Best of 2008

Top 50 Albums of 2008 [Picks 1-10]

by oz on December 19, 2008

The best part of doing these year end lists is rediscovering every album we loved in 2008. While we chose Blitzen Trapper as the best album of the year, it may as well be a three-way tie. How do you choose between Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes and The Black Keys?

Hopefully y’all liked our choices. I’m always interested in hearing about what we overlooked.‚  So, what were your favorite albums of the year that we missed?

1. Blitzen Trapper – Furr (our review)

Blitzen Trapper

The cover art is made of wood and that’s what the album gives me. I don’t have enough good things to say. It’s my favorite album of 2008 and “Black River Killer” is my favorite song right now.

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

Blitzen Trapper – Bread for Gold

Video: Blitzen Trapper – Furr (Live on Conan)

2. Black Keys – Attack and Release

Black Keys

After Magic Potion, how do the Akron boys take it to the next level? They let Danger Mouse take over production and add in more instruments like banjos and flutes. The results are wondrous.

Video: The Black Keys – I Got Mine (Live on Letterman)

3. Fleet Foxes – Self Titled (our review)

Fleet Foxes

As stunning a debut as you’ll see in years. Woody saw them at SXSW and said “I thought angels were singing to me.” I called him a pussy at the time, but he’s right. So angelic. To say I am looking forward to their 2nd release is as big of an understatement.

Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal

Fleet Foxes – He Doesn’t Know Why

Video: Fleet Foxes – Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Live In London)

4. Dr. Dog – Fate

Dr. Dog

Jeff Tweedy loves Dr. Dog and so do we. Production is getting tighter and the songs are taking on bigger, often biblical themes.‚  See them live to really appreciate the band.

Dr. Dog – The Ark

Dr. Dog – The Old Days

Video: Dr. Dog – Hang On

5. Justin Townes Earle – The Good Life
Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle is what country music needs right now. If you’ve had enough of the mainstream pop garbage, listen to the music as Hank, Townes, Kris, Willie, Waylon and Johnny intended it to be heard. Justin has a voice and bravado that’s a throwback to country music’s legends.

Exclusive: Justin Townes Earle – Lone Pine Hill (from the HearYa Live Session)

Exclusive: Justin Townes Earle – Who Am I To Say (from the HearYa Live Session)

Hear more from our live session with Justin Townes Earle.

Video: Justin Townes Earle – Lone Pine Hill (Live)

6. Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creations Dark

Drive By Truckers cover art

DBT’s first album without Isbell and, although I miss him dearly, Hood and Cooley show that the show will certainly go on. It’s 19 tracks deep and “Ghost To Most,” “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife,” and “Daddy Needs a Drink” have all become favorites.‚  I’m also craving more Shonna Tucker after hearing “I’m Sorry Huston.”

Drive-By Truckers – Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife (Live)

Drive-By Truckers – Opening Act (Live)

Drive-By Truckers – Ghost To Most (Live)

Video: Drive By Truckers – Ghost To Most

7. Calexico – Carried to Dust (our review)


In our review, I compared these guys to the scene in Young Guns when the gang visits the spirit world. Calexico are true musicians that explore new sounds and bend genres. This album comes with some spicy, southwestern flavor.

Calexico – Two Silver Trees

Video: Calexico – Two Silver Trees

8. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

My Morning Jacket

Do I even need to write anything about My Morning Jacket? This would have been higher on the list, but there are one or two tracks on Evil Urges that I can’t even listen to – “Highly Suspicious” is one of them. I still respect the constant experimentation and will remain a captive listener with each release.

My Morning Jacket – I’m Amazed

Video: My Morning Jacket – Librarian (Live)

9. Port O’Brien – All We Could Do Was Sing (our review)

Port O'Brien

Lead singer-songwriter Van Pierszalowski is an Alaska fisherman (think Deadliest Catch) and All I Could Do Was Sing always feels inspired by a bit of cabin fever with soft, sweet, finger-picked tunes like “Fisherman’s Son” offset by extended jams and heavy guitar riffs on “Pigeonhold” and “The Rooftop Song.” Damn good people too.

Port O’Brien – I Woke Up Today

Port O’Brien – Close The Lid

Hear more at our live session with Port O’Brien.

Video: Port O’Brien – I Woke Up Today (recorded exclusively for

Port OBrien I Woke Up Today for – Port OBrien

10. Langhorne Slim – Self Titled (our review)

Langhorne Slim

I’m not sure what the rebel side of heaven looks like, but I hope when I’m bellied up to the bar at The Big Guy in the Sky’s Bar and Lounge, that Langhorne strolls up in his fedora so I can buy him cocktail.

