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Steve Henderson

Written by: Steve Henderson (11/30/08)
IntroductionThis year ended up being another really interesting and engaging year for music. I ended up loving a lot of records that I never would have expected, finding out about a bunch of great new bands, and being surprised in a lot of the best ways. Sure, some releases came with letdown, but it seemed like there was always the next record to lift me back up. Above all, the thing that is most fascinating about doing these lists is the way it lets me watch my own tastes changing, while my underlying love for music remains the same.

Nevertheless, I have listened to a lot of music this year, and this is what I thought of 2008. And let it be known that when I call an album the “best” of the year, I mean it in a sense that it gave me the most enjoyment. Sure, there may be more technically proficient records or whatnot, but a) I did not listen to every single record released this year, and b) subjectivity is a wonderful prerogative. So read my lists – disregard them, applaud them, call me out on them. Either way, the opinions we all have on music are what makes it so beautiful in the end, so never lose sight of that which makes you happy.


Top Albums of 2008
30) Thrice – The Alchemy Index Vols. III and IV
29) The Years Gone By - Forever Comes Too Soon
28) Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
27) Baumer – Were It Not For You
26) Driving East – The Future of the Free World Is Riding On This One
25) Jack’s Mannequin – The Glass Passenger
24) Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s – Animal/Not Animal
23) The Break and Repair Method – Milk the Bee
22) Pompeii – Nothing Happens For A Reason
21) One for the Team – Build It Up
20) Anthony Green - Avalon
19) Wolftron – Flesh and Fears
18) Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
17) The Reign of Kindo – Rhythm, Chord, and Melody
16) The Morning Of - The World As We Know It
15) Anberlin – New Surrender
14) Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
13) City and Colour – Bring Me Your Love
12) The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound
11) Alive In Wild Paint – Ceilings
10) Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul
09) Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
08) Great Glass Elevator - Metropolis
07) Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
06) Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground – Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground
05) Copeland – You Are My Sunshine
04) Good Old War – Only Way To Be Alone
03) Lydia - Illuminate
02) Jeremy Larson – Salvation Club
01) The New Frontiers - Mending

ExplanationAnother year, another set of incredible releases. Some matched the expectations of greatness before them, but a lot came out of the blue to earn their spots amongst the best. In the end, while it came out in January originally, and was in my hands from September of last year, The New Frontiers’ Mending still hits with the same impact now as it did that first week. That album is both elegantly simple and incredibly complex, and is probably my favorite release of the last 5 years. That band is going to be sorely and painfully missed.


Top EPs of 2008
05) That Was Something – Down, But Not Out
04) Third Eye Blind – Red Star
03) Cinematic Sunrise – A Coloring Storybook and Long Playing Record
02) Deas Vail – White Lights
01) Closure In Moscow – The Penance and the Patience

ExplanationThird Eye Blind and Deas Vail return with strong efforts, and Cinematic Sunrise emerged with a very different (but in my opinion, superior) outing for Craig Owens. But none of the aforementioned could touch Closure in Moscow, who are one of the most exciting new bands I have heard in a long while. They are going to be a wonderful addition to the EVR roster, and should do big things when the relocate to the USA in 2009.


Most Disappointing Albums of 2008
05) Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak
04) Gym Class Heroes – The Quilt
03) Panic at the Disco – Pretty Odd
02) Lovedrug – The Sucker Punch Show
01) Nada Surf - Lucky

ExplanationThese were all records that I had a high level of anticipation for, and all fell short. Nada Surf has been a little hot and cold since Let Go, but Lucky is the first record they have made that truly disappoints me. Beyond that, Lovedrug’s album was a pretty big letdown, but I guess that should be expected considering how great ESWIE was. Panic’s album sounds like a bad joke to me, Gym Class has obviously decided they never want to make a meaningful album again, and Kanye’s gives me a headache. Oh well, maybe next time, right guys?


