Albums We're Looking Forward To In 2009

Animal Collective

Here are some notable albums that are coming out in the first part of 2009. If there are any I'm missing that you're excited about leave it in the comments and I'll add it to the list.

Animal Collective "Merriweather Post Pavilion" (Domino)
Antony & the Johnsons "the Crying Light" (Secretly Canadian)
Devendra Banhart "Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon" (XL)
Bon Iver "Blood Band EP" (Jagjaguwar)
John Frusciante "the Empyrean"
Matt & Kim "Grand Label" (Fader)
A.C. Newman "Get Guilty" (Matador)
Odd Nosdam "T.I.M.E. Soundtrack" (Anticon)
Robert Pollard "Crawling Distance" (GBV, INC)
Six Organs of Admittance "RTZ" (Drag City)

Bird and the Bee "Ray Guns are not just the Future"
Andrew Bird "Noble Beast"
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez "Old Money" (Stones Throw)
Bruce Springsteen "Working on a Dream" (Columbia)

The Appleseed Cast "Sagarmaha" (Militia Group)
Handsome Furs "Face Control" (Sub Pop)
Ben Kweller "Changing Horses" (ATO)
P.O.S. "Never Better" (Rhymesayers)
Phosphorescent "To Willie" (Dead Oceans)

Lily Allen "It's Not Me, Its You" (Regal/Universal)
Dan Auerbach "Keep it Hid" (Nonesuch)
Missy Elliott "Block Party" (Elektra)
Mos Def "the Ecstatic"

Asobi Seksu "Hush" (Polyvinyl)
Beirut "March of the Zapotec" (Pompeii)
Morrissey "Years of Refusal" (Attack/Lost Highway)
Vetiver "Tight Knit" (Sub Pop)
M. Ward "Hold Time" (Merge)
Weird Owl "Ever the Silver Cord be Loosed" (Tee Pee)
William Elliott Whitmore "Animals in the Dark" (Anti)

Black Lips "200 Million Thousand" (Vice)

Boy Least Likely To "Law of the Playground" (+1 Records)
Neko Case "Middle Cyclone" (Anti)
U2 "No Line on the Horizon" (Island)

Architecture in Helsinki "That Beep" (Polyvinyl)
Condo Fucks (aka Yo La Tengo) "Fuckbook" (Matador)

Bonnie Prince Billy "Beware!" (Drag City)

The Decemberists "Hazards of Love" (Capitol)
Dan Deacon "Bromst" (Carpark)
Mirah "(a)spera" (K)

PJ Harvey & John Parrish "A Woman A Man Walked By" (Island)

Lady Sovereign "Jigsaw" (Midget)
Thermals "Now we can See" (Kill Rock Stars)

Grizzly Bear "TBA" (Warp)

Other notable albums without release dates
Dirty Projectors "TBA" (Domino)
Yeah Yeah Yeah's "TBA" (Interscope)
Kings of Convenience "Quiet Is The New Loud"
Blikk Fang (MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden & Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes) "TBA"
Mastadon "Crack The Skye" (Warner Bros/Reprise)
Doves "TBA" (Astralwerks)
Midlake "Courage Of Others"



The Best Albums of 2008 (25-1)

25. Deerhunter - Microcastle

After hearing people go on and on about the overrated Cryptograms I was a little hesitant to give this a listen considering how much hype Deerhunter gets. Turns out they actually put out a pretty listenable album (in Deerhunter terms). This is definitely an "album" where it's better to listen in one sitting.

Best Song: 'Never Stops'

24. Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust

Sigur Ros continues to put out quality album after quality album. This one is possibly the most pop friendly that Sigur Ros has ever sounded and there is even a song sung in English.

Best Songs: 'Gobbledigook' 'Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur'

23. Cloud Cult - Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)

I didn't know too much about this band previously but when I found out they tour in a biodiesel van and use recycled and sustainable materials in their CD packaging AND the group's profits are donated to charity, it's hard not to be intrigued. Turns out they make pretty good music too.