Langhorne Slim – Rebel Side of Heaven

Exclusive: Langhorne Slim – Collette (from the HearYa Live Session)

Exclusive: Langhorne Slim – Restless (from the HearYa Live Session)

Hear more tracks at our live session with Langhorne Slim and The War Eagles.

Video: Langhorne Slim – Restless (Live on Letterman)


Top 50 Albums of 2008 [Picks 11-20]

by oz on December 18, 2008

HearYa and Internet Explorer were in a pissing match for most of the day yesterday. For those readers that use that glorious browser, you may have had some trouble reading yesterday’s post. We corrected the bug – my apologies.

We’re back at it and almost done with our best albums of 2008. At the very end, I’ll post the complete list in its entirety along with all of the mp3’s.‚  It’s been kind of quiet out there. How we doing so far? Feel free to let us know if our collective head is up our collective ass.

11. Plants and Animals – Parc Avenue (our review)

Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue

At times wonderfully complex, at others beautiful in its simplicity.

Video: Plants and Animals – Feedback In The Field

12. The Felice Brothers – Self Titled (our review)

Felice Brothers

This is great American music the way it was meant to be played – slicked back, brash, and soaked in scotch. How can you not love the lyrics: “I left my blue-eyed lady and went with Tony Mercedes to the gambling ring. I lost my diamond watch, but in the parking lot I took it back again.”

The Felice Brothers – Frankie’s Gun

The Felice Brothers – Wonderful Life

13. Blind Pilot – 3 Rounds and a Sound (our review)

Blind Pilot

Portland, Oregon’s Blind Pilot sound like a potpourri of Wilco, Iron and Wine, and The Shins. If you don’t like them then you don’t have a soul.

Blind Pilot – Oviedo

14. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

Hold Steady Stay Positive

They churn out great tunes like a machine. “Lord I’m Discouraged” is one of the best tracks of the year.

15. O’Death – Broken Limbs, Hymns and Skin (our review)

Odeath cover art

Fiddle-led chaos. Imagine listening to The Foggy Bottom Boys lit on fire after drinking half a bottle of grain alcohol. Is it for everybody? No. But give it a chance.

O’Death – Lowtide

16. The Moondoggies – Don’t Be A Stranger (our review)

The Moondoggies

The Moondoggies are The Band, the Dead, and Little Feet rolled into one. “Changing” is one of my favorite songs of the year and this Seattle band shows huge promise.

The Moondoggies – Changing

17. The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely

raconteurs cover art

I might be in the minority, but I like them better than the Stripes. White with a top-notch rhythm section is mouth-watering.

Video: The Raconteurs (Live) – Consolers of The Lonely

18. Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks – Real Emotional Trash

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks Cover Art

My favorite solo Malkmus disc. Have to say, that the addition of Janet Weiss, former drummer of Sleater-Kinney, didn’t hurt the cause.

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks – Cold Son

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks – Baltimore

19. Dead Confederate – Wrecking Ball (our review)

Dead Confederate

Dead Confederate have a great shot for mainstream‚  success. They have an emotional delivery that will have you thinking of Nirvana or early Radiohead – think “Creep.” Their sound deserves to be heard in an arena.

Dead Confederate – The Rat

Hear more at our live session with Dead Confederate.

20. The Whipsaws – 60 Watt Avenue (our review)

whipsaws cover art

Every time I describe The Whipsaws to somebody, I mention Lucero and Ben Nichols. I think that says plenty. Great alt-country from Alaska.

The Whipsaws – 60 Watt


Top 50 Albums of 2008 [Picks 21-30]

by oz on December 17, 2008

We’re knee deep into the top 25 albums of 2008 and this batch features two bands from Alive Records – Left Lane Cruiser and Hacienda. The Rural Alberta Advantage was arguably our biggest surprise of the year, building buzz with nothing more than their music – no label, no publicist.‚ ‚  The Morning Benders and Sam Champion were both in our live session studio, so make sure to check out those tracks if you have a few extra seconds.

21. The Morning Benders – Talking Through Tin Cans (our review)

The Morning Benders

The Bay Area quartet have hints of The Beatles, a dash of Pet Sounds sound, and a little Zombies tossed in for good measure. Thankfully they don’t come off as cheap imitators and instead put forth an excellent effort. A good shot of melodic California pop.

The Morning Benders – Damnit Anna (Hear Ya Live Session version)

The Morning Benders – Waiting on a War (Hear Ya Live Session version)

Hear more from our live session with The Morning Benders.

22. Left Lane Cruiser – Bring Yo’ Ass To The Table (our review)

Left Lane Cruiser

Its filthy, but underneath the bluesy grime are two extraordinarily talented musicians.

Left Lane Cruiser – Wash It

23. Okkervil River – The Stand Ins

Okkervil River

A step down from The Stage Names, but that was to be expected. You’ll find a few gems – just not the transcendent album that its predecessor was. Okkervil’s b-sides are still good enough to land in the top 25.

