Best Albums (Top 10): I have never had such a difficult time putting together a list. All but a few of the albums in the top 10 could've easily been supplanted by another in 11-30 list. This was a really good year for music. It seems like good bands are sprouting up all over the place and that the same old formula isn't going to hold up for many people. Without further digression, here is my top 10!
Cinematic Sunrise -A Coloring Storybook and Long Playing Record - EP
The Narrative - Just Say Yes - EP
In an unprecedented move, I put two EP's and counted them as one album. It's my EOTY list, I can do what I want. I recently purchased both these EPs and was blown away by the excellent blend of male and female vocals. Cinematic Sunrise is a bit more bouncy and energetic while The Narrative has a full sound that just draws you in. Either way, I simply can't wait for more material from these bands. The two best EPs you'll find this year.
Anberlin - New Surrender
New Surrender is not Anberlin's best album. Not even close. So in a year with this much good music, to make number 9 on the list shows that Anberlin is one of the most consistent bands around. New Surrender has a bit more of a mainstream feel, but Stephen's vocals are better than ever and his lyrics still touching. The band rocks with "The Resistance" and "Disappear" but showcases beauty and reverence with tracks like "Breathe" and "Retrace" This album is a must-own and it may not even be their third-best album.
08) Jack's Mannequin - The Glass Passenger
A truly polarizing album in every way. Andrew's vocals are loose and untouched. His voice wavers with despair and spirit as he takes us through his journey from the last few years. His lyrics are brash and honest, yet eternally hopeful. Songs like "Spinning" and "Swim" are instant classics, while "Hammers and Strings" and "Caves" are unlike anything you've heard and take a while to digest. A successful album that will grow with time.
Copeland - Say Hello to Sunshine
Sunshine combines the lightness from In Motion with the darkness from Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Tracks like "What Do I Know" and "The Grey Man" are more upbeat while "The Day I Lost My Voice" is a truly beautiful song that takes you through slowly and dilerberately. Aaron Marsh has never been better vocally and the band continues to experiment with new sounds. The lyrics mix despair with optimism well and the album will have you lost in its soothing sound.
06) City and Colour - Bring Me Your Love
An underappreciated album, simply said. Dallas Green not only has a near perfect voice, but his songs manage to take simple chord progressions and make them go deeper than one could imagine. Each song has its own unique identity but doesn't deter from the overall feel of the album. "Sleeping Sickness" hits you hard. "As Much As I Ever Could" closes the album with a hauntingly beautiful sentiment. A true gem that will take you to another place.
Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux
Fall Out Boy is probably the most polarizing band in this scene. They always manage to stay in the limelight one way or another, good or bad. Despite all that, they know how to make a kick-ass record. From the opening of "Disloyal Order of the Water Buffaloes" you can tell this album is going to combine the best of Fall Out Boy's previous sounds. The lyrics are chant-worthy and will be quoted in profiles and blogs across the world. The band has an amazing pop-sensibility, notably in "America's Suitehearts" and "Coffee's For Closers". "What a Catch, Donnie" builds into a beautiful reprise of all FOB has brought to the table so far, and there is no better way to describe this album.
04) Valencia - We All Need A Reason To Believe
Valencia gives us a reason to believe in good pop-punk again. The songs are catchy, but still rock. The lyrics are simple, but have meaning. "The Good Life" is a gem of a song in every way. "Better Be Prepared" is a kick-ass way to start the album. Shane's lyrics and vocals are easily digestible, which makes the album all that much more enjoyable.
03) House of Heroes - The End Is Not The End
A 15-song album with no throw-away tracks is quite an accomplishment in itself. What's even more of an accomplishment is how they manage to give each song a unique identiy, spanning many different styles and pulling them all off. Tim Skipper's vocal range is out of this world and the instrumentation is spectacular. What House of Heroes proves here is that a pop album can still rock. Their lyrics are honest and relate to the world we live in right now. They tackle the problems directly, but always offer a hope that springs from the album title, The End Is Not The End. In the end, this album is something that every other pop/punk/rock/alternative/whatever album should strive to be.