Best Songs of 2008
25) Nada Surf – “The Fox"
24) Death Cab for Cutie – “Your New Twin Sized Bed”
23) Noah and the Whale – “5 Years Time"
22) Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s – “A Children’s Crusade on Acid"
21) Jack’s Mannequin – “Spinning"
20) The Gaslight Anthem – “Old White Lincoln"
19) Jeremy Larson – “Portrait"
18) Coldplay – “Viva La Vida"
17) Wolftron – “Sugar Skulls"
16) City and Colour – “The Girl"
15) Fall Out Boy – “America’s Suitehearts"
14) Deas Vail – “Last Place"
13) Kanye West – “Love Lockdown"
12) The Summer Set - "Cross Your Fingers"
11) Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal”
10) Driving East – “Somebody Get Me Out Of Here"
09) Dub Pistols – “Running from the Thought"
08) Copeland – “The Day I Lost My Voice (The Suitcase Song)”
07) Vampire Weekend – “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”
06) Lydia – “Hospital"
05) Good Old War – “Just Another Day”
04) Closure In Moscow – “Breathing Underwater”
03) Anthony Green – “Dear Child”
02) Anberlin – “Haight Street”
01) The New Frontiers – “Mirrors”

ExplanationAgain, a pretty diverse list with everything from cotton candy pop gems to lo-fi indie to progressive rock anthems. Love every one of these tunes.


Best Producer of the Year
Neal Avron

Runner-Up: Matt Goldman

ExplanationThe production work on Anberlin’s and Fall Out Boy’s albums was about as perfect as you can get. Goldman was no slouch either, lending his hand to The New Frontiers and Underoath.


Best New Band of 2008
Closure in Moscow

ExplanationThese guys have the energy of The Mars Volta, the aggression of old Saosin, and the progressive chops of Circa Survive. Their debut EP is an absolute barn-burner, and these guys seem to have a bright future ahead.


Best Music Video of 2008
The Dear Hunter – “The Church and the Dime”

Explanationhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSm06SwNI18



Best Lyrics of 2008
03) David Braun (Great Glass Elevator)
02) Richard Edwards (Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s)
01) Dustin Kensrue (Thrice)

ExplanationKensrue again waxes poetic, while Edwards and Braun go a little more eccentric. Either way, their lyrical prowess made for remarkable listening experiences.


Best Vocals of 2008
05) Keith Goodwin (Good Old War)
04) Dallas Green (City and Colour)
03) Travis Bryant (Alive In Wild Paint)
02) Aaron Marsh (Copeland)
01) Wes Blaylock (Deas Vail)

ExplanationSimply put, these dudes have pipes. Respect.


Biggest Sellouts
05) Cobra Starship
04) Plain White T’s
03) Hey Monday
02) Gym Class Heroes
01) Metro Station

ExplanationSelf-explanatory.


Best Live Show
05) Flobots
04) Underoath
03) Circa Survive
02) Girl Talk
01) The New Frontiers

ExplanationWhile they might have been a little pedestrian for some observers, the accuracy of The New Frontiers’ live shows made them truly stand out. The others here all brought insane amounts of energy to remind fans why they love going to shows.


Best Record Label
04) Tooth and Nail
03) The Militia Group
02) Side One Dummy
01) Equal Vision

ExplanationEVR issued some strong albums this year, and additionally, signed some bands with great amounts of potential. The rest of these guys all put out some really great records and should be applauded for bringing us the music we love and enjoy.


Most Overrated Artists
02) Lil’ Wayne
01) 3OH!3

ExplanationI do not now, nor will I ever understand the appeal of a band like 3OH!3 (I hate even typing their band name). Yet somehow, these guys draw huge crowds at their shows, sell way more albums than they should, and are getting booked on big tours and festivals. And as for Lil’ Wayne, I can’t stand the fact that he has become the default hip-hop artist for hipsters and indie kids to inexplicably follow. Come on people, there is much better music out there.


Most Underrated Bands
05) Driving East
04) Lydia
03) Good Old War
02) Alive in Wild Paint
01) The New Frontiers

ExplanationI wish that talent had a direct correlation to album sales and prosperity, because if that were the case, The New Frontiers would be rolling in the dough and would have never been forced to break up. Alive In Wild Paint will likely end up in the same bin, unfortunately. And after releasing one of the year’s best pop punk records, I am still confused how Driving East is not absolutely massive right now.


Best Other Music Websites
03) Stereogum
02) Pitchfork
01) Amazon MP3

ExplanationIf anyone is still buying songs off of iTunes when they are available on Amazon MP3, they ought to be shot. 256 kbps, no DRM, daily deals – all icing on the cake…I am sold. As for Pitchfork, either they are leaning more towards the mainstream, or my tastes are shifting to align more with theirs, but regardless, they don’t seem as needlessly obscure anymore.


