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Friday, December 26, 2008

The Wildy's World Top-40 of 2008: #6-12

We're working our way to #1, and today we get into rarefied territory - the Top 12. The competition at this point is pretty hot and heavy, and we've rearranged this list several times in the process of putting it together. Each of the top 3 could easily have been #1, and you can be confident that anyone who's made it this far down the list put out a top notch recording. Remember that there were 537 albums eligible for consideration for the Top-40, so we're in the top 2% of all submissions for the year here.

Each album gets a little more face time here, and as always, if you click on the Artist Name/Title you'll be taken to the original Wildy's World Review. The original reviews have a full synopsis of the album as well as links to artist web pages and outlets that sell the album. So what are we waiting for?!?!?!?

#12 Margot Blanche - Pages In My Diary

Pages In My Diary offers up a blending of Jazz with Hip-Hop the likes of which you've likely never heard. Part Madonna, part Billie Holliday and part Suicide Girl, Blanche grabs your attention with a striking voice and commanding presence. Her tendency toward a burlesque style stage show may be a mere distraction to music fans, but you'll forget all about it when she starts to sing. One of the most original attempts at musical fusion we've heard in some time.

Eryn Hoerig and Kate Grigsby could stand on a Denver street corner in a blizzard and sing the menu from a hot dog stand and people would line up to listen. Their intertwining voices create harmonies that are otherworldly. Add to this one of the tightest and most talented classic country/Appalachian Folk bands between two oceans and some amazing songwriting and you have one amazing album. The Hollyfelds toil in the very busy genre of traditional American music, but quickly rise to the upper echelon of that crowd with this gorgeous debut album.

In putting together this list we considered a couple of different factors. First and foremost was (subjectively) how much we liked the CD, but we also considered to some degree issues such as commercial viability. The Simple Things makes this list on pure heart. This little artsy, minimalist jazz/pop other trio has made one of the most eclectic and starkly beautiful albums of 2008. Vocalist Kaitlin McGaw could sell CDs/downloads singing a Capella, and Raymond Ruiz and Michael Gallant are top-notch musicians in their own right. If you get out San Francisco this way put The Simple Things on your itinerary if you can find a show.

#9 Julie McKee - What A Woman Shouldn't Do

Julie McKee's debut album is one of the finest collections of Jazz-imbued pop music of the year. She's part Annie Lennon, part Fiona Apple and part Jane Siberry. 2008 saw McKee gain significant attention for What A Woman Shouldn't Do, and even broke down international barriers by performing her first shows in New York City and Chicago (both well reviewed, by the way). Intelligent and witty lyrics make this one of the smartest albums of the year. An absolute must have for music fans.

#8 Crooked Still - Still Crooked

Crooked Still is as about as old-school country as one can get. Still Crooked is steeped in the Celtic and Folk traditions from which country music originally grew. Aoife O'Donovan sings this music like its her life's blood, and the rest of Crooked Still don't so much back her up as organically weave themselves around her voice. Out and out the top Country/Americana album of the year.

#7 Mike Ford - Canada Needs You Volume Two

Some of you may remember Mike Ford as 1/4 of the Toronto quartet Moxy Fruvous. Rather than fading into obscurity, Ford has become of Canada's best songwriters, concentrating his efforts on songs with educational value. Canada Needs You Volume Two focuses on persons, places and events in 20th Century Canadian history. No subject or musical style is off-limits as Ford uses intelligent and nuanced story-telling, humor and divergent musical styles to paint a series of musical profiles. This disc isn't likely getting a lot of mention on end of year lists, in large part because Ford doesn't do the whole self-promotion thing on a level with many of the other artists here, but it should be. The CD is absolutely unforgettable. And hey, just for kicks, check out this interview we did with Ford. It's a worthwhile read.

#6 Woodward - ...But Your Kids Are Gonna Love It

Woodward's debut is the quintessential Rock N Roll album, mixing elements of modern rock and classic rock into a blend that is familiar yet new. As music fans, this was probably the most exciting Rock Album to cross our desk in 2008. Because of the mix of sounds the target audience for this CD is any rock fan from 10 to 60. Woodward may or may not make the long haul stardom, but don't be surprised if this album someday stands out as one of the finest and most enduring albums of the Indie Rock era.

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