My music 2008

(I was going to do this post anyway, but accelerated it for the attempt to win an iTunes card in Miss604’s iTunes giveaway.) Contest has concluded – didn’t win. Maybe next time.

It’s that time of year – lists of best or top 10/50/100 things of 2008 abound. I certainly haven’t been keeping up, so while I can’t compile a list of top music as relevant as, say, Pitchfork’s, all I can do is look at what I actually added to my iTunes during 2008 (even if I am slightly behind), and go from there.


Adaline, Famous for Fire (self-released)

I found myself strangely hypnotized with the beats on “Chemical Spill”, my hands-down favourite from this debut by this local newcomer. Famous for Fire has a vast range, playing into Adaline’s own influences, and yet she is quite comfortable in whatever she is singing.

Live performance of “Meaningless Meeting”:

Beady Belle, Belvedere (Jazzland)

This Norwegian group have successfully transitioned from its electro-jazz roots into a more organic sound, but the commonality remains Beate Lech’s stunning vocals. They even enlisted the likes of India.Arie and Jamie Cullum to complement an already rich sound. I caught them at the Vancouver Jazz Festival this year, and they are a delight to watch live.

Live performance of “Tower of Lament”:

The Organ, Thieves EP (Mint/604)

This Vancouver outfit only reunited briefly to complete the tracks-in-progress that had been abandoned when they broke up. Thieves is a fitting finish for one of my all-time local favourites. It picked up where Grab That Gun left off, but there were indications of a maturity that could have developed further. We’ll never know where the Organ could have gone, alas.

Video for “Let the Bells Ring”:

Portishead, Third (Mercury)

More than ten years since releasing its self-titled second release, Portishead make a glorious return, and they haven’t missed a beat. Of course, ten years equals an ice age in music, but Portishead have adapted. The trip-hop elements that defined them in the 1990s are still there, but they’re more subtle. Don’t doubt that the dark, moody music of their first two albums continues here, but somehow, somehow, everything will be fine.

Live performance of “Machine Gun”. Beth Gibbons’ intensity says it all:

Sarah Slean, The Baroness (WEA)

I can’t believe I didn’t do a proper review of this when it came out. It has been four years since the last studio album, and yet Sarah still comes up with the pixie magic that has defined her music to date. Even so, The Baroness has its darker moments, and those are just as powerful as the fluffier fare. And Sarah’s vocals and piano-playing come through on all of them. This is solid Sarah Slean.

Video for “Get Home”:

Some honourable mentions:

  • Duffy, Rockferry (A&M/Rough Trade)
  • Jem, Down to Earth (ATO)
  • She & Him, Volume One (Merge)
  • Sigur Rós, Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust (XL)
  • Young and Sexy, The Arc (Mint)

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