Best Songs: 'No One Said It Would Be Easy' 'Everybody Here Is A Cloud'

22. The Whigs - Mission Control

Athens, GA trio The Whigs are a straight up rock band in the classic sense. There isn't any flashy production or anything like that, just great rock tunes in the same vein as Guided By Voices or The Replacements.

Best Songs: 'Right Hand On My Heart' 'Like A Vibration'

21. TV on the Radio - Dear Science

Even though this album almost made it to the Top 20, it's still a bit of a disappointment. Return To Cookie Mountain is in my top 5 albums of this decade, so almost anything that follows that would probably be a bit disappointing though.

Best Songs: 'Halfway Home' 'Golden Age'

20. Horse Feathers - House With No Home

Horse Feathers album House With No Home is the perfect winter album. It's hushed and luscious and beautiful. I've always been a pretty big fan of this kind of stuff though and I know it isn't everyone's thing, but if you like mellow folk-type music, check it out.

Best Songs: 'Working Poor' 'Curs in the Weeds'

19. Department of Eagles - In Ear Park

Turns out that the greatness that is the band Grizzly Bear has too much of it to contain and it's spilled out into Department of Eagles. This is a fantastic album but it's so high on this list because 'No One Does It Like You' is one of (if not, THE) best song(s) of the year.

Best Song: 'No One Does It Like You'

18. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

Let it be known that this is easily the worst of the four full-length albums from The Hold Steady. The fact that it's still number 18 on the list should tell you how good their first three records are. This is one of those bands that can do no wrong in my eyes.

Best Songs: 'Stay Positive' 'Sequestered In Memphis'

17. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

This record stayed up in my top 10 for most of the year until a few last minute editions pushed it down a bit. I still stand by the fact that this is a great record, no matter how bad they are in concert.

Best Songs: 'Weekend Wars' 'Kids' 'Electric Feel'

16. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

Wolf Parade's sophomore effort isn't nearly as good as their debut, but that's okay because they didn't fall into the trap of repeating what they've already done for their second record. Spencer Krug is another musician that can do no wrong in my eyes and this record keeps his streak going.

Best Songs: 'California Dreamer' 'Kissing The Beehive'

15. The Dodos - Visiter

Not too many bands are able to re-invent the wheel like The Dodos did with Visiter. You could throw any number of descriptions of The Dodos out and most would fit: Bluegrass, Folk, Indie, even elements of Metal find their way into this album. Biggest regret of '08: Missing The Dodos at The Replay in Lawrence.

Best Songs: 'Walking' 'Fools'

14. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins

I'm waiting for Okkervil River to put out a bad or even a below-average record. No one writes songs or sings them as emotionally charged as Will Sheff...and The Stand Ins is going to continue the streak.

Best Songs: 'Lost Coastlines' 'Pop Lie'

13. Dr. Dog - Fate

Philadelphia's Dr. Dog definitely wear their influences on their sleeves. You can certainly find something to like here whether it's the Beatles influences or even The Band. Their previous albums have shown signs of greatness but the songwriting never came full circle until Fate.

Best Songs: 'The Old Days' 'The Ark'

12. Portishead - Third

The triumphant return of Portishead! I've been waiting a long time for a new Portishead album and this doesn't disappoint. Sure, it doesn't sound much like their previous stuff, but I would be disappointed if it did. Beth Gibbons is the star here and her vocal abilities are the center point of a fabulous "come back" record.

Best Songs: 'The Rip' 'Machine Gun'

11. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

It's no surprise that these guys hail from the home of The Boss. Like Bruce, DBT and bands like Lucero and Social D, these guys write honest rock tunes with great lyrics. This was the last edition to my top albums list and it made it pretty far down the list.

