|My Top 30 Of 2008|
Compared to last year's list, this is a little less wide-ranging. Seems my 2008 has been mostly dominated by punk albums, possibly a subconscious effort to gear myself up for The Fest, or maybe just chance. Several of the placings in this list contradict the ratings I've given some of these albums, but the difference is that I consider cultural impact and quality within respective genre(s) in reviews, whereas that's out of the window here; a lot of these placings have a lot to do with personal connection to the lyrics, or the sheer fact that some of these albums have really fit my mood this year.
|1||Glass and Ashes|
Glass and Ashes
This has done nothing but grow and grow on me since I got it. Fucking punishing from start to finish, but with plenty of variation, and a hell of an atmosphere and mood to it. One of the most intense albums I've heard in a long time, and wholly deserving of the #1 position!
Ginger is easily Britain's greatest songwriter, and he demonstrates this in spades on "Market Harbour." Over an hour of continuous, constantly changing, and consistently gripping pop-rock with a myriad of other influences. For me, this has been one of those all-purpose albums, perfect for any mood or situation, and that's probably why I've been going back to it so often since January, and why it's gotten such a high placing here.
|3|| ||The Gaslight Anthem|
The '59 Sound
What can I say? It truly lives up to the hype! Catchy, soulful, emotional, full of great imagery, and that authentic 50s reverb-drenched production make this an incredibly striking album. Hopefully these guys will get all the success they truly deserve.
|4||Off With Their Heads|
From the Bottom
[TIE] Who'dve thought, on the year that Dillinger Four finally return, not one, but TWO other midwestern pop-punk bands outdo them at their own game. OWTH combine ridiculously catchy upbeat melodies with some of the most depressing lyrics you'll ever hear, and top it all off with the gruffest vocals this side of Leatherface! And then theres...
[TIE] ...an album that takes a similar, albeit less heavy and more stripped down approach, but with the same memorable outcome. If I didn't have the facial-hair-growing abilities of your average 8 year old, it'd be albums like these two that'd make me want to grow a giant beard and move to Minneapolis.
C I V I L W A R
Let's be honest though, despite the aforementioned young whippersnappers stealing their thunder to a certain extent, it's been obvious from the day it leaked that "C I V I L W A R" is one hell of a comeback for the D4! Poppier than ever before, but also much catchier, and generally more consistent than their previous albums, this goes a long way to making up for a 6year gap between albums.
|7||Less Than Jake|
All those years singing about "leaving town" and "leaving it all behind" and such, and now they go and make an (almost) concept album about Gainesville? Good job it's FUCKING AWESOME then! Combines the best elements of their early ska-punk with the melodic hooks and savvy songwriting of their more recent efforts, "GNV FLA" could possibly be LTJ's finest album yet!
|8||Fighting With Wire|
Man Vs Monster
Fella from angular Irish post-hardcore types Jetplane Landing starts a second band that somehow combines all the best bits of TCATS-era Foo Fighters and puts a slight post-hardcore twist on it? And then goes on to release a debut album that literally blows away almost every other young UK rock band's efforts? Believe it baby!
|9||The Riot Before|
Fists Buried In Pockets
How refreshing, a folk-punk band that doesn't try to lazily ape Tom Gabel's vocals circa-2000! These guys deal in catchy songs with thoughtful lyrics, vastly varying tempos, and high on emotional impact. Checking out their older stuff is DEFINITELY on my to-do-list.
The best "stoner-pop" album you'll hear this year! Hell, it's probably the only "stoner-pop" album you'll hear this year, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the GIANT riffs and soaring melodies that flow out of these songs, will ensure that they don't leave your head for weeks after a single listen...
The Bronx (III)
They've brewed in a little desert-rock influence to this one, and in doing so have continued upon their promise of never making the same album twice. Matt's singing has improved a lot too, and they sound revitalised the new lineup. Here's hoping the mariachi album ("El Bronx"), due next year, will be this good!
|12||Bridge and Tunnel|
A fine blend of indie-rock, American Football-esque mathy emo, and melodic punk, with all the intensity and energy of hardcore. Possibly the most passionate male/female vocals and lyrics I've heard in a long time, which goes a long way to making this album the absolute belter it is.
|13||The Night Marchers|
See You In Magic
John Reis has been in Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, and Drive Like Jehu to name but a few - there was no way this new project of his was going to be anything other than face-humpingly awesome. Coming on like a far more laid-back combination of RFTC and Hot Snakes, this is garage punk how it was supposed to be played. Fuckin' A.
