Landmarks: The Year 2008

I’m not going to give 2008 the full play-by-play treatment I’ve been giving the other years of the aughties, simply because, well, it’s still pretty recent– and besides that, my list of fifteen favorites is still available here. I do want to make just a few comments, though, and shine the light on a few terrific recordings that are still very much deserving of praise.

But first, a confession. I have “officially” had two favorite albums of 2008: First, TV on the Radio‘s Dear Science, and then, when I heard it in early 2009, Erykah Badu‘s New Amerykah part 1: Fourth World War. And both are, to be sure, tremendous recordings, fully deserving of landmark status; indeed, both albums are quintessential snapshots of 2008, albums that perfectly summarize the spirit of the age in which they were made, either with uncommon hope (TVotR) or unfettered indignation (Badu). But I will admit now that, when it comes to the album I actually listened to the most and derived the most joy from in 2008– and on into 2009– the honor for my personal most cherished recording is Barry Adamson‘s wonderfully soulful and deliciously seedy soundtrack-in-search-of-a-film, Back to the Cat.

That out of the way, I offer a few more reasons why 2008 was a year to remember:

  • Two of the decade’s most accomplished and sophisticated singer/songwriters albums, by a pair of women who only seem to get better and better: Jenny Lewis‘ laid-back, classicist but idiosyncratic country-rock album Acid Tongue and Jolie Holland‘s knotty jazz-and-rock knockout, The Living and the Dead.
  • The decade’s most convincing claim to the “New Dylan” tag, The Tallest Man on Earth‘s Shallow Grave.
  • A dynamite continuation of Nick Cave‘s latter-day winning streak, the frantically funny Dig, Lazarus! Dig!
  • One of my favorite instrumental jazz albums of the decade, and perhaps my very favorite that’s made up of all-original songs– Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band‘s Season of Changes.
  • An album that didn’t make my original Top 15 list but probably should’ve: Sam Phillips‘s electric and eclectic set Don’t Do Anything.
  • An absolutely essential collection from Steinski, and a historic collection of Bob Dylan outtakes.
  • And, the decade’s most pleasant surprise: A Coldplay album that was actually deserving of the hype.

That was 2008 for me; what were your landmark recordings?

See also: 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; 2006; and 2007.

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2 responses to “Landmarks: The Year 2008”

  1. Gavin Breeden says :

    “spirt of the age” hmmmm…don’t you mean “zeitgeist”?

  2. thewritingwriter says :

    Shallow Grave is a great album. “Where Do My Bluebird Fly” might just be the perfect song. Vampire Weekend released their debut that year. Protest The Hero released Fortress, their best album yet. In Flames released A Sense of Purpose, instrumentally it’s a masterpiece. It was a pretty good year, there are a lot more albums I could mention.

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