Best Songs: 'Great Expectations' 'The '59 Sound'

10. M83 - Saturdays=Youth

As much credibility as I might lose, I'm not afraid to admit that I love 80's music. Pretty much anything with a melody and a synthesizer I probably listen(ed) to. This tribute to 80's music and culture is the perfect album from M83. Everything I like about this band can be boiled down into this record.

Best Songs: 'Kim & Jessie' 'Graveyard Girl'

9. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

If you don't know or own anything by Nick Cave, then I feel kinda bad for you. This dude has been around a long time now and has never compromised anything artistically. He's still putting out records as good as he did 20 years ago.

Best Song: 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!'

8. Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair

If you don't like disco and dance music, please look away. If you do you need to pick up this album immediately. I've been a huge fan of Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons, so his appearance here lending his vocals to dance tracks is pretty much perfection in my eyes.

Best Songs: 'Blind' 'Hercules Theme'

7. The Tallest Man On Earth - Shallow Graves

The Tallest Man On Earth is Sweden's own Kristian Matsson. Although this is another mellow, folkey album I can't express how good it is. The voice is definitely reminiscent of Bob Dylan and the songs are just outstanding. I haven't really taken this one out of rotation since I picked it up a few months ago.

Best Songs: 'Into The Stream' 'I Won't Be Found'

6. Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue

Surprise, Surprise...another extremely satisfying debut album from a Montreal band. Plants and Animals can tend to be a bit all over the place, like fellow Canadians Broken Social Scene, but this album is solid from beginning to end. I would find it hard to believe if someone said they couldn't find at least one song on this album that they liked.

Best Songs: 'Feedback In The Field' 'Good Friend'

5. The Walkmen - You & Me

After the extremely disappointing A Hundred Miles Off I didn't have too many expectations of The Walkmen's latest effort. This however, turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the year. I can't say enough good things about this record...it's the perfect companion to a late night and a bottle of whiskey.

Best Songs: 'In The New Year' 'Four Provinces' 'New Country'

4. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

Cut Copy is exactly the type of band that I love. They are obviously a dance-pop group, but they definitely have an indie-rock sensibility to their songwriting. This is an album that is great from beginning to end, I never find myself skipping any songs when listening to it.

Best Songs: 'Lights & Music' 'Feel The Love' 'Hearts On Fire'

3. Blitzen Trapper - Furr

As scattered and patchy as their last album was, you could hear hints of greatness throughout. This is that potential greatness coming to fruition. It sounds like AM-era Wilco at times, but if you know me, that isn't anything but the highest compliment.

Best Songs: 'Sleepytime In The Western World' 'Furr' 'Black River Killer'

2. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

This album was technically self-released in 2007 but didn't get released by a label till this year. Since I wasn't able to get a copy until that label release, I'm including it on this years list. There isn't too much I can say about Bon Iver that hasn't already been said, so if you don't already own this record...please go buy it, you won't be disappointed.

Best Songs: 'Skinny Love' 'Flume' 'Creature Fear'

1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

If you've read this blog before, there's no doubt you've noticed our affinity for Fleet Foxes. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for any music that can be classified as Americana and this hits that spot dead-on. The best description i've read of this band is that they are a "Glory-hole of harmonies". I could go on about them but I won't....every blogger and critic already has written enough...just get the record.

Best Songs: 'White Winter Hymnal' 'He Doesn't Know Why' 'Blue Ridge Mountains'



Concert Announcements: William Elliott Whitmore, Morrissey

A couple of shows of note here. First, William Elliott Whitmore will be making his way to Lawrence on February 23rd. If you aren't familiar with him, think a mix of Tom Waits and Johnny Cash. Sounds good, huh? His last album, 2006's Song Of The Blackbird, was definitely one of my favorites of that year and his new album, Animals In The Dark, will be released on February 17th.

Also coming to town is Morrissey who will be at The Midland Theater in KC on April 7th. Moz will be touring in support of his newest album, Years Of Refusal, which is also out on February 17th.

