Category Archives: 2008 Favorites

Favorite Albums of 2008 by Andrew Patton

Marco Benevento (photo by Greg Aiello)

Yessir, it’s been another year, and one that boasted its fair share of fair jams.  Therefore, I have made my annual stab at a list of favorites. Despite any misgivings, I think I have assembled a list of albums that hit me in the right spot at the right time in order to merit a place in my heart.  Please enjoy.

Also, please note that following my Top 15 is a list of my 10 favorite Columbus records of 2008.  Our humble burg cranked out a triumphant pile of tasty crowd pleasers this year, so I was moved to reinstate that list from last year’s absence.

1. Marco Benevento, Invisible Baby
This is the album that I have patiently anticipated from Marco since the Benevento/Russo Duo album Best Reason To Buy The Sun hit me so hard in 2005. After making his first solo splash with the sprawling and just way-too-ridiculous triple-disc Live At Tonic, he returned in 2008 with a focused and concise (well, at least by his standards) studio album that regained the articulate yet playful bombast that the Duo album possessed in 2005. A showcase of technicality and technology, Invisible Baby displays Benevento’s masterful techniques with pianos, keyboards, and boatloads of effects, complimented by relatively basic bass and drums accompaniment. He carefully resists the urge to go overboard, and instead slowly builds and layers melodies towards majestic and unexpected climaxes. Though the victory march of “Bus Ride” and the ice cream truck on a sunny day jam “The Real Morning Party” are my favorites here, all of the songs add variety and emotion to the proceedings.
MP3: Atari | Buy from label

