Best of 2008? Isn't is 2010? Shouldn't I be writing a best of 2009? While I'm all for year-in-review, I often think that albums released late in the year get short shrift on year-end lists. A lot of year-end lists are published before the year's last albums have been released and many more were written earlier for publication at the end of the year. Also, as someone who is not a professional reviewer (and no longer a record-store employee), I don't hear everything as soon as it's released. I don't get to a lot of albums until well after release. I also like to give it some time. Sometimes things that don't impress me at first do so ultimately. Sometimes I'm all over an album when it's new and then set aside when the next thing comes along.

As of right now, here are my favorites from last year, in no particular order:

Deerhoof-Offend Maggie
Terakaft-Akh Issudar
Stereolab-Chemical Chords
David Byrne & Brian Eno-Everything That Happens Happenss Today
Von Sudenfed-Tromatic Reflexxions
Radiohead-In Rainbows
Hawnay Troof-Islands of Ayle
Dengue Fever-Venus on Earth
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds-Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Best New Old Music:
Frank Zappa-One Shot Deal

Best Box Set:
2 Skinnee J's-Big Green Book

Best Reissue:
Nick Lowe-Jesus of Cool

Honorable Mention:
Bob Mould-District Line

A few notes on the above:
Bob Mould gets the honorable mention because I just bought the record last week. I missed it when it came out. I recently heard a track on the radio and at first I wasn't impressed. I didn't like the effects on the vocals and it just didn't seem great. The song ended and I was humming the chorus over the DJ. I bought the album two days later.

It took me a long time to decide whether or not I liked Deerhoof. I eventually heard enough tracks I liked from Offend Maggie that I got it, and when I heard the whole thing i was a lot more impressed. Terakaft is a couple former members of Tinariwen, who started their own group. The music is very similar, but they also have their own sound. The latest Stereolab is fabulous. I think it's the best thing they've released in years. It's very poppy, with a lot of shorter, catchy songs. Too bad it might be their last. A lot of people were disappointed in the Byrne and Eno album because it was so dissimilar to My Life In the Bush of Ghosts. Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is a much different project with a completely different sound. Byrne described it as a sort of "electronic gospel" and that's not too far off. I enjoyed it and the accompanying tour quite a bit. Accelerate is the first R.E.M. album I've been excited about since 1989's Green. There are a couple of duds late in the album, but up to that point, it's just as solid as they come, with more energy than the band has displayed since Monster. Von Sudenfed is a collaboration between The Fall's Mark E. Smith and Mouse on Mars. It sounds a lot like the Mouse on Mars guys put some tracks together and then Smith came into the studio, got loaded and just went for it. With In Rainbows, Radiohead turns out another good one. It feels less like a progression than leftovers from Hail to the Thief, but they're good leftovers. I don't know quite what the Hawnay Troof are doing, but it's a lot of fun. It's kind of a hip-hop version of XBXRX. Definitely worth checking out if one is into crazy electronic stuff. Dengue Fever were the darlings of NPR for a while. We kept hearing pieces on them on various shows. It took a long time, but in mid-2008 I finally found their albums in a shop in Durham, NC. I bought all three. Venus on Earth had just come out and might be my favorite of the three. Dengue Fever update classic 60s Cambodian pop music. Their older albums contain covers of Cambodian tracks and originals in Khmer. Their newer albums have more originals, including several in English. it's all good stuff. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! sounds more like 2007's Grinderman album than a Bad Seeds record, but with the full group. Either way, it's all Nick Cave and it's all great.

One Shot Deal is based on a build reel found in the Zappa archives. It was apparently from a lost, never completed project from the mid 70s. Frank's build reels were usually one album side. This particular reel had no corresponding other side, so it was filled out with a couple of tracks from the Royce Hall show in 1975 and, randomly, the recording of "Illinois Enema Bandit" from the 1981 Halloween show. The last track notwithstanding, the rest of the CD is some really good mid-70s FZ including an excellent performance of the Yellow Snow suite from Australia and a great guitar solo from Heidelberg. Yep Roc re-released Nick Lowe's debut solo album, Jesus of Cool in 2008. The CD also includes B-sides and the alternate tracks from the U.S. version, called Pure Pop for Now People. It sounds great and there are liner notes explaining the circumstances behind the album and the two versions. And the music is still fantastic 20 years later.