Best Local Album
Alopecia by WHY?
Alopecia is WHY?'s biggest achievement, and the best moments here are easily Yoni Wolf's brightest yet. The Oakland songwriter, instrumentalist, and lyricist summons magic on lead single "The Hollows," an indie-pop/rap hybrid capable of dropping jaws even among those who had earlier dismissed his style as nasally white-boy hip-hop. Opening track "The Vowels Pt. 2" backs it up with an uninhibited blend of beats, sounds, and rhymes anchored by a nonsensical yet oddly vital chorus: cheery-a, cheery-e, cheery-i, cheery-o, cheery-uuuuu. Then there's gangsta-rap slow-jam "The Fall of Mr. Fifths," positing in expertly aloof style, If I remain lost and die on a cross, at least I wasn't born in a manger. But it's the long view that makes Alopecia the East Bay's best this year: from rap to rock, pop to experimental, singing to rapping, Wolf covers all his bases with surprisingly few missteps. It's one of the least classifiable yet most listenable local records of 2008, a success of which we should all be proud.