2008: The View From Down Under

by Mark Millan

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10.  Sneaky Sound System -- 2

The Aussie dance-pop trio had a big job ahead of themselves in following up a mega-selling debut, but they pulled it off with ease.  An explosion of finely-crafted pop songs, pumping bass/electronica arrangements, and Miss Connie’s powerful vocals all make for the year’s best pop release.

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9.  Whitesnake -- Good To Be Bad

You either love or hate the Snake, and I really do love them.  Coverdale and his current line-up turned out a loud, heavy, and bombastic assault on the senses.  Overblown at times, it’s still classic Whitesnake and easily the band’s best album since 1987.

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8.  John Hiatt -- Same Old Man

Never one to rest on his laurels, this is Hiatt’s fifth album of the decade and it’s also his best.  Ranging from old-school blues to quirky (almost) country, there’s a lot of fun to be had here.  Hiatt is still clearly having a blast and some of his “grumpy old man” contemporaries should take note.

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7.  Alice Cooper -- Along Came A Spider

The master shock-rocker returned with his much hyped, long-awaited (twisted) concept album.

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6.  Dr. John and The Lower 911 -- City That Care Forgot

Inspired by the great indifference shown to New Orleans (by you know who) after Hurricane Katrina hit, legendary bluesman Dr. John went about recording an album based around the events.  With help from many friends, including Eric Clapton and Willie Nelson, the album was finally released this year and the wait was definitely worth it.

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5.   Paul Capsis -- Everybody Wants To Touch Me

Aussie actor, singer, and cabaret star Paul Capsis released this, his first album of original material this year.  It’s a stunning mix of soulful ballads and jazz-inspired funk.  His loyal (mostly gay) fan base could only push this thing so far, and until the mainstream is ready for gay love songs on the radio, they will continue to miss out on his rare talent and this fantastic album.

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4.   Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds -- Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

For their fourteenth studio album, the Bad Seeds decided on the biblical story of Lazarus to serve as the concept this time around.  Punk in attitude and rock in its execution, this IS without a doubt the best rock album by an Aussie band this year.  The gigs to support this were brilliant and the boys have certainly now cemented their place in Oz rock history as one of, if not the best band from the land down under.

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3.   Emmylou Harris -- All I Intended To Be

In a departure from her later day alt-rock efforts, Harris returned to her roots for this, her 21st studio album.  Her often angelic voice has never sounded better, and her country fans rewarded her by sending this way up the charts to record her best-selling album in almost thirty years.

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2.  Mudcrutch -- Mudcrutch

Better late than never.

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1.   Neil Diamond -- Home Before Dark

At times heart-warming and other times heartbreaking, this deeply personal masterpiece from the solitary man is still the best thing I’ve heard all year.




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