02) Thrice - The Alchemy Index Volume III and IV: Air and Earth
I don't like to think of this album separately from Volume I and II, so when this album was released I was finally able to take in the entire project. The lyrics are incredibly beautiful, the music goes places Thrice has never been. Air is the best of all the EPs and builds from melodic and beautiful harmonies to Dustin's signature scream. Earth explores the folk side of Thrice and is reminiscent of Dustin's solo work. As a whole, the Alchemy Index is a work of genius. The band pushes the envelope in every way and provide some of the best music, lyrics, and theme around.
01) Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical
Talk about genius. Thomas Dutton and his brother managed to write a musical using influence and vocalists from the scene. The story itself is solid and imaginative, enough so that a casual listener would be put off a bit. The music is catchy, upbeat, weird, emotional, and dramatic... everything that makes a musical great. Dutton creates a hybrid of a damn good pop-punk record with a damn good musical. His vocals are fantastic as are all the guests he brings on (especially Urie, Salpeter, Huffman, and Bemis). The characters are all unique and the story never drags but instead moves too quickly. Every song has a redeeming quality and never left my head. With every listen I found something else to love about this album. And for that reason, it is my best album of 2008.
Best Songs: Way too many songs I liked this year. I bought over 1000 and liked at least 800 of them. These are just a few of the songs that defined my year.
20) Wolftron - "Beautybird"
19) The Reign of Kindo - "Breathe Again"
18) The Morning Of - "The New Is In"
17) Lydia - "A Fine Evening For A Rogue"
16) Promise of Redemption - "Trace Those Steps"
15) Jason Mraz - "If It Kills Me"
14) Augustana - "Rest, Shame, Love"
13) Panic at the Disco - "Northern Downpour"
12) The Hush Sound - "Break The Sky"
11) The Narrative - "Libra"
10) Cinematic Sunrise - "Goodbye Friendship, Hello Heartache"
09) Anberlin - "Retrace"
08) Jack's Mannequin - "Hammers and Strings"
07) Copeland - "Good Morning Fire Eater"
06) City and Colour - "Sleeping Sickness"
05) Fall Out Boy - "What A Catch, Donnie"
04) Valencia - "The Good Life"
03) House of Heroes - "In the Valley of the Dying Sun"
02) Thrice - "A Song For Milly Michaelson" 01) Forgive Durden - "The Missing Piece"
Best Staying Power (Albums Released in 2007):
My Top 5 last year was: 05) Eisley - Combinations 04) Radiohead - In Rainbows 03) Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace 02) Thrice - The Alchemy Index Part I & II Fire and Water 01) Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre
A year later, this is how I would rank my top 5 albums from 2007.
05) Radiohead - In Rainbows
04) Four Year Strong - Rise Or Die Trying
03) Anberlin - Cities
02) Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre 01) Thrice - The Alchemy Index Volume I and II: Fire and Water
Band/Artist of the Year: Say Anything makes this list because they managed to stay relevant without even releasing an album. Max's song shop was a brilliant way to connect to fans personally and increase revenue. Forgive Durden made an incredible concept album with a fantastic viral marketing campaign. Fall Out Boy did the same.
03) Say Anything
02) Forgive Durden 01) Fall Out Boy
Best Movies: Pretty good year for movies if you don't include The Dark Knight, which makes it a great year for the movies. I haven't seen a lot of the good movies that have come out yet, so I will count those for next year. Benjamin Button was an incredibly touching movie with beautiful cinematography. Wall-E was the pinnacle of animated film. Iron Man was the second best superhero movie this year. Pineapple Express was the best comedy of the year. The Dark Knight... well I talk all about it right here.
05) Pineapple Express
04) Iron Man
02) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 01) The Dark Knight
Best TV Shows: Heroes has never been the same since Season 1, but is starting to come on again after a sub-par beginning to Season 3. The Office started slow as well and may be nearing it's end. The Big Bang Theory is a truly underrated show that is always good for a laugh. Pushing Daisies will be sorely missed, as it was a unique gem of a show. How I Met Your Mother is incredibly consistent and always funny while finding the perfect moments to be sentimental.
