Over the next week I’ll be unveiling my massive countdown of the top 60 albums (in my opinion) of 2008. Expect a few ones that are on every list, expect a few Irish records to make the cut (it was a great year for Irish music), and expect a few ones you’ve never heard of. But don’t expect me to post at the same time every day!
60. Justin Townes Earle – The Good Life
A lot of the time, rock stars’ kids tend to be absolute wasters, living off their parents. Kind of like Hugh Grant’s character in About a Boy, or like Peaches Geldof or Nicole Richie. Then there are people like Damian Marley, Rufus Wainwright, and Justin Townes Earle. With Steve as his dad, and “Townes” as his middle name, how could he go wrong? A glorious country record, and proof that sometimes talent is hereditary.
59. Glasvegas – Glasvegas
Knife crime is rampant in Britain these days. Or so the Sun newspaper would have us believe. People can’t leave their houses without the risk of a Streets of Rage-style knife-wielding bad guy walking into them. They’ve also embraced Glasvegas as the anti-knife crime band. Or something. That aside, this is a great debut, and once you’ve decoded what James Allen is saying when he sings, you’ll hear that the lyrics are even better than the music.
58. Los Campesinos! – We are Beautiful, We are Doomed
This started off as an EP, but made it into a full album. However, like their debut Hold on Now Youngster, it’s filled with short, sparky, spunky, pop tunes. It retains the feel of an EP, and never outstays its welcome. Not bad for their second album in the space of a year. And it proves that Wales can actually make good music, unlike Stereophonics and Tom Jones.
57. Chad VanGaalen – Soft Airplane
Chad VanGaalen is essentially a pop artist. However, his pop tunes would never find space on the radio alongside the circuses of Britney Spears and Take That. VanGaalen infuses a sort of madness into his records that makes them appealing for some, but turns away many. Have a look at that cover art? Think it interesting? Then this may be for you. Think it’s awful, “a child could do better”? Then maybe that new Britney record is actually what you’re looking for.
56. PAS/CAL – I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura
Dave Greenwald from RawkBlog introduced me to this record, and for that I must thank him. It’s a breath of fresh air. Perfectly summery, and on first listen a decent pop album. However, on subsequent listens, the true texture of the album comes to the fore. The music is much more complex than it first seems. It doesn’t require multiple listens to appreciate, but if you give it a chance, you’ll be greatly rewarded.
55. Mick Flannery – White Lies
Mick Flannery is either the Irish Ray LaMontagne or the male Lisa Hannigan. But isn’t Damien Rice the male Lisa Hannigan? I’m sure we can deal with two, as I doubt we’ll see a new Damo album this side of the London Olympics. A fantastic storytelling album, and a fine follow-up to the exceptional Evening Train.
54. Leona Naess – Thirteens
Yes, you did read that incorrectly the first time. It’s not Leona Lewis’s Spirit (released about six different times at this stage), but Leona Naess’s wonderful folk-pop. If she had been an actress too, there’s no doubt that Leona Naess would be as big as Zoeey Deschanel of She & Him fame.
53. People in Planes – Beyond the Horizon
While not as good as their last album, As far as the Eye Can See, People in Planes’ latest record is another rock accomplishment from a vastly underrated band. This one is more straight-up rock than the last, and really should have been their catapult to success. There’s no justice.
52. Noah and the Whale – Peaceful the World lays Me Down
Any band that takes its name from the a film as good as The Squid and the Whale is worthy of praise in my book (it’s why I have a soft spot for Duran Duran!) Noah and the Whale are closely associated with another of my favourite new English acts, Laura Marling. So it all adds up to an enchanting folk debut.
51. Sun Kil Moon – April
This is a difficult record to explain, but isn’t that why I’m here? To introduce you (or remind you of) excellent albums such as this. It’s a grower rather than a shower, and definitely requires a lot of your attention. And after the fifth listen (or so), you’ll realise how great an album this really is. Just don’t forget to thank me for the music.