Sunday, December 28, 2008

Top Albums of 2008 (Part II)....

5. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
3/25/08 ~ Third Man/Warner Bros.

i've always been a little wary of Jack White. His first effort with The Raconteurs swayed me a bit, but Consolers of the Lonely has sealed the deal. Much like what Caitlin Cary does for Ryan Adams, i believe Brendan Benson has a calming effect on Jack, keeping his crazy side in check. With each turn taken during the album, i am continually impressed with the musical decisions of this superband. Consolers reached just far enough into the folk realm to get me interested in the first place, and acquiring the album made visible the allure that has surrounded Jack White since the beginning.

Old Enough

Purchase: [Amazon CD /Vinyl][Direct CD /Vinyl][iTunes]


4. The Felice Brothers - The Felice Brothers
3/4/08 ~ Team Love

Although they've been releasing music since 2006, i feel like 2008 was the breakout year for The Felice Brothers. i first posted about them back in February and, aside from Ryan Adams, they have been one of the most prevalent bands here at This Mornin'... An apt follow-up to last year's Tonight At The Arizona, their self-titled album from this year is a raucous ride through backwoods country-side making stops in old-time barrooms and dirty roadside oases. 'Frankie's Gun' took top honors in my Best Songs List without much of a fight. If i didn't feel the need to spread the accolades around, songs like 'Wonderful Life', 'Greatest Show', 'Take This Bread', and 'Love Me Tenderly' could have also made the list. Moreover, i got to see the brothers live a short while back, and it only further instilled my appreciation for this authentic, super-talented band.

Love Me Tenderly

Purchase: [Amazon CD /Vinyl][Direct CD /Vinyl][iTunes]


3. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
6/3/08 ~ Sub Pop

An album sure to be on many top lists, Fleet Foxes self-titled debut deserves every bit of praise coming its way. Sub Pop has proved once again that the sounds coming from the rainy Northwest are well worth paying attention to. The Foxes have self-described themselves as 'baroque-pop,' and as much as i've tried, i haven't found a better description. With a lack of desire for conventional song structure and soaring vocals, The Fleet Foxes have managed to come off as classical while retaining what the appeal of the indie sound. Their chamber-music is at once peaceful and deeply inspiring. The fact that a 22-year old Robin Pecknold had the sage vision to put together a band of their caliber gives me tremendous hope for this young generation and their music.

Your Protector

[Amazon CD /Vinyl][Direct CD /Vinyl][iTunes]


2. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst
8/5/08 ~ Merge Records

Conor and his Mystic Valley Band took refuge in a secluded part of central Mexico to record the first album to bear the name of this Omaha alt-rocker. As you well know, Conor has a slew of releases under the moniker Bright Eyes as well as a ton of side projects. Conor Oberst is the most focused and accessible album that he has recorded. Shedding much of the cult-like stigma that hindered his 2007 Bright Eyes album as well as most of the peculiar and erratic tendencies from his adolescent career, Conor has solidified his place as the Best American Songwriter under 30. 'Souled Out' reached #7 on my Best Songs List, which is an obvious injustice to the rest of the album. i truly can't skip one song on the disc, and that includes the 50 second horn-blowing track from Ruben the Mexican. Conor and band headlined the above-mentioned show i attended in Austin. Read what i said about Conor Oberst back in my September Album Round-up.


Purchase: [Amazon CD /Vinyl][Direct CD /Vinyl /mp3][iTunes]

1. These United States - Crimes
9/23/08 ~ United Interests

These United States' second album of 2008 was immediately put in the running for the top spot when i first picked it up back in September. Read my original impression. Following A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden (whew...), Jesse Elliot put together a group of musicians and booked some studio time with an obvious vision in mind. What came out of the sessions was the Best Album of 2008. If you refer back to the preamble in Part I of this post, i talk a bit about the concept of an album - it being a complete work and not simply a neat packaging of songs. You'll notice no cuts from Crimes were on my Best Songs List. Crimes reads like a story, a narrative that wouldn't be complete without each element intact. The track-breaks flow seamlessly like chapters, with each song relating to the others through the common theme of the innate sinful nature of the human being. Crimes is jangly and loud for the most part, heavy on the background vocals and community instruments. Even the songs that begin at a crawl build and evolve back into an all-inclusive, welcoming sing-along. To have an album feel cohesive but still manage to continually engage the listener, one vital element is necessary: Dynamic. Crimes is unmatched in its layer quantity and progressive feel. And that's just the sound of the album. Jesse Elliot fills each song with witty phrasing that begs you to listen intently. He'll take a well-known saying and cleverly alter a word or two so that it will catch your ear no matter what other activity you're engaged in. His slightly arrogant, but overly friendly delivery has the effect of a beloved author - one that you know is much smarter than you yet is still very relatable. Pick up this one, don't simply download a track. Play it from beginning to end, and i promise it will leave you wanting more.

Old John Chapman Takes a Good Long Walk

Purchase: [Amazon][Direct][iTunes]


Be sure to read my Top 10 Songs of 2008.

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