Best of 2008 - Chris' picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2008

Chris' picks (2008)

staff picks

Chris is a news editor, reviewer, and the official videographer here at You can find a collection of his videos at Vimeo. - ed.


Looking back at 2008, I see a changing of the guard. A whole new group of bands are starting to get recognition and respect from fans the old-fashioned way: constant touring and consistently good releases. Bands like Rise Against and Anti-Flag are developing into the gateway for many to discover a plethora of musicians outside the normal confines of mainstream music outlets. Furthermore, the industry itself appears to finally be accepting of the legitimacy of digital music. Ironically, this was partially assisted by an old friend -- the vinyl record. Adding a collector aspect as a reason to purchase music instead of illegally downloading, coupled with many labels offering a free digital download with the vinyl is an idea many have been pleading for as a solution.

Many of my top 20 I purchased on vinyl rather than CD. Some artists, including the Loved Ones and the Gaslight Anthem, offered special limited pressings of their releases. Landmines' offering was available only on vinyl and/or digitally as the first release on Paper + Plastick Records, which is devoted to vinyl and digital-only releases. Even the long-awaited and "Best Buy exclusive" release Chinese Democracy was available at said retailer in both CD and vinyl format. Speaking of which…

20 albums I listened to in 2008 exclusively on my iPod or turntable

20. Guns 'N Roses: Chinese Democracy
If not for all the hype, this record might have had a chance. It's not perfect, but it isn't the abomination many have made it out to be. At first listen, I wasn't convinced I hated it, but I tried to imagine how I'd feel if Duff, Slash and Matt were playing on it and I decided, eh, not too bad.
19. AC/DC: Black Ice
Possibly the only current band I'd go see in a stadium and have no complaints about the venue. This album rocks as hard as any other in their catalog.
Sleep It Off
With a return to their roots, Less Than Jake released one of the best suprises of the year. Yay, horns.
17. Roll the Tanks: Suffer City
Intelligent Noise
You hear Clash comparisons thrown around a lot, but these guys have a sound drenched in a legendary sound, but distinguishable enough on their own to pull it off.
Scream Hello
Red Leader
Anthemic and melodically heartfelt rock without the boo-hoo-hoo.
Splendid mix of pop-punk and old-fashioned rock 'n' roll. This band needs more attention.
Jade Tree
I still think CVA was their best record...
The Bronx
White Drugs
A little slower, but with a little more swagger, the Bronx seem to reinvent themselves with every new record.
It took a few listens, but this massively popular record finally found a spot in my rotation.
Fat Wreck Chords
To be honest, my expectations for this record weren't fair. I loved their debut LP, and unless this was a replication of it, I had already set myself up to not like it. A few tracks seem a little out of place, but there are some gems. Check out "The Inquirer."
Dillinger Four
Fat Wreck Chords
Finally releasing the punk rock equivalent of my #20, Dillinger Four dipped into a more pop-punk influence and the result is another fantastic record.
Go Kart
I didn't even realize this great band's full-length had come out until a friend passed it to me at The Fest. Gritty pop-punk with clever lyrics, a must-have for fans of the Lawrence Arms and Dillinger Four.
After a major change in their lineup, this folk-punk band finally took the time to record a proper full-length. The blend of slow-acoustic and faster, full-band tracks can seem awkward at times, but when it clicks, you see them at their best.
Tim Barry
Suburban Home
Relaxing mixture of country/bluegrass/classical influences and instruments complement the second solo outing from one of hardcore's best lyricists.
Paper + Plastick
When you mix a raw and ambitious band full of experienced musicians with one of the best sound engineers in independent music, you get two things: a better all-around band and one of the best hardcore/punk albums of the year.
No Idea
Take note emo bands: You don't have to cry and whine to play emotional and borderline-depressing music. Very catchy and rough punk rock with enough hooks to keep you singing along the whole time.
The Copyrights
Red Scare
Lyrically, the Copyrights are on the best pop-punk bands around. On their third LP, I get images of Screeching Weasel while listening.
Red Leader
Name a quality you look for in a band and PBC probably have it: Anthemic, melodic, and hard-hitting but with just the right mix of slower jams. Add to that an amazing live show and you'll understand why so many people are calling this one of their favorite records of the year.
Red Scare
Yep, they sound like the Ramones. But on their newest offering, Bottlerocket prove that a strong influence doesn't mean you don't have your own sound. For the record, I enjoyed this record a little more than Total, if that means anything.
Gaslight Anthem
Relentless touring and an amazing debut LP were just part of why these guys are enjoying so much success so early. A combination of varied influences, personal reflection and a classic storyteller mentality blend together resulting in one of the best records of not only the year, but the decade.
Top 3 EPs
3. OK Pilot: OK Pilot
Fat Wreck Chords
For those about to rock in 2009…

  • Smoke or Fire
  • Let Me Run
  • Rob Huddleston and the Foundation Band
  • Landmines
  • Bouncing Souls

Mix Tape

    Analog Side
  1. OK Pilot - With These Hands
  2. The Copyrights - Charlie Birger Time
  3. The Riot Before - Words Written Over Coffee
  4. Tim Barry - Sagacity Gone
  5. Scream Hello - Bullets
  6. Roll the Tanks - Gameshow Love
  7. Polar Bear Club - Hollow Place
    Digital Side
  1. The Loved Ones - The Inquirer
  2. The Bronx - Young Bloods
  3. Landmines - Shadows and Ashes
  4. Teenage Bottlerocket - On My Own
  5. Off with Their Heads - Until the Day I Die
  6. Dillinger Four - Minimum Wage Is a Gateway Drug
  7. The Gaslight Anthem - The Backseat