Thursday, January 1, 2009

Best Albums of 2008

Guys and gals, Lord Shockedelic has been sick with a nasty intestinal virus for the last month and that's why there's been no updates to this blog. I'm feeling better, now that I've passed the damned thing on to all my loved ones so here's a list of my favorite albums of 2008... late as it is... No countdown here. I'm going down from one to ten; the best and the rest. 'Course they're all the best.

The Major Labels

The nicest surprise this year was the coupling of Mike Viola and Bleu, along with their buddy Ducky Carlisle. The result was an explosion of Pop masterpieces and song cycles. No kidding, this was the best and most enduring listen of the year. As of this writing, it can still be had by clicking on the widget to your left. Cough cough.... it's free... cough cough....

Kimura Kaela

Kaela's fourth album was a marked improvement over the slightly lackluster "Scratch". This new disc was a fun pastiche of Techno and hard guitar driven Pop. Kaela has never sounded so at ease and in control of her voice. She simply keeps getting better. I'm not sure yet if this is my favorite of her albums yet. It could be this or "Circle". Regardless, this is top shelf Pop and a perfect introduction to the music of Kimura Kaela.

The Foxboro Hot Tubs
Stop Drop and Roll

This album was the 'Knock-me-over-with-a-feather' release of the year. I wasn't aware of it's release until a few days beforehand and I was, admittedly, non plussed when I head it was Green Day and their touring members, but the 1960's throwback album cover and mini album sleeve packaging (along with a nice price of $8.00!) encouraged me to try it out. I'm glad I did, because this was a phenomenal piece of garage growl rock and roll. True, some of the songs are simple rewrites of actual 1960's nuggets ("The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and The Yardbirds' "Heart Full of Soul" are dug up and redressed), but I haven't heard primitive rock and roll done so well and urgently in years. I'll never be a big Green Day fan, but The Foxboro Hot Tubs and one of the best Rock and Roll units around right now.

Anna Tsuchiya
Nudy Show!

After "Strip Me?" a few years back, I'd been wondering if and when Anna Tsuchiya was going to do a follow up. "Strip Me?" was a solid debut and "Nudy Show!" ups the ante. "Nudy Show!" throws multiple genres of pop at the listener with equally high degrees of success. Most of the album rides on amped up rock and pop while the ballads are mostly contained to the second half of the disc. Anna Tsuchiya has one of the strongest, evocative and unique voices in JPop and JRock and she has a marvelous ear for song style and arrangement. "Nudy Show!" is worth a few dozen spins.

Radio:ACTIVE (MAIL UK Free Paper Edition)

I'm giving the high marks on McFly's new album to the version they gave away with the Mail UK paper a few months before the actual, official CD release of "Radio:ACTIVE". Te reason for this is simple. The Giveaway Edition is a shorter, stronger album. The Song selection is strong as well as the very sequencing of the tracks. The retail edition is longer with 4 new (weaker) songs and a re sequencing of the existing songs that takes away the power the earlier version had. That said, the giveaway edition is a powerhouse of a powerpop album from a group of talented kids that become men right before your ears on this album. Either version has great songs and is worth a listen, but the UK Mail edition is the one to own.

Furukawa Miki
Bondage Heart

Miki Furukawa, founder and bassist of the late great band Supercar finally released an album this year and it's a doozy. Equal parts Mazzy Starr and T. Rex, this is an album that defies classification. It's raw and dirty, but sweet and gentle... often in the same song at the same time.


I'd only heard of this established Japanese Ska Band this year. I thought their latest, self titled album was a debut. I was so very wrong. This, their 6th album, actually finds them drifting further away from their ska roots; relying instead of monster guitar riffs and super sly hooks. Lead Singer UKI's mousy vocals slam right up against the bands' wall of sound. I love this band and, late or not, am glad to have joined the party.

Kaiser Chiefs
Off With Their Heads

The Kaiser Chiefs 3rd album is an improvement over "Yours Truly, Angry Mob" in that it actually sounds like the band is more comfortable in their skins. This current album pretends like YT, AM never happened and picks up where "Employment", their debut, left off. It's loud and ballsy, catchy and snotty. That's all anyone could ask.

Humbert Humbert
Makkurayami no Niramekko

Another discovery for this year, Humbert Humbert is a Japanese band that plays Western Roots music. That's right, you'll find Appalachian Mountain music here as well and German and Scottish folk. It's a bit jarring to hear such familiar traditional music being sung in Japanese, but it's certainly welcome. The vocals are relaxed and the playing simple and assured. This one is for the adventurous Country Bluegrass fan.

Brian Eno and David Byrne
Everything that happens will happen today

What happens when two Avant Garde Rock Gods reunite for an album? Magic. Be prepared to be transported back to the 1980's with this quirky and lightly funky selection of songs. Byrne's vocals never age and Brian Eno will always be the penultimate alt rock weirdo. Together, they create the stuff of legend. Kids today won't care (and should they?), but us oldsters can indulge in a bit of old school alt rock comfort food.