Music: The Best of 2008, Rick's List

(Editor's Note: This is the second part of a short series reviewing the notable music of 2008. To read the previous piece, please go here.)

by Rick Rockwell

1) Death Magnetic Metallica
Not since the so-called "black album" in 1991 has Metallica put forth this strong of a musical statement. Death Magnetic is the perfect blend of the group's thrash-metal origins with the more mature formula the band discovered in the 1990s. Kirk Hammett's guitar solos become passionate metaphors for a monumental year. (For a complementary and full review of Death Magnetic, please go here. For a deeper discussion of Metallica, please see: "Metallica, the Rock Hall of Fame & Redemption.")

2) Consolers of the Lonely The Raconteurs
No sophomore slump for the musical project headed by Jack White and Brendan Benson. Consolers of the Lonely sees the band experimenting with wider instrumentation, but also delivering high energy: "Salute Your Solution" is easily one of the songs of the year. (For an in-depth and complementary review of Consolers of the Lonely, please go here.)

3) Modern Guilt Beck
What if you set lyrics about environmental melt-downs and the failures of government and society to tremolo-drenched surf rock? Beck (Beck Hansen, by his full name) not only is brave enough to ask the question but delivers on this refreshing recording, a collaboration with Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) of Gnarls Barkley. (For a full review of Modern Guilt, please go here.)

4) The Slip Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor, the musical auteur who is Nine Inch Nails, is a bit like the Stephen King of rock: given some maturity, focus, and a mind for editing all of his ideas down into one disc, he can produce stunning results. The Slip is a return to form for Nine Inch Nails as the very best of industrial rock, and the band's best since 1994's The Downward Spiral.

5) All I Intended to Be Emmylou Harris
Mixing country with rock has always been Emmylou Harris' specialty. Nowadays, that's called Americana by some. Nevertheless, on her first solo recording in five years, Harris is in fine form staddling musical styles while delivering soaring vocals on songs that cut to the core.

6) Accelerate R.E.M.
Another musical act making a return to form, R.E.M. stormed back on the FM airwaves with significant contributions from Accelerate, and may once again fill some stadiums while on tour. This is the band's best effort since Monster in 1994.

7) Attack & Release The Black Keys
Propelled by another candidate for song of the year ("Strange Times"), Attack & Release is one of the best records yet from Akron's favorite musical duo, The Black Keys. Chalk up another successful collaboration for producer Danger Mouse on this one too. (For a complementary and in-depth review of Attack & Release, please go here.)

8) Midnight Boom The Kills
This is one of those albums that may sneak up on the listener and it may take several listens before The Kills can mesmerize appropriately. Midnight Boom is lo-fi, garage rock punk at its best. Alison "VV" Mosshart sings like she's the second-coming of Chrissie Hynde.

9) One Kind Favor B.B. King
Even at 83, one of the inventors of electric blues, B.B. King seems as vital to music as ever. One Kind Favor is a testament to that. Luckily, B.B.'s audience is bigger than ever so the joy of such a triumph will be spread far and wide.

She Ain't Me Carrie Rodriguez
This is another great sophomore release. Rodriguez has a handful of albums with Chip Taylor. But She Ain't Me shows her doing just fine as a solo act, polishing her vocal chops while her songwriting shows growth and isn't so dependent upon her impressive fiddle playing. (For a full post on Carrie Rodriguez, please see: "Music: Crushing on Carrie Rodriguez & She Ain't Me.")

(To see the previous post in this series, please go here. To read the final part of the series, please go here.)

(The promotional photo of Metallica at an appearance in Park City, Utah in 2006 is from Warner Brothers Records. To see a video of Metallica's "All Nightmare Long" from Death Magnetic, please check below.)

Check out this video: Metallica - All Nightmare Long

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Turk said...

Death Magnetic was a true return to glory for Metallica -- not that they ever left, in my mind.

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