My list: The Top 5 albums of the year…

As I am officially not a music critic anymore but a wannabe (has-been? Wanna-not-be?), I don’t feel the compulsion to share my top 10 albums of the year with you, in carefully decided order.

As a person with a massive ego, however, I would like to give you my top five in no order, plus a mess of honorable mention… ready, here goes:

My Top 5 Albums of 2008:


  • For Emma, Forever Ago, Bon Iver: Like a lot of top 10 critical favorites this year, the album by Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, has been passed from publication to publication, blog to blog, as writers search for words like soulful, impassioned, etc. In this case, it’s well-deserved.
  • m83Saturdays=Youth, M83: A beautiful throwback album, not so much the music but the feeling. A joyous collection – and I can’t get Kim & Jessie out of my head right now.
  • standinsThe Stand-Ins, Okkervil River: Can Will Sheff make a misstep right now? Not musically anyway. I can’t speak for any other facet of his life.
  • saadiqThe Way I See It, Raphael Saadiq: Brilliant on so many levels, mostly as a celebration of what makes good soul music great.
  • dearscienceDear Science, TV On The Radio: People call My Morning Jacket America’s Radiohead. Wrong. MMJ is America’s U2 (Unforgettable Fire-style). TVOTR is America’s Radiohead – they make the most experimental stuff sound amazing.

Honorable Mention:

  • Attack & Release, Black Keys
  • In Ghost Colours, Cut Copy
  • Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, Drive-By Truckers
  • Feed The Animals, Girl Talk
  • Stay Positive, The Hold Steady
  • Asking For Flowers, Kathleen Edwards
  • Only By The Night, Kings Of Leon
  • Hold on Now, Youngster, Los Campesinos!
  • Oracular Spectacular, MGMT
  • Evil Urges, My Morning Jacket
  • Consolers of the Lonely, The Raconteurs
  • Parallel Play, Sloan
  • Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
  • You and Me, The Walkmen
  • The Week That Was, The Week That Was
  • Alopecia, Why?

Showtime: Spoon, The Walkmen, White Rabbits

Britt Daniel… the Tom Jones of the 21st century?

By the amount of bras flying onto the stage at Fort Lauderdale’s Revolution, the lead singer of Spoon looked like he might actually give the hip-swiveling Welshman a run for his money.

They couldn’t be more dissimilar. Tom Jones: burly, curly-haired, tan. Britt Daniel: pale, rangy, straight blond hair. And yet, no one could miss the magnetism Daniel projected to the crowd.

Spoon’s electrifying show completed a bill that went from strength to strength — White Rabbits and The Walkmen both played superb sets as well.

But clearly, Spoon was the band most folks had come to see. The Austin foursome has reached the point where an album release has become a celebratory event for its passionate fanbase. And a Spoon live show — something Fort Lauderdale hadn’t been experienced before — is basically a national holiday.

(I should know. I took the day off because of it.)

Much of Spoon’s 90-minute set came from the band’s last two albums — Gimme Fiction and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga — both of which may well end up being among the very best of this decade. It seemed as though Spoon could dig as deep as it wanted to on either of these albums and the crowd would totally be into it.

Daniel, longtime drummer Jim Eno, bassist Rob Pope and keyboardist Eric Harvey, also treated more established fans to songs from Girls Can Tell and Kill The Moonlight, albums released at the start of the decade. (Note to new Spoon fans — find these albums — hurt someone if you must — but find them.)

The Walkmen have also been widely acclaimed by critics, but seeing this band live is to see it at its best. Lead singer Hamilton Leithauser practically brings his vocals from the balls of his feet — and that’s a long way to go, because he’s a tall man. Behind him, hyper drumming by Matt Barrick set the music loose — I didn’t think it’d be possible to hear songs like “The Rat”, “Little House of Savages” or “Wake Up” any better played, but they are a treat live.

White Rabbits haven’t been around nearly as long as the other two bands on the bill, but the Columbia, Mo. sextet may well have that kind of staying power. Between the harmony vocals of Greg Roberts and Steve Patterson and the power and groove of songs like “Kid on My Shoulders”, I like their chances.