Slipped Discs 2008

Hot Chip

Artist: Glasvegas Album: Glasvegas Label: Columbia Image: US Release Date: 2009-01-06 UK Release Date: 2008-09-08 Internet release date: 2008-10-07

Display as: List

In the end, the year and a half-long hype surrounding Glasvegas turned out to be completely warranted, as the Glasgow, Scotland band, despite not exactly having the most original sound, defied the odds by releasing one of the most affecting British rock debuts in years. Using the Jesus and Mary Chain as a major influence is certainly nothing new, but what tracks like "Geraldine", "Daddy's Gone", and "It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry" do so ingeniously is combine that already enthralling blend of distortion and 1960s pop with the bombast of mid-'90s Britpop, the end result a formulaic but sincere, deliriously melodramatic take on rock music that serves as a refreshing change from the more self-referential posturing of fellow Brits Art Brut and Los Campesinos!. Adrien Begrand

Glasvegas - Daddy's GoneGlasvegas: Glasvegas

Artist: Nana Grizol Album: Love It Love It Label: Orange Twin Image: US Release Date: 2008-05-13 UK Release Date: 2008-09-15

Display as: List

Conventional wisdom -- which is to say, indie rock critics, music bloggers and your local record store clerks -- dictates that Los Campesinos!' Hold On Now, Youngster... was the best indie-pop record of 2008. I'll admit to falling for the Welsh septet's ridiculously catchy hooks and infectiously cheery enthusiasm myself at first, but it wasn't too long before the band's smug hipsterisms, their refusal to let a single song go by without a scenester namecheck or a wink and a nudge in reference to the band's encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture arcana, began to wear. Fronted by their own vocabulary-happy frontman in Theo Hilton and staffed with a small army of impressively adept players, Athens, Georgia's Nana Grizol made a similarly exuberant album with none of the Campesinos' attitude, a quick set of witty, open-hearted and acutely observed songs that surprise as much with their depth as with their sheer tunefulness. Where Los Campesinos!' songs are about their undoubtedly impressive record collections, Nana Grizol's are about real people, and it is the distinction that will allow theirs to resonate long after the guardians of cool have set their sights elsewhere. Jer Fairall

Nana Grizol: Love It Love It

Artist: Grouper Album: Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill Label: Type Image: US Release Date: 2008-06-10 UK Release Date: Available as import

Display as: List

As evocative a longform player as they come, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill is simultaneously tempestuous and soothing. Intimate tapestries of droning texture line the album's whole, threatening to remove the user completely from the experience, its faded home movie reel almost completely faded by digital dust and weathered tarnish (Harris's own doing in a masterful production job). The album's titles even highlight this disconnection ("Disengaged", "Stuck", "Invisible", "I'd Rather Be Sleeping"). It's Liz Harris's plaintive and organic acoustic strumming that grounds the recording as a work of fitfully haunted beauty. Her delicate coo oscillates like kindred oneiric sirens (Elizabeth Fraser, Rachel Goswell, etc.) in a way that is both indecipherable yet urgent, like a dream beckoning you from waking thought. This tragic solitude amounts to a complete and recondite aesthetic, making the album best suited to a single sitting in which you can explore its mysteries with the full of your attention. One of 2008's very best. Timothy Gabriele

Grouper: Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill

Artist: Guns N' Roses Album: Chinese Democracy Label: Black Frog Label: Geffen Image: US Release Date: 2008-11-23 UK Release Date: 2008-11-24

Display as: List

The problem here is expectations. It’s not the Second Coming. It’s a pop-rock record -- call it Use Your Illusion 3 -- and a damn good one at that. Regardless of how long they were in the making, “Shackler’s Revenge”, “Better”, and “There Was a Time” will be fighting for space on the next Greatest Hits record, a number that, hits-wise, puts Chinese Democracy on par with the mighty Appetite for Destruction. Granted, someone needs to tell Axl that every song need not begin with a string section or a boy’s choir, but even when he’s bad (“Madagascar”) or embarrassing (“Sorry”) he’s interesting, and a moving solo by Robin Finck on “This I Love” reminds us that, for all of this talk about the Axl Show, the end result is the product of a number of fine musicians. I’ll resist asking you to listen without prejudice, a la George Michael, but I will say that, if you have even the slightest interest in giving this a spin, don’t let all of the drama with Best Buy and Dr. Pepper deter you. And if you listened once and shelved it, give it another hype-free shot. For better or worse, there’s nothing else like it. Kirby Fields

Guns N' Roses - BetterGuns N' Roses: Chinese Democracy

Artist: Horse Feathers Album: House With No Home Label: Kill Rock Stars Image: US Release Date: 2008-09-09 UK Release Date: Available as import

Display as: List

House with No Home is an unassuming record, full of hushed and gentle folk, so it's not surprising that this one slipped under the radar. But this quiet album will pull you in if you give it half a chance. It pulses with life in every track, from the cresting wave of violin and plucked guitar on "Cur in the Weeds", to the barely there beauty of closer "Father", the album insists you strain to listen, forces you to become a part of the music. To put this record on in the background is to miss the subtle but brilliant melodies, the intricate mix of strings, the depth of Justin Ringle's aching vocals, the earnest emotion in these songs. Because there is no "freak-folk" persona, no artifice to hide this music behind. Just beautiful songs laid bare. So pull out your finest headphones, or sit yourself in front of the speakers, and soak it all in. Matt Fiander

Horse Feathers: House With No Home

Artist: Hot Chip Album: Made in the Dark Label: EMI Image: US Release Date: 2008-02-05 UK Release Date: 2008-02-04

