Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Top 25 of 2008 - Alphabetically (Part IV)

Ten to go; here are the next five; this section of the list probably contain some of my most unique picks:

Johnny Flynn - A Larum

A Shakespearean actor and poet, Johnny Flynn brings an "olde fashioned" folk style to his debut album, A Larum. He and his band, The Sussex Wit, show remarkable maturity throughout the eclectic set of 14 songs, using guitars, strings, horns, and keys to help give life to Flynn's witty yarns. Sometimes lighthearted, other times wistful or melancholy, A Larum is consistently fascinating and enjoyable. Flynn's new artistic outlet is a welcome one.

Larsen & Furious Jane - Zen Sucker

I'm cheating a bit on this one as Larsen & Furious Jane's most recent album, Zen Sucker, isn't actually available yet in the U.S., but I can't help mentioning it here. The Danish band's latest effort is, without a doubt, a top ten record in my book. Nearly flawless in its construction and execution, Zen Sucker makes for an addicting mix of beauty, intensity, and emotion. Achieving the perfect balance between experimental alternative rock and accessible melodies and arrangements, this is a unique and truly special album.

Marching Band - Spark Large

I heard very little mentioned about these guys this year, and I can't for the life of me figure out why. The duo from Sweden make radiant pop music with layers of harmony and joyful melodies so wholesome it actually causes the clouds to part and the sun to shine even on the darkest of days. Spark Large's 12 songs might be a little sweet for some listener's tastes, but with so many fantastic arrangements and infectious musical hooks, Marching Band should win themselves quite a congregation if given the exposure. Spark Large is a smile-inducing masterpiece.

The Republic Tigers - Keep Color

The Republic Tigers are another band that didn't get enough love this year, in my opinion. Their debut album, Keep Color, is rarely boundary-pushing or revolutionary, but it effectively blends 80s synths and classic indie rock with just a bit of psychedelia in a very effective and enjoyable way. Kenn Jankowski's smooth tenor voice, surrounded by constant vocal harmony, fits well into the band's crisply produced and well-executed tunes, which range from spacey anthems to danceable pop songs.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cardinology

Ryan Adams has been cranking out great music for a little over a decade now, and Cardinology is no exception. It's level, relaxed, and generally grounded, which for Adams (now three years sober) is a good thing. The Cardinals provide ample support with their consistently solid musicianship, and while Adams breaks no new ground here, his strengths as a songwriter remain sharp. Despite occasionally lonely or downhearted lyrics, he imbues his tunes with an underlining message of hope that feels refreshing and breathes life to Cardinology.


Cherry Lane said...

Ryan Adams is brilliant and my favorite artist EVER. It is so refreshing to see him (& the Cards) get the praise he so richly deserves!