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TILT Music Blog – My Favorite Albums in 2008

Over the past few years I’ve been part of a music message board (Pulso Rock) where at the end of every year we post our individual favorite albums that we’ve listened to that particular year but released that same year.  It has slowly become a nice little tradition that we still continue.  So I decided to start documenting on my own blog my choices and perhaps give a little bit more information on my choices.   I will start with previous years and later on I’ll include my 2010 picks (considering I’m still adding to the list).  There will be albums in English and in Spanish and sometimes maybe even on another language.So I hope you enjoy my lists and share with me on the comments what have been your favorite albums of such years.  If you click on the artwork of each album you’ll be taken to the group’s MySpace page so you can listen to some of their music, if my two liners and the art entice you.  If you click on the artist’s name, for the ones that have a hyperlink, you can go to a previous review I’ve done about that particular group in my blog.

So remember the rules for these picks are:

a) It must be an album I listened to a lot that year.
b) The album needed to have been released that same year.

So let’s start reviewing albums:

1) Faded Paper Figures – Dynamo

This group following on what I think are the footsteps of the one time side project Postal Service fills a gap that I think was looking for some filling like golf hole looking for a ball.  It’s sweet, it’s upbeat, it’s full of melodies and a nice combination of keyboards and guitars with tender and sweet voices.  It’s one of those albums that 2 years later, I still listen to and I don’t grow tired of.  Without a doubt my best recommendation in English for the year 2008.

2) Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us

There’s two people.  Only two people in this indie rock group and they can make such harmonies with their vocals that is just kick me in ass fantastic.  Nice choruses, really well put together and nice hooks.  I’m sure seeing them live has to be a ball.  Oh yeah, and did I mention the two members are husband and wife? Talk about living rock and roll in that house.

3) Eef Barzelay – Lose Big

This guy has a curious name, but he makes even more curious music.  Lead singer of the group Clem Snide, Eef has this weird combination of a Corganesque voice mixed with a country music feeling.  It’s rock no matter how you paint it but it has soul and melancholy behind its electric tones.  I listened to this album a lot.

4) Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs

There’s little to say about this indie group.  Ben Gibbard is just one of the best musicians of this decade and DCFC just so happens to be his main vehicle to share that music.  This album has great lyrics, great songs, simple arrangements.  I saw them live in 2006 and I have to say that my mind was blown even though they looked like tiny ants from where I was sitting, but I flew to New York just to see them.  That ought a tell you how great I think they are.

5) The Magnetic Fields – Distortion

I’ll be honest, this is one of those groups where they can release whatever they want and odds are I’m going to end up liking it.  Since their previous release, they do take a Y turn here with a sound that is less polished and more well..distorted.  But Stephin Merrit will always find a way to blow the mind of those that have the lid sort of open already.  It’s a good album but not everybody will like it.

6) Plus Minus – X’s On Your Eyes

Remember above, when I said I traveled to NYC to see DCFC? Well on that same trip I decided to venture and see other groups.  One of those was Plus Minus.  Without a question the best live show I’ve seen EVER.  And it was a crappy joint, but the live performance was outstanding.  Since then I’ve followed them and when they released this album I was all over it for a long part of that year.

7) Tony Christie – Made In Scheffield

Here yo might say, one of these things don’t look like the others.  Tony is not a rock star, not even close.  He’s from the Bennet/Sinatra sound, only from the other side of the Atlantic.  This album took me off base when I came across it and I actually reviewed it on my blog because it was that wonderful.  His work with Richard Hawley is also something to talk about.  Overall a great old school vocal pop/jazz perhaps? I don’t really know what genre it belongs to other than awesome.

8 ) Styrofoam – A Thousand Words

This project of the Belgian Arne Van Petegem, also follows the glitch electronic pop sounds of the never revived again Postal Service that I always love to talk about.  It has nice melodies which I always enjoy, nice chorus lines and above all, great beats.  Most people find this album a little more commercial/accessible than his previous work but that doesn’t bother me.

9) I Am Robot And Proud – Uphill City

Some people might know I have an instrumental electro pop group which is one of my pride and joys and of course I’m always on the lookout for bands that fit that same description (not necessarily that sound the same).  I Am Robot fits sooo well in that description that I listened to this album all year long.  It’s playful sounds with a scent of oriental tones makes it worth the while to anybody that enjoys instrumental.  It’s just well made music.

10) Lonely Drifter Karen – Grass Is Singing

What a weird yet fascinating album.  This is not your typical indie band group.  First of all the lead singer, Tanja Frinta, has a unique vocal range that combined with it’s two other members who play an eclectic celebration of different music styles, that entertains with what they come up with.  They are from different areas of Europe and if I had to force them into a category I would have to make one up called Vocal Folk Pop.  I also reviewed this album in my blog.

11) Russian Red – I Love Your Glasses

Here’s an interesting case.  Lourdes Hernández, a folk singer/songwriter from Madrid, Spain who sings in English.  You couldn’t tell that by her accent and her style is pretty phenomenal in a minimalistic overview.  Just a guitar and her vocal cords and you need no more.  She has been compared to Feist, but I think she can stand on her own two feet.  The song Cigarettes is just magic.  Seriously.  Magic.

12) Da – Pulse Y Espere

After participating in many groups of the Spain’s rock circuit like Muy Poca Gente, Pulmón and the wonderful La Costa Brava, Dani Garuz decides to go solo and comes up with tunes of his own.  In this particular album he creates songs that really separate him from what he was doing before but maintaining his old fan-base and interesting a new generation of Spanish rock aficionados.

13) Manolo García – Saldremos A La Lluvia

You know how for some people in the old days, gentlemen would remove their hat as a sign of a formal greeting? Well for Manolo you must do that.  This guy has been in the music business since the early 80’s and has been part of one the most celebrated bands ever to come from Spain, El Último De La Fila.  He’s been a solo artist since the late nineties and this album, his latest maintains his position as one of the best rock singers with his unique poetry style of writing and his flamenco vibe.  Just formidable music.  Trust me on that.

14) Nagasaqui – Nagasaqui

This pop rock duo from Spain is part of the new generation of bands coming out that has some influence of the great bands of the 90’s but still trying to do their own thing.  I can’t say it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard, but it was catchy and I did listen to it a lot.  I think it had potential to grow even more but then again there are so many bands out there that sometimes being good is not good enough.  Anyways I liked it.

15) Sr. Chinarro – Ronrroneando

I have this thing about singers with a very deep low voice.  It just like it when they combine really melodic music with crisp arpeggio sounding guitars and this voice from the beyond that is still tuned to the music.  This group which musically reminds me to Los Planetas very much, has been around for a long time but this latest album is the most accessible to a general public.

16) The New Raemon – A Propósito De Garfunkel

This had to be without a doubt my best Spanish singing group discovered in 2008.   It was just a phenomenal album.  It was smart, it was funny, it was catchy, it was well put together.  Acoustic with electric in a folk sound that even the name clues you to, and you just find yourself singing along because it’s so well put together.  If I had to recommend one album from 2008 to those of you that like Spanish rock, it would be this one.  Pure awesomeness.

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