Band of the Year
02) Girl Talk
01) Vampire Weekend

ExplanationVampire Weekend went from blogosphere hype band to releasing a great debut album, to mainstream popularity all in the first half of the year. Hell, they even inspired their own fashion trends, were covered in every magazine, and even suffered a huge backlash for their own successes. Not bad for a handful of ivy league geeks. Likewise, Gregg Gillis has gone from hipster mixtape architect to the face of a new age discussion on intellectual property.


Best Movies of 2008
05) Pineapple Express
04) Forgetting Sarah Marshall
03) Cloverfield
02) Redbelt
01) The Dark Knight

ExplanationAwesome flicks that are well worth the $64 a movie ticket costs nowadays.


Best TV Shows of 2008
05) The Office
04) Top Chef
03) 30 Rock
02) The Pick Up Artist
01) The Ultimate Fighter

ExplanationSome of the only good shows on the crap pool that is cable TV.


Most Anticipated of 2009
10) Chase Pagan
09) Cartel
08) Therefore I Am
07) Closure In Moscow
06) Lostprophets
05) Cassino
04) Dredg
03) Sleeping at Last
02) The Dear Hunter
01) Circa Survive

ExplanationThese should all be solid offerings to build off of stellar previous releases, with the exception of Cartel, whose self-titled album was a trainwreck. Nevertheless, I have faith that Will Pugh and the boys will re-emerge as the new saviors of pop punk, restoring fans’ faith along the way.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 42
11:55 AM on 12/19/08
#2
Steve Henderson
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I just wanted to say thanks to anyone that reads this and to anyone who regularly reads my reviews, interviews, etc. on this site. I love being a contributor here and without an audience, I would not have nearly the same drive to find time for this as my free time gets even more scarce.
05:57 PM on 12/21/08
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Garett Press
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Mmmm, i forgot new frontiers came out this year. Whoops. That would have been on my list somewhere.

The Departed in best movies?
08:54 PM on 12/21/08
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Steve Henderson
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Mmmm, i forgot new frontiers came out this year. Whoops. That would have been on my list somewhere.

The Departed in best movies?
Lol, way off wasn't I? I just saw it on DVD so I assumed it came out this year. Yikes.
11:41 PM on 12/28/08
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imtimwhoareyou
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Thank YOU for introducing TNF to me in the EP days... And thanks for your Copeland review. And for contributing so much to this site (I guess that goes for all the staff, really...)
12:16 AM on 12/29/08
#6
hockeyguitar99
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I didn't expect Jeremy Larson to be so high, I liked that album a lot at first, but it didn't last too long for me.
12:28 AM on 12/29/08
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Julia Conny
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I loved The Pick-Up Artist too. We were meant to be.
01:08 AM on 12/29/08
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Steve Henderson
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Thank YOU for introducing TNF to me in the EP days... And thanks for your Copeland review. And for contributing so much to this site (I guess that goes for all the staff, really...)
Why, thank you - much appreciated.
01:09 AM on 12/29/08
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Steve Henderson
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I didn't expect Jeremy Larson to be so high, I liked that album a lot at first, but it didn't last too long for me.
There were albums released that held longer with me, but when I think of one guy putting that entire albums together, it blows my mind. The arrangements alone are staggering.
01:10 AM on 12/29/08
Steve Henderson
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I loved The Pick-Up Artist too. We were meant to be.
It was a guilty pleasure of mine last season and turned into an all out obsession this year.
03:45 AM on 12/29/08
Russ Hockenbury
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I loved The Pick-Up Artist too. We were meant to be.
I don't watch The Pick-Up Artist...I live it.
04:03 AM on 12/29/08
Ryzenfall
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Wow, it's incredible how much we agree on, according to this list.

Amazon MP3 for vice president.
05:48 AM on 12/29/08
Praetor
as we melt, let's make no noise.
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<3 you Steve. Decent list.
05:51 AM on 12/29/08
ffadam
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Good list Steve. I'm looking forward to Lostprophets too but wonder what the album will sound like since they've scrapped it like twice. Closure In Moscow will be one to watch too.
05:58 AM on 12/29/08
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Steve if you like the new That Was Something EP you might like Bears! which came out back in February
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