As the sub-zero wind whips across Minnesota and new release Tuesdays slow to a full stop, we labor over our year-end lists. Top 10 CDs, Best albums, concerts and more. After pouring over all of my CDs that came out in the past 12 months, I can officially declare that 2008 was a great year for music. Making this year’s list was a blast. I really enjoyed going back through all of these albums. Seeing everyone else’s lists is where the real fun is at, because each year I end up reading about things I’ve missed. So please click on the small comments link at the bottom of this list to post your own list.
The ObviousPop Top 20 CDs of 2008
1. Tally Hall – Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum
There is finally another major power pop group that can rival Fountains of Wayne. Tally Hall came out of nowhere for me when Rick Altizer sent me a link to their video and told me to check them out. This is for any fan of power pop. To use the clichéd comparisons, this CD is for fans of Jellyfish, FoW, ELO, Queen,Wings and The Beatles, yet they have their own unique style. This album is definitely fun stuff with hooks o’ plenty. This is easily the best power pop release and my favorite CD of 2008.
2. The Feeling – Join With Us
If you’re not on The Feeling bandwagon yet you have my sympathy because you are missing out on two of the best CDs of the past decade. After the brilliant Twelve Stops and Home they manage to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump with amazing songs and vocals. They wear their influences on their sleeve at times with heavy doses of 10cc and ELO, but this is a rip off or a cheese fest.
3. David Byrne & Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
This could have been just more meandering art for art sake or world music influences replacing actual melodies, but not this time! David Byrne of the Talking Heads and Brian Eno of production fame have collaborated to make an amazing album with well written songs and melodies that feature David’s best performances since going solo and Eno’s amazing production and sounds. Fans of both artists should love this one, but I am hoping it draws in some new listeners as well. The beautiful opening track, “Home” is one of my favorite songs of the year.
4. Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears – Flight of the Knife
Remember what I just said about Tally Hall? Dito that. This is power pop at its best. It is as if Queen had recorded Sgt. Peppers. Flight of the Knife has lots of quirks, hooks and instrumentation, with even more production. In this case more really is more. I think I came across this one surfing new releases on the iTunes store and after about 30 seconds of the first track I went out and bought the CD. You have to hear it to believe it. One of the best finds of the year! They have one other record but it’s not quite as good. This one is pure brilliance.
5. Josh Fix – Free At Last
Power pop fans need to get this album now! You can hear Jellyfish, Self and more on this great album full of hooks. The song “Don’t Call Me In The Morning” wins best hook of the year.
6. Sparks – Exotic Creatures of the Deep
I love it! I think it’s a return to form for Sparks . Right now I may be alone in my love for this album, but if you would just give it a chance. This one needs to be owned, listened to and enjoyed. Tracks of layered vocals, keyboards and strings with super hooky songs with lyrics so witty and clever that you will laugh out loud. If you don’t want your music to have a sense of humor then this disc isn’t for you. But if you like They Might Be Giants or really clever lyrics, you will not find anything better. “Let The Monkey Drive” is a definite contender for song of the year for me.
7. Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Do I really need to comment on this release? If you haven’t heard the title track you haven’t been near a TV or radio for the past year. It’s an amazingly beautiful record with great songs and orchestration. This is easily the best Coldplay album to date.
8. Brian Wilson – That Lucky Old Sun
No, it’s not as good as SMiLE, but that is about the highest a bar could possibly be set, so to say this is ‘almost’ as good is huge. Anyone who loved SMiLE should fall in love with That Lucky Old Sun, a suite of music that has some of Brian’s best songwriting in decades.
9. Kyle Andrews – Real Blasty
Is Kyle Andrews an alias for Matt Mahaffey of Self? This record is full of that fun and jerky style of production with a lot of power pop thrown in. Yet it is also one of the most original and unique records to make the list this year. Keyboards, guitars and some serious production accent all the catchy melodies to make this one a must hear.
10. Keane – Perfect Symmetry
For the love of the 80’s. Keane fully embraces the new wave and hooky pop of that decade while maintaining their trademark vocal style that makes me say “mmmmmm good!” It’s up there with their first 2 releases.
11. Starflyer 59 – Dial M
12. The Killers – Day & Age
13. The Black and White Years – The Black and White Years
14. The Submarines - Honeysuckle Weeks
15. Shiny Toy Guns – Season of Poison
16. Snow Patrol – A Hundred Million Suns
17. Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads
18. Senor Coconut – Around The World
19. Detektivbyrån – Wermland
20. Midnight Juggernaughts – Dystopia
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Jeremy Messersmith – The Silver City
The Seventy-Sevens –Holy Ghost Building
Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul
Pendulum – In Silico
Phantom Planet – Raise The Dead
Best Reissue: Daniel Amos – Darn Floor Big Bite
Best Live Show: Brian Wilson, State Theater, Minneapolis
(Was (Not Was) at SXSW in Austin, TX was a close 2nd)
Best Movie: Wall-E
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