The Real Morning Party Video
YouTube Preview Image
2. SSM, Break Your Arm For Evolution
The Detroit boys’ second full-length record on Alive Records contains more of the sarcastic clatter of their beloved debut, but with further explorations into a plethora of messy sounds. The tunes range from rock anthems to dance-punk ditties to lo-fi funk nuggets, and with sassy lyrics like “You were only living the life/bitches to the left, bitches to the right,” what’s not to love?
MP3: Start Dancing | Buy from label
3. Black Kids, Partie Traumatic
Parallel with the conundrums caused by bands like the Black Angels and Silversun Pickups in years past, this Jacksonsville quintet dropped a full-length that contained all of the songs from their previous EP, an EP ranked highly by yours truly. They helped their position by giving the four old songs the major label touchup, so the snarky energy and catchiness of the album won out over any internal quibblings. New breakthroughs like “Listen To Your Body Tonight” and “I’m Making Eyes At You” are what proved that the band had enough bounciness and catchiness to round out a full album.
Video: Hurricane Jane | Buy on Amazon
4. Empire Of The Sun, Walking On A Dream
The first legitimate newcomer to this list, this Aussie duo’s album caught my attention in the last month and has kept a stranglehold on it since. With their smoother crooning and production on one hand and their more outrageous ’80s aping on the other, these guys have managed to out-MGMT MGMT in my brain. The lyric “Don’t want to talk, all I hear is noise” often makes sense to me. Hopefully this is released domestically soon.
Video: Walking On A Dream
5. The Kyle Sowashes, Yeah Buddy!
Kyle Sowash, a Columbus musician and promoter for the ages, and his self-named band released their second album in 2008 to fine results. Kyle wears his emotions on his sleeve, and turns his stories and dreams into ramshackle “classic indie rock” singalongs. While the songs range from heartbreaking to hilarious, the hooks and the solid playing of the ensemble tie them together.
MP3: Korea | Buy from label | Donewaiting review
6. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular
I know, they weren’t out-MGMT’d by much. These wacky dudes’ album is a bit more gnarled than Walking On The Sun, but the quirky catchiness of these tunes keeps them on repeat. They also show some range in moving from dance jams to acoustic singalongs, while hitting most BPMs in between.
Video: Electric Feel | Buy on Amazon
7. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
This is where the list stumbles along on $ellout autopilot…no no, I love this album. I grew up listening to Graceland, so while the guys might have drawn some inspiration there, they have created new worldly anthems for the youngsters. While the album is frontloaded with “hits,” album cuts like “One (Blake’s Got A New Face)” and “Walcott” are also brimming with smug charm.
Video: The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance (Live with Chromeo) | Buy on Amazon
8. Mors Ontologica, The Used Kids Session
Alright, let’s get back to the grime in the shadows. These Mike Rep-recorded lo-fi jams started to see physical life in the waning days of 2007, but the album was “officially” released in 2008. Here’s what I wrote back in January. I’ve heard warning that a new longplayer is coming soon, but for now enjoy this lovely album in MP3 form or in the loving tones of vinyl.
MP3: Entire Album
9. Your Highness Electric, The Grand Hooded Phantom
This quartet originated in Louisville, KY, and the fact that its members are now spread to the four winds may account for numerous periods of inactivity. However, they appear to have returned to life in 2008 and managed to finally release The Grand Hooded Phantom, which includes a few spruced-up versions of old demos but mostly boasts new (to me) material. After a beguiling trumpet-powered intro, they launch into a grungy sonic assault, rife with hooks, triumph, and despair which rocked hard enough for repeated spins on my iPod.
MP3: Bearskin Love | Buy on Amazon
10. Q-Tip, The Renaissance
One of the more apt album titles of the year. Since the demise of A Tribe Called Quest, fans have watched the leading man stumble through a poppy solo debut, a shelved out-there jazz project, and long periods out of the spotlight. However, he returned to form in 2008 with a well-rounded release that shows the rapper finding a soulful, mature sound that is still vibrant and relevant to the better of today’s hip-hop sounds.
Video: Getting Up | Buy on Amazon
11. Envelope, Shark Bolt
Tony Collinger made great strides in 2008. Though his previous producer Amos Famous moved to Cali, he then set to work with production from Weightless boss Blueprint. The result of this collaboration is an album of sonic and lyrical explorations that remains consistent in quality. I agree with Duffy’s predictions of Envelope’s bright future.
MP3: Straight Up (featuring Hugs and Kisses) | Buy from label
12. The Dirtbombs, We Have You Surrounded
We Have You Surrounded shows these veterans of Detroit garage moving further away from such tags. While classic soul stompers like “Ever Lovin’ Man” never get old, Mick Collins also leads the bands into new categories like long noise tracks (!) and French ballads, which often result in exciting compositions.
Video: Wreck My Flow (Live) | Buy on Amazon
13. Hush Arbors, Hush Arbors
This is another one that snuck up on me in the last of the year. The gently warbling vocals of Keith Wood (at times strangely reminiscent of Robert Plant!) are immersed in calming folk settings that even gallop into a backwoods groove from time to time. A new late night favorite.
MP3: Follow Closely | Buy from label
14. Thomas Function, Celebration
This record is likely my most played vinyl LP of the year. Celebration does a more than ample job of capturing the live energy of these Alabamans, who are oft-described as a deep soul version of Television. I’m beginning to think that I can describe most of these albums as catchy, but with songs like “Can’t Say No” and “Filthy Flowers,” I can think of no other way to say it.
Video: Filthy Flowers | Buy from label
15. The Giraffes, Prime Motivator
Though their scheduled 2008 Columbus live appearances were upended by setbacks (Great Power Outage of ’08, lead singer Aaron Lazar losing his voice), their new recorded output almost makes up for it. The metal-edged hard rock here snaps into plenty of hooks and riffs that are honed into songs of most descriptions, even 7-minute laments about Medicaid applications.
MP3: Prime Motivator | Buy from band
My 10 Favorite Columbus-related Releases of 2008
1. The Kyle Sowashes, Yeah Buddy!
2. Mors Ontologica, The Used Kids Session
(my review)
3. Envelope, Shark Bolt
4. The Proper Nouns, A Million Hurtful Things
(my review)
5. Take No Damage, Shambles
6. Linda Dachtyl, For Hep Cats
(my review)
7. The Catalyst, F*CK The Radio Mixtape, Vol. 1
8. Danger Zone, Dangerous Styles
9. Bottom Brick, The Groundbreaking
(my review)
10. Rosehips, Rosehips

Favorite Albums, Songs and Concerts of 2008 by Robert Duffy

Florence and the Machine 3
(Florence and the Machine)

While looking back at 2008’s year in music, I decided that for the first time I didn’t want to make a list of just albums. Now that most of the money I spend on music is either via vinyl or mp3s, it didn’t make sense to keep it that limited. So far that reason, I’ve mixed up albums, singles and live performances into one list. Equal ranking, no handicaps.

