Critic's Pick: Jenny Slater's Top 8 Albums Of 1998

This year we've asked some of our favorite writers and editors to tell us what albums

stood out in '98. Today, SonicNet's Jenny Slater supplies her top 8.

1. The Amazing Royal Crowns, The Amazing Royal Crowns (Monolyth):

This fine rock 'n' roll/punk-a-billy East Coast foursome came as an unexpected surprise,

and their first album really delivers. It still kicks my ass every time I hear it.

2. R.L. Burnside, Come On In (Fat Possum/Epitaph): Another unexpected

surprise, there is NO reason not to love this album. I always catch onto good stuff late.

3. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Hell Among the Yearlings (Almo):

Darker and wilder than their much-lauded first album, but these two nouveau-Nashville

cats still make weirdly lovely music.

4. R.E.M., Up (Warner Bros.): I don't care what anyone says about how

"experimental" they got with this album: Some of it makes me get up and dance, and

some of it makes me sit down and cry. And THAT'S how we know it's a good R.E.M.

album ...

5. Groovie Ghoulies, ReAnimation Festival (Lookout!): Still one of the

goofiest bands around, this album captures a good slice of why they're so perfect.

6. Madonna, Ray of Light (Maverick): She may be a scary and

inconsistent human being who should spend more of her money on therapy, but she was

still able to create an album containing some of the finest of the mainstream pop sounds

of this year.

7. Electric Frankenstein, Listen Up, Baby! (Man's Ruin): These guys do

the "old-school New York sound" better than many of the bands that did it back then, and

this album is arguably their best one so far.

8. Liz Phair, whitechocolatespaceegg (Matador): I will say that the

last few cuts of this album crash and burn, but the first chunk of it is really just lovely.