04) The Office
03) The Big Bang Theory
02) Pushing Daisies 01) How I Met Your Mother
Most Anticipated Release of 2009: Will 2009 be as good a year for music as 2008? Hard to say, it has a lot to live up to. Here are some albums coming out next year that I am stoked for though.
04) New Found Glory
02) Say Anything 01) Brand New
And that, my friends, is it! I hope you enjoyed my many categories. I have stayed up all night making this list. As always, I'd love to hear your feedback. Though I bought close to 100 albums this year, I could always use more albums and I definitely didn't get a few I wanted. Also, any other ideas for categories would be great! Have a great 2009!
Best Albums (11-30): My favorite albums from the year from number 11 to 30. I can't believe how many I had to keep out of this list and how low I had to put certain albums. Incredibly good year for music.
30) We Shot The Moon - Fear and Love
29) Phantom Planet - Raise the Dead
28) The Morning Of - The World As We Know It
27) Lydia - Illuminate
26) The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
25) Colour Revolt - Plunder, Beg, and Curse
24) Good Old War - Only Way To Be Alone
23) The New Frontiers - Mending
22) Paper Rival - Dialog
21) Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line 20) Joshua Radin - Simple Times
19) Promise of Redemption - When The Flowers Bloom
18) Wolftron - Flesh and Fears
17) The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
16) Astronautalis - Pomegrante
15) The Reign of Kindo - Rhythm, Chord, and Melody
14) Jason Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things
13) Augustana - Can't Love, Can't Hurt
12) Panic At The Disco - Pretty Odd 11) The Hush Sound - Goodbye Blues
Honorable Mention: There was a time when I felt that any of these albums could've cracked my top 30, but here they are.
10) Drive By - A Delicate Situation
09) Senses Fail - Life Is Not A Waiting Room
08) The Academy Is - Fast Times At Barrington High
07) Story of the Year - The Black Swan
06) Quietdrive - Deliverance
05) The Mile After - Armada 04) The Audition - Champion
03) Ludo - You're Awful, I Love You
02) Keane - Perfect Symmetry 01)Alkaline Trio - Agony and Irony
Guilty Pleasures: PATD is my highest rated guilty pleasure ever. The rest are albums that my friends couldn't stop spinning after I introduced them to the albums, so naturally I listened to them whenever I was in one of their cars whether I wanted to or not.
10) Panic At The Disco - Pretty Odd
09) Cute Is What We Aim For - Rotation
08) The Fratellis - Here We Stand
07) Girl Talk - Feed The Animals
06) Justin Nozuka - Holly
05) Gym Class Heroes - The Quilt
04) The Cab - Whisper War
03) T.I. - Paper Trail
02) Kanye West - 808's and Heartbreak 01)Hit The Lights - Skip School, Start Fights
Worst (Most Disappointing): Death Cab's album was okay, but it just didn't stick with me. 1997 has fallen apart since their promising debut. The other bands are just washed up in my opinion.
05) Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
04) 1997 - On The Run
03) Ivoryline - There Came A Lion
02) All American Rejects - When The World Comes Down 01)Weezer - The Red Album
Best Live Album/DVD: Both of these Live Album/DVDs are must owns, but John Mayer's live album/DVD is unlike any I've ever seen. Thrice is a close, close second.
02) Thrice - Live At The House of Blues 01)John Mayer - Where The Light Is
Best New Band: House of Heroes isn't exactly new, but I didn't discover them until this year. The New Frontiers were promising and their breakup is a big loss for the scene.
03) The New Frontiers
02) The Good Old War 01) House of Heroes
Best Lyrics: Great lyrics from all of these artists. Kensrue's lyrics always relate to me. Dutton mananged to write a musical with touching lyrics that weren't overly cheesy. Christian is a beautiful writer. Wentz knows how to make every song an anthem. Skipper is surprisingly poignant.