Another first in this list is the addition of a lot of Columbus music to my overall picks. Previous years there might have been one or two locals that made appearances, but this time around there’s a total of 5 Columbus hits out of 13. I was never was good at math but I think that’s like 123.b3%. It’s a great time to be a fan of music and living in Columbus.

With each entry you’ll find buy/video/mp3 and stream links. Give ’em a click and maybe you’ll find a new favorite too.

1. Florence and the Machine, Live @ SXSW & Kiss With a Fist (single)
It’s been nine months since SXSW, and Florence and the Machine’s performance still echoes in my brain. It was a demonstration of fire and energy, of putting all of your soul out there and giving the audience something to remember. Click here to see a video of the show.

Kiss With a Fist is a perfect song of rage and revenge without apology. Florence’s voice reminds me Dorothy Love filtered through Karen O’s artistis sensibility and goddamn if this song isn’t catchy as hell. I think I read on the BBC website that in parts of London you can actually not be charged with assault if you tell the police that you were inspired by this song.

While other albums that came out this year certainly were amazing, nothing could beat this single song as my top choice of the year.
Buy Vinyl on Amazon | Buy from Label

Kiss With a Fist Video

2. The Dodos, Visiter (album)
Visiter is such a rich album to listen to, it’s hard for me to do anything else while playing it on my headphones. It’s rare that I actually notice the drums or banjo or backup vocals in beautiful detail, and that’s what helps makes this album such a standout.
MP3: Red and Purple | Buy on Amazon

3. Times New Viking, Rip it Off (album)
The first time I saw Times New Viking was when they opened up for The Arcade Fire in Columbus. (To put it in perspective, the show wasn’t even halfway sold out of a 400 capacity venue). My initial impressions were “okay i don’t get it.” Everything started to make much more sense as time passed and I was able to see them live more. Songs are fuzzy and distorted and recorded on equipment that might have been recovered from a basement flood, but they have enough kick in them to fill an arena. These damaged pop songs make up one of the most important albums in recent Columbus history. I can’t wait to hear what they do next.
MP3: Drop Out | Buy on Amazon | Interview

4. Gnarls Barkley, The Odd Couple (album)
It would have been easy for Gnarls Barkley to try and recreate the success of “Crazy”, but instead they took an artistic and far more interesting turn. I love the slow burn of this noiry lounge album. Cee Lo’s voice still goes down nice and smooth and Danger Mouse knows how to assemble the right beats and instruments to wrap around it. Don Draper approves.

Buy on Amazon | Youtube

5. Los Campesinos!, Hold On Now, Youngster and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (albums)
It’s not fair to other bands when one band comes around and puts out two amazing records in the same year. The nerve! Anyway, both are a logical extension of the modern Belle and Sebastian discography but with more distortion and just slightly more energy. See…. music can be fun and challenging at the same time.
MP3: Don’t Tell Me to Do The Math(s) | Buy on Amazon

6. Columbus Discount Records, The Columbus Discount Singles Club Year 1
You’ve got to have a lot of confidence (and a twinge of insanity) to be a small label and decide to commit to a year-long vinyl singles club (run of 250 each). The gamble paid off both financially (the club sold out within weeks) and musically, with bands like El Jesus de Magico releasing some of their finest work. Still to come in the series: The Unholy Two, Psychedelic Horseshit, Mike Rep and many more. Forget trying to create bullshit slogans like “Indie Art Capital of the World,” Columbus Discount Records should be looked upon as a true banner of inspiration to the entire arts community in Columbus.
Message Board Discussion | Buy Online — sold out!!

