And now, the only music top ten you'll ever need from 2008:
10. How You, Me, and Everyone We Know has still managed to stay unsigned, is somewhat of a music industry miracle, and travesty at the same time. Sure, their second EP "So Young So Insane" is only 18 minutes long, but if I had to be kept in such a good mood for any longer, I'm pretty sure some important circuits in my head would melt.
9. While The Matches have still yet to find the success they deserve (due to their inability to write a normal, predictable song or single), they have also yet to write a bad album. "A Band in Hope" continues their unorthodox blend of catchy with just the right amount of quirky, going from raucous Wayne's World-esque singalongs, to broken confessionals on a "yardsale casio" in the span of just a few songs. Easily Shawn Harris' best work.
8. "Huh? Fall Out Boy? Didn't Pete knock up Ashley Simpson to the tune of some doo-doo machine named Mowgli?" Last time I checked, Ashley and the inevitable laughingstock of his future's third grade were not a part of FOB. People asking idiotic questions like this are clearly allowing the tabloids to dictate their music taste. For everyone else, "Folie a Deux" is one of the best reasons to own a pair of working ears in 2008.
7. My father had Billy Joel, and I have Andrew McMahon who is, without a doubt, the "piano man" of my generation. The ivories that drive Jack's Mannequin's "Glass Passenger" pound, wail, march, and swagger, but most of all, they weep, with every ounce of earnesty that only an old soul at the far end of the bar could muster. And it's in these baring moments, when JM is in a place all its own.
6. After Less Than Jake finally resigned themselves to their fated irrelevance with the death of ska somewhere around my freshman and sophomore year of college, I didn't think trombones would ever again have a place in my heart, or music library. Good thing I saved a dusty shelf in the back for "Chase the White Whale." Driver F isn't a pointless genre resurrection, it's six talented dudes from Texas who unwittingly let a horn section audition for their band. And if that were ever wrong, then lawdy, I don't want to be right.
5. Living in Japan doesn't entirely equate to living under a rock. For example, it does not prevent me from finding good music, and new releases often several weeks before scheduled dates in the states. I am, however, completely oblivious to knowing which bands have, or have not yet gotten huge. So when I finally learned that Airborne Toxic Event were in actuality, 'not' already bigger than Jesus, I was more than a tad surprised. Guess there's always next year.
4. In today's music, bands that endure the tour grind, selling legitimate records on "dinosaur" merits of honesty and hard work are more than a dying breed. They've already become a bygone relic of the days before autotune, garageband, and myspace. Thank god for Valencia, whose sophomore release "We All Have a Reason to Believe" was good enough to make this list even if it had been released by shit-eating scenesters looking for a quick cash-in. Instead, they get bonus points for bucking the aforementioned trends.
3. I already wear Alkaline Trio on my wrist. Every day. So for them to release an album that did not inevitably wind up on some arbitrary year-end list would be more than just a little sacrilegious. However, partiality be damned, "Agony & Irony" is actually the band's most legitimate effort in recent years.
2. There is absolutely nothing I can say about Gaslight Anthem that hasn't already been said by anyone, anywhere on the internet, or out in space. Naysayers, nonbelievers, trolls, and haters from every scene, every camp, and every age and walk of life have all put down their pitchforks and joined hands around "59 Sound." The only hands not yet in this giant circle of love are the ones spending too much time in their own trousers. Yes, you. Stop masturbating and go pick up this album.
1. What force could possibly have unseated a top spot shoe-in from #2? It would have taken some supernatural force beyond earthly reckoning. It would have to be unexpected, brilliant, haunting, soaring, thought-provoking, and positively fucking unbelievable in every nook and cranny, that's what. And that's what the self-titled debut from Glasvegas has brought, and brought in heaping spades this year.
Step one: "plug in." Step two: "scrape blown mind off wall."
* This little gem could have secured a spot on the official list, if it were longer than three tracks, and if one of those tracks were not live. Still, if "Red Star" is indicative of where Third Eye Blind is going, then I'm totally down for hanging out with 1997 again. Bring the Aquafina, and I'll bring my Super Nintendo.
* Ok, so Houston Calls didn't make this list for making good music. To say I was let down by "The End of an Error's" mediocrity would imply I was expecting it to be good--on the contrary. I do wish it had been better though--if, only to justify the beautiful cover that ultimately speaks volumes more than the music inside could have ever hoped. One of only several physical albums I purchased this year.