Elephant Talk
New Power Pop from Nashvegas

ObviousPop Best CDs of 2008

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 HallMarvin'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 FeelingJoin 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 EnoEverything 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 TearsFlight 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 FixFree 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. ColdplayViva 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 WilsonThat 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 AndrewsReal 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. KeanePerfect 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 59Dial M

12. The KillersDay & Age

13. The Black and White YearsThe Black and White Years

14. The Submarines - Honeysuckle Weeks

15. Shiny Toy GunsSeason of Poison

16. Snow PatrolA Hundred Million Suns

17. Kaiser ChiefsOff With Their Heads

18. Senor CoconutAround The World

19. DetektivbyrånWermland

20. Midnight JuggernaughtsDystopia


Also loved…

Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend

Jeremy MessersmithThe Silver City

The Seventy-Sevens –Holy Ghost Building

OasisDig Out Your Soul

PendulumIn Silico

Phantom PlanetRaise The Dead


Best Reissue: Daniel AmosDarn 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

 

Please post your own lists or comments by clikcing the "comments" link below...

Comments

Thaddeus Wert

My favorites:
1. Insurgentes, by Steven Wilson
Not even close. Best thing I've heard all year.
2. Forth, by Verve
Impressive return to form after a long hiatus.
3. A Hundred Million Suns, by Snow Patrol
This one really sunk in after a couple of listens. I don't know why, but it reminds me of 70's Bad Co. at their best.
4. Words and Music, by Aqualung
As piano-based pop goes, I tend to like Matt Hales a little more than Keane. A couple of very nice Brian Wilson-like tunes on this release.
5. In Silico, by Pendulum
Wouldn't have known about this one w/o ObviousPop's rec. Great songs in an 80s vein.
6. Gift of Screws, by Lindsey Buckingham
A very satisfying collection of songs from the real reason Fleetwood Mac was once massively popular.
7. Harps and Angels, by Randy Newman
Acerbic wit and excellent melodies; music made by a thinking man for other thinking adults.
8. Perfect Symmetry, by Keane
They aren't afraid to try new things on each release, and this one pays off.

Also enjoyed: You Cross My Path, by The Charlatans; XV, by King's X; Ghosts I -IV, by NIN; Narrow Stairs, By Death Cab for Cutie; and Dig Out Your Soul, by Oasis.

Time to retire: R.E.M. Couldn't even listen to Accelerate all the way through once. These guys have sounded tired and uninspired since Up.

Dr. Tony Shore

I'm with you on the new solo album from Steve Wilson. Thank you SO much for turning me onto that! I ordered it immediately and have been listening to it non stop for the past 2 days. However, it doesn't really qualify for my Year End list because the official release isn't until next year and it has to be released on CD...that's just a rule that many of my music industry and music critic friends all have agreed on. But you're spot on, it would be number 1 or 2 for me if it had been released officially on CD in 2008 it would qualify. Man is it a great record! I'm absolutely loving it and can't listen to anything else right now! I like it more than Porcupine Tree! I know that may sound sacrilegious to some but I mean it. WOW! Thanks again for the tip.

Dr. Tony Shore

I'm also with you on REM. I think they're over with unless they can muster some life and creativity. The last good song they wrote/recorded was on Up, and that was a couple of albums ago... When I want to hear a truly great REM song or album I put on Automatic for the People. It's still their best in my humble opinion.

J. Parker

Tops of 2008

1 Cyndi Lauper - Bring you to the brink
2 Grace Jones - Hurricane
3 the Alarm - Guerrilla Tactics
4 Starflyer 59 - Dial M/Ghosts of the Future
5 Magne F - Dot of Black in the Blue of Your Bliss
6 Dolly Parton - Backwoods Barbie
7 Moby - Last Night & Remixes
8 Mick Hucknall - Tribute to Bobby
9 King's X - XV
10 Aimee Mann - @#$& Smilers
11 the Cure - 4:13 Dream
12 Juliet Turner - People Have Names
13 Sigur Ros - Med sud i eyrum vit spilum endlaust
14 Seventy Sevens - Holy Ghost Building
15 Sam Phillips - Don't Do Anything

