Top 10 albums (and a few runners-up) from 2008

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26 jan. 2009, 20h21m

OK, I really wanted to get this done a couple of weeks earlier, but last year I just missed an album that would have been at or near the top of my list. So for the last few weeks I've been poring over a lot of 2008 stuff that I hadn't gotten around to yet. I've still missed a lot of stuff, undoubtedly. But I've discovered or rediscovered some stuff that will now show up on the list, and that otherwise I might never have given enough time to. So, here we go.

1. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down—We Brave Bee Stings And All
The only 2008 album on which I've given every song at least three stars. Oddly, I haven't given any of them five. Still, I have to put it at the top for being so consistently good. Plus, hey, this is the one that you won't see showing up on many other lists. Got to give it some love.
"Bag of Hammers", "Swimming Pools", "Yes, So On And So On"

2. Noah and the WhalePeaceful, The World Lays Me Down
This one reminds me quite a bit of Bishop Allen & The Broken String—it doesn't seem to matter what they're singing about, it's just fun to listen to. Also like that album, this is one I almost missed. I only gave it a second listen in preparation for this list, and then I found I kept returning to it.
"5 Years Time", "Shape of My Heart"

3. Bon IverFor Emma, Forever Ago
I'm not the first person to say it, but this album was a surprise. I can't remember where I first heard about it, but I do remember that when I first played it I thought, "Man, I'll never listen to this again. Even as I kept returning to it, it felt like scratching an itch or something. I had heard it a dozen times before I realized that I really, really liked it. The lesson for me this year is that if I only dislike an album because of the singing, I should give it a few more listens. All three of these top three albums initially turned me off for that reason, and I soon found myself loving them all.
"Flume", "For Emma"

4. Ray LaMontagneGossip In The Grain
Honestly, I had gotten a bit sick of Ray LaMontagne. I loved his first two albums, listened to them a bit too much, and then just quit him cold. I almost didn't give this album a listen, but I'm so glad I did. "You Are the Best Thing" is one of his classics, and one of the best songs of the year. I can listen to it any time, no matter my mood, and it makes me smile. The whole album reminds me why I liked him so much in the first place.
"You Are the Best Thing", "I Still Care for You"

5. The Wood BrothersLoaded
I suspect this one will continue to creep higher & higher as time goes on. I like The Wood Brothers a lot, and was really looking forward to this album. At first I was slightly disappointed, but with every listen it gets better and better.
"Postcards From Hell", "Make Me Down A Pallet On Your Floor"

6. Fleet FoxesFleet Foxes
This one has on it one of the most beautiful songs of all time. "White Winter Hymnal" is the kind of song for which music was originally invented. If the rest of the songs all sucked, that one would pull the album's weight alone. Fortunately, they don't. There are a couple of other real stars on the album, and it's solid throughout.
"White Winter Hymnal", "Ragged Wood"

7. Johnny FlynnA Larum
Here I thought I was completely over the "guy with a guitar" music. Not so much, apparently. This is yet one more that initially turned me off, for whatever reason. But I gave it another listen for this list, and found myself really liking it.
"Sally", "Shore To Shore"

8. SantogoldSantogold
This one should probably be higher up on my list, honestly. For a while there, I was listening to it quite a bit. M.I.A. she's not, but when I can get that comparison out of my head I find that I really like her music.
"Lights Out", "I'm a Lady"

9. Natalia ClavierNectar
South-American trip-hop. Not exactly my primary genre. But man, I can't put this one away. Very, very listenable, and an impressive debut. I hope to hear more from her.
"El Arbol", "Tiempo"

10. Isobel Campbell & Mark LaneganSunday At Devil Dirt
If I'd had more time with this one, it would either have moved nearer the top of my list, or dropped off completely. We'll see how it holds up, I guess.
"The Raven"

And a few honorable mentions....

Ana LaanChocolate and Roses
Lovely when it's lovely. Not when it's not. "Kling Klang, Klockan Slar"

AtmosphereWhen Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold
Seems like every year, I find one rap album I like. This was it for 2008. "Painting"

BeckModern Guilt
Not as good as his previous one, I didn't think. But I know I'm in the minority with that opinion. "Youthless"

Cat PowerJukebox
I'm never gonna be a big fan of hers, no matter how I try. But I liked this album quite a bit. "Aretha, Sing One for Me"

Martina Topley-BirdThe Blue God
I really like her, but this album just isn't consistent enough. Parts of it are really, really good. But parts are just meh. "Carnies"

The SubmarinesHoneysuckle Weeks
Another fun album. And I just realized last night that it's (apparently) named after an actress I really like. Not sure what's up with that. "You Me And The Bourgeoisie"
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All in all, it was a disappointing year for albums I had been really anticipating (The Weepies, Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket, The Black Keys, Jem, Gnarls Barkley, Juana Molina), and as always there were a lot of overrated albums (Ratatat, She & Him, MGMT). But I was surprised by quite a few new artists, and a few who were just new to me. Not as good a year as the previous, though, when all is said and done.

Commentaires

  • acedrums

    surprised to see a few that feature in my list... 1) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes 2) Johnny Flynn - A Larum 3) MGMT - Oracular Spectacular 4) The Tallest Man On Earth - Shallow Graves 5) Department Of Eagles - In Ear Park 6) Peter Broderick - Home 7) Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago 8) Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst 9) The Killers - Day & Age 10) Grouper - Dragging A Dead Dear Up A Hill. I agree on Kings Of Leon and My Morning Jacket being dissappoiting. Clearly I disagree on the MGMT front. Nice list.

    26 jan. 2009, 22h10m
  • spoko

    Nice list there too, and I can see that I have some more downloading to do. Thanks.

    26 jan. 2009, 22h52m
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