Okkervil River – Lost Coastlines

24. Hacienda – Loud Is The Night (our review)


Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys produced this album and is preparing his solo tour with Hacienda as his backing band. Dr. Dog performs backing vocals on the album. It’s safe to say that they have the seal of approval from some of music’s finest.

Hacienda – She’s Got A Hold On Me

25. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns (our review)

Rural Alberta Advantage

Imagine Neutral Milk Hotel with the drummer from The National. Yes, its that good.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Don’t Haunt This Place

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Frank AB

26. Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

silver jews

David Berman continues to put wry, smart, and often humorous lyrics into his most musically ambitious and tightest effort to date.

Silver Jews – Strange Victory, Strange Defeat

27. Black Crowes – War Paint

Black Crowes Warpaint

The Robinson boys deliver their best album since Amorica. Maxim can fuck themselves.

Video: The Black Crowes – “Wounded Bird” on Letterman

28. Sam Champion – Heavenly Bender (our review)

Sam Champion Heavenly Bender

Rolling Stone described Sam Champion’s sound like Ryan Adams covering Pavement’s Wowee Zowee. Need I say more?

Sam Champion – Be Mine Everyone

Hear more tracks at our live session with Sam Champion.

29. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Self Titled (our review)

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

MBAR was homeless and strung out on drugs before cleaning up and focusing on music. The result is folk album with his signature lazy, organic vocal delivery.

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Buriedfed

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – The Debtor

30. Black Mountain – In The Future (our review)

Black Mountain

Best appreciated in a live setting, Black Mountain perform amazingly good psychedelic rock songs that either punch you in the face or get you in a slow groove.

Black Mountain – Tyrants


Top 50 Albums of 2008 [Picks 31-40]

by oz on December 16, 2008

You may as well just make a playlist out of these picks‚  from our top 50 albums of 2008. Not only are these outstanding albums, but these singles are some of my favorites of the year. Most notable are the tracks posted for The John Henrys, The Heavy, Elliott BROOD, Horse Feathers, and The War On Drugs.

31. The John Henrys – Sweet As The Grain (our review)

The John Henrys

The John Henrys show that country music is still alive and well – it just comes from Canada now.

The John Henrys – Lost In The Canyon

32. Howlin’ Rain – Magnificent Fiend (our review)

Howlin Rain

Grab bong, go to basement, crank up loud. Pretty fucking good, isn’t it?

Howlin Rain – Dancers At The End Of Time

Hear more at our live session with Howlin Rain.

33. The Explorers Club – Freedom Wind (our review)

The Explorers Club

A wonderful approach to The Beach Boys sound. Their acoustic live session moved them up 10 spots. Amazing 5 part vocal harmonies.

The Explorers Club – Do You Love Me?

Hear more at our live session with The Explorers Club.

34. Elliott Brood – Mountain Meadows (our review)

Elliott Brood Mountain Meadows

A rock and roll band playing bluegrass instruments.‚  That’s a recipe for success with HearYa.

Elliott BROOD – Write It All Down For You

35. The Heavy – Great Vengeance and Furious Fire (our review)

The Heavy

The Heavy capture the 70’s spirit like no other. By far the sexiest album on our entire list.

The Heavy – Colleen

36. Horse Feathers – House With No Home (our review)

Horse Feathers

There’s a trend following of whispering vocals over sparse instrumentation in the indie world. Iron and Wine, Great Lake Swimmers, Bon Iver…and now let’s add Horse Feathers to the list. Melancholy Americana at its finest.

Horse Feathers – Curs In The Weeds

37. War On Drugs – Wagonwheel Blues (our review)

War On Drugs

One of those albums that grows on you. Three months ago it wasn’t on this list, but it continues to get better. You’ll hear traces of Wilco throughout.

War On Drugs – Taking The Farm

38. Jessica Lea Mayfield – With Blasphemy So Heartfelt (our review)

Jessica Lea Mayfield

It’s hard to believe that this Kent, Ohio songstress is only 18 years old. Her debut is soulful and sultry – a cross between Mazzy Star, Loretta Lynn and Neko Case.

Jessica Lea Mayfield – Kiss Me Again

39. Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead (our review)

Helio Sequence

The Helio Sequence takes you on a meandering daydream of folk-inspired pop tunes. The perfect background music for a quiet Saturday morning, or a windows-down drive through the city on a sunny day.

The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead

40. Glossary – The Better Angels of Our Nature (our review)


This alt-country outfit out of Tennessee have put out five great albums and continue to fly under the radar. The Better Angels of Our Nature is still available for free on their website. You should download it if you haven’t already.

Glossary – Little Caney