Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Frequent Spins (2008.9)

It's that time of year once again. As 2008 winds down, I present you with the year's final installment of Frequent Spins. More importantly, though, it's time to revisit my favorites for the year and start putting together the list. I shifted to the top 40 format last year, and I think I'm going to stick with it. I feel like the back end of this year's top 40 is a little stronger than last, but it's going to be a little weaker at the top. In fact, 2008 may be the most lacking in truly great albums of any year in a while.

Bound Stems - The Family Afloat
Frequently throughout this album, I have to stop and think of what indie rock band they remind me of, but most of the time, that comparison eludes me. Maybe that's because, while far from completely unique, this band just isn't that easy to pigeon-hole. Catchy throughout, but frequently leaving you wanting just a little bit more, and not necessarily in a bad way, this is a strong set of pretty straight-up indie rock/pop.

French Kicks - Swimming
The French Kicks have always been an enigma to me, curiously so considering this is their first album that I've listened to. They've been an enigma based solely on reputation. Are they over-rated indie rock pretenders akin to the Liars, or truly worthy of comparisons to bands like The Strokes and The Walkmen? Obviously, I never bothered to make my own determination until now, and considering I'm including them here, I'd say they're much closer to the latter than the former.

Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
This high energy Welch indie-pop seven-piece was one of the busiest acts in the business this year, releasing two full-length albums. Hold on Now, Youngster... was a solid effort, but We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, their second release of 2008, is even better.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cardinology
The former Whiskeytown frontman's latest hasn't been well received by the critics. Safe, lackadaisical, self-indulgent, uninviting...I'm sure Adams has heard these all before. While it may be a drop-off from last year's Easy Tiger, which I consider to be his second best solo record, it still has all the elements that have always appealed to me about his stuff. Who else could cover ground ranging from the gentle reminder of "Go Easy" to the bitter ill wishes of "Fix It", all by the album's third track?

The Rural Alberta Adantage - Hometowns
I discovered this one on eMusic, as it's been at or near the top of their charts for a little while now. They cleverly refer to this album by the description, "In an aeroplane over Alberta...", but I'd call the Neutral Milk Hotel comparison a bit of a stretch. Quite a bit less quirky, and a little more rootsy, than Jeff Mangum's troupe, The RAA still deliver a fine first record, one that ranks among my favorite debuts of the year.

Also spin-worthy
Jay Bennett - Whatever Happened I Apologize
Pelle Carlberg - The Lilac Time
The Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Grave
Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreak
Neil Young - Sugar Mountain Live At Canterbury House 1968

Oh, and don't forget to stay tuned here for my Best of 2008 countdown, which should kick off about a week from now and run through New Year's Eve.

1 comment:

  1. Picked up that Bound Stems album today. really, really good. Great rec.