William Elliott Whitmore Myspace
Morrissey Myspace



The Best Albums of 2008 (50-26)

50. Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

The number 50 spot was between the two albums that Wales' Los Campesinos! released this year. Ultimately the most recent won out, maybe because it's more fresh in my mind, but really because it's a much stronger overall album than Hold On Now, Youngster.

Best Song: 'We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed'

49. Sun Kil Moon - April

This one would have made it a lot further down the list if it hadn't been a bit too long. Nothing could top Sun Kil Moon's classic Ghosts of the Great Highway, but this one comes as close as they may ever come again.

Best Song: Moorestown

48. I'm From Barcelona - Who Killed Harry Houdini?

This is a really mellow release in comparison to last years Let Me Introduce My Friends which was a little over the top at times. Although the songs aren't as catchy on this sophomore follow-up, the songwriting is definitely maturing.

Best Song: 'Paper Planes'

47. She & Him - Volume One

M. Ward's project with Zooey Deschanel is certainly getting plenty of praise (it was named Paste's Album of the Year). It's a throw back to the sounds of 60's and 70's AM radio and although it isn't as challenging as I like my music to be, it certainly goes down smoothly.

Best Song: 'Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?'

46. Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls

The only thing that keeps me from absolutely loving this album, is it just sounds way under-produced. I know that's sort-of the point, but it really keeps me from enjoying this Beach Boys/Phil Spector influenced album as much as I should.

Best Song: 'Where Do You Run'

45. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight

Scotland's Frightened Rabbit have put out a solid indie-folk rock album that continues my obsession with listening to singers with Scottish accents (last year was The Twilight Sad).

Best Song: 'Old Old Fashioned'

44. Love Is All - A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night

Once again, this is definitely a step-up maturity and songwriting wise for the sophomore effort of Love Is All. The songs aren't as catchy, but they are must more rewarding after repeat listens.

Best Song: 'Last Choice'

43. Calexico - Carried To Dust

After spinning Calexico's newest album a couple of times, I thought this was gonna be the first miss-step in Calexico's long career. Turns out this is just one album that needs repeat listens to seep into your subconscious.

Best Song: 'The News About William'

42. Dungen - 4

Swedish psych-garage rockers Dungen have released what appears to be their most accessible album to date. This albums is a bit all over the place with piano laced jazz jams which are a new edition into Dungen's repertoire.

Best Song: 'Det Tar Did'

41. David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

Any pairing between two geniuses of music like David Byrne and Brian Eno would have to be absolute crap not to make it on a list here. Just like you'd expect this record just feels like a sweater you've owned for a decade, it feels like "home".

Best Song: 'Strange Overtones'

40. Jay Reatard - Matador Singles '08

So, this album isn't a proper album but more so a collection of various singles that Jay released on his label, Matador. The fact that there isn't a week song on this collection of pop-punk hits will allow me to overlook that whole "not an actual album" thing.

Best Song: 'Always Wanting More'

39. Little Joy - Little Joy

Little Joy is the perfect Sunday Morning record. There isn't a whole lot challenging here but it's an easy album to take in. The albums influences touch everywhere from Brazilian to Calypso, and almost everything in between. This will definitely do until the next Strokes album.

Best Song: 'The Next Time Around'

38. Why? - Alopecia

Who knew that anyone from the Anticon camp would become a solid indie-rock artist. Although there are traces of that Anticon weirdness that I came to know and love over the past 15 years left around, Why?'s doing his own thing right now and it appears to be hitting the right chords with music fans.

Best Song: 'The Vowels Pt. 2'

37. Evangelicals - The Evening Descends

Norman, Oklahoma's Evangelicals are definitely cut from the same cloth as fellow Oklahomans The Flaming Lips and Starlight Mints, meaning that they are a little weird. If you think the cover looks like a still frame from a 70's B-movie horror flick, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that much of the album sounds like the soundtrack from a horror flick.

