The Best Albums of 2008 (25-1)

25. Deerhunter - Microcastle

After hearing people go on and on about the overrated Cryptograms I was a little hesitant to give this a listen considering how much hype Deerhunter gets. Turns out they actually put out a pretty listenable album (in Deerhunter terms). This is definitely an "album" where it's better to listen in one sitting.

Best Song: 'Never Stops'

24. Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust

Sigur Ros continues to put out quality album after quality album. This one is possibly the most pop friendly that Sigur Ros has ever sounded and there is even a song sung in English.

Best Songs: 'Gobbledigook' 'Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur'

23. Cloud Cult - Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)

I didn't know too much about this band previously but when I found out they tour in a biodiesel van and use recycled and sustainable materials in their CD packaging AND the group's profits are donated to charity, it's hard not to be intrigued. Turns out they make pretty good music too.

Best Songs: 'No One Said It Would Be Easy' 'Everybody Here Is A Cloud'

22. The Whigs - Mission Control

Athens, GA trio The Whigs are a straight up rock band in the classic sense. There isn't any flashy production or anything like that, just great rock tunes in the same vein as Guided By Voices or The Replacements.

Best Songs: 'Right Hand On My Heart' 'Like A Vibration'

21. TV on the Radio - Dear Science

Even though this album almost made it to the Top 20, it's still a bit of a disappointment. Return To Cookie Mountain is in my top 5 albums of this decade, so almost anything that follows that would probably be a bit disappointing though.

Best Songs: 'Halfway Home' 'Golden Age'

20. Horse Feathers - House With No Home

Horse Feathers album House With No Home is the perfect winter album. It's hushed and luscious and beautiful. I've always been a pretty big fan of this kind of stuff though and I know it isn't everyone's thing, but if you like mellow folk-type music, check it out.

Best Songs: 'Working Poor' 'Curs in the Weeds'

19. Department of Eagles - In Ear Park

Turns out that the greatness that is the band Grizzly Bear has too much of it to contain and it's spilled out into Department of Eagles. This is a fantastic album but it's so high on this list because 'No One Does It Like You' is one of (if not, THE) best song(s) of the year.

Best Song: 'No One Does It Like You'

18. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

Let it be known that this is easily the worst of the four full-length albums from The Hold Steady. The fact that it's still number 18 on the list should tell you how good their first three records are. This is one of those bands that can do no wrong in my eyes.

Best Songs: 'Stay Positive' 'Sequestered In Memphis'

17. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

This record stayed up in my top 10 for most of the year until a few last minute editions pushed it down a bit. I still stand by the fact that this is a great record, no matter how bad they are in concert.

Best Songs: 'Weekend Wars' 'Kids' 'Electric Feel'

16. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

Wolf Parade's sophomore effort isn't nearly as good as their debut, but that's okay because they didn't fall into the trap of repeating what they've already done for their second record. Spencer Krug is another musician that can do no wrong in my eyes and this record keeps his streak going.

Best Songs: 'California Dreamer' 'Kissing The Beehive'

15. The Dodos - Visiter

Not too many bands are able to re-invent the wheel like The Dodos did with Visiter. You could throw any number of descriptions of The Dodos out and most would fit: Bluegrass, Folk, Indie, even elements of Metal find their way into this album. Biggest regret of '08: Missing The Dodos at The Replay in Lawrence.

Best Songs: 'Walking' 'Fools'

14. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins

I'm waiting for Okkervil River to put out a bad or even a below-average record. No one writes songs or sings them as emotionally charged as Will Sheff...and The Stand Ins is going to continue the streak.

Best Songs: 'Lost Coastlines' 'Pop Lie'

13. Dr. Dog - Fate

Philadelphia's Dr. Dog definitely wear their influences on their sleeves. You can certainly find something to like here whether it's the Beatles influences or even The Band. Their previous albums have shown signs of greatness but the songwriting never came full circle until Fate.

Best Songs: 'The Old Days' 'The Ark'

12. Portishead - Third

The triumphant return of Portishead! I've been waiting a long time for a new Portishead album and this doesn't disappoint. Sure, it doesn't sound much like their previous stuff, but I would be disappointed if it did. Beth Gibbons is the star here and her vocal abilities are the center point of a fabulous "come back" record.

