I only went to 10 of the 21 Sparks concerts and enjoyed them all but I will always remember the night they played the Plagerism album. The cover versions of the own songs with an excellent orchestral backing moved me to tears.
Best gigs and albums of 2008
Time Out London's music critics look back at the best albums, gigs and tracks of 2008
Rock and pop albums
The Seldom Seen KidFictionIt’s about time Elbow got the recognition, status and free ice creams they deserve. Although, to be honest, even we’re surprised that this came out top of the tops in our poll. 2. Vampire Weekend
Vampire WeekendXLThe preppy Brooklyn Afrobeat-indie-pop-‘Gracelands’-tribute outfit’s debut remains a stereo favourite. 3. Fucked Up
The Chemistry of Modern LifeMatadorHardcore punk is reinvented once again, and takes a culturally relevant, viscerally exciting new shape. 4. Fuck Buttons
Street HorrrsingATPObscene names obviously give you an in-built advantage at Time Out Mansions, although these post-rock-electro-types couldn’t be more different to their sweary competition.
5. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!MuteAnother slab of goth-blues brilliance, this time injected with a dose of post-Grinderman libidinousness. 6. Portishead
ThirdUniversalThe idle Bristolians’ unexpected comeback didn’t try too hard to show that the band had ‘taken a journey’ – and was all the sweeter for it. 7. Hot Chip
Made in the DarkEMIMelancholy acid-pop masterpiece from the perennially exploratory outfit. 8. Radiohead
In RainbowsSelf-releasedIt was free! It introduced the phrase ‘doing a Radiohead’ into popular culture! And, best of all, the songs were their finest since ‘OK Computer’. Actually, best of all, it was free. Until this year, that is. Stupid 2008.9. Wildbirds And Peacedrum
HeartcoreThe Leaf LabelLeftfield, folk-pop twosome for fans of Feist, Fiery Furnaces and flipping good music generally. 10. TV On The Radio
Dear Science4ADAdding a welcome smattering of tunes you can whistle to their renowned pop-skronk was a good idea.
Jazz, roots and folk albums1. EST
LeucocyteActEsbjörn Svensson’s posthumously released psychedelic skronk jam was a patchy affair, but contained some of the celebrated pianist’s greatest flights of fantasy. 2. Kasai All-Stars
In the 7th Moon, the Chief Turned into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of His Enemy by MagicCrammed DiscsMillion-piece Congotronic ensemble coined the album title of the year, and the music more than lives up to its enticing promise. 3. Aaron Parks
Invisible CinemaBlue NoteParks rivals Robert Glasper for conjuring exciting new rhythms, as well as melodies, from the old Joanna. 4. Amadou & Mariam
Welcome to MaliBecauseThe loveable Malian duo release more irrepressibly infectious romps across the genre divides.
5. Matana Roberts
The Chicago ProjectCentral ControlThe most impressive release yet from Magazine man Barry Adamson’s label/collective/movement.
Gigs1. My Bloody Valentine
Roundhouse, June 21Opinion is divided on whether this was a triumph despite or because of the Gitmo-standard noise levels. But the reformed and revitalised shoegaze icons utterly justified their legendary reputation.2. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Hammersmith Apollo, May 7The worst thing you can say about Cave’s shows are that they’re slightly predictable in their consistent aceness. 3. Leonard Cohen
Royal Albert Hall, November 17Cohen’s O2 residency was one of the year’s great events, but this relatively intimate show framed Len in fittingly elegant surroundings. 4. The Final Terror/TrioVD/Led Bib
Vortex, August 1All right, so this was one of our own gigs (part of the On The Up Festival, to be precise), but it was really, really good. Particularly stunning was TFT’s jazz-noise assault on P-Funk. 5. Stevie Wonder
O2 Arena, September 11Even ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’ sounded good. Actually, maybe there was a gas leak.
Dusk til DawnIslandAnother sleeper hit – although as we’ve been spanking the single all year, that may be a lack of foresight on our part. =2. Grace Jones
Williams' BloodWall Of SoundLeave it to ultimate diva Jones to pull off a career-high single at the age of 60. Our favourite is the Aeroplane mix (now officially available on all formats). =2. Santogold
LES ArtistesWarnerOne of the year’s most talked-about acts, and rightly so for once. This was a welcome addition to radio playlists. 3. MGMT
Time To PretendSonyBMGWill go down as one of the iconic tracks of 2008. Mind you, an older mix was released in 2007 and it’s coming out again in 2009, so maybe not. 4. Estelle
Wait a Minute (Just a Touch)AtlanticEstelle’s abstinence anthem didn’t catch the same heat as ‘American Boy’, but it’s arguably the more memorable tune. 5. The Pity Party
Yours, That WorksSelf-releasedA tense, febrile and ultimately ecstatic psych-drone classic which won the LA two-piece a lot of fans. None of whom work for record companies. 6. Estelle
American BoyAtlanticThe feelgood hit of the summer announced the breakthrough of a (hopefully) enduring London talent. 7. Ben Allison And Man-Size Safe
Little Things Run the WorldPalmettoExistentialist double-bass odyssey from the inventive US jazzman.8. Keane
SpirallingUniversal/IslandOnce upon a time, the appearance of Keane in our annual ‘best-of’ would be a portent on a par with the ravens abandoning the Tower of London. But this single’s really good. 9. MGMT
KidsSonyBMGA shock double entry for Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Van Wyngarde, with arguably the popular choice for anthem of the year. 10. Florence And The Machine
Kiss with a FistMoshi MoshiDisproves Andy Capp’s thesis that domestic violence is never entertaining.
- Add your comment to this feature