Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Blazing Top 50 of 2008: 20 to 11 [Day 4]

Almost There...

Alejandro Escovedo
Real Animal
Back Porch/Manhattan Records [2008]

Austin’s living legend Alejandro Escovedo made a huge comeback mentally and physically with his venom powered release Real Animal. After a life threatening battle with Hepatitis C Escovedo is a man on a mission with no regrets and on Real Animal he pushes forward to set the stage for an all new era. This record is full of foot taping sing along tracks that were his most accessible batch of songs in years.

Alejandro Escovedo Review [7/30/08] @ The Fire Note


The Heys
4 West Records [2008]

The Heys took us by surprise when we first played their debut because it is so straight forward and honest without trying. It has a raw energy that makes YoungBored&Broke so appealing while The Heys “rough around the edges” vibe makes every hand clap more lively, every melody ring truer and the need to see this band in a packed club seem dire. With a fresh spirit like the Arctic Monkeys and the artistic style of The Jam, The Heys created a fantastic debut that rocks timelessly and hums off into the night.

The Heys Review [5/26/08] @ The Fire Note

Los Campesinos!
We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
Arts & Crafts Records [2008]

We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed dropped approximately eight months after the bands debut full length Hold on Now, Youngster... [2008] hit the airways and it was just as infectious. Was it better? - not sure because both releases were stellar but I think that We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed drives the bands talent home and proves that the first record was no fluke because this record is fun, smart, creative and absolutely catchy with their sing a long indie pop, call outs that rev you up and the back n forth male / female vocals that get you on board with their style of rock right from the beginning.

Los Campesinos! Review [11/21/08] @ The Fire Note

Sun Kil Moon
Caldo Verde Records [2008]

Mark Kozelek and his new release April was dense, thoughtful, and mesmerizing. It has 11 tracks in an almost 74 minute running time, with the first two tracks taking about 20 of that. SunKil Moon’s subtle approach and strong lyrical weaving made you forget about the lengths and with the recruited backing guest vocalist of Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) lending their support April was destined for our Top 20.

Sun Kil Moon Review [4/18/08] @ The Fire Note


Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.
Kranky Records [2008]

Deerhunter made a splash into the scene last year on the critically hailed Cryptograms [2007] and have been described a million different ways from art-punk to ambient based on the track but their new double disc outing narrows the focus and I believe we can just label them a solid alternative band that has the capabilities to sound as much like Pavement as they can fellow noise-rockers Liars. This combo of Microcastle and it's second half or bonus disc Weird Era Cont. made for great repeat listens and propelled Deerhunter into a new artistic level that I am sure will secure their return on future countdowns!

Deerhunter Review [11/10/08] @ Fire Drills

The Seedy Seeds
Count The Days
Eurodorable Recordings [2008]

We are not lying when we tell you that you should love the Cincinnati duo The Seedy Seeds. It was just last summer when we were all crazy for The Seedy Seeds debut record Change States [2007] which landed at #8 on our Blazing Top 25 of 2007. It is no surprise that the follow up Count The Days also ends up in our best of list because Mike Ingram & Margaret Weiner continue their folktronic indie approach, while still incorporating the banjo, accordion and other miscellaneous musical items to offer up 12 more songs of upbeat harmonizing bliss. Just get onboard already!

The Seedy Seeds Review [11/11/o8] @ The Fire Note

Crystal Stilts
Alight Of Night
Slumberland Records [2008]

Brooklyn's Crystal Stilts debut full length Alight Of Night is full of buried vocals, hidden melodies and somewhat muffled instruments. It does not really sound like a formula to make the Top 50 but The Crystal Stilts are a band that stand out as totally unique in today's scene and Alight Of Night is an album that hands down gets better and better with every spin. The masked handclaps, Brad Hargett's distant, laid back and swaying vocals, the spooky organ that swirls around with several rockabilly undertones mixed together give you a giant sonic rush that land The Crystal Stilts unanimously in our Top 50!

Crystal Stilts Review [12/10/08] @ The Fire Note

The Hold Steady
Stay Positive
Vagrant Records [2008]

I'm not sure that The Hold Steady can release much that we don't like. Stay Positive is another completely exhilarating, energetic and rocking album that once again combines a classic rock vibe with a modern alternative edge all stitched together with intriguing lyrical play. This attention grabbing talent makes The Hold Steady completely addicting and Stay Positive another A+ record to their catalog. That is why it they are here again!

The Hold Steady Review [7/17/08] @ The Fire Note

The Seldom Seen Kid
Geffen Records [2008]

The Seldom Seen Kid
won the Mercury Prize this year and we are in total agreement with Elbow receiving the UK trophy because this band has released some stellar albums in their catalog but The Seldom Seen Kid is a career highlight. The solid bluesy romp of “Grounds For Divorce” was easily our single of the year and makes us plead that if you have never discovered Elbow before now, it is time! I guarantee that after taking The Seldom Seen Kid for a spin, Elbow simply will become one of your favorite bands.

Elbow Review [4/22/08] @ The Fire Note

Giant Sand
Yep Roc Records [2008]

After a four year absence, Howe Gelb and his musical vehicle Giant Sand returned with proVISIONS that ranked up there with some of his best work to date. Add in the special guests of Isobel Campbell, Neko Case and M. Ward plus a PJ Harvey cover with Gelb's slow brooding approach and narration to country tinged songs about loss and defeat made it the ideal headphone album to just soak in and recognize it as superb!

Giant Sand Review [8/28/08] @ The Fire Note