- AWESOME COLOR - ELECTRIC ABORIGINES
A little Stooges, a little garagey, some kick-ass guitar freakouts and a little Farfisa - what's not to like?
- WITCH - PARALYZED
Totally rocking from start to finish - strangely thin sounding and not what I would really call metal. It has moments of weirdness too. Awesome - plain and simple.
- BORIS - SMILE
See above - except it's all that and more. The scope of this band is so big, it's short-sighted to just call them "heavy" or "metal". They have almost become a genre unto themselves and (like a fine wine) get better as time goes on.
- MOST LITERATE ROCK ALBUM:
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS - DIG, LAZARUS, DIG
This was also the best live show I saw all year (at Madison Square Garden, no less). It's so rare that a band that's been around as long as they have can continue to improve and get genuinely more bizzare in the process. Mustaches for everyone!
- BEST 70'S ROCK ALBUM:
MELVINS - NUDE WITH BOOTS
The same thing goes for the Melvins (one of the other great live shows of '08). You never know what to expect from this band. The fact that they just released one of the finest albums in their 25-year career is a testament to their originality and moxie. And it sounds like Led Zeppelin III.
- BEST NON-MELVINS ALBUM:
HARVEY MILK - LIFE.. THE BEST GAME IN TOWN
Athens is lucky to be able to claim such a band. Lord knows they don't have much else going for them. Athens is like Superman and Harvey Milk is like General Zod (in Superman II). The city should kneel before them (son of Jor-El).
- BEST BOX SET:
THE MOVE - ANTHOLOGY 1966-1972
Everybody is sick of hearing about the Beatles and the Stones. This is one of the best mid-60's English bands, hands down. Maybe some day they'll finally get their comeuppance. Besides, Ace Kefford is the shit.
- NO AGE - NOUNS
This album really grew on me. I know it's a very hipster thing to like, but the hell with it. I think it's a cool record which shows off the band's abilitiy to control chaos (and noise) and have a catchy song rise above the din.
- BLACK MOUNTAIN - IN THE FUTURE
Sabbath meets Deep Purple meets prog rock meets a "water saxaphone" - too heavy to be "indie", too indie to be "heavy". Plus, it made me want to grow a beard.
- DEAD MEADOW - OLD GROWTH
It took a handful of listens before I fully got into Old Growth, but then I really took to it. It might be their best. It's almost like they made an americana stoner rock record. Hmmm.
- MUDHONEY - THE LUCKY ONES
See earlier listings for Nick Cave and the Melvins. Something's going on with bands that have been around for 20+ years. Some of them are doing their best work now. I saw Mudhoney twice this year and I think they were the best I've ever seen or heard them. There's a reason why they've outlasted their contemporaries. "The Lucky Ones" might very well be the middle-aged anthem to the Grunge generation. Also, "Tales of Terror" is one of the best songs of the year and makes me want to raise my fist in the air every time I hear it.
- BEST BLACK FLAG SOUND-A-LIKE ALBUM:
ANNIHILATION TIME - TALES OF THE ANCIENT AGE
This record is equal parts Black Flag and Thin Lizzy and I think that's a combination who's time has come. You can be dumb and drunk and punk rock but also have melodic, dualing lead guitar solos - cool!
- BEST JESUS AND MARY CHAIN SOUND-A-LIKE MAKEOUT ALBUM:
RAVEONETTES - LUST, LUST, LUST
BEST RUNNER-UP MAKEOUT ALBUM:
THE KILLS - MIDNIGHT BOOM
These two bands released their finest albums to date this year. They're both a little noisy and a little sultry.
- BEST CLINIC ALBUM:
CLINIC - DO IT
This band has a sound all unto themselves and that's pretty hard claim to make these days. Their records can seem like a variation on a theme, but I dig 'em.
- BEST ALBUM TO MAKE YOU WANT TO GET RELIGION:
VARIOUS/SOUNDTRACK - AWAKE MY SOUL
The in-store performance of the these Sacred Harp singers was the coolest I've ever seen in the history of Criminal Records. Every person who was working got goosebumps. I'm pretty sure Chris Daresta was inadvertantly saved. Wow!
- GENTLEMAN JESSE AND HIS MEN - INTRODUCING...
It was the soundtrack to the summer - super catchy and great songwriting. Not since the Jam has a Rickenbacker rocked this hard.
- BEST CD RE-ISSUE:
MUDHONEY - SUPERFUZZ BIGMUFF
Some people may not need 3 versions of "Mud Ride", but I thought every one of them kicked ass. This re-issue was a long time coming and should have reminded everybody why this was the best band to come out of Seattle. Put a gun in your mouth or be eaten by your cat, it's your choice.
- PORTISHEAD - THIRD
Guns N Roses took 17 years to put out a proper studio record and it was a bloated, lifeless corpse. Portishead took 11 and it was a fascinating, experimental, inventive piece that seemed to transcend genres. I'm no mathematician, but Guns N Roses always sucked. Anybody? Anybody?
- BLACK KEYS - ATTACK AND RELEASE
It took me a long time to warm up to this band, but Attack and Release is the best they've ever done. It seemed that having Danger Mouse on board allowed them to fully realize their potential.
- MOST SURPRISINGLY ROCKING SONG:
THE FIREMAN - NOTHING TOO MUCH JUST OUT OF SIGHT
Paul McCartney is 66 years old and he hasn't wailed like this in 30 years. Maybe that awful, one-legged goldbricker was good for something.
- BEST VINYL RE-ISSUE:
HARVEY MILK - THE PLEASER
In case anyone needed to be reminded that the "Mach II" version of this band rocked harder than Zeppelin, the proof is in the pudding. And the pudding is two lp's worth of ass-kicking swirled vinyl.
- Fleet Foxes - s/t
I never liked Crosby, Stills and Nash and it confounds me why indie tastemakers (and Mojo magazine) think this pablum is worth anyone's time or effort. Seriously, buy a Seals and Croft record already.
- Dr. Dog - Fate
The first two records by this Philly band are great. This release is pedestrian at best. Boring and uninspired - what happened?
- Dungen - 4
Ta Det Lugnt was one of the most rocking releases of the mid-2000's. Each release since then has been progressively watered-down and less interesting. Enough with the flutes! Where's Herbie Mann when you need him?
- Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
It's amazing that a band with so much raw talent can make such uninteresting music. Go back to your Detroit/working class roots and remember how to rock.
- TV on the Radio - Dear Science
I'll take Weird Science (the song or movie) any day. I simply don't get the interest in this band.
- R.E.M. - Accelerate
On behalf of music fans/musicians/people with ears: please stop making records. You had a brief, interesting period in the early 80's. Move on and do something else that has nothing to do with recording. The same goes for you, U2.
- Brian Wilson - That Lucky Old Sun
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I really thought that after the triumph that was Smile, the old boy was on a roll. As it turns out, he's essentially been propped up by the evil forces of muzak and forced to record elevator music.
- Vampire Weekend - s/t
I have completely lost respect for NPR for running an exhausting piece on this band. Two years from now they'll all be wondering what happened and why they didn't just go to law school in the first place. If I've said it once, I've said it twice - you can't rock in a sweater vest.
- Beck - Modern Guilt
He's never going to replicate Odelay (or even Midnight Vultures, for that matter). He should really just hang it up and go into business with Tom Cruise. It's devoid of soul, heart, and originality - perfect for the Scientologists!