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The Best Albums Of 2008!

New This Week

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed its absence during the past two weeks. I know I did!

But it was only right and natural. Because any commentary that methodically examines each week's new releases must live and die by those very releases.

And between you and me, nothing good came out!

Luckily, any week which features a reissue of Rush's Permanent Waves album and the original Broadway cast recording of Xanadu can't be called dull by any stretch!

"Nightmarish beyond belief" would be cool, though!


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Kate Nash: Made Of Bricks (Geffen) She's from England and she's the next big thing since Lily Allen! And the next big thing before Katy Perry! Catch her quick! Is she related to Graham Nash? Is she not a singer but an actual vintage automobile? Will her charming singles like "Foundations" and "Mouthwash" catch on here in the States like they did in her homeland--or will they fail miserably due to a crumbling music industry infrastructure? Most importantly, should all written discourse end with a question mark? No! But Kate Nash is pretty good.

Josh Groban: Awake (WEA International) I for one am stunned that the popular Mr. Groban's label saw fit to internationally reissue this 2006 album with some additional tracks! After all, his recent Christmas album was 2007's biggest seller--which means that more people than ever will be interested in buying his complete back catalog! Furthermore, previous fans unfortunate enough to have already purchased Awake will need to buy it again to complete their collections! Bet no one thought of that! However, the presence of Ladysmith Black Mambazo on two tracks here makes everything OK just on general principles. I am told they know Paul Simon personally!

Various Artists: Juno [film soundtrack] (Rhino) Everyone's talking about Juno--"ju no" what I mean? And not just because it's a fab movie about teen pregnancy--aren't they all, ultimately?--but because of this completely captivating soundtrack by Kimya Dawson of the Moldy Peaches. The guy who writes our Spin blog can fill you in here, but I assume like me you're already out the door on your way to the store to buy this album! Get some milk on your way home!

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Rush: Permanent Waves (Mobile Fidelity) It's a dream come true for Rush fans! Their classic 1980 album Permanent Waves--renowned both for its suggestive cover and its mention of euchre in its album credits--is being reissued in a 24 KT Gold Ultradisc II version by those hi-fi nuts at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. I can't wait to rip this baby! Incidentally, when I was a DJ at college I used to play Rush 45s at 33-1/3 and tell listeners it was Bachman-Turner Overdrive! Oddly, I'm now a writer!

Sia: Some People Have Real Problems (Hear Music) Not a Rush tribute album but a full-fledged great new CD from an Australian singer--her first in three years!--that I recommend you purchase immediately. Featuring a guest appearance by Beck, a cover of Ray Davies' "I Go To Sleep," and album art that will launch a thousand ships--whatever that means--this album can be played over and over again and it won't bother you! Prediction: Fans of art-rock group Asia will like roughly 75 percent of it!

Xanadu (2007 Original Broadway Cast recording) (PS Classics): Is it merely coincidence that as I write this sentence I am listening to the Troggs' "Little Red Donkey"? Yes! Unbelievably, time has mellowed all of us, and what was once regarded as a laughable flop--a dorky '80s movie starring Olivia Newton-John--is now fabulous fodder for Broadway. Thanks to the always great songs of Jeff Lynne and Australian cult fave John Farrar (genetically linked to the bassist of Phantom Planet!), and our declining taste as humans, bad is good, up is down, and this sounds just great! Eventually notes won't even matter!

Medeski, Martin & Wood: Let's Go Everywhere (Megaforce) I'm sure we all agree that it was only a matter of time before hipster jazz trio Medeski, Martin and Wood recorded a children's album; rules are rules, and we all must do our part. This is actually a pretty nifty set, and had it existed in 1994, there's every chance I might have been playing this in my car for my kids that time instead of Suicide's "Frankie Teardrop"--my only judgement lapse ever as a parent! Oh, well--there's kids singing, great tracks like "Hickory Dickory Dock" and "Pat A Cake," and--in sum--lots of material that Soulja Boy may soon be covering!

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Terence Boylan: Suzy (Wounded Bird) Wow! One of the all-time great unsung classics of the '80s--1980 to be exact--finally gets reissued on CD, and still sounds absolutely spectacular. A onetime Bard student and college acquaintance of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, Boylan was a member of Appletree Theatre with his producer brother John, then a solo artist with three fab albums to his credit, of which this is the third. I hate dweebs who say songs "should have been hits," but I remain stunned that this album's "Roll Your Own" was not a worldwide smash at the time of its release and will now point you here to find out more. Check it out!

Reverend Organdrum: Hi-Fi Stereo (Yep Roc) They say that there's no such thing as a coincidence, so imagine my joy that this album has come out less than a week after I actually asked myself--I'm not kidding!--"I wonder how bands like Reverend Horton Heat make a living?" Lo and behold, they make it via albums like this--a side project by Rev. Heat (Jim Heath), organist Tim Alexander, and drummer Todd Soesbe. Next I plan to ask myself how it would feel to receive a package containing a million dollars in cash!

Wussy: Left For Dead (Shake It) Though they may well have the best band name ever, I am actually even more enthused about the enticing sales offer I saw on this band's Amazon page: "Send Wussy ringtones to your cell phone now!"  Hey, I'm in!

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