Scary’s epic, theatrical, complex power pop channels The Beatles, XTC and Queen on his sophomore album, which is more cohesive than his debut.
2· TV on the Radio — Dear Science
Every two years these guys put out a record, and it always ends up at or near the top of my list. Like clockwork. The scary thing is, I think they keep getting better every time.
3· Todd Rundgren — Arena
In 1991, presumably in the twilight of his career, Rundgren released an album titled 2nd Wind. Seventeen years later, it’s clear that this prolific, 60-year-old rock anomaly still isn’t close to slowing down.
4· James — Hey Ma
The seven-man Laid (1993) lineup reunites for the band’s best record in as many years. A brilliant return to form for a UK band that is still highly underappreciated.
5. The Kooks — Konk
The debut was promising, but the follow-up is stellar. You could say it’s “just” pop, but it’s what they do and they do it well, cramming this record full of irrepressible hooks.
— DANIEL YOWELL
- Nobunny — Love Visions
What do you do when everything’s been done already? Steal someone's shit and make it better! In Love, Nobunny produced a record with the charm of 1910 Fruitgum Company and the venom of G.G. Allin.
- Terrible Twos — Terrible Twos
Perfect. It’s 32 minutes of unrelenting and uncompromising punk rock.
- Hunx and the Punx — Gimme Gimme Back Your Love
Hunx is the answer to the Kasenetz-Katz bubblegum pop groups. B-Side “You Don’t Like Rock ‘N’ Roll” is a favorite from 2008.
- The Dutchess and The Duke — She’s The Dutchess and He’s The Duke
Like Gene Clark meeting Aftermath-era Rolling Stones, The Dutchess and The Duke have seemingly perfected lo-fi folk.
- Human Eye — Fragments of the Universal Nurse
This is the musical equivalent of the scene in Hellraiser where the guy gets disemboweled by hooks. It pulls at you from every angle until your body finally explodes.
Nothing took more spins in my CD player all year than this infectious and ambitious release from Detroit’s own The Silent Years — a flawlessly perfect record. My jam: “On Our Way Home
The Globe was my ideal summer record; Olly Oxen Free is the soundtrack to my winter. Tight, concise, haunting and quietly brilliant; I am in love with this album. My jam: “Shiny”
The buzz surrounding this album was undeniably justified. Vampire Weekend afforded me more smiles than any record had in ages. My jam: “Oxford Comma”
One of Detroit’s most prolific and heartfelt songwriters, Zott’s second solo album is overflowing with inspiration, determination and salvation. My jam: “The (After) Life”
— KIRK VANDERBEEK
- My Morning Jacket — Evil Urges
This was my first dose of My Morning Jacket, and this album did not leave my car stereo for several months. Innovative, addictive, soaring and grounded ...
- The Avett Brothers — Emotionalism
These boys slapped me in the face with their punk rock energy mixed with diehard folk melodies and rhythms. Only my dad appreciates these guys as much as I do.
- TV on the Radio — Dear Science
To all the white coat scientists out there, take heed. These bona fide Brooklyn boys have crafted three perfect albums, and show no sign of jumping ship anytime soon.
- Fleet Foxes — Fleet Foxes
This album will not stand the test of time, but in '08, these boys really made a dent on my eardrums.
- She & Him — Volume One
For the first time in my life, I said, "Zooey Deschanel is hot." She picked up a guitar, let down her hair and unleashed her voice, crafting a fine piece with living legend M. Ward. — RYAN PATRICK HOOPER
- College — Teenage Color EP
The title track mesmerizes within a millisecond, as David Grellier’s dreamy, mysterious and simplistic yet ultra catchy and dance-y synthesizers recall the ‘80s unlike anything before.
- Crystal Castles — Crystal Castles
We live in a high-tech age, but nothing messes with the arcade classics. These slightly controversial hipster game genies have tapped into the cultural zeitgeist.
- Hercules & Love Affair — Hercules & Love Affair
This funky clan of disco divas provides a boogie fever when another Studio 54 and Harvey Milk is sorely needed today.
- Why? — Alopecia
If Ian Curtis made a hip-hop album it would be Yoni Wolf’s incredibly human masterpiece.
- Javelins — Heavy Meadows A triumph of terrific, tranquil tunes catering to the strength of their beautiful soundscapes, romantic themes and Rickle's magnificently mellow vocals. — THOMAS MATICH
- The Silent Years — The Globe
With its textured yet spatial quality, its interwoven milieu of melody and its highly evocative lyrical content and conveyance, The Globe is a flawless favorite.
- The Black Keys — Attack & Release Here, one of the hardest hitting drummers around backs a guitarist with the thickest riffs on the planet. In '08, A&R saw the band evolve in the most beautiful of ways.
- Mason Proper — Olly Oxen Free
A mélange of melancholy quirk, dance, down-tempo, funk, pop and playful yet harrowing poetics, Olly Oxen Free impresses at every turn and on everylisten; it's both hypnotic and addictive.
- MGMT — Oracular Spectacular
“Time To Pretend,” “ Weekend Wars,” "Electric Feel” and "Kids” could’ve made up the best EP ever. The bar has been raised.
- Human Highway — Moody Motorcycle
This simple yet thoughtful pop-folk duo effortlessly blends their lullaby soul with a groove-oriented brain. I found a song for every mood and moment the day can bring. — TRAVIS R. WRIGHT
Filled with crunching wah-wah guitars and a laidback spacey feel, the CD harks back to the James Gang while referencing bands like The Greenhornes.
This collection features 54 unreleased songs and surpassed all expectations. I was blown away by the superb sound quality of these lost gems.
Vocally mesmerizing and musically stunning! For fans of old timey music, this must own CD is the missing link between Robert Johnson and plantation holler music.
Imagine the Stax rhythm section jamming with Miles Davis and Fela. The Greyboy Allstars and Galactic, wish they could pull off something this cool.
Who would have bet that Dennis Wilson would be the one Beach Boy to release a solo album that the critics still rave about some 30 years later? — WILLY WILSON
February re-issued: somber goosebump-devestation-folk — the closest thing you’ll get (distinct, far from derivative) to the poignancy of Elliott Smith.
Gusts finds the metal-pop-desonstructionists getting a bit wigglier and a bit more anthemic in their rousing, hard-crunched roll-arounds.
This Baltimore trio melts scuffed-up basement dance-pop with Joy Division grooves, doo-wop and new-wave berserker-vocals.
Behold as a meditative auteur explores rocking-chair/back-porch country. An odyssey into the beauty of the everyday.
The Kills make beautiful yet minimalist art-punk. Their music is booming, sexy and danceable. Tracks like "Hook and Line" and "Sour Cherry" helped me make great mixes all year.