Best Albums of 2008 – #10-1

Here is the rest of my best albums of 2008!

#10 Deerhunter: Microcastle – Another late entry in the top 20, this one landed all the way into the top 10. I, like many people, just didn’t get Cryptograms, Deerhunter’s previous album, but Microcastle is packed with pop gems – almost like Sebadoh for the 21st century.

#9 Hot Chip: Made in the Dark – The odd thing about Made in the Dark is how uneven it is. When it is great, it is great. When it is not, it is downright boring. However, the mass balance of greatness versus boredom leans heavily towards the greatness side of the equation, so Made in the Dark is at home at #9.

#8 Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend – Although this album was released all the way back in January, I found myself returning to it throughout the year. That is usually a good sign for a band and even though most of the cool kids think they are way too cool for Vampire Weekend, it is worth your while not to be.

#7 Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes – Another self-titled debut on the top 20, the Fleet Foxes are #1 on many folks’ “best of” lists. I love the harmonies, the production and the “familiar-yet-exotic” feel of the album. If anything, the Fleet Foxes will age the best of any album of the list.

#6 Girl Talk: Feed the Animals – You know, when it comes down to it, putting a Girl Talk album this high is a real testament to how weak 2008 was for music. Heck, Girl Talk is really just a ‘oos version of Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers, but its OK because Girl Talk uses graphic hip-hop rather than ’50s pop songs. That all being said, I listened to this album probably more than any other in 2008, but some of that might just have been the “music nerd” factor of identifying all the snippets.

#5 TV on the Radio: Dear Science. – This album helped revive my interest in music for the year. It might be the most straightforward and accessible TV on the Radio album thus far.

#4 Hercules & Love Affair: Hercules & Love Affair – Another debut … that might be the legacy of 2008: so many great new bands. I suppose Hercules & Love Affair isn’t totally news, but they are yet another piece of the DFA “Midas Touch” and the fact that Antony (of Antony & the Johnsons) should be a dance diva.

#3 Los Campesinos!: We are Beautiful, We are Doomed; Hold On Now, Youngster … – Los Campesinos! were by far the most prolific excellent band of the year. Two wonderful albums within the space of 12 months leaves us with more than enough sloppy pop songs to digest. I agree with the general listening public that We are Beautiful, We are Doomed is better than Hold On Now, Youngster, which means that Los Campesinos! might have skipped over the sophomore slump by recording until their fingers bled.

#2 Portishead: Third – Well worth the wait. Dark, sinister and surprisingly refreshing for the band that only took a decade to record a new disc.

and now …

#1 The Walkmen: You & Me – Surprise! You know, this one snuck up on me. When I first listened to You & Me, I knew it was much better than the last few by the Walkmen, but little did I know how much it would grow on me. How it did! The album is dark and dusty, yet not melodramatic. The production matches the mood to a tee, weaving the songs into haunting and echoing tales. Yet, it has this overarching good-feeling that is easy to miss unless you really sit down with the album. Most people likely missed this album altogether, the Walkmen, to an extent, are a post-hype band, but You & Me  shows that the band is hitting their stride head on.


Try it out: “In the New Year”

See #20-11


Best Albums of 2008 – #20-11

Two days left in 2008 and I’ll finally start posting my best of 2008. I also want to mention a late-arriving honorable mention, that being the Crystal Castles self-titled album. I only got it about a week ago and I quite like it. Look for #1-10 tomorrow and my 2008 mix to go with it. Anyway, on to numbers 20 through 11 for 2008:

20. Reefer: Reefer – This year, Islands released their follow-up to Return to the Sea, and wow, did Arms Way stink. However, Nick Thornber, who left Islands before Arms Way, released what could be seen as the real heir to Return to the Sea. Bizarre, laidback and somewhat unfocused, it is just far more entertaining that Thornber’s former band’s release.

19. Coldplay: Vida La Vida – Bite me. If anything, Coldplay is catchy as hell, even if they are just U2.1.

18. Kanye West: 808s and Heartbreak – Now presenting: Kanye West’s Postal Service’s Give Up.

17. Maus Haus: Lark Marvels – A real darkhorse for the top 20, this album is something like Modest Mouse without the arena rock metamorphism the Mouse has experienced. Well worth your time to check out.

16. Shearwater: Rook – Really intense and full of atmosphere yet oddly familiar sounds. Almost impossible to describe this album except “haunting”.

15. Bonnie “Prince” Billy: Lie Down in the Light – Speaking of haunting, Will Oldham (aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy) has become much less haunting and much more accessible since his days in Palace. This album is definitely the alternative folk rock that doesn’t bland you to death.

14. Silver Jews: Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea – Maybe not the best Silver Jews’ album, but definitely the most focused since American Water. One of those truly underappreciated American bands.

