Well, the year is coming to an end once more, and already I start seeing 'best of 2008' lists all around. And this time, I've decided to look at what I have been listening these past 12 months, and gather a list of what were for me some of the best albums of 2008. It is not an homogeneous list whatsoever (nor should it be), so expect to see a couple of unfamiliar names here. If you get curious, just click the album cover to go to each band's myspace page to listen to some songs.
| ||Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles |
Really like these guys. They make electro-punk music, but with 8bit music elements. Of course, it didn't help the fact that they 'stole' some samples from some 8bit projects that had release their music in a Creative Commons license. They lost the respect from many people because of this, including mine... But that doesn't change that they made some pretty good music.
| ||Rome - Masse Mensch Material |
This neo-folk band from the Cold-Meat wagon has became a personal favorite as soon as they released their first album a couple of years ago. Some call it military pop, others neo-folk, and there is also some industrial influences in there, but it doesn't really matter, they make great music, with a definite pop twist. Joy Division, Nick Cave and Jacques Brel influences, great usage of samples, great lyrics, and a great voice (I've read "martial Tom Waits" somewhere). Extremely recommended!
| ||Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend |
This was one a favorite album everywher, so I guess there is no much need to talk about it. Indie rock with a positive summer-like attitude, some punk influences, and great music. Hated them at the beginning, but it grew on me...
| ||Werkraum - Early Love Music |
Great traditional folk albu, by a non-traditional folk artist. This is a collection of songs from all around Europe with some originals in the middle. There are even a couple of psychedelic folk moments in there. A very solid and pleasant album!
| ||Ida Maria - Fortress Round My Heart |
I'm just a sucker for a strong female voice. And Norwegian singer Ida Maria sure has one, together with lots of attitude. I got hooked in on a couple of songs of this punkish rock band, so this album has been keeping me company for a few months now.
| ||Hellsongs - Hymns In the key of 666 |
No, it's not a black metal band. Maybe death metal? Nope, it's not even metal at all, although the band do call their style 'lounge-metal'. These guys from Sweden decided to make acoustic versions of old metal hymns, sung by a warm female voice. We've got Iron Maiden, Megadeath, Black Sabbath and even Slayer! Where many failed, Hellsongs succeeded in making cover versions that stand on their own, and in some cases even improving on the original versions. Recommended for old metal-heads for nostalgic sake, or simply to people who are curious about what was that metal thing all about - without actually having to listen to metal music!
| ||Informatik - Beyond |
This year has been relatively poor in the EBM/Futurepop scene (at least from my point of view), but a couple of albums did stand out. Informatik's new album was one of them. What began as a quite standard project (looking at their previous releases), turned into somethng more interesting with this new album. They appear more mature, and brought a new sound, including even rock-like electric guitars, sometimes even reminding me of the electronic phase of Paradise Lost. Quite good!
| ||Dvar - Highlights of LightWave (Vol 1 and 2) |
Well, I've cheated on this one. It is not really a new album, it is more a best of compilation. I've just discovered this band recently, so there is no album that really has caught my attention in particular, so I guess it is fair to select a best of. Dvar is a Russian band doing what they call lightwave music (in opposition to darkwave). The music can be caractherized as strange, something appropriate for children with mental conditions. They sing in a made-up language, which they claim is what some goblins spoke to them in dreams. Some rumor about a curse concerning Dvar fans was enough to give them an edge, but the music stands on its own... For those with a (very) open mind!
| ||Okkervil River - The Stand Ins |
The Indie album of the year. I don't know much about these guys, I know they are from the US, they make this indie-folk-rock, and is just great. Reminds me of Beirut, but with less ethnic influences... Sad melodies, bright songs, smart lyrics. Nothing more.
| ||Sangre Cavallum - Veleno do Teixo |
Again, I cheat. This is not a 2008 album, but being the only Portuguese album I've really enjoyed this year, I've decided to include this here. Sangre Cavallum are a neo/traditional folk band from the north of Portugal, where they bring all the pagan culture of that region into music. They use traditional instruments, like bagpipes and accordion, together with electrical guitar and bass, which, together wih a very deep voice and the themes, myths and traditions from lost times, make this album one of my favorites of all time in this genre. Epic!
Lots of great stuff were not included, but you know how elitist these lists can be. This is one of many possible lists...
But when I see these other lists around the net, I cannot help but feeling that there must be lots of stuff that I should have listened... That's the problem with liking all sorts of music, and having a somewhat compulsive personality (know all, listen to all...). Well, there is always next year!
PS: if you have any suggestion regarding a band/album that I might have missed, I'd love to hear about it!