7. Langhorne Slim, Langhorne Slim (album)
When I was relistening to this album as a primer for the list writing, I finally realized that most of the songs on this album hover around the 2 and 3 minutes mark. It struck me as interesting because in each short song an incredibly detailed picture is painted with Slim’s lyrics. Call it hit and run songwriting maybe. This album is a great example of a band living in the Americana genre but not sounding completely cliche.
MP3: Hello Sunshine | Buy on Amazon | On Letterman

8. Alina Simone, Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware (album)
I can just imagine Alina’s pitch… “Okay, here’s my idea… I am going to do an album of all covers. And they’re songs written by a Russian musician. And yeah, I am going to sing all the songs completely in Russian…. Oh and I am going to put her photo on the cover and not mine.” While this album may be sung completely in Russian, it only enhances the impact. Desperation and longing and hope pour out of Alina’s voice with each song, making it one of the most emotional albums released this year.
MP3: Half My Kingdom | Buy on Amazon

9. Two Cow Garage, Speaking in Cursive (album)
On Two Cow Garage’s fourth album, they’ve finally hit their side. You can hear the confidence in their songwriting and singing. Always on the road, in both Europe and the US of A, chances are Two Cow Garage is playing your home town this weekend. People need to throw away their Kings of Leon albums and listen to this instead.
MP3: Your Humble Narrator | Interview | Buy on Amazon

10. Envelope, Shark Bolt (album)
Blueprint reigns supreme over the Columbus hip hop scene, but Envelope has quietly slid into the #2 spot. With the release of his second album, this blue collar rapper has shown he’s got what it takes to mix it up in the big leagues. The national press are starting to take notice and things are coming up Envelope in 2009.
MP3: Straight Up (featuring Hugs and Kisses) | Buy on Amazon

11. Vivian Girls, Vivian Girls (album)
This album makes me want to go drag racing and get tattoos and road trip to Austin TX and find those vampires from that one Tarantino movie and stab them in their undead, vampire hearts. While all the locals thank me for taking care of their vampire problem, the Vivian Girls will be blairing out of my vintage Mustang.

Buy on Amazon

12. The Hold Steady, Stay Positive (album)
Craig Finn’s cast of characters are back in more episodes of discouragement, dead ends and hopeful dreams. I’ve totally bought into the world he’s created. I want to know everything about the people he sings about and would pay at least $20 for a companion book that expanded upon the songs. And man, there’s so many lyrics casually tossed off that just stick around my thoughts for a real long time.

Buy on Amazon

13. Moon High, Moon High (album)
If you didn’t know that Moon High was from Ohio, you might think they make their music somewhere on a secluded California beach, dividing time between recording and exploring the rock formations in the ocean. There’s a casual beauty that sweeps the entire record that feels warm and breezy. A perfect album to get us through the winter.
MP3: Gathering Song | Buy Album

Download Entire Sunken Treasure Catalog For Free + 2009 Plans

Sunken Treasure Records is our small companion record label to We’ve released a bunch of albums over the course of the last few years, and we’ve decided to make all of them available as a free download for the rest of December. Click here to see what we got and get downloading. You’ll find the latest releases from Megan Palmer, Miranda Sound, Eric Metronome, and The Evil Queens as well as the first album by The Celebrity Pilots.

We’ve also announced our next releases for 2009. ur first release next year will be a split seven inch vinyl release featuring Columbus’ The Black Swans and Brooklyn’s Alina Simone. Both songs are beautiful and heartbreaking, and you’ll surely want it in your collection. Expect that in the Feb/March timeframe.

We also plan to work with Eve Searls, aka Bird and Flower, on the release of her debut album. I’ve been a fan of Eve since she first popped up on the scene and her first effort is fabulous. This will happen sometime in April/May (which will be here before you know it…)

More to come, including some Megan Palmer vinyl, and maybe a few more tricks up our sleeves. Happy holidays!