Grammy Time! Best Music of 2008!

Tomorrow night, we get my favorite awards show – The Grammys.

What was your favorite music from 2008? Here’s a clip of one of my favorite songs and then, below the fold, I’ll give you 10 picks for best album and a list of 20 best songs.


The Best Albums of 2008

1. The Raconteurs – “Consolers of the Lonely.” Rocks from beginning to end. Of course, you have Jack White’s incredible guitar playing, but it may be Brendan Benson’s vocals and songwriting that takes this album over the top.

2. Macswain’s NeoSoul Mix. This mix includes: Adele (“Chasing Pavements,” “Hometown Glory,” “Right As Rain,” & “Melt My Heart to Stone”), Duffy (“Stepping Stone,” “Warwick Avenue,” “Hanging on Too Long,” “Syrup & Honey,” & “Mercy”), Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings (“Tell Me,” “Something’s Changed”), Little Jackie (“The Stoop,” & “Cryin’ for the Queen”), and James Morrison (“Nothing Ever Hurt Like You”).

Obviously, I’m cheating here. Some say the album as an art form is dead. I won’t go that far, but more and more I find myself downloading chunks of albums and avoiding the filler that plagues so many. This year was loaded with a slew of soul albums that may not have been great, in and of themselves, but contained great chunks of songs that I packaged together into a phenomenal “album.”

3. Los Campesinos – “Hold On Now, Youngster” and “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed.” This great new band would’ve made the list with just their first album. But when they knocked out a second stellar set late in the year, they proved themselves worthy of the top 5.

4. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Real Emotional Trash.” This is the album as art form. Most of the tunes are extended (prog-rockish?) to give the musicians room to stretch out. Janet Weis is a star on drums as are Malmus’ melodic guitar riffs.

5. Santogold – “Santogold.” Santogold takes on numerous styles without making a muddle. Solid throughout, this set is the soundtrack for urban America circa 2008.

6. Ra Ra Riot – “The Rhumb Line.” Fun stuff from a new band, certain to be darlings of the college music scene.

7. Drive-By Truckers – “Brighter Than Creations Dark.” This band is a Macswain ATF. Everyone expected a stumble with the loss of Jason Isbell from the lineup. Instead, we got this great step up as Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley proved they could write more great songs without any loss in quality.

8. The Hold Steady – “Stay Positive.” The master storytellers. This album is the marriage of great short story writing (very Raymond Carver) and great musicianship.

9. Tift Merritt – “Another Country.” Female alt-country singers are my weaknes. This album is sexy, melodic and strong throughout.

10. She & Him – “Volume One.” Indie fave, M. Ward, paired up with actress Zooey Deschanel (remember her singing in “Elf”) for this set … and, for a large part of the album, it works. Ward lays down some classic tunes and Zooey’s voice is beautiful. Get “Sentimental Heart,” “”Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?,” “Change is Hard,” “Take It Back,” “I Was Made for You,” & “Sweet Darlin’.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Okkervil River, The Uglysuit, The Gaslight Anthem, Rodney Crowell, Black Milk

Best Songs of 2008
1. The Raconteurs – “Many Shades of Black.”
2. M.I.A. – “Paper Planes.”
3. She & Him – “Sentimental Heart.”
4. Duffy – “Stepping Stone.”
5. Flobots – “Handlebars.”
6. Carolina Liar – “I’m Not Over.”
7. Adele – “Chasing Pavements.”
8. Santogold – “Lights Out”
9. James Morrison – “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You.”
10. Marah – “Angels on a Passing Train.”
11. Death Cab for Cutie – “Cath…”
12. Tift Merritt – “Broken.”
13. Adele – “Hometown Glory.”
14. Duffy – “Warwick Avenue.”
15. One Republic – “Apologize” or “Stop & Stare.”
16. The Raconteurs – “You Don’t Understand Me.”
17. Vampire Weekend – “A-Punk.”
18. Black Milk – “Long Story Short” or “Losing Out.”
19. Cat Power – “I Believe In You.”
20. Chatham County Line – “Chip of a Star” or “Sweet Eviction.”

The Grammy’s success is predicated on great musical performances. The sound system is tight and the backing support offered to the musicians – strings, horns, top studio musicians – allows them to sound better than ever.

Here’s an article previewing the performances. Personally, I’m looking forward to the Lil Wayne piece and the Bo Diddley tribute with Buddy Guy and John Mayer. Buddy Guy is the greatest guitarist I’ve ever seen live and don’t be fooled by Mayer’s pretty boy-ness and celebrity bangin’ antics.  He can shred.   Here’s a taste:


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