My Top 10 Rediscovered Songs & Albums of 2008

My Top 10 Rediscovered Songs & Albums of 2008

This time of year “Top 10…of 2008” lists are all the rage. Yahoo and blogs everywhere have made them a staple of their business model, and I gobble them up like that fat kid in Willy Wonka’s factory. Top 10 Crazy Celebrity Meltdowns, Corruption Scandals or, my personal fave, the Top 10 Albums of 2008.

Albums like Fleet Foxes “Fleet Foxes”, Raphael Saadiq “The Way I See It” and Vampire Weekend “Vampire Weekend” are all deservedly making the rounds, and would definitely make my list.

However I am finding the whole thing a bit clichè. It’s been done. So, this year I sat down and took a look back at the Albums and Songs that I RE-discovered this year.

This is what I found:

10. Roy Orbison – “Mystery Girl”

To be honest, I started listening to this album for one reason and one reason only. ‘You Got It’ is quite possibly one of the great songs of my ears’ time. One of 2008’s most talked about albums Girl Talk’s “Feed the Animals” features the song in the track ‘In Step’ and made me take a look at the entire Orbison album. Its deep emotion, full sound and pop accessibility make this a giant track on a great album. Other notable tracks are ‘California Blue’ and ‘The Only One’. A must listen for all, but especially Ryan Adams fans. I think Ryan might be ripping Roy off… or maybe great minds think alike.

9. ABBA – “Gold”

Ok, I get it, greatest hits albums can’t be considered an “Album”. I’ve heard the argument. But I come from a generation that got their music one track at a time. So while I respect the sanctity of the “Album,” for my purposes they are allowed. I’ll say it short and sweet. I don’t know what I am more upset about; the fact that I like ABBA, or the fact tat I haven’t been listening to them for my entire life. If ‘Take a Chance on Me’ doesn’t make you dance… check your pulse!

8. Ray LaMontagne – “Trouble”

This album makes me feel. Listen to ‘Trouble’ or ‘Hold You in My Arms’. Both will have meaning for everyone.

7. The Killers – “Sams Town”

This album, and band for that matter, makes me proud of my generation musically. ‘When You Were Young’ and ‘Read My Mind’ have an energy that carry your mind, and lyrics that feed you as you go. A+ album for a band that also put out one of 2008’s Best “Day and Age.”

6. Paul Simon – “Graceland”

This one isn’t even fair. It’s on almost everyone’s list. But then again, there’s got to be a reason for that. If ‘You Can Cal Me Al’ doesn’t put it on there by itself than ‘Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes’ or the title track ‘Graceland’ guarantee its spot as one of the best albums of all time. I rediscovered it this year after seeing a live performance on PBS with the full African chorus Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Amazing talent from such a little man.

5. Three Dog Night – The Best of Three Dog Night

I know… again with the greatest hits. But this favorite of my parents has now become a favorite among my friends and me. Perfect combination of Soul, Funk and Vocal force… plus I’m a sucker for the Organ. The day after Barack Obama won the election ‘Black and White’ was on my Pandora Internet Radio playlist, it just felt like the right song for the right moment. It forced me to look beyond the classics like ‘One’ and listen to ‘Shambala’ and ‘Never Been To Spain’. Awesome.

4. Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs – ‘Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby’

Bruce Hornsby made up a good majority of the soundtrack of my childhood. At the same time, I have a love of bluegrass that stems from my family’s Kentucky roots. So for me, when you combine Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs on one album, you can’t go wrong. The bluegrass version of ‘Mandolin Rain’ is a particular favorite, while ‘Hills of Mexico’ and ‘Come on Out’ represent everything that I respect about bluegrass music.

3. The Hold Steady – “Boys and Girls in America”

This band pairs big sound with comfort of house party. When lead singer Craig Finn sings you feel as though he is speaking directly to you, but you happen to be standing in the middle of 100,000 people. And everyone is partying. I’ll admit I get a “Dude, did you see The Hold Steady at Bonnaroo… Whoa…” vibe from the band in general, but I can handle it because the music is really good. They party.

2. Spoon – “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”

Spoon’s sound is somehow unique and familiar at the same time. “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” illustrates this perfectly, taking sounds from Grunge Rock to Motown and making them their own. ‘Cherry Bomb’ makes me jump around like a five-year-old that has to use the bathroom.

1. Mark Ronson – “Version”

I heard whispers about this album, and even listened to some of the tracks without giving it due attention. Apparently mine ears were not ready for the perfection that is this album by one of the premiere DJs and Producers of today. ‘Valerie’ featuring the soon-to-be late phenom Amy Winehouse feels as though it was ripped directly from the 60’s, but doesn’t miss a beat as a contemporary pop song. ‘Stop Me’ ft. Daniel Merriweather and ‘Oh My God’ ft. Lilly Allen are also standouts on this masterpiece of an album. Perfect album for a classy party.

Check them out, and take a look back to see what you might have RE-discovered last year.

Fun work

Martin Luther King Tribute

I wanted to attempt this style  in February, and being Black History Month I chose the Rev. as my muse.

His face is made up of the words of his epic Lincoln Memorial “I have a dream…” speech.

Take a look. I am having it framed as I type.

Smoking Goat Branding

I like beer.

Beer high in flavor, alcohol and price. I brew at home, but wouldn’t consider myself very good at this point. I’m working on it.

We have friends in Louisiana who I would consider really good. I designed some branding for their forthcoming brewery down there.

The Smoking Goat will hopefully be amazing, especially if I get some good beer out of the deal.

Have a look. Then drink a beer and have a look again. Continue this process until the logo looks awesome.

New Poster

This is a poster I made for my buddy Dustin.

A classic quote from him as we drove by Effingham, IL’s infamous and huge cross.

I thought it would look good in his new apartment.

Sheltered Perceptions

I recently got the chance to work on a project for the Humane Society. Given the fact that every time I walk into an animal shelter I have to be talked down from taking home every animal in the place, I was happy to help in anyway I could.

With the majority of pet buying in the United States coming from breeders, mall pet shops and unfortunately mills, animal shelters (specifically the Humane Society) are left overflowing with pets that need loving homes. They are running into a perception problem however, and many misconceptions about shelter pets are accepted as fact, and often repeated as such.

To get past this, we decided to take the problem head on, and address the most common misconceptions individually.

Here is where we landed:

Humane Society - Misconceptions"Mutt"

Humane Society - Misconceptions - "Bark"

Lauren and Dan sit’n in a tree…

My good friend Lauren is getting married in July, and though I am extremely jealous of her fiance Dan (don’t tell my wife), I made their save the date cards.

I use VistaPrint to print these types of things. Though the quality suffers, and the rumor is that they are destroying local community printers nationwide, for the price they can’t be beat. Check them out next time you want to customize your own holiday card or invitation.

Here’s how Lauren’s STDs turned out: