Here's a fairly random sampling of The Best of 2008, in the form of:
Music. The Black Angels are still my new favorite band, with new album Directions to See a Ghost only marginally inferior to their 2006 effort, Passover. Droning guitars, occasional organs and other keyboards, thudding bass and percussion, gauzy stoner vocals. Love it. Love it. They manage to edge out The Black Keys for Best Discovery of 2008 honors, even though the BK and their guttural, fuzz-heavy, blues-from-the-swamp sound is, more or less, what I tried to invent for myself during 20-odd years of guitar noodling. (Especially true on their earlier records Rubber Factory and Thickfreakness.) Honorable mentions include Bettye LaVette's Scene of the Crime CD--her best yet; Brightblack Morning Light's Motion to Rejoin, which features ultra-stoner, ultra-mellow but layered sonic soundscapes; Crooked Still, a Massachusetts-based country/bluegrass band whose third album, Still Crooked, is pleasantly morbid and grim (imagine The Handsome Family with an ethereal female singer and acoustic instruments); Sasquatch, a power trio that channels Alice in Chains but with better guitar playing; and Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter, a compilation of Ike and Tina Turner from their late-70s rocking heyday. I never knew Ike could play guitar like that, but he could--and Tina could sure holler. This is nothing like the soul music I've always associated with Tina; this is rock & roll, sure as Janis is. Meanwhile, Senegal's Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba came out with Segu Blue, the best African music I've heard in quite a while, featuring bouncy kora playing, multilayered vocals and propelling basslines. And let's not forget Junior Kimbrough, inspiration for the above-mentioned Black Keys, whose record Most Things Don't Work Out is a standout. But really, any of his collections of swamp-boogie-trance-groove music hit the spot just fine.
Please note: not all these records came out in 2008. Some did; others I just didn;t discover till recently.
Coming soon: 2008's best books, movies and, like, experiences, man.