Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/12/2008 (3368 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With another year in the books, it’s time for the Free Press music reviewers to hit the rewind button on their favourite albums of ’08.
And although the long-awaited release of Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy was arguably the biggest news story in terms of releases in 2008, it failed to make any of our reviewers’ Top 10 lists. Better luck next time, Axl.
1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds — Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!: Australian multi-tasker shows off his love of dirty, swaggering rock SSRqn' roll, which he and his longtime band serve up hot and rousing. Dig it.
2. Hold Steady — Stay Positive: Craig Finn and "America's best bar band" turn their focus to the lives of 30-somethings where drinking, murder, mayhem and religion are all part of getting older.
3. Spiritualized — Songs in A & E: Jason Pierce returns with his strongest album in a decade, tackling everything from minimalist folk to swampy garage rock.
4. Torche — Meanderthal: A sludgy stoner/doom metal band that writes hooky pop songs under three minutes long? Believe it.
5. Elliott Brood — Mountain Meadows: This Toronto trio delves into gritty rustic roots 'n' roll, merging banjo with effects-laden electric and acoustic guitars.
6. Portishead — Third: British trip-hop legends return with their first album in a decade, dropping most of the film-noir-like overtones to craft claustrophobic soundscapes while Beth Gibbons' beatific voice rides above it all.
7. Bison B.C. — Quiet Earth: Vancouver metal band that get its groove off dabbling in thrash, doom and sludge for a full-on onslaught of killer riffs.
8. Dodos — Visiter: An acoustic duo from California who take on a bit of everything from psychedelia to blues to indie for a sound dubbed "freak folk."
9. TV on the Radio — Dear Science: New York art-rockers experiment with everything from avant jazz to neo-soul to scattershot pop to old-school funk.
10. Metallica — Death Magnetic: Producer Rick Rubin got the band to get back to what they do best — thrash. Welcome back, Metallica — now book a Winnipeg show already, will ya?
1. Motörhead — Motörizer: The bastard greybeard pirates of English punk metal continue to liquefy eardrums like it's 1980. Lemmy is still the King!
2. The Boxmasters — The Boxmasters:
This mostly overlooked two-disc set of classic-sounding C&W twanglers by Billy Bob Thornton and his buds was both ragged and very right.
3. Goldfrapp — Seventh Tree: Purring crooner Alison Goldfrapp and musical partner Will Gregory crafted a velvety classic that confounded those expecting them to stay the course.
4. Klondike's North 40 — The Straight Path: This top-fuel grinder from former Radio Birdman guitarist spits and swaggers better than the bands you unfortunately have to hear about.
5. Jules Mark Shear — More: Under-the-radar singer-songwriters don't get much better than this. Pure pop for now, older people.
6. Mavis Staples — Live: Hope at the Hideout: She's almost 70, but the Godmother of Gospel Soul still burns with an intensity that defies categorization.
7. The Iguanas — If You Should Ever Fall on Hard Times: Straight from New Orleans by way of Katrina, this set rumbles and dances impeccably.
8. Amon Amarth — Twilight of the Thunder God: Sweden's death metallers Amon Amarth know how to kick ass and sail back home on their Viking barge victorious.
9. The Waking Eyes — Holding On To Whatever It Is: There are dozens of lesser pop bands on the prowl these days, and with this humdinger the Peg City wonder boys have got them all beat.
10. Os Mutantes — Barbican Theatre, London: David Byrne gets this brilliant Brazilian psychedelic tropicalia mob back together to blow minds again. For those who choose to inhale.
1. Fred Eaglesmith — Tinderbox: Plaintive guitars and plucky banjos work with Eaglesmith's mighty voice to create an aural document of stark, brazen beauty.
2. Lucinda Williams — Little Honey: Using early Rolling Stones as a template, Williams' unique gravel and honey-slathered vocal slithers all over Doug Pettibone's raw guitars.
3. My Morning Jacket — Evil Urges: Kentucky rockers surprise as they broaden their musical thrill ride to include Prince-style funk and '70s-era light rock.
4. Hayes Carll — Trouble In Mind: Combining Carll's charming laid-back Texas twang with his dry wit, Trouble is a diamond: it may be polished, but the edges remain.
5. Luke Doucet and the White Falcon — Blood's Too Rich: Doucet calls this a "love letter to the guitar" and doesn't hold back, stretching songs to seven minutes to let loose on his Gretsch White Falcon.
6. Old Crow Medicine Show — Tennessee Pusher: Although their "newgrass" palette is dominated by black and grey, they dip their brushes in colour for the double entendres of Mary's Kitchen.
7. Elliott Brood — Mountain Meadows: They sound like they were raised in Appalachia by thieves whose mother and sister are one and the same.
8. Drive-By Truckers — Brighter Than Creation's Dark: An ambitious sonic backdrop to accompany 19 mostly dark southern gothic tales of death, family, and war.
