This is kicking off the “My Year In Lists” series, pointing out my favorite albums of the year, honorable mentions, as well as the biggest disappointments for 2008. I will start with the latter, and make my way back, ending with my top 10 for the year: 4 posts in the next 4 days.
I must point out, while these albums were my biggest disappointments, this does not mean I did not like them or enjoy them. In fact, I like many of these albums, but when presented with their previous works, these albums did not live up to my expectations. Also, I love to point out, for sake of laying to rest any arguments, music (as well as all art) is subjective.
My Biggest Disappointments for 2008:
Ben Folds – Way To Normal
Ben Folds first proper album in almost 4 years, starts off with a bang, while simultaneously self-proclaiming the heirdom to Elton John’s stage presence. The album really loses its legs after the 4th track, “You Don’t Know Me”, featuring Regina Spektor, a fight between lovers in a love-less relationship. Too many throw-aways in the last half of the album make this a really average album from a really incredible talent.
Cloud Cult – Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)
Conor Oberst – S/T
I never really understood the lore of Bright Eyes until their last album, Cassadega, an amazingly lyrically complex and the alternative country musical stylings. Plainly, the songs become simple and boring, two adjectives you couldn’t use with Cassadega. After seeing them live this past year, the material came to life, an energy that was not efficiently bottled in the studio renditions.
Dear and the Headlights – Drunk Like Bible Times
Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s – Animal/Not Animal
The sophomore album(s) were really hurt by Margot’s label moreso than the quality of the material. If you don’t know the story, Margot created an album, the label didn’t approve, Margot goes back into the studio and creates some radio-friendly dross that will never make it to the radio. Such a shame, you can pick out one good album from both of these disks, but as it stands, it’s a convoluted mess.
Mock Orange – Captain Love
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
MMJ are one of my favorite bands, and hold the honors of being one of my favorite live acts. So what the hell happened? To be honest, minus 3-4 tracks this album is passable, but loathful track “Highly Suspicious” with its pseudo-Prince inspired vocals and over-processed guitars is downright cringe-worthy. I’m not claiming to be a professional, but I can hold a tune, and on some of the songs (Thank You Too!, Look At You, and Smokin From Shootin), Jim James is just flat-out singing out of tune.
Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals – Cardinology
I am unapologetic about my genuine love of Ryan Adams; the man is a downright genius. After releasing 3 solid albums in just one year in 2005, I was sold. Although, Cardinology feels as if it was rushed, and many of the songs just seem unfinished. “Fix It” has an undeniable groove at its core, but right as the song gets going, it ends. A lot of the tracks leave you with this feeling, and it makes me wonder, did he spend TOO MUCH time crafting these songs? Maybe he should go back to pushing out 3 albums a year and thinking less.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Pershing
Stay tuned for my next post in the “My Year In Lists” series: Potent Notables, albums not making my top 25, but definitely not to be ignored.