The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Friday, January 30, 2009

My 10 Best Albums of 2008ish

by Steve Gajadhar

I’m a music nut and I know some of my fellow CWCers are as well, so with 2008 in the books I thought I’d share my 10 favorite albums of 2008, Canadian or otherwise.

10. “Plan Your Escape” by Hey Rosetta!
CanCon! I just love crackly, boppy, whiney rock. Another album that kind of slipped under the radar, which means it will probably be huge in 2009.

9. “The Baroness” by Sarah Slean
CanCon! Why no love for Sarah this year? It’s like this album didn’t even get released. We listen to this album all the time and I do mean ALL the time. Sarah channels the proudest bachelorette since, well, since ever. My favourite track, “Get Home” is a poignant look at adultery from the woman’s perspective.

8. “Evil Urges” by My Morning Jacket
Great driving music for the Big Island. Musicianship at its finest. This is an album that varies from track to track and yet still seems coherent, a hard feat to pull off. In terms of similar artists, the Fleet Foxes’ album got most of the attention this year, but I’ll take “Evil Urges” any day of the week.

7. “Dear Science” by TV on the Radio
This is what musical genius sounds like. Just when you think all the styles have been hashed and rehashed, along comes this album and shows what a real amalgamation of hashes can and should sound like.

6. “In our Bedroom after the War” by Stars
CanCon! I’ve been a Stars fan for years, and this is by far their best work. It’s nice to see a band get better with each album. “Personal” is one of my favorite ballads of all time. It has a Hemingway-like quality to it in the use of simple words and simple music to evoke strong emotions, in this case loneliness.

5. “Reunion Tour” by The Weakerthans
CanCon! Obviously on my list, I did do a full review of the album a while back (I’m just too lazy to hyperlink to it). John Samson is one of the best lyricists working in music today. At the pace he’s going he’ll soon rival Gord Downie, and Gord saw this coming back in 2004 when he dropped some Weakerthans lyrics at the Hip’s Grey Cup performance: “And I’m leaning on this broken fence between past and present tense.” Although not as good as “Reconstruction Site,” “Reunion Tour” is still a great album and one that is constantly spun in my CRV’s disc-changer.

4. “Parc Avenue” by Plants and Animals
CanCon! What is it with Montreal anyway? I thought Arcade Fire would never be beat, but the race is on!

3. “Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool” by Lupe Fiasco
This was released late December 2007 so I’m including it here as a bit of a stretch, but hey it’s my list! Simply an amazing piece of art, a start-to-finish masterpiece of indie hip-hop. Lupe drops the pop singles like “Superstar,” and “Paris, Tokyo,” but in between he spins a tale about a gangster named The Cool who strikes a deal with the devil and is resurrected as a one armed monster. He also takes a stab at kid soldiers. Give this a chance even if you don’t like rap.

2. “Welcome to the Night Sky” by Wintersleep.
CanCon! Wintersleep won the Juno for New Group of the Year. A 2007 release, I’m including this album because it didn’t get on my radar until last year. Fantastic rocky stuff full of quotidian (I’ve always wanted to use that word) ramblings on life like: “Someday laser beams will cure my sight, negative 5, that’s pretty much blind.”

1. “Vampire Weekend” by Vampire Weekend
I know, I know. Media darlings. Upper crust art school bohemian a-holes, etc. etc. but these boys have talent. A great album and one that also has a track with a line just for us writers: “Who gives a fuck about an oxford comma?” I think I’ll make “Oxford Comma” my doing revisions song of choice.

There are a bunch more albums that deserve to be on my list, but these fit my mood when I put this blog together. Feel free to share some of your favorites, because I’m always on the lookout for something new and fresh. Time to start my list for 2009!


Blogger T. Lee said...

Hey, great list! Lots of great stuff coming from Canada. Or, it's been around a long time, only recently people, esp Canadians, are paying better attention!

Fri Jan 30, 11:08:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Great list! I'm so happy to find another Sarah Slean fan. I actually haven't got the new one, but you've inspired me to rush out and get it.

My faves of the last little while include The Constantines' "Kensington Heights" and Chad VanGaalen's "Soft Airplane".

Nothing else grabbed me this year, but I think that's my fault. I'm worried that I'm losing my affinity for music.

Sat Jan 31, 06:09:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Thanks guys!

I dunno why, but I never warmed to Soft Airplane. Maybe I'll give it another listen.

Mon Feb 02, 01:52:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Well, I hate to admit this but I haven't heard of any of these. Been hanging out in the wrong section of the music store, obviously.

Thu Feb 05, 01:30:00 am GMT-5  

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