After years in the making, Guns N’ Roses finally released Chinese Democracy.
Sorry, Axl Rose, but it didn’t make Medleyville staffer George Henn‘s list of the best albums from 2008.
These discs did make the cut:
1. Mudcrutch — Mudcrutch (Reprise). Tom Petty‘s pre-Heartbreakers lineup releases its debut more than 30 years after disbanding, and it’s full of more spark and spontaneity than anything he has released in a while.
2. Matt Keating — Quixotic (MRI). Long under the radar, this New York songsmith offers twice as many reasons to finally discover him on this tuneful double disc that is delivered with the confidence of a seasoned pro.
3. Matthew Sweet — Sunshine Lies (Shout! Factory). Seventeen years after Girlfriend, pop perfectionist Sweet revisits the lush harmonies and homespun sound (not to mention some of the backing players) that marked his breakthrough album.
4. Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves — Roll With You (Q Division). On only his second disc, the precocious Reed displays the chops of a vintage soul shouter, with a knockout band to match.
5. Mudhoney — The Lucky Ones (Sub Pop). Grunge may be old news, but its elder statesmen somehow sound ageless, and singer Mark Arm ensures that Mudhoney’s eighth studio LP is a howling good time.
6. Alejandro Escovedo — Real Animal (Back Porch/Manhattan). The venerable roots rocker revisits his punk past, setting his typically aching, honest lyrics to an often raw, rowdy soundtrack.
7. The Hold Steady — Stay Positive (Vagrant). Critics’ darlings pick up where their Boys and Girls In America left off two years ago, with 11 more biting, bar-room anthems and plenty of piercing guitars.
8. The Offramps — Split the Difference (Deluxe). Meat-and-potatoes, blue-collar rock meets punk angst — think Tom Petty sitting in with Soul Asylum about 20 years ago.
9. Gary Louris — Vagabonds (Rydodisc). On his solo debut, the ex-Jayhawks front man steers away from his former band’s country jangle with stark, confessional ballads (“I Wanna Get High”) and soaring, gospel-style choruses.
10. Foxboro Hot Tubs — Stop Drop and Roll!!! (Reprise). Paying homage to the British Invasion under a not-so-secret identity, Green Day leans perhaps a bit too heavily on some key influences — at one point it sounds as if the guys are copping two Kinks tunes at once — but in this case imitation really does seem like the sincerest form of flattery.
Honorable mention/10 more worth buying (in alphabetical order):
AC/DC — Black Ice (Columbia)
The Baseball Project — Volume I: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails (Yep Roc)
The Black Crowes — Warpaint (Silver Arrow)
Black Hollies — Casting Shadows (Ernest Jenning)
Billy Bragg — Mr. Love & Justice (Anti)
The Fratellis — Here We Stand (Interscope)
Nada Surf — Lucky (Barsuk)
Smash Palace — Everyone Comes and Goes (Zip)
Supersuckers — Get It Together! (Mid-Fi)
The Whigs — Mission Control (ATO)