Best Songs: 'Skeleton Man' 'Midnight Vingette'

36. Constantines - Kensington Heights

Canada's answer to DBT & The Hold Steady have done better. This may be Constantines' worst album out of their four full-lengths is still the 36th best album of 2008....now what does that say about their first three albums?

Best Songs: 'Hard Feelings' 'Our Age'

35. Parts & Labor - Receivers

Brooklyn, New York pops out quality bands faster than Canada. This is definitely one that would have slipped past me if my compadre Kevin hadn't given me a copy. Although their previous albums have hung them with the noise-rock genre tag, the songs contained on Receivers are quite melodic and tune-full.

Best Song: 'Nowheres Nigh'

34. Lykke Li - Youth Novels

Another Swedish pop star. Lykke Li has had her fair share of hype from many blogs and music critics but she is one musician that in my opinion, has lived up to the hype. Crafting perfect and sweet pop tunes, Lykke Li's debut shows as much promise as any other debut albums we heard this year.

Best Songs: 'Dance Dance Dance' 'I'm Good, I'm Gone'

33. Black Mountain - In The Future

As much as we liked Black Mountain's debut album, this is definitely the direction I was hoping they'd go. The album is as dark and heavy as the Sabbath influenced debut, and this time they even wrote a ballad. They are a don't miss live band as well if you have the opportunity to see them.

Best Songs: 'Stormy High' 'Stay Free'

32. Chairlift - Does You Inspire You

If you take away the out of place and over-played 'Bruises' (made famous thanks to it's placement in an iPod commercial) you have a near-perfect dark synth masterpiece. There is some much to love on this album I kept coming back and it kept moving up and up my albums of the year list.

Best Songs: 'Planet Health' 'Evident Utensil'

31. Clinic - Do It!

Liverpool band Clinic are another one that have never allowed people to pin them down to one style or genre. Their most recent effort finds them doing the garage rock thing and finds them doing it as well as anyone else is.

Best Song: 'The Witch'

30. British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?

I always had a hard time really liking this band until now. Their debut showed flashes of post-rock brilliance where their sophomore effort was over-produced and above-average at best. They decided to go the route of Arcade Fire and (long before them) U2 and play epic and sweeping rock tunes. This is by far their most consistent and greatest album to date.

Best Song: 'Waiving Flags'

29. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III

I wanted to hate this album. Whenever Pitchfork and hipsters get behind a hip-hop artist that seems out of their wheelhouse, I can be a little skeptical (see Clipse a few years ago). The first time I listened to this album I was extremely underwhelmed and couldn't believe how many people were talking about this record. After coming back to it a month later, I've realized that Lil Wayne is pretty brilliant and this record is solid (but not as GREAT as everyone else is saying).

Best Songs: 'A Milli' 'Mr. Carter'

28. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges

It absolutely kills me to have to put a My Morning Jacket record this low on my list. Probably my favorite band around these days, this is by far their worst album ever. There are three or four great songs, but the rest of it fails to do much for me. Those three or four great tunes can stand with the rest of their catalog, but the rest of this album misses the mark.

Best Songs: 'Touch Me I'm Going To Scream pt. 2' 'Highly Suspicious'

27. Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life

One of our favorite albums covers and titles of the year. Although the cover and album may be quite beautiful, the music is just the opposite. Canada's Fucked Up may be the best hardcore band i've heard in years and although the music may be abrasive, there is a melodic nature to it that you almost never find with hardcore.

Best Songs: 'Son the Father' 'Magic Word'

26. Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark

I had the sinking feeling that one of my previous favorite bands, Drive-By Truckers, has lost that thing I loved with the loss of guitarist/songwriter Jason Isbell and the release of the extremely mediocre A Blessing and A Curse. Turns out I may not miss Isbell as much as I thought because Brighter Than Creation's Dark contains plenty of what DBT does best...the most honest and powerful storytelling in rock music today.

Best Song: 'Two Daughters and A Beautiful Wife'

Stay tuned for albums 25-1...