05) Tim Skipper (House of Heroes)
04) Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy)
03) Stephen Christian (Anberlin)
02) Thomas Dutton (Forgive Durden) 01) Dustin Kensrue (Thrice)
Best Vocals: Dallas Green croons like no other. Kensrue continues to have one of the most distinct voices in the scene. Christian can wail. Skipper's voice rocks but is also extremely melodic. Marsh's range is unbelievable. Sad to leave off Patrick Stump, but I liked these 5 just a bit better.
05) Aaron Marsh (Copeland)
04) Tim Skipper (House of Heroes)
03) Stephen Christian (Anberlin)
02) Dustin Kensrue (Thrice) 01) Dallas Green (City and Colour)
Most Overrated/Worst Band: I'm done with Weezer. Socratic was cute for a few spins and then annoyed the hell out of me. FTSK is fun and catchy, but underachieving. The Maine and Metro Station do nothing for me... except give me ear infections.
03) Forever The Sickest Kids
02) The Maine 01) Metro Station
Best AP.Net Thread:
04) The Old Work Thread... RIP
03) The Dark Knight Thread
02) The Valencia Chat Thread 01)LOL Wut?
Best Tour: Admittedly didn't go to many shows this year. Here are the best of the ones I went to.
03) Alternative Press Tour w/ Rocket Summer, All Time Low, FTSK, and The Matches
02) Paramore, Jack's Mannequin, Phantom Planet 01) The Starting Line Farewell Tour w/ Bayside and Four Year Strong
Best Guest Vocals: Most of these come from Dutton's musical, but Vasoli makes a good apperance in "Listen Up" and Callait is the perfect other half for Mraz in "Lucky" Huffman and Salpeter own the only two female parts in Razia's Shadow. Brendon Urie was all over the place this year, and all of his guest spots were fantastic, sometimes even more so than his own album.
05) Cobie Callait: Jazon Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things
04) Ken Vasoli (The Starting Line): Valencia - We All Need a Reason to Believe
03) Lizzie Huffman (Man In The Blue Van): Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical
02) Greta Salpeter (The Hush Sound): Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical 01) Brendon Urie (Panic At The Disco): Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical, Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux and The Cab - Whisper War
Best B-Side: A fun song with John Mayer killing on the guitar, what more could you want? 01) Fall Out Boy (Feat. John Mayer): Beat It
Best Actors/Actresses: A redemption year for Robert Downey Jr. Bale and Ledger were in the best film of the year and maybe the decade. Ledger's death put a sad spin on one of the best individual performances ever. Pitt put out a wide range of movies and owned the roles. Blanchett was impressive in "Benjamin Button"
05) Christain Bale
04) Cate Blanchett
03) Robert Downey Jr.
02) Brad Pitt 01) Heath Ledger
Best Book: It is regrettable that I don't read more, but these two books got my interest this year. Jason Tate recommended Rock On and it was a great read. The Bro Code is funny and true.
02) The Bro Code (Barney Stinson w/ Matt Kuhn) 01) Rock On: An Office Power Ballad (Dan Kennedy)
Best Video Games: When I had time to play video games I enjoyed these games. I have yet to beat any of them.
05) Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
04) Grand Theft Auto IV
03) Rock Band 2/Guitar Hero World Tour (It really just depends on your preference)
02) Resistance 2 01) Spiderman: Web of Shadows
Coolest Tech Devices: My two biggest purchases this year. My skepticism on the iPhone is gone, it is truly a fun and excellent device. My new Macbook has a smooth design, runs well, and has excellent functionality. I am set with my major technology purchases for years.
02) The New Macbook 01) iPhone 3G/iPod Touch
Best Sports Moments: Follow the link to see a great blog of all the best sports events of the year. Below is maybe the most memorable and stunning, the Giants upset of the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Best Viral Video: Prop 8: The Musical is star-studded, hilarious, and relevant. Check it out.