This year we've asked some of our favorite writers and editors to tell us what albums
stood out in '98. Today, SonicNet's Nick Tangborn supplies his top 10.
1. Mercury Rev, Deserter's Songs (V2/DNA):
Epic melodic soundscapes built on clean, smart songwriting. You can hear all sorts of
influences on this one, from Pink Floyd to Tin Pan Alley to every other artist who lovingly
tweaked traditional pop music song structures. A beautiful, stunning, coherent record.
2. Richard Buckner, Since (MCA):
The closest thing to poetry in music I heard this year. Buckner's heartrending vocals and
lyrics portray gaping emotional wounds with clarity and burning tension.
3. Creeper Lagoon, I Become Small And Go (Nickelbag/A.D.A.):
Alternately effervescent and moody pop from a San Francisco group on the cusp of
something big. Grandly swaggering tunes, such as "Empty Ships" and "Wonderful Love,"
are offset by such darker, atmospheric songs as "Sylvia" and "Second Chance."
4. Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series: Vol. 4 -- Bob Dylan Live 1966 (Sony
A concert that changed rock music forever. An important document, but also a great rock
5. Polara, Formless/Functional (Interscope):
Weird, difficult record from a Minneapolis texture-pop group that jumps genres with
consistent ease. The tunes, especially the perfectly poppy "I Can Believe" and the
languid "Halo," are absorbing, addictive treasures.
6. Tommy Keene, Isolation Party (Matador):
Fantastic buzzing power-pop from a critically acclaimed songwriter. As is usually the
case, not enough people bought it, most people didn't get it and those who did gathered
at smallish gigs -- such as a brilliant show in the rec-room sized Peacock Lounge in San
Francisco -- to proclaim their not-worthiness.
7. Spiritualized, Live at the Albert Hall (Arista):
Floating grandeur from one of the best bands on the planet, with luxurious
instrumentation, gorgeous gospel backing vocals, trippy guitar mechanics and mucho
drug-addled laziness. Listen to it all at once, and try to keep yourself from falling off the
edge of whatever the heck you're sitting on.
8. Jesus And Mary Chain, Munki (SubPop):
Deliciously dunderheaded fuzz-pop from the seemingly revitalized Reid brothers. One of
them is pissed off at the other again (big news, that) but brotherly tension has created
some of the best British rock of the decade, so there's likely more of the same --
gloriously the same, mind you -- to come.
9. Massive Attack, Mezzanine (Virgin):
Not my normal cup of tea, as one can probably tell from the rest of the list, but this dark,
driving record made me turn my head and pay attention. The sensual "Teardrop" is
searing and ominous, "Inertia Creeps" malevolently pulsing and convincing. Perfect for
late nights alone in the dark or crowded rooms full of all the freaks you know.
10. Danielson, Tri-Danielson (Caroline):
Squeaky church-rock from a really, really weird East Coast combo. It's on my top-10 list if
for no other reason than it annoyed the absolute hell out of my office-mates and officially
was banned from our cubicle. Challenging but curiously listenable.