(photo credit: Courtesy)
With dozens of albums being released here every year, and even more available in the digital on-line world, it's impossible to even pretend to come up with a comprehensive "best of" year-end list. But one effective criterion is to look at which CDs I returned to time and time again, even when I didn't have to listen to them for review purposes. So here's a list of enduring music for 2008. And to paraphrase Steve Martin in Parenthood, after I finish beating the bad guys, there's nothing I like to do better than to listen to music.
A revitalized statement of purpose that reminds us why REM developed a rabid cult following in 1983.
The '59 Sound
Derivative, but enticingly so. These Jersey shore rockers channel Springsteen majesty with a spare punk sound and earnest heart-on-sleeves sentiments. Not for ironists.
Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings
Lost in a Shrek morass of irrelevancy, the California rockers return with a sparkling collection of guitar burners and epic ballads.
The subversive rock legend releases the year's "punkiest" record - a 49-minute download for 49Â¢ that sounds like a classic AM radio station suffering from frequency problems. Contains enough hooks to fill a closet.
Channeling the ghost of Dusty Springfield amid the production of the Righteous Brothers, this debut by the Wales native is a keeper.
Sure, he was great with The Wallflowers, but this solo debut featuring Dylan by his lonesome on acoustic guitar and vocals is even better.
Here We Stand
Unabashedly good-time rock & roll - Faces and Kinks style - by three young, energetic Scottish lads. Irresistible.
KINGS OF LEON
Only by the Night
These Tennessee alt-rockers join the U2-anthem era with an expansive - and convincing - show of force.
Tell Tale Signs -Bootleg Series Vol. 8, 1989-2006
Two CDs' worth of reasons why even outtakes and alternate versions by Dylan is better than anyone else's best.
PANIC AT THE DISCO
Welcome to the Sound of Pretty Odd
The Las Vegas emo band does with psychedelic-era Beatles and Beach Boys what My Chemical Romance did with Queen. An aural assault of the nicest kind.
Tom Petty and Mike Campbell regroup their pre-Heartbreakers band for a debut that conjures up an idyllic early '70s country rock heaven.
Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
All right, all my credibility is shot, but it's time to get on the bandwagon with the peoples' choice. Heart-tugging wimp rock that strives for something more.
You & Me
The antithesis of Coldplay - uneasy listening by New York brooders that's both troubling and uplifting. Dense and gratifying.
The Exile on Main Street guitars and Lucinda's country drawl make for another triumphant combo. The rock goddess of record.
ASAF AVIDAN & THE MOJOS
A startlingly captivating album by this home-grown talent - sounds like you're hearing a future rock legend.