Honorable mentions...
Byrne/Eno - Everything that happens will happen today
T-Bone Burnett - Tooth of Crime
Amorphous Androgynous - the Peppermint Tree & the Seeds of the Superconsciousness
kd lang - Watershed
Dave Stewart - Songbook Vol. 1
Morten Harket - Letters from Egypt
Lea Delaria - the Live smoke sessions
Durutti Column - Sunlight to Blue... Blue to Blackness
Alice Cooper - Along came a spider
Falco - Symphonic
Eric Gales - the story of my life
Jesse Sprinkle - Surrounded by Lights
Howard Jones - 25th Anniversary Concert

Reissues
Grateful Dead - Rocking the Cradle
Mark Heard - Artifacts... Vol 1&2
Thompson Twins - A Product of... /Set [FINALLY!]
Yaz(oo) - In your room
EVERYTHING by the Numero Group

Concerts
Rufus Wainwright in Royal Oak, MI
Sigur Ros in Detroit, MI
Sam Phillips in Ann Arbor, MI

Thaddeus Wert

Just to second you on Best Reissue - Darn Floor, Big Bite finally arrived in the mail today, and it lives up to the high praise you give it. "Earth Household" is a beautiful song, regardless of what decade it was recorded in, as is "Half Light, Epoch and Phase". I'm grateful to have a chance to listen to this amazing album.
Midget, Speck, and Molecule was also in that delivery, and it is some of Terry Taylor's best stuff. If it was a 2008 release, I'd put it in my top 10.

J. Parker

I love Darn Floor... probably my all time favorite DA album. I couldn't include it in my list, cuz I haven't gotten it yet... I reserve the right to amend my list at the last minute.

DaLe

DaLe's ToP CD's of 2008

77s 2008 - Holy Ghost Building
Woven Hand 2008 - Ten Stones
Starflyer 59 2008 - Dial M
The Get Rites 2008 - Tin Roof Sky
The Alarm 2008 - Guerilla Tactics
Def Leppard 2008 - Songs From The Sparkle Lounge
Jon Foreman 2008 - Limbs and Branches
Staci Frenes 2008 - Meteor Shower
Journey 2008 - Revelation
Kings Of Leon 2008 - Only By The Night

2008 NiCe but not ToP TeN...

Glenn Kaiser - 2008 - Octane
Jackie Greene 2008 - Giving Up The Ghost
Delirious 2008 - Kingdom Of Comfort
Children 18:3 2008 - Children 18:3
Michael Mcdonald 2008 - Soul Speak
Sam Phillips 2008 - Don't Do Anything
Thrice 2008 The Alchemy Index: Volume III + IV - Air & Earth
The Classic Crime - 2008 The Silver Cord


old songs released or re-released in 2008...

Daniel Amos 2008 - Darn Floor - Big Bite 20th DE
Bob Dylan 2008 - Tell Tale Signs the Bootleg Series 8
Carole King 2008 - Tapestry - Legacy Edition
Phil Keaggy 2008 - The Master And The Musician 30th Ann
U2 2008 - Boy, October, War DE

Coolest release of 2008
the violet burning 2008 - Divine (iMean Free!!!)

ToP eP's or bonus stuff..

Project 86 2008 - This Time Of Year EP
Jars of Clay 2008 - Closer EP
Sam Ashworth 2008 - Say What You Want To
Steven Delopoulos 2008 - Straightjacket B sides
Sixpence None the Richer 2008 - My Dear Machine

I have not heard Vampire Weekend, Death Cab For Cutie, Fleet Foxes, Duffy & some of the

other Buzz releases of 2008 etc... so maybe next year I will get too those?
iN my defense I have only HeaRD FOUR of tony's top 20... so maybe I would like them but...

DaLe

Tyler Burkum 2008 - Darling, Maybe Someday
iMissed this one, when I was cut & pasting...

Gentry

15 Albums I Enjoyed in 2008
The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride
Why? – Alopecia
Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
Sun Kil Moon - April
Magnetic Fields – Distortion
Kathleen Edwards - Asking For Flowers
Juana Molina – Un Dia
Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke
Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
Lambchop – OH (Ohio)
Jolie Holland – The Living and the Dead
Cranes – Cranes
Growing – All the Way
Destroyer - Trouble in Dreams

Dave

I'm intrigued by your description of Kyle Andrews' "fun and jerky" style, but I'd probably be more interested if it had been described as "fun and quirky." Guess I'll pass...

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