We Are Above You
Featuring ex-Cave In alumnus Adam McGrath, Clouds play like some kind of hardcore-punk tribute to Black Sabbath, but viewed through 3D glasses while on a whole variety of psychedelic drugs. Also, the album cover looks like a tower of syrup-covered pancakes if you squint a bit. Good stuff!
|15||Protest the Hero|
Not as good as "Kezia." There, I said it. But that doesn't stop this from being a fucking amazing album by easily one of the most unbelievably technically-proficient bands around, proving that technicality and INCREDIBLY catchy songwriting aren't mutually exclusive.
|16||The Loved Ones [US]|
Build & Burn
At first I mourned the lack of energy on this, compared to their previous works (which were a masterclass in energetic pop-punk), but it really grew on me, and their Americana-infused sound became more and more palatable with every listen. It'll be interesting to see what they do next.
Appeal to Reason
"It's too commercial!" "Why doesn't Tim scream anymore?!" "It sounds like Bad Religion!" SHUT THE FUCK UP. Frankly, saying something sounds like Bad Religion is a compliment in my book! And that's not to say RA have become clones of Graffin et al. They've continued the melodic direction they've been taking with their last couple of albums, and made a much more consistant record than it's predecessor. I also LOVE singing along to "From Heads Unworthy."
Heavier than Heaven, Lonelier than God
I bought this album purely because the artwork looks badass. Thankfully the music displayed similar amounts of badassitude. Musically relentless, and lyrically relentlessly bleak (another reason why the artwork is so cool, in how it brilliantly represents the mood), this is a short sharp shock that took me by surprise. And I'm not generally a fan of straight-up hardcore, so this is high praise indeed.
Agony and Irony
No, it's not their best. Yes, there's some filler here. But despite this, A&I has some of the trio's finest songs, and if they're defiant in their pop direction, they're at least keeping things ridiculously catchy, rather than merely dumbing down their old sound like many bands in a similar situation have been known to do. So yeah, I'll take whatever crap you wanna throw at me for this one, I like it.
Board Up the House
This took a LONG time to grow on me, after initially seeming like a HUGE step back from "Dead Mountain Mouth." However, although slightly less agressive than their previous work, this has atmosphere and truly grim moodiness in spades, and after a few listens, begins to sound like the soundtrack to the apocalypse.
Due to the country-slant of this album, I do really have to be in the right mood to want to listen to it, but when I do, I'm quick to remember what a truly brilliant album it is, combining top-shelf pop-rock with a (thankfully) resolutely non-redneck country influence, to greatt effect. Played a huge part in soundtracking my summer.
Carried to Dust
I'd never heard of these guys prior to a few months ago, and alt-country/folk/mexican-influenced music is hardly a genre area I often find myself dabbling in. However, there's a certain airy, yet at times very ominous feel to the music that just draws me in every time. Another band whose back catalog requires a good looking-at from me...
|23|| ||Teenage Bottlerocket|
Quite literally three chords and a melody, it doesn't get much simpler than what these Ramones-worshippers do, but the fact that they keep things short and to the point, and fill every song to bursting with huge hooks, ensures that I'll be coming back for repeat listens on a regular basis.
Another one that took a while to grow on me. Sounds like Drive Like Jehu being taken roughly from behind by Black Flag in a meth-lab. Insane, and in a very good way.
A Sense of Purpose
One of those albums I bought because "well, I own the rest of their stuff, why not?!" This got shelved not long after purchasing, but a few recent re-listens have brought out what a great album it is. Definitely on a par with "Come Clarity" yet so very different.
LaGrecia's breakup before they'd really begun, and the subsequent reformation of None More Black kinda overshadowed this album a bit, and in all the excitement of going back and re-discovering NMB's albums, I'll admit I kinda overlooked this one to an extent. But even a cursory listen reveals a solid album of slightly folkish punk rock, made all the better by the vocals of Jason Shevchuk.
The production lets this down slightly (although that might be more to do with the fact that I saw them live before I heard the album), but regardless, this is a furious and yet incredibly catchy and melodic old-school punk album, featuring an ex-member of New Mexican Disaster Squad, and a surprise highlight among my new discoveries this year.
As unrelentingly aggressive as this album is, the reason this isn't much higher up the list is because the longer songs that feature slivers of melody and varied instrumentation (a sax on a self-proclaimed "powerviolence" album? Who'da thunk it?!) are actually way more impressive than the shorter blasts. However, as expected from a band featuring (allegedly) members of Thursday, Glassjaw and Converge, this is solid stuff.
|29||All That Remains|
The vastly more melodic and commercial direction, compared to 2006's "The Fall of Ideals" (one of the finest metalcore albums of recent years) was rather offputting at first, but when taken on it's own merits, "Overcome" is a brilliant metal album, one of the few that's actually gotten my attention this year.
Drum'n'bass meets rock. An original approach (yes, The Prodigy did it first, but in a very different way), and one that works incredibly well. A little bit more aggression, and a little improvement in the vocal department, and their next album could find itself a lot higher on one of these lists...