Best Songs: 'The Rip' 'Machine Gun'

11. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

It's no surprise that these guys hail from the home of The Boss. Like Bruce, DBT and bands like Lucero and Social D, these guys write honest rock tunes with great lyrics. This was the last edition to my top albums list and it made it pretty far down the list.

Best Songs: 'Great Expectations' 'The '59 Sound'

10. M83 - Saturdays=Youth

As much credibility as I might lose, I'm not afraid to admit that I love 80's music. Pretty much anything with a melody and a synthesizer I probably listen(ed) to. This tribute to 80's music and culture is the perfect album from M83. Everything I like about this band can be boiled down into this record.

Best Songs: 'Kim & Jessie' 'Graveyard Girl'

9. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

If you don't know or own anything by Nick Cave, then I feel kinda bad for you. This dude has been around a long time now and has never compromised anything artistically. He's still putting out records as good as he did 20 years ago.

Best Song: 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!'

8. Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair

If you don't like disco and dance music, please look away. If you do you need to pick up this album immediately. I've been a huge fan of Antony Hegarty of Antony & The Johnsons, so his appearance here lending his vocals to dance tracks is pretty much perfection in my eyes.

Best Songs: 'Blind' 'Hercules Theme'

7. The Tallest Man On Earth - Shallow Graves

The Tallest Man On Earth is Sweden's own Kristian Matsson. Although this is another mellow, folkey album I can't express how good it is. The voice is definitely reminiscent of Bob Dylan and the songs are just outstanding. I haven't really taken this one out of rotation since I picked it up a few months ago.

Best Songs: 'Into The Stream' 'I Won't Be Found'

6. Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue

Surprise, Surprise...another extremely satisfying debut album from a Montreal band. Plants and Animals can tend to be a bit all over the place, like fellow Canadians Broken Social Scene, but this album is solid from beginning to end. I would find it hard to believe if someone said they couldn't find at least one song on this album that they liked.

Best Songs: 'Feedback In The Field' 'Good Friend'

5. The Walkmen - You & Me

After the extremely disappointing A Hundred Miles Off I didn't have too many expectations of The Walkmen's latest effort. This however, turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the year. I can't say enough good things about this record...it's the perfect companion to a late night and a bottle of whiskey.

Best Songs: 'In The New Year' 'Four Provinces' 'New Country'

4. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

Cut Copy is exactly the type of band that I love. They are obviously a dance-pop group, but they definitely have an indie-rock sensibility to their songwriting. This is an album that is great from beginning to end, I never find myself skipping any songs when listening to it.

Best Songs: 'Lights & Music' 'Feel The Love' 'Hearts On Fire'

3. Blitzen Trapper - Furr

As scattered and patchy as their last album was, you could hear hints of greatness throughout. This is that potential greatness coming to fruition. It sounds like AM-era Wilco at times, but if you know me, that isn't anything but the highest compliment.

Best Songs: 'Sleepytime In The Western World' 'Furr' 'Black River Killer'

2. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

This album was technically self-released in 2007 but didn't get released by a label till this year. Since I wasn't able to get a copy until that label release, I'm including it on this years list. There isn't too much I can say about Bon Iver that hasn't already been said, so if you don't already own this record...please go buy it, you won't be disappointed.

Best Songs: 'Skinny Love' 'Flume' 'Creature Fear'

1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

If you've read this blog before, there's no doubt you've noticed our affinity for Fleet Foxes. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for any music that can be classified as Americana and this hits that spot dead-on. The best description i've read of this band is that they are a "Glory-hole of harmonies". I could go on about them but I won't....every blogger and critic already has written enough...just get the record.

Best Songs: 'White Winter Hymnal' 'He Doesn't Know Why' 'Blue Ridge Mountains'



Anonymous said...

Great list Matt. You're top 3 was spot on. This top 50 puts so many other best of's to shame. My only question, where is Nouns by No Age?

Matt said...

Thanks Brother!

No Age would have been in the 50-60 range for sure. This year was weird...there were a handful of records I loved and then a crap-ton that I liked a lot. Any of my albums that fell just out of the top 50 could have easily replaced anything from the 30-50 range and wouldn't have seemed out of place. Some people are talking like this was a great year for music, I think it was good but could have been better. There is a lot of stuff to look forward to coming out in '09 for sure.