Ok, here it is, my top 10 of ’08. I have to confess, I think music this year has been more geared toward individual singles than full length albums. There’s been a handfull of absolutely amazing singles that were put out in ’08, some of which are included in my top 10 albums (TV On the Radio – DLZ, MGMT – Kids, Santogold – Lights Out for example).
Anyway, there were definitely some great records, and others that almost made my list but I had to leave out… I mean, I only get 10 here. So enjoy.
- TV on the Radio – Dear Science, – Hands down my favorite of the year, this record has not left the top spot in my music rotation. I was an instant fan of TVOTR after first hearing their first big single, Wolf Like Me from their 2006 album Return From Cookie Mountain, and was further drawn when I went back and listened to the songs Staring at the Sun and New Health Rock. What sucked me in was the contrast of melody + hooks on top of artsy/dance beats and white noise… the only problem, in my opinion, was not enough hooks to fill the white noise. On Dear Science, TVOTR replaced the overused with fantastic instrumentation and hooks for days. Every song can stand on it’s own as a single, yet the album definitely has a flow and cohesiveness between songs. The second-to-last track, DLZ might be my pick for single of the year. Brilliant fucking record… and a kickass live show as well.
- Minus the Bear – They Make Beer Commercials Like This - Ok, this one might not count… it’s an EP… and it’s also a re-issue of an EP with an extra song, bringing to total to 7 tracks. I just had to put it here because, in my opinion, it’s THAT good. It’s great to see a band use an EP the right way and not overdo it. These songs are simple as far as structure goes, but there are some great hooks and the musicianship (especially David Knudson’s guitar playing) is damn good. With song titles like I’m Not Totally Down With Rob’s Alien and Houston, We Have Uh-Oh, Minus the Bear keep the tone light, but fluctuate the mood drastically throughout. I have to say, this is the only EP I’ve ever listened to 3 times in a row before noticing it was on repeat. (NOTE: The video below is audio from the original album, so the audio is REALLY rough)
- Radiohead – In Rainbows - What can I say? Great record and an amazing new concept for distributing music. I’m not a big Radiohead fan by any means, but Reckoner, All I Need, and Jigsaw Falling Into Place are great songs.
- Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago - Really fucking good song writing, AMAZING hooks, and a very original voice that is extremely expressive and emotional, but not over the top. The first time I heard Skinny Love, I was pretty shocked how good of a song it was, and had it stuck in my head for two days straight. After hearing the entire album, I am shocked at how good it is as a whole… minus a couple of iffy tracks, every song is a single.
- Colour Revolt – Plunder, Beg and Curse – I absolutely loved their self titled EP from 2006. The songs Mattresses Under Water and A New Family are pretty haunting songs. So I expected their first full length to be an extension of the self titled. It wasn’t even close, but in a VERY VERY good way. Not a single song from the EP made it on Plunder, Beg, and Curse. Instead, it’s a very raw record that has a Southern-Rock backbone mixed with THICK layered guitars, big bass lines, and uniquely dynamic vocals with LOTS of harmonies that support the complicated themes on the record.
- MGMT – Oracular Spectacular - Undeniably catchy songs, almost all singles on this album. Kids and Time to Pretend are about as anthemic as it gets.
- Santogold – Santogold – A lot like the MGMT record… nothing but singles. I think I’ve heard at least half of these songs on commercials already.
- Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes – I think just about everyone agrees that the debut from Fleet Foxes should be somewhere in the top 10. It is an undeniably great record, but I put it down at number 8 for one reason: it gets a little repetitive. I kind of have to be in a certain mood to listen to it, which isn’t a horrible thing.
- My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges – The exact opposite problem of the Fleet Foxes album, Evil Urges might be a little too dynamic. It’s a great record, no doubt, with songs ranging from traditional MMJ rock-jam style, to Beegee’s style dance tunes , to the Prince style vocals on the title track… but it lacks a little bit of cohesiveness between songs. Still an amazing record.
- White Denim – Exposion – I just recently started listening to this album about a month ago and haven’t been able to put it down. Really raw sound at times, very subtle instrumentation on some tracks as well. It’s crazy to think the record is this good and it’s their first full length. The only reason I put it at 10 is that I just started listening to it.