Silver Jews

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


I had originally dubbed October “Rocktober” as I was fixing to see a host of shows this month. Due to some personal issues, I missed my first show, Heartless Bastards & Langhorne Slim, and then Jim James was injured and the My Morning Jacket Show at the Chicago Theatre was canceled. Rocktober was falling apart in front of my eyes. But then I went on a run of shows that I haven’t seen since before the kids started arriving fast and furious.

First up were the Silver Jews. Lead singer, David Berman, emerged in a snappy suit and fat belt buckle enscribed with “JOOS.” This show was a replacement for MMJ and in a way I was happier to see Berman and company for the first time.

Berman carries an awkwardness on stage that makes his stage presence genuine and real. He’s constantly checking his set list, which is written on a paper plate and dedicates songs to anyone and everyone. He also battles the mic and the accompanying stand as if it were his first time on stage.‚  Berman announced that it was in fact their 100th time on stage this night. Bob Nastanovich (formerly of Pavement) showed up to play drums on “New Orleans.” He told stories of the origins of the band, when they would call Thurston Moore’s answering machine and leave demos.

The show was an absolute blast and, in many ways, a very communal experience. People sang along and when he played “Random Rules” everyone in the crowd had a shit-eating grin on their face.

Next up the docket were Fleet Foxes. This was the third time seeing them this year and their eponymous LP is easily my favorite debut of the year, if not my favorite album. This was my first time seeing them headline in a proper club and they didn’t disappoint.

At the Pitchfork Festival, the crowd was eerily quiet when Fleet Foxes played and once the boys from Washington hit the stage at The Metro, the “shhhhhs” came out in full force. When one jackass started mocking the situation with his girlfriend, another guy politely said, “Please, we really want to hear them.” The guy relented as he realized that people came to listen the music and not bullshit about nonsense.

The Foxes tore through a set that covered almost every tune from their EP and full length. “Drops In The River” which led into “English House” was an amazing 10 minutes of music. There was plenty of easy going banter the band and the crowd. It’s good to see they are easing into their new found celebrity.

The highlight of the night was “Mykonos.” The four-piece harmonies were absolutely breathless. That was the last song before the encore, and really they could have walked away at that point and I would have been thrilled. I’m glad I caught them at The Metro this time because I don’t think I’ll ever have that opportunity again.

Last on my concert stops was Okkervil River. This was my 6th time seeing them this year and I’m one random run-in at the grocery store from getting a restraining order slapped on my desk. Sheff and co. launched into “Plus Ones” and were off. What else is there possibly left for me to say about them? Let’s see… New guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo seems to be settling in nicely. In August, she seemed unsure of herself, as if she didn’t want to flub a note. Now she smiles more and seems to really be enjoying herself. Bass Guitarist, Patrick Pestorious, should sing more often. He sounds great on “Lost Coastlines.” And on a sad note, Sheff announced that they don’t play “Kansas City” any more. That made me sad. That’s a fucking doozy of a tune.

Anyway it was a great show that we’ve all come to expect. Sheff busted out a solo “Red” and the band fired a version of “A Stone” that was transcendent. They are hands down my favorite band right now.

Silver Jews – Strange Victory, Strange Defeat

Fleet Foxes – He Doesn’t Know Why

Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal

Okkervil River – Lost Coastlines


Silver Jews Tomorrow Night at Metro

by Woody on October 9, 2008

Dance party in the Woodman kitchen last night. Maybe it was because I wanted to give a shout out to my Jewish brethren on Yom Kippur or maybe it was the fact that I was given a last minute hall pass tomorrow night for the Silver Jews show at the Metro. Either or, Mommy wasn’t home and we cranked up the Jews extra loud and broke it down – Woodman style. Some were naked, some wore coats and hats. No questions were asked. Mass amounts of cookies were eaten.

Things got a little weird during “Sometimes A Pony Gets Depressed.” After a vigorous routine in which my four year old Teddy did his best Flashdance impersonation, he asked what the name of the song was. Upon hearing my answer, he asked why would a pony be depressed. Thankfully my daughter demanded more music and the dance party moved forward without me having to craft an answer.

Lookout Mountain Lookout Sea is one of my favorites this year. Can’t wait to finally cross the Jews off my must-see list.

Live Video: Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed


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