Alan Sculley’s Take on the Best of 2008

1. Alejandro EscovedoReal Animal (EMI/Back Porch)

There may well be no other artist who is more under-appreciated than Escovedo. His latest rocks more than his other albums, which is just fine since the searing tracks “Smoke,” “Chelsea,” and “Real as an Animal” are among the most stirring songs of Escovedo’s career. His talent for writing tuneful, rootsy rock shines on “Always a Friend” and “Sister Lost Soul.” Escovedo also finds room for a few ballads, while “Sensitive Boys” and “Hollywood Hills” are among the prettiest ballads he has written.

Alejandro Escovedo perform at the Music Farm on Mon Jan. 22.

2. Lucinda WilliamsLittle Honey (Lost Highway)

3. R.E.M. Accelerate (Warner Bros.)

4. The Hold Steady Stay Positive (Vagrant)

5. MetallicaDeath Magnetic (Warner Bros.)

6. Elvis Costello & The ImpostersMomofuko (Lost Highway)

7. BeckModern Guilt (DGC )

8. SantogoldSantogold (Downtown)

9. ColdplayViva La Vida or Death and All His Friends (Capitol)

10. The Black KeysAttack & Release (Nonesuch)

Honorable Mention: Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella), Dailey & Vincent’s Dailey & Vincent (Rounder), The Knux’s Remind Me In 3 Days… (Interscope), Nada Surf’s Lucky (Barsuk), Taylor Swift’s Fearless (Big Machine), Rise Against’s Appeal To Reason (DGC/Interscope), The Roots’ Rising Down (Def Jam), Of Montreal’s Skeletal Lamping (Polyvinyl), Dr. John & The Lower 911’s City That Care Forgot (429), Kings Of Leon’s Only By The Night (Columbia).

Alan Sculley is a St. Louis-based freelance writer and regular music contributor. He knows Beatle Bob and always calls albums “CDs.”

Next critic’s “Best of 2008” list: Kinsey Labberton…

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