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Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Well it's that time of the year again; the time of year when everyone makes seasonal lists, and the best that I can do is my favourite albums of the year. Guaranteed to annoy Nick Redfern (who doesn't like ow't but noise `77esque punk), and my Wife and younger stepdaughter (who are metalheads of various types), or Graham (if is isn't Hawkwind or Rupie Edwards it doesn't count) or Gothboy, my tastes have their closest neighbour in the intended of my elder stepdaughter, who has startlingly similar tastes to me.

1 Brian Wilson That Lucky Old Sun

This - with no arguments is my album of the year. It is so much better than it has any right to be, and disproves all the arguments that the poor old bugger is being manipulated by The Wondermints. Ofcourse he's mad. I'm mad, you're mad, we're all mad....but the spirit that wrote
Heros and Villains is still alive and kicking. Roll on the next one.

2 Brett Anderson Wilderness

Last year's debut was lush and glorious and was my record of the year. This year's model is stripped down and intimate, sounding like Brett is just sitting around your living room with a cellist and a piano player. There are even microphone pops and studio chattery things. Still magnificent, though possibly not quite as good as the debut

3 British Sea Power Do You Like Rock Music?

Fantastic band which get better and better with each succesive album as they plough their own initable furrow. This is possibly slightly less conventional than their second album, but still absolutely magnificent. Songs about floods and great skuas. How can you miss them?

4 Al Stewart Sparks of Ancient Light

Just what one expected but no less the entertaining for that. Al has produced just another Al Stewart album, but so what? If you like what he does, and I do... It is wonderful. There isn't a duff track on there, and although there isn't anything quite as good as Royal Courtship from his last album, or The Night that the band had the Wine from Down in the Cellar, who cares? Masterful

5 Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip Angles

Nope, Thou shalt always kill was not a one off. This record can't make up its mind whether its perpetrators are a novelty act or the 21st Century analogue of one of the 60s beat poets, and is all the better for it. I for one can't wait to see what happens next.

6 Dengue Fever Venus on Earth

Psychedelically twinged Cambodian rock/pop music with weird twiddly bits. The previous album Escape from Dragon was perhaps slightly better, but this is masterful. Great fun for all the family (especially the stoned ones)

7 The Last Shadow Puppets The Age of the Understatement

I am mildly embarrassed putting this up as one of my favourite albums, because so has every other reviewer on the planet. However I don't care if it is a side project of whathisname from the Arctic Monkeys because I have never been impressed by them. However this has the vibe of some of the lesser songs from Scott 2 and is well worth a listen if in retro mode...

8 Goldfrapp 7th Tree

Electrovixen goes folky! So read all the reviews backalong when the album first came out. They missed the point. Goldfrapp's songs have always had a traditional folky structure, which is probably why I like them. This is good, tho perhaps not quite as good as everyone (including the band) like to think.

9 Laura Marling Alas I cannot Swim

These are the days of the sassy and intelligent female singer-songwriter, and Laura Marling is perhaps the best of the bunch. Highly recommended if you like that sort of thing, and in certain moods I do.

10 Bon Iver For Emma forever Ago

Everyone and his dog has lauded this album as a masterpeice, and I have to admit that I didn't get it at all. Then I listened to it one cold winter's day when I was feeling sorry for myself and found it a perfect soundtrack. It is too resolutely lo-fi for my tastes, but it does press the right buttons.


Nick Redfern said...

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...

Neil A said...

And no Oasis "Dig Out Your Soul".... :-(

Good on Corinna and your stepdaughter for having heavy metal in their veins...some of the best albums ever are metal gems Jon! 666 'n' all that...I admit to bein' stuck in the mid-'80s metal timewarp when album covers meant everything, I read 'Fighting Fantasy' books, and Satan was real!

Have to say, that some of my albums of the year are:

Motley Crue: Saints Of Los Angeles
Paul Weller: 22 Dreams
Darkthrone: Darkthrones & Black Flags
Pink: Funmhouse (okay, it's not a great album but in the video for 'Sober' the sexiest of singers get's it on with herself...so who can argue with that!

Jason Korbus said...

While Nick and I have pretty much the exact same taste in music, I can appreciate Brian Wilson. The Beach Boys are among my favorite bands ever! Thanks, Jon, for putting out this list. And thank you for your work with the CFZ.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

I used to love the KLF! Shame they left the music business to burn a £million of their money and make it into a work of art. Why? Surely paints, brushes and a canvas would be a cheaper method!

ricardo said...

Jon, Thanks for the heads up on the British Sea Power album. I downloaded it on your recommendation and it really is great. Rick

Nick Redfern said...


I like Motley Crue too, and you're right: Saints of Los Angeles is a real return to form. Have you read Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries book? He was in Dallas recently signing copies. It's a cool book.

G L Wilson said...

I agree with your choice of Brain Wilson's "That Lucky Old Sun" in the pole position.

Best Reissue of the year, in my estimation, was his brother Dennis Wilson's "Pacific Ocean Blue" - a beautiful album.

(I'm not related, btw, in case you suspect a family bias!)

JON DOWNES said...

Pacific Ocean Blue is an absolutely fantastic album and criminally under-rated. I am not as fond of the `Bambu` tracks tho...