9. Chris Goertzen and the Hazy Pilgrims — Devil's Rawking Chair: Goertzen's barbed-wire vocal conspires with Ryan Maier's wailing guitar. This recording isn't perfect and that's why it's, well, damn near perfect!
10. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds — Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!: Cave's hellfire and brimstone delivery is propelled by stabbing guitars and sinister rhythms.
1. Paul van Dyk — Cream Ibiza: Phenomenal double-disc compilation of progressive dance music from the man who's consistently ranked one of the top 3 DJs in the world.
2. Q-Tip — The Renaissance: The Q man puts on a clinic in cool with an album that manages to be quietly discerning and hands-in-the-air funktacular at the same time.
3. Lady Gaga — The Fame: The new Madonna? The jury's still out, but there were few records this year that were as flashy, funky, and flat out fun as Just Dance or Poker Face.
4. Kanye West — 808's and Heartbreak: Kanye shows us he's more than just a lot of swagger in a suit with his most experimental album to date, and one that gets better and better with multiple listens.
5. Coldplay — Viva La Vida: Lawsuits and haters be damned, this is a fantastic pop album.
6. Tiesto — In Search of Sunrise 7: Asia: More quality trance from Tiesto's long-running In Search of Sunrise series.
7. The Roots — Rising Down: These guys are always amazing, but this is perhaps their most gripping stuff since 1999's essential Things Fall Apart.
8. Crystal Castles — Crystal Castles: Toronto duo that's part Daft Punk, part Nine Inch Nails, part Atari's Space Invaders boring a hole into your brain.
9. Madonna — Hard Candy: With a bit of help from Timbaland, Madge proves she's still the queen of pop.
10. MGMT — Oracular Spectacular: If you ever wondered what it would sound like if folk hippies got together with knob-twiddling DJs, this is it.
1. Danilo Perez — Across the Crystal Sea: Panamanian pianist Perez teams up with celebrated arranger Claus Ogerman for a lush, laid-back, late-night affair.
2. Wynton Marsalis — Standards & Ballads: A beautiful collection of standards, recorded earlier in Marsalis' career, that showcases his unparalleled finesse on the trumpet.
3. Aaron Parks — Invisible Cinema: Debut CD by young pianist who unleashes 10 original, melodic and imaginative songs.
4. Molly Johnson — Lucky: Her first recording of all jazz standards hits all the right notes, and her band gets high marks for their swinging support.
5. David Benoit — Jazz for Peanuts: A fun-filled, easygoing CD of Charlie Brown theme songs that really swings.
6. Roy Hargrove — Earfood: A fine example of trumpeter Hargrove's ability to lay back into sublime ballads and kick it up with some high-energy bop.
7. Melody Gardot — Worrisome Heart: With a smoky voice and backed by a sultry band, singer Gardot's debut is perfect for a dimly lit bar or fireside chat.
8. Francisco Mela — Cirio: Recorded live at the Blue Note, drummer Mela is backed by a superb band for a rhythmic extravaganza.
9. Tim Ries — Stones World: Rolling Stones Project Vol. 2: A fantastic trip around the world for saxophonist Ries to record Rolling Stones' songs with artists from Africa, India, Brazil, and more.
10. Kenny Barron — The Traveler: Upbeat, uplifting and solid recording for the veteran pianist.
1. Orchestra Mozart, Claudio Abbado — Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 29, 33, 35, 38 & 41: Mozart à la mode, with stunning playing and insights to spare.
2. Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Bertrand de Billy — Puccini: La Bohème: Starry cast in tailor-made roles, paced to perfection.
3. Anne-Sophie Mutter, London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev — Violin Concertos of J.S. Bach and Sofia Gubaidulina: A bold new violin concerto alongside the tried-and-true superbly played.
4. Gabrieli Consort & soloists, Paul McCreesh — Haydn: The Creation: Sung in English, Haydn's greatest choral work get a big and winning period treatment.
5. James Ehnes, Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis — Elgar: Violin Concerto: The Brandon-born star continues to rise.
6. Cecilia Bartoli — Maria: Another Bartoli dazzler, as she uncovers the life and style of diva Maria Malibran. Don't forget the companion DVD.
7. Simone Dinnerstein — The Berlin Concert: A brilliant American pianist to watch, following up her bestselling Bach release to expectations
8. O Thou Transcendent — The Life of Ralph Vaughan Williams: Another wonderful DVD by the master of music documentary, Tony Palmer.
9. Cesare Valletti — New York Town Hall Recitals, 1959/60: A great forgotten tenor in a wide-ranging program.
10. USSR State & Russian Federation Symphony Orchestras, Evgeny Svetlanov — Nikolai Myaskovsky: Complete Symphonies: 27 symphonies few will know but which make for a compelling journey of discovery.