Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top 25 of 2008 - Alphabetically (Part III)

10 down, 15 to go on this year's "best of" list. Keep in mind it's in alphabetical order as to simplify the selection process.

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

Guy Garvey has a way with words that absolutely blows me away. His poetic musings on love and life combined with his smoky tenor voice are perfectly framed by beautiful arrangements on Elbow's latest, The Seldom Seen Kid. It's some of the group's best work, containing several of this year's standout tracks, especially "Grounds For Divorce." Though the band's sound is often gentle and restrained throughout much of the album, the louder, more explosive moments are even more powerful. The record is epic in both its ambition and achievement.

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes was just voted the best album of 2008 in Stereogum's reader pole (among others), and for good reason. Fleet Foxes' debut is a beautiful folk album so saturated with memorable melodies and fantastic harmonies that it might actually be impossible not to love. A five piece from the Seattle, Fleet Foxes have a whopping four singers lead at all times by uber-talented Robin Pecknold, who's enthralling voice and solid songwriting belie his young age (22, I think). This album competes with Bon Iver for my favorite of the year.

Frightened Rabbit - Midnight Organ Fight

Some bands get away with whining about their self-loathing, doubt, and broken relationships, and others, like Scottish foursome Frightened Rabbit, excel at it. Singer Scott Hutchinson's thickly accented voice and broken, bruised (and often, explicit) lyrics convey emotion so unguarded you'll almost feel embarrassed to listen in. The band's sophomore album, Midnight Organ Fight, is a tremendously compelling set of songs that manages to create something sincere and touching out of all the angst and loneliness that comes with heartbreak.

The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

Classic rock and punk music are blended in a fresh and exciting way for this solid sophomore effort by The Gaslight Anthem. Singer Brian Fallon channels greats like Bruce Springsteen in both his vocal delivery as well as his lyrics about blue-collar workers and small-town hopefuls while the band confidently pounds out gritty riffs. It's an album that appreciates with each listen, full of punk energy and rock 'n' roll soul.


Horse Feathers - House With No Home

Singer/songwriter Justin Ringle, with the help of Peter and Heather Broderick, makes haunting, lonely music in the vein of Bon Iver or old Iron & Wine. His second album, House With No Home, is a gentle, captivating masterpiece that features soft vocals surrounded by acoustic guitars, violin, and banjo in a variety of arrangements and structures. The music is melodic and occasionally hopeful which breaks up the prevalent gloominess; perfect for rainy days or quiet nights alone.