to it on a returning trip from a Seaside it won me over. Riding along the highway while pumping up this album is probably the best way to enjoy it. Brendan and Jack’s song writing doesn’t seem to blend as well taking on a more southern styling but given that they’re both talented song writers, the album doesn’t suffer much. Not to mention it had that surprise release date, that was pretty darn cool.

7. Coldplay – Viva La Vida
I’ll admit this one took me awhile to get used to. As a matter of fact I probably didn’t give it a really thorough listening until September. I’m not sure why it took so long but as time went by this highly atmospheric album eventually grew on me and as of today I’m a definite fan. From it’s otherworldly into to other songs of a sprawling nature, it’s a unique piece of music. It’s reverb drenched instruments and soaring psychedelic compositions have in my eyes made this quite an impressive departure for this veteran group and hopefully this band will continue to be full of surprises.

6. Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads
: Brit pop lives on! Off With Their Heads is the latest offering from this rowdy Leeds quintet and is another exciting, high energy dose of Power Pop. Off With Their Heads may not be as melodic as the Chief’s first album or as heavy as their second, but it’s definitely got the tightest grooves and was a nice addition to the slew of albums to come out this past “Rocktober”. Whether the Chiefs will ever obtain any more popularity than they already have seems unlikely, but I enjoy being among a small group of people I know who enjoy them, it’s like a secret club.

5. Metronomy – Nights Out
: Overflowing with infectious beats and radio friendly pop, this mostly one man dabbling into electronic nirvana is perfect for dancing the night away. I get the impression from listening to Metronomy’s songs and from watching their wacky videos, that they must be having a pretty good time and that definitely rubs off on to the listener. Joseph Mount’s studio wizardry is really something else, so hopefully they’ll obtain a bigger following in the states someday. If not, than that sucks.

4. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
My favorite album yet to come from this Kentucky quintet. Evil Urges contains some of the most compelling and impressive musicianship I’ve seen from any modern alternative rock act. Jim James pours his heart out through howling vocals and soulful lyrics and is an excellent leader to a very talented group. My Morning Jacket seem to have no problem drifting from soft ballads to head banging rockers and I just can’t get enough of it. As someone who enjoys dabbling with music, I find this album to be truly inspiring.

3. Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul
An orgy of hard rock, memorable melodies and psychedelic perfection. This veteran Brit Pop band has really evolved since their raunchy debut and given us a really great album. Noel’s new batch of songs are some of his most unique compositions yet with all the inclusions of strings, heavy guitars and even sitar. Hey, even the rest of the group bans out some pretty sweet tunes (especially Liam’s beautiful “I’m Outta Time”.) I can’t think of a dull moment nor a wasted opportunity on Dig Out Your Soul… This is a rock album of epic proportions.

2. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
The sheer simplicity of this band’s instrumentation has really left an impact on me. Bright n’ bouncy keyboards with inventive percussion, acrobatic guitars, rounded out by throbbing bass and garage rock vocals make for a truly excellent album. Throw on some clever, preppy lyrics and occasional strings and you got yourself an instant indie classic. I can’t think of a single song I dislike and I’ve probably listened to this album the most out of all my entries, it was a definite contender from the start. The only problem now is how they’re going to make a followup that’s even half this good?

1. The Killers – Day & Age
The Killers are basically my favorite modern band. They’re skilled musicians, they got a fresh and unique sound and their songs are catchy and memorable. Lead singer/keyboardist/head songwriter Brandon Flowers crafts tune after tune of inventive and melodic compositions that slowly transform into crisp, multi layered Pop/Rock triumphs. Dave Keuning’s Edge inspired guitar work echos and floats above exciting electronic waters while bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer/occasional Earl look-alike Ronnie Vannucci Jr back it up with a powerful rhythm. It was a close year but Day & Age shot it’s way to the top the day I bought it.

Best of the Rest
Weezer – Weezer (The Red Album)
: This almost made the list not because it was really great, but because it was just a lot of fun. After a few run-of-the-mill albums it was refreshing to see Weezer get back to their off-beat ways. “Pork and Beans” is probably the best example of Weezer’s return to quirkiness and I would of liked to see even more of that on the album. Some of the more straightforward tracks such as “Everybody Get Dangerous” or Brian Bell’s insufferable “Thought I Knew” are well kind of lame, but I’ve gotten used to em. I still have high hopes for where this band might continue to go, but for now I’m okay.

Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
: These guys are always on the cutting edge of the rock scene but compared to their past few albums I was disappointed with their latest batch of songs. There’s some good tunes near the starting like “Closer” and “Sex On Fire” but by the time it get to “Use Somebody” I find myself dying of boredom. I’ll still keep my ears peeled (If ears can be peeled) regarding the Followill clan, but I’d like to see em try something a little more energetic or accessible next time.

Beck – Modern Guilt
: I’ve continually tried to get into Beck, Modern Guilt being the first Beck album I’ve ever purchased and I do enjoy the album but there were a lot other contenders for me, so it just falls short. I like to think that this album will lead me to check out future Beck releases, but if not than I’ll always enjoy this.

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