Thursday, December 18

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2008 (#10-#6).



The end of the year is approaching, which means that you're probably currently inundated with thousands of lists and end-of-the-year countdowns concerning all sorts of cultural achievements. Well, here at the CDP, it's no different, as today we continue to count down the Top 20 Albums Of 2008.

Just another quick word on the validity of this list. It's by no means a 'definitive' or 'good' list; merely a list of the 20 best albums purchased by me this year. I'm not Pitchfork, I don't get free albums, and I don't actively seek out things that would boost my indie cred. I'm just a dude, dudes, so get right the hell over it and enjoy.


#10. POLYSICS - We Ate The Machine

With each new year, we can expect two things for certain: another epic Chicago Cubs collapse, and another mind-bogglingly amazing album by POLYSICS, the CDP's choice for Greatest Band In The World for over five years now. We Ate The Machine is essentially an American debut of sorts, having recently secured a decent distribution deal on this side of the pond through...gahh...MySpace Records. And while it's not a great introduction to the band (Greatest Hits Album Polysics Or Die!!! should be in everyone's home), the Japanese space-spazz-noise orgy still holds up quite nicely. Even on their worst day, POLYSICS is still light years ahead of their closest competition.


#9. Foxboro Hot Tubs - Stop, Drop And Roll!!!

Where does Green Day find the time? In addition to releasing multi-platinum albums, circling the globe on tour and constantly cementing their place in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, Billie Jo Armstrong and company have released two full-length albums now under assumed names: The 2003 Devo-influenced Money Money 2020 under the moniker of The Network, and now the Zombies-fueled 60's rock fest that is the Foxboro Hot Tubs' Stop, Drop And Roll!!! And let's not even mention Mr. Armstrong's continuing role in Pinhead Gunpowder. With Stop, Drop And Roll!!!, Green Day is able to create some fun, throwback music that wouldn't necessarily work under the Green Day name, and the result is their best album since 1997's Nimrod.


#8. Less Than Jake - GNV FLA

Following two of my favorite bands of all-time (POLYSICS and Green Day), we move right into a band that might actually rank higher; Less Than Jake. Now, I'll be the first to admit that the LTJ crew hit a bit of a skid following 2003's Anthem, trying a little too hard to be mainstream and poo-poo their ska-punk roots with the abominable In With The Out Crowd. But the guys seem refreshed nowadays. They own their own record label, self-released GNV FLA and returned to a sound that was a welcome compromise of their previous efforts. I was worried for a little bit, but Less Than Jake made it work, and after an almost-fatal misstep; they're back.


#7. Scott Reynolds - Adventure Boy

I love Scott Reynolds. Possibly best remembered as one of the singers for legendary punk band ALL, he has since go on to front bands like Goodbye Harry, The Pavers, and most recently, his same-named solo project. A man's man, a songwriter's songwriter and a genuinely nice guy, Reynolds comes through with an amazing solo effort, bursting with rejuvenated tracks about everyday misfortune, tough luck and forgotten love. I honestly think that this was the album he had been trying in vain to create for years, and in that regard, it's an absolute triumph.


#6. Smoking Popes - Stay Down

As a teenager, I discovered the Smoking Popes a little too late to catch them at the peak of their fame. Much like a lot of influential 90's groups like At The Drive-In and Lifetime, they broke up before I had a chance to see them live or buy their records on the day of their release. Fortunately, the Popes decided to follow the flock of reuniting 90's acts and hit the road once more, only upping the ante by not only releasing a new album of original tracks, but having it be freaking amazing to boot. They're not a tribute act, and they're not basking in the glow of their former glory; they're a current band writing currently fantastic music, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see Stay Down exceed so many expectations.

The CDP's Top 5 Concerts Of 2008:

#5. Margot & The Nuclear So & So's - Orpheum Stage Door - Madison
(A warm, May night in downtown Madison with a small crowd and an extremely talented band of musical geniuses fronted by a self-destructive drunk. A night to remember.)

#4. We Are Scientists - High Noon Saloon - Madison
(What struck me most, besides their tight and absolutely hilarious live show, was how genuinely nice the guys were. They hung out at the High Noon for hours afterwards, shooting pool, drinking and chatting with fans. Not too shabby for semi-famous NYC hipsters who hang out with The Lonely Island guys all the time.)

#3. Riotfest - Congress Theatre - Chicago
(The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Jay Reteard. The Casualties. DOA. Leftover Crack. The return of ALL. This weekend had it all, including my getting historically plastered at the Double Door in Wicker Park.)

