Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Blazing Top 50 of 2008: 30 to 21 [Day 3]


Ra Ra Riot
The Rhumb Line
Barsuk Records [2008]

In June of 2007, Ra Ra Riot's drummer/co-founder and co-writer John Pike was found dead after a show in Providence, RI. This tragic event could have been enough for this album to never see the light of day but instead became the drive for the remaining members to finish and release a solid product that Pike would have been proud of. Ra Ra Riot not only lived up to any hype the band once adorned but more importantly The Rhumb Line pays a honorable tribute to John Pike’s work and life.

Ra Ra Riot Review [8/19/08] @ The Fire Note

Crooked Fingers
Forfeit / Fortune
Red Pig/Constant Artists Inc. [2008]

Crooked Fingers has always been considered a side project of leader Eric Bachmann but Forfeit/Fortune finally brought the project full circle and released a record that is as colorful as it was catchy! It features an all-star indie cast of contributors like Brian Kotzur (Silver Jews), Tom Hagerman (Devotchka) lending some string parts and the best collaboration is the closing duet "Your Control" with the always superb Neko Case. Forfeit/Fortune is probably Bachmann's best attempt at commercial success and it turned out great.

Crooked Fingers Review [10/3/08] @ The Fire Note

Okkervil River
The Stand Ins
Jagjaguwar Records [2008

There was no expectation for this record following last years critically hailed The Stage Names (#1 on our Top 25 of 2007). Turned out that The Stand Ins was no throwaway and from the opening instrumental track leading into the catchy "Lost Coastlines", Okkervil River pulled out all the tricks and sound their most confident to date.

Okkervil River Review [9/9/08] @ The Fire Note

The Dutchess And The Duke
She's The Dutchess, He's The Duke
Hardly Art Records [2008]

Kimberly Morrison and Jesse Lortz make up the Seattle duo known as The Dutchess And The Duke. Their album is really simple that sounds dated with everything from the crackling vibe of vinyl to the spotty muffed vocals that were recorded over 8-track. She's The Dutchess, He's The Duke is an album that got better and more addictive with every spin while creating an electricity that hit you with harmonies and melodies that remained in your head long after this thirty minute adventure ended.

The Dutchess And The Duke Review [9/3/08] @ The Fire Note


Jay Reatard
Matador Singles '08
Matador Records [2008]

Jay Reatard signed to a major indie label and spent the year releasing 7" singles. Turns out they were pretty good and Matador Singles '08 collects all of them in one space and adds a bonus track which captures his crazy hyper lo-fi attack in one 33 minute package.

Jay Reatard Review [10/29/08] @ Fire Drills

The Trophy Fire
A Lifetime In The Middle Of The Ocean
Talking House Records [2008]

What The Trophy Fire accomplished on A Lifetime In The Middle Of The Ocean was to generate the illusion of being an upbeat bright album with a lot of bounce and angular guitar chords, when in reality it is a more hidden powerful piano-driven emo album with dark lyrics that entrance the listener. This entrancement carries through the completion of A Lifetime In The Middle Of The Ocean and made San Francisco's The Trophy Fire one of our surprise finds of the year!

The Trophy Fire Review [8/27/08] @ The Fire Note

Love Is All
A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night
Whats Your Rupture? Records [2008]

Love Is All simply destroyed the myth of the sophomore slump with the release of A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night because it is not only as catchy and cool as their debut Nine Times That Same Song [2006] but it may even be better. What took this record to the next level was the slightly cleaner production and more straight forward drums that allowed the catchy pop side of Love Is All shine out of the distortion as well as the snare beats that gave each track a clear tempo and showcases this band at the top of their game!

Love Is All Review [11/20/08] @ The Fire Note

The Republic Tigers
Keep Color
Chop Shop Records [2008]

Building on their excellent debut self-titled EP; The Republic Tigers released their full-length Keep Color, which held up to the hype and anticipation by offering another solid batch of textured symphonic pop that ranged from the strong pulses of Interpol to the more simplistic harmonies of The Shins. One common denominator for the record is singer Kenn Jankowsi’s soft and memorable vocals that lifted every track while being complemented by an array of instruments like accordion, trumpet, trombone, synthesizers and programmed strings that not only enhanced the experience but helped put Keep Color into the Top 25.

The Republic Tigers Review [4/30/08] @ The Fire Note


The Week That Was
The Week That Was
Memphis Industries [2008]

The Week That Was really is an extension of the former band Field Music lead by Peter Brewis. The bands self-titled debut differentiates itself by offering more complex song structures, intricate piano arrangements, background horn placement and an overall prog-rock approach. The Week That Was music direction follows some of the more experimental artists of past such as Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel, while keeping most of their tracks around the 3 and 4 minute mark and really offering something outside the conventions of most indie-guitar music. Not only a great album in 2008 but a band to watch for 2009!

The Week That Was Review [9/16/08] @ Fire Drills

Robert Pollard
Robert Pollard Is Off To Business
Guided By Voices, Inc. Records [2008]

With all of the output in this mans career his solo records always seems to just miss the mark of offering the complete package on a single album mostly due to his multitude of ideas and styles. Well Robert Pollard Is Off To Business tries to rectify that previous statement because it is a concise ten songs that includes big rock hitters like “Gratification To Concrete” and “To The Path!” plus the bouncy GBV like “Weatherman And Skin Goddess” with an average 3:30 for ten songs. This record is one of Pollard's all-time cleanest and slick sounding albums as well as one of his most focused and stellar vocal accomplishments since the GBV days. Easily worthy of its Top 25 inclusion!

Robert Pollard Review [6/16/08] @ The Fire Note