In my humble opinion 2008 was a lean year for music and it was tough compiling a good list of my favorite CDs. Long time and reliable stalwarts issued the cream of the crop. So with reservations, and hope that 2009 is artistically more rewarding, here are Bloggerhythms top five CDs of 2008.
1. Shelby Lynne - Just a Little Lovin'
Four of Ms. Lynne's CDs released since 2000 have landed in my top five of the year and the remaining one needs to be in your CD collection too. Lynne's 2008 tribute to Dusty Springfield is also a tribute to the singer-songwriter's talents because this disc proves she can cover other people's work just as easily as she can write and record her own material. This music is head and shoulders above everything else I heard this year.
2. She & Him - Volume One
Actress Zooey Deschanel proves that music may actually be where her true talents lie. On Volume One Deschanel (She) teamed up with singer-songrwriter M. Ward (Him) and issued a truly wonderful debut disc. Paste Magazine's 2008 CD of the year explores early 60s girl group pop, a little bit of country, and a love of older pop music in general. Both Deschanel's vocals and songs are superb. Look for a full review early in 2009.
3. Los Lonely Boys - Forgiven
More great harmonies, more fine pop songs, and best of all, more smokin' electric leads from guitarist Henry Garza prove, that nobody can play mainstream rock better than this trio of brothers.
4. The Mother Truckers - Let's All Go To Bed
With their third CD Austin's country-rockers turn up the volume. This is their loudest album to date and it's also their best. Songs with an obvious Rolling Stones influence ("Streets of Atlanta") mix it up with a cover of Billy Joe Shaver's "When I Get My Wings." Your best chance to see this quartet is by visiting the Texas state capital but The Truckers made a surprise visit east this summer, rocking out at the Bethlehem Musikfest in Pennsylvania, where I caught them for the second time in less than a year. This is ear shredding country music at it's best.
5. Robert Lamm - The Bossa Project
Chicago's heart and soul proves again that he deserves a successful solo career instead of semi-obscurity. This CD is a fine homage to one of jazz's less respected sub-genres but the disc has received accolades from critics everywhere. It was even considered for a jazz Grammy, but unfortunately, it didn't make the cut to the famous award show's final five nominees.
Bett Butler - Myths & Fables
If it hadn't been released in November 2007, too late in the year for me to have heard it, the second disc from this fine jazz singer, pianist, and songwriter would have made last year's top five. Butler's work is so good it needs to be on a "best of" list somewhere. This is not lounge lizard music, nor smooth jazz. It's the real thing.
The Cat Empire - So Many Nights
While it's not quite as eclectic or as rewarding as it's predecessor, Two Shoes, these Aussies prove that they are still one of the most original party bands in the business. There is no need to apologize for the letdown because Two Shoes was so outstanding. This year's entry only pales by comparison.
REISSUE OF THE YEAR
Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue (1977)
Despite the limitations of Wilson's voice this lovingly repackaged solo disc from 1977 shows surprisingly excellent production, songwriting, arranging, and at times a strong Beach Boys influence. Many people were shocked that, of all the Beach Boys, such a quality piece of work came from the man who most people considered to be the least talented Wilson Brother.
BEST OBSCURE FIND OF THE YEAR
Tim Pierce - Guitarland (1995)
Unfortunately, sometimes music doesn't come into our lives until many years after it's release. Studio guitarist, Tim Pierce, whose superb resume includes playing on the recordings of many outstanding stars, recorded his one and only solo album in 1995. Guitarland is a rocking, instrumental album that leans toward the melodic, pop side of rock and roll. It's worth finding this long out of print CD. Bloggerhythms will be posting a full review soon.