I've read nearly all the top countdowns of the year, Spin, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Pitchfork, Decoy, etc... And not a single one of them have included ANY of my choices. Does that make me feel like my choices are less valid, not at all. It just re-assures me the importance of keeping this site going, and getting great rock music out to the people who care. This year I have discovered countless great new bands that will be sure to entertain us for years to come. One of my all time favorite bands, Toadies, got back together, toured all over, and recorded yet another classic album. Failure got the tribute they deserve with "The Nurse Who Loved Me," comprised of an incredible selection of brand new space rock bands to carry on the torch. Hell, even for better or worse...Guns N Roses released "Chinese Democracy." All in all, I'd say that '08 was a great year for music, that is if you were willing to look for it. That being said, here are my TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2008...
1. Toadies - No Deliverance
What can I say? The Toadies have done it again! With their first album in seven years dropping in '08, Toadies prove they haven't lost a step of their grunge rock aggression. Vaden Todd Lewis' songwriting still resonates with the best from the era, with their signature sound only they can deliver still very much in effect. Clark, Rez, and Vaden welcome new bassist Donni Blair into the fold, and the band picks up where they left off with 2001's amazing Hell Below/Stars Above. Toadies manage to keep music evil while writing some of the greatest, catchiest, most accessible alternative/grunge tracks available. "No Deliverance" marks the third album from these Texas legends, and not surprisingly, the third flawless piece of music, with 100% great songs. Look for this album to continue pushing into 2009, hopefully another big year for Toadies and their fans!
2. The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath
In the extremely short amount of time that The Mars Volta has been in existence, a mere 7 years, they have become one of the most important bands of our generation. Blending aspects of progressive rock, experimentalism, Latin rhythms, free form jazz, psychedelics and hardcore/metal TMV have released four full length albums, an official live release, and two EPs within seven years. While their 2006 release "Amputechture" received some negative feedback from fans, "The Bedlam in Goliath" is sure to quiet anyone not convinced. This is personally my favorite release of theirs to date. The entire album explodes with Omar Rodriguez-Lopez' sonic guitar freak-outs and Thomas Pridgen's incredible drumming. Cedric Bixlar-Zavala delivers some of his best and most varied vocal techniques throughout, summoning the greatest aspects of Robert Plant. This album is an instant classic and as far as I'm concerned should be required listening for all.
3. Torche - Meanderthal
The metal gods are proudly looking down on Torche, maybe even...smiling! On their sophomore release, and first for Hydra Head, these Florida natives bring the heavy. One of the most devastatingly crushing albums of the year, also contains some of the brightest soaring melodic lines?? You better believe it! Their sound has been affectionately and fittingly named “Doom Pop,” due to the quality of aggressive devastation with lush, bright melodies. Huge crashes of riffs lead into some of the most memorable vocals lines in all of rock's genres, creating a timeless metal masterpiece. The end of the year saw Torche become a three piece as guitarist Juan Montoya left the band. Should be interesting to see how they follow up this monster of an album.
4. Totimoshi - Milagrosa
Upon first listen to Totimoshi's '08 release "Milagrosa" any hard rock fan will be hooked. Totimoshi have been around a while, and have begun to come into their own sound over their past two releases, with the culmination arriving at "Milagrosa". Mixing influences from their peers Helmet and the Melvins with a Latin twist sounds just as awesome as you might expect. The guitar work is stellar with a tight rhythm section that only compliments on this go round for the Bay Area natives.
5. Satellite Tragedy - New Beautiful
The future of space rock is here, and is being brought to the masses by Satellite Tragedy. I was first introduced to this band through the Failure tribute album, "The Nurse Who Loved Me," and haven't looked back since. Their debut album "New Beautiful" is incredibly complete and well put together. Satellite Tragedy deliver hard rock space grunge to softer complex and heavily distorted tracks. A bright future lies ahead for these fellas.
6. Local H - 12 Angry Months
While their mainstream success has faltered away, the passion for making great concept albums is still very much in play for Local H. On their 7th studio album, the duo is back up to its old tricks, bringing yet another fully conceptual album, this time based on one complete year and various stages that follow a bad break-up. In my opinion, they managed to create their best work since their breakthrough success on "As Good As Dead." Heavy, catchy, and simple, Local H just plain rock.
7. The Gutter Twins - Saturnalia
After years of rumors, The Gutter Twins finally released their official debut album. Mark Lanegan's gravel-meets-whisky soaked voice harmonizing with Greg Dulli's sinister R&B fueled howls are truly something to be heard! While the album can get a bit depressing and dreary, what else would you expect from two of the most beautifully tortured souls of the 90s. After a very busy '08, look for new solo projects from Lanegan and Dulli’s Twilight Singers in the new year.
8. Kid:Nap:Kin - Hush Now...
Sometimes a car crash can be music to your ears. Especially when that car crash involves the influences of Glassjaw, At The Drive-In, and Jeff Buckley. Kid:Nap:Kin blend the best aspects of all three of those legendary bands/musicians for a sound unique to this Boston trio. Complex time signatures and prog rock rhythms meet wild jazz experimentation and ever soaring vocals. Kid:Nap:Kin are my favorite new band of '08, and I can't wait to hear what they'll do next.
9. Cage the Elephant - Cage the Elephant
Hailing from Kentucky, Cage the Elephant are no strangers to southern rock. They infuse these roots into a bombastic explosion of heavy southern blues influenced rock n roll. This is the real deal, and these guys should be headed towards stardom. Imagine the White Stripes with a great chaotic band playing behind them, and you begin to see where Cage the Elephant is treading. With a very strong and impressive debut, you’re going to want to be sure to keep an eye on these guys.
10. The Melvins - Nude With Boots
Never ones to be predictable, The Melvins released their second album in nearly as many years with their new line-up that includes fellow sludge stompers Big Business. With huge monolithic guitar and drum interactive power-play, Nude With Boots comes across borrowing more from the pages of Zeppelin than Sabbath, but still distinctly Melvins. King Buzzo and company have extended their sound from (A) Senile Animal to the more bizarre, and ultimately more gratifying. Crank this album up and let it rip, one of the best Melvins albums in close to a decade.