December 28, 2008

Top Ten Albums of 2008

     Normally I'm a movie guy. Because of that obsession, it is increasingly difficult to keep up with all of the great new music that is released each year. As I look over others' top ten lists on the year I realize how much I missed. I also never claimed to be a musical genius. Still, I know what I love and I do keep tabs on what Chris Robinson calls "the song."

2008 has to be the oddest year yet, in terms of my personal tastes and trying to stretch my musical muscles a little bit and challenging myself. By mid summer I was pretty much sick of the folky, indie-rock movement (snooze). But who would've thought that a lot of my favorite music on the year would be from bands that showcase a female singer with poppy, bubblegum melodies and beats? And while none of them appear on this list, I've also flirted with some Hip Hop this year (13 and God, Why?, Citizen Cope, Forss, Person X, etc.) and even some danceable electronica.

As I look over the list below, I realize that it isn't all that creative and fairly derivative; maybe even cliched, but hey, that's cause they're GOOD! So anyway, after thinking about it too much and weeding out some albums that probably should have made it, here are my top ten albums of 2008...

Top 10:

10) The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
More greatness from Jack White and his crew. It's Bob Dylan meets bad ass. Slightly experimental in some cases while still being listenable and without being annoying. While I really like this record, White's other side projects that I'm continually coming across always delight. Makes me love "The Raconteurs" that much more.

9) Cloud Cult - Feel Good Ghosts
Minneapolis represent! Gotta have a local band on here right?

8) Sons and Daughters - This Gift
Like "Tegan and Sara"? Try this.

7) Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
When you just need to rock out, accept nothing less than "The Postal Service" with balls.

6) Coldplay - Viva La Vida
That's right, I'm not afraid to admit it. Love these guys and this record forces me to continue to respect. The title track kind of reminds me of old "U2" - and that's not a bad thing.

5) Santogold - Santogold
Another female showcase of excellence. Takes "The Ting Tings" sound and "funks it up" a little with arguably much better vocal talent.

4) Mates of State - Re-Arrange Us
Heard about this one during the NPR year-end, music review show. Though it's repetitive, its crazy addictive. Listen to it "now now now now now now now, now now now now now now now, now now now now now now now, now now now now now now now."

3) MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
A unique album that really came out of no where. Fuses jazz, funk, disco with some catchy, not over-used electronica and elegant, Brian Wilson-esque vocals. Yeah, it's pretty much great and there's a reason why it's on everyone's list this year.

2) Nicole Atkins - Neptune City
If Neko Case was popular in the 50's. Again, just a string of great songs that totally caught me off guard when I popped it in. Track 1 - "hey, this is interesting and pretty good!" Track 2 - "hey, I like this song a lot." Tack 3 - wow, this is a really good tune." Track 4 - "I like this!" And so on and so on. She's really good live too.
PS - Yes I know this is technically a 2007 release (December), but I neglected to make a list last year and even if I had, I didn't discover this record until sometime last spring.

1) Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
Who would've thought? A two (wo)man band that creates a big sound with very little. Catchy tunes that are sing-a-long friendly even for guys. Couldn't get enough of the record after getting home from Lollapalooza this year. Ca-ching, ca-ching boy.

5 Honorable Mentions:
Shearwater - Rook
Sun Kil Moon - April
Black Keys - Attack and Release
Kings of Leon - Only by the Night
We Should Be Dead - Forget Romance, Let's Dance!

5 Kind of Disappointing:
Portishead - Third
The Killers - Day and Age
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
Portishead - Third
Weezer - The Red Album

5 More Great Records:
The Dodos - Visiter
Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kind
She and Him - Vol. 1
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Amos Lee - Last Days at the Lodge

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Haven't Had the Time to Check Out Yet (but will!):
People in Planes - Beyond the Horizon
The Faint - Fasciination
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
Hush Sound - Goodbye Blues
Magnetic Fields - Distortion
Minus the Bear - Acoustics
Mogwai - The Hawk is Howling
Nick Cave - Dig Lazarus Dig!
Tegan and Sara - The Con (not 2008)
Tegan and Sara - So Jealous (not 2008)