Display as: List

Hot Chip's third album, Made in the Dark, made no pretense of conceptual hijinks. Buoyed by months of honing a raucous live show, the group has become expert at constructing party-ready dance music that welcomes live percussion, chant-able catchphrases, and moments of sublime lose-your-shitedness. On the flipside, their ballads have become softer, more heartfelt, and perfect for that certain after the after-party mood. Hot Chip's now established a strong kinship with a certain melodic construct taken from soul music, which Alexis Taylor recapitulated on his solo album. Taylor pulls it off more successfully with his bandmte Joe Goddard here, where the repeated melodic tropes make up the fabric of the band's tongue-in-cheek approach to songwriting -– as to aggression, friendship, and love. As an album, Made in the Dark might not have the coherence of In Ghost Colours or Crystal Castles, but song for song it's surely at least on the same level as those lauded indie-electronic releases from 2008. Dan Raper

Hot Chip: Made in the Dark

Artist: Benji Hughes Album: A Love Extreme Label: New West Image: US Release Date: 2008-07-22 UK Release Date: 2008-10-13

Display as: List

Benji Hughes believes in love, even when it runs him ragged and beats him bloody. A hirsute indie-pop eccentric with two discs worth of super-hooky audacity, his husky voice speaks the wounds of a thousand heartbreaks and a million heartbroken benders. Though he claims to be "more alternative than Suicide Girls" (not difficult), Hughes is actually a quippy, quirky master craftsman masquerading as reclusive bedroom folkie, more Billy Joel than Bon Iver. His insular confections, full of booming drums and imposing synths, updated '70s AM gold for the electronic-DIY age: "Tight Tee Shirt" is tasty bubblegum, "Even If" revels in warped Bacharachia, and "All You've Got to Do is Fall in Love" could be revised into an American Idol standard. He charts the modern rock nerd's highs and lows -- getting jilted at Dairy Queen, getting high at rock shows, falling madly in love with his radio -- with singular humor and genre-hopping fearlessness. Charles A. Hohman

Benji Hughes - Vibe So HotBenji Hughes: A Love Extreme

Artist: Scarlett Johansson Album: Anywhere I Lay My Head Label: Atco Label: Rhino Image: US Release Date: 2008-05-20 UK Release Date: 2008-05-19

Display as: List

Scarlett Johansson, the actress from Lost in Translation, was responsible for Anywhere I Lay My Head. That's not to play down the production work of David Sitek, or a backing band that features David Bowie, Nick Zinner and members of TV on the Radio, but it's safe to say that the unexpected genius of Anywhere I Lay My Head can be attributed to one person: Scarlett Johanssen. Tackling Tom Waits's material is a risky proposition for any artist, but Johansson has studied the original material and recorded tracks that sound ethereal and graceful where they were once damaged and grizzled. With her voice swaddled in a soft, otherworldly drone of bells, saxophones and guitars, she pays tribute to these remarkable songs in a beguiling and beautiful manner that falls well outside the clichés that covers albums are so often built upon. In doing so, she's created yet another reason for us to love her. James Bassett

Scarlett Johansson: Anywhere I Lay My Head

Artist: Jamey Johnson Album: That Lonesome Song Label: Mercury Nashville Image: US Release Date: 2008-08-05 UK Release Date: 2008-08-11

Display as: List

Those who claim mainstream country music has lost its connection to the past only needed to look as far as the 2008 country sales charts to find evidence of the contrary, in the form of Jamey Johnson and his second album That Lonesome Song. He pays homage to Waylon Jennings, worries that all the true cowboys have ridden away, and shows pride in his music fitting alphabetically "between Jennings and Jones". None of that would matter if he weren't also carrying on the actual traditions of country, singing the heck out of songs rooted in the darkest side of the human experience. He sings about divorce, bad behavior and sadness, and does so with feeling, wit and a sense of humor. That lonesome song keeps carrying along, and he carries it, through a harrowing, moving, album-length consideration of the hard times people face, have faced, and will always face. Dave Heaton

Jamey Johnson: That Lonesome Song

Artist: Damien Jurado Album: Caught in the Trees Label: Secretly Canadian Image: US Release Date: 2008-09-08 UK Release Date: 2008-10-27

Display as: List

Nine full-lengths into an already distinguished career and Seattle, Washington singer-songwriter Damien Jurado is still just starting to hit his stride. On the consistently beautiful Caught in the Trees, it's hard to miss the sturdy, hard-earned, confidence that sures up his craft. His characters often explore a harrowing fidelity to relationships that seem to offer the promise of nothing but disaster and as there are certainly limits to love, most of Jurado’s characters bump against and stress them beyond all reason. When he sings of sailing on a lover’s deep blue eyes, on the album's show-stopping centerpiece “Everything Trying", what in one breath feels like endless shelter from a constant storm gets turned perhaps, by the preceding obsessions and compulsions, into something else. If in the past Jurado has mined a vision of his inner-Nebraska, here he could be exploring a version of his own particular Tunnel of Love. Jurado continues as one of indie rock's most steady and deeply rewarding songwriters; full of heartbreak but always with a view on the horizon. And here, with bandmates Jenna Conrad and Eric Fisher, he brings a kickass lead-off single, in “Gillian Was a Horse", to boot. Jon Langmead

Damien Jurado - CasketsDamien Jurado: Caught in the Trees






Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."


The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.


Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.


The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.


Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.


King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.


Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.


Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.


Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.


The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.


Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.


The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.


'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.


Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.


Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.


South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.


Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.


'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.