#2. Smoking Popes - High Noon Saloon - Madison
(When a super-appreciative crowd comes together to see a band like the Smoking Popes, what results is nothing short of magical. Great guys, timeless songs, an absolutely fantastic evening overall.)

#1. The Weakerthans - High Noon Saloon - Madison
(It's not every day that you get to see one of your favorite bands ever in your backyard. I personally never thought I was going to see the rare-touring Canadians, so to me, this night felt like one of those dreams where your favorite band plays just for you. Not just my favorite concert of 2008, but personally one of my favorite moments as well.)

Sound off in the comments section, start the argument and enjoy your day. The end of the week brings the CDP's Top 5 Albums Of 2008. Stick around.

Comments:
I wish the music scene here was as cool as it is there. We have a couple of *huge* venues that get the stadium acts, which I'm generally not into, and the bands that come to the smaller venues aren't familiar to my friends or are scheduled on nights that doesn't work for anybody's schedule, so it is hard to get to a show even when a good act makes it here - unless I want to go alone, which I don't. I missed the Flaming Lips last year because I couldn't find anyone to go with me.
 
I think I fell asleep during the Weakerthans show. But the We Are Scientists show rocked! Those guys are very cute.
 
I caught the Smoking Popes at the Rathskellar back in the late 90s when I was still in high school. I didn't know the band at the time and only came across Destination Failure a few years later, but I remember the show being excellent. I really wanted to go to this year's show but for some reason was unable - maybe because it was a Sunday night or something like that.

I'm in complete agreement about LTJ. I saw the writing on the wall with Anthem and I didn't even bother with IWTOC after hearing the nasty reviews. But it's still LTJ and I snapped this one up after reading somewhere that Vinnie described it as "a record our fans will actually like." Truth!
 
MAUS - Madison is that sort of happy medium city, where we have no huge venues to attract the superstars (save for the Alliant Energy Center, which is mostly centered around hard rock acts), but we have an audience that's perfectly catered to mid-level Indie and whatnot.

Mainly, it's just the High Noon Saloon. It's easily my favorite concert venue ever, and that's including the long-gone Concert Cafe in Green Bay.

HATHERY - CDP reader Julia Rubin was at that Weakerthans show. We high-fived!

Both shows were fantastic for sure.

WALLROCK - Yeah, the Popes show was on a weird night of the week, I think.

Vinnie was right, and I like how he instantly knew the sorts of receptions their more recent albums tend to get. To me, GNV FLA feels like more of a thank you card than anything, which is cool.
 
The concerts for my PS3 Rock Band "btothed" must have just missed out on the top five?
 
I wasn't on the Guest List, yo!
 
The High Noon rocks.
 
In my experience, college towns always have better music. I was so disappointed to find out that moving to an actual city meant hearing fewer good, small acts. To make it worse, Baltimore doesn't have a good venue to get many big-time acts either, so we still end up driving to Virginia for those. Lameness.
 
That's it. I think I need to break down and buy that best-of Polysics album. It just doesn't seem right that I don't already own it, and with Ryan constantly ejaculating over how great they are, well, it's time.

One of the best concerts I saw this year was definitely Monotonix at the Forward Fest. And guess what! They're coming back to play Der Rathskeller on February 12! Seriously, if you haven't seen these guys, you need to pop some ear plugs in, strap on your steel toeds, and get ready to freakin' rumble!
 
If you hang out with Ryan long enough, you'll find out that he verbally ejaculates all over all music he has even a *mild* interest in.

Polysics are good, though.
 
BERRY TOWNE USA - Sorry about that. I used to live in a town that was at least an hour from any decent clubs, so I feel your pain a bit. I'm getting a little spoiled, now that some of my favorite bands play 10 minutes from my house.

EMILY - Tell you what. If I see you on the 27th, I'll burn you a copy. Consider it a late Christmas present.

I saw the new Rathskeller schedule for early 2009. Hooray for Los Campesinos!

And Morrissey's playing at The Rave in Milwaukee!?!?! Goddamn!

HATHERY - I know there's a joke in here somewhere, but the question lies in how it can be presented.
 
I tried as hard as I could to make it virtually impossible to make a joke out of.
 
Ryan has a bad case of premature musical appreciation?
 
This is the first time that's ever happened, I swear!
 
We did high five and it was awesome.

That was easily my most favorite show this year. I love the High Noon. I love The Weakerthans. Everyone was having such a good time. You can't get much better than that.

I like snow days because I can catch actually comment. I can read the feed at work, but stupid work blocks stupid pages so that explains my absence from the comments for like the last year.
 

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