13. Bloc Party: Intimacy – OK, so, a lot of people dissed Bloc Party’s Intimacy. I’m not entirely sure if it was because (a) Bloc Party is no longer cool in their eyes; (b) the sophomore album A Weekend in the City was a disappointment; (c) Intimacy is kind of schizophrenic or (d) all of the above. Whatever the reason, they are wrong. Sure, Bloc Party suddenly finds itself maybe a little too enamored with their synths and yes, maybe they’re just the 00’s version of Jesus Jones, but, well, those are two things that I am susceptible.

12. Xiu Xiu: Women as Lovers – Jamie Stewart is the patron saint of tortured electronic geniuses in America today.

11. Ratatat: LP3 – The most nuanced Ratatat album thus far, it brings in a lot of diverse sounds – both energized and relaxed. Now, they just need to release another hip-hop remix album.

Look for #1-10 tomorrow!

Best of 2008: The Honorable Mentions

So, I think I finally have a grasp on my best of 2008 Albums. Well, at the very least, I think I finally have a list of that is mostly in order … sort of.

With that, I will start with my Honorable Mentions, those who just missed the cut. Now, as usual, I have a bunch of them, so I apologize in advance to anyone who thinks my Honorable Mentions is a list unto itself.

2008 Honorable Mentions (in no real order)

  • Conor Oberst: Conor Oberst
  • Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks: Real Emotional Trash
  • Colin Meloy: Sings Live
  • Young Knives: Superabundance
  • El Guincho: Alegranza
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Dig! Lazarus! Dig!
  • Billy Bragg: Mr. Love & Justice
  • Rumble Strips: Girls & Weather
  • Why?: Alopecia
  • Basquiat Strings: Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford

Look for the start of the Top 20 soon.

The albums of 2008

So, as you’ve gathered if you’ve read my blog this year, I was a little more detached from music in 2008 than usual. Whether that was because I was just busy with non-music-related things or maybe because music wasn’t too great in oh-eight, it is hard to tell. However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a Top 20 for the year, because there is always good music out there, even in down years. So, to give you a taste, here is a list of all the albums that were considered for the Top 20. Now, I’m sure I’m missing one of your favorites, so sorry about that. Feel free to add comments if you think I have a glaring omission. Otherwise, look for the Top 20 to be posted sometime next week I think … 

The grand album list of 2008 (in no particular order)

  • Food for Animals
  • Future of the Left
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Hey Willpower
  • Nine Inch Nails (both Ghosts and The Slip)
  • Breeders
  • Born Ruffians
  • Colin Meloy
  • These New Puritans
  • British Sea Power
  • Xiu Xiu
  • Hot Chip
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Los Campesinos! (both We are Beautiful, We are Doomed and Hold On Now, Youngster …)
  • Silver Jews
  • Portishead
  • Fleet Foxes
  • Girl Talk
  • Sigur Ros
  • Coldplay
  • Hercules & Love Affair
  • Ratatat
  • Shearwater
  • Tilly & the Wall
  • Wolf Parade
  • Bonnie “Prince” Billy
  • Islands
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • Twilight Sad
  • Foals
  • El Perro Del Mar
  • Young Knives
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  • Black Keys
  • Grand Archives
  • Common Market
  • Billy Bragg
  • Clinic
  • Tapes n’ Tapes
  • Why?
  • Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
  • Basquiat Strings
  • The Lodger
  • Conor Oberst
  • The Walkmen
  • TV on the Radio
  • The Streets
  • Okkervil River
  • Rumble Strips
  • Mongrel
  • Bloc Party
  • El Guincho
  • Kanye West
  • Glasvegas
  • Bon Iver
  • Deerhunter
  • Reefer
  • Deerhoof
  • Parenthetical Girls
  • Department of Eagles
  • The Bug
  • Matthew Sweet
  • Beck
  • MGMT
  • Volcano!
  • Maus Haus
  • Starfucker
  • Gutter Twins
  • Helio Sequence
  • Panther
  • Rafter
  • Ghostland Observatory
  • Long Blondes
  • Kate Nash
  • Fratellis
  • Notwist
  • Wombats
  • R.E.M.
  • Cars Can Be Blue
  • Ting Tings
  • Santogold
  • Lil Wayne
  • Plush
  • Robyn

Some music and other ramblings

Is it just me, or has this baseball offseason been ridiculous dull?

Not much I can talk about just yet, but here is a new iPod top 10 for your amusement.

  1. Ulysses by Franz Ferdinand
  2. Between an Erupting Earth and an Exploding Sky by Los Campesinos!
  3. Flux by Bloc Party
  4. Lies by Cult of Mars
  5. Strange Overtones by David Byrne & Brian Eno
  6. May Baleen by Reefer
  7. Lost + by Coldplay
  8. Buenos Matrimonos Ahi Fuera by El Guincho
  9. A Song for Ellie Greenwich by Parenthetical Girls
  10. Heartless by Kanye West