Monday, December 15, 2008

Derek's Top 10 Albums of 2008

I cannot believe it! It is almost 2009...where does time go? Crazy that the first decade of the 21st century is nearing its end. Thankfully, we are in a great time of music. This past year has brought us many gems. However, I found it increasingly difficult as I pared down my 2008 top 10 list. It was tough to leave certain albums often my list. I think this speaks of the year it was...many very good albums but very few phenomenal albums. The result is many varied Top 10 lists.

Well, you didn't start reading this to hear me ramble, so lets get to my 2008 list. Here are my 10 favorite albums of 2008 (including 11 honorable mentions):

10. Hercules & Love Affair - Self-Titled: DJ Andrew Butler updates old-school disco featuring, on several tracks, Antony of Antony and the Johnsons. This album completely blindsided me. I remember listening to this the first time and marveling at the crispness. The driving beats and clear sounds set it apart from other electronic albums this year. While this may not be everyone's cup of tea, I highly recommend giving it a listen.

9. Elbow - Seldom Seen Kid: I have Elbow's 3 other albums and I can tell you that they are all excellent discs. However, none of those 3 albums has impacted me like Seldom Seen Kid. While Elbow may be the poor man's Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Radiohead (you name it)...they have an authenticity that the other's lack or may have lost along the way. This album offers absolutely gorgeous arrangements with plenty of layers. This album continues to reward me with each new listen.

8. Calexico - Carried To Dust: Another album here that completely blew me away, unexpectedly. I had heard of Calexico but had never really paid much attention...That is until I heard the song 'Two Silver Trees' on satellite radio. Right there, I knew I had to get this album! Another album full of many layers and stunning harmonies. To quote the best description of Calexico I could find: "Their songs tell tales that reflect the mix of southwestern rock, country, folk, blues, Tejano, and Latin music that first gave them their 'border-rock' reputation." On this album you'll hear Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), trumpets, Spanish, etc. Check 'em!

7. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive: Here is one of those albums that will inevitably create memories. To me, this album reminded me of growing up listening to Bruce Springsteen's Born In The USA. It is an absolute epic album that just floods you with strength, power, and emotion on every song. Frontman Craig Finn has even started 'singing' more. I cannot recommend this album enough. These guys are by far under-appreciated and deserve a lot more attention than what's been given. When I hear songs from Stay Positive I am reminded of the Summer.

6. Shearwater - Rook: The first time I listened to this album I couldn't make it through to the end. By the third time, I had finally made it through. By the fifth time I was starting to take notice. By the 10th time, I listened to it 10 more times in a row before listening to anything else. My point: This album is all about repeated listens and boy is it worth the patience! Frontman (and former Okkervil River bandmate) Jonathan Meiburg's voice is one that is unique and takes some getting used to. However, the album as a whole is beautiful and haunting all at the same time. This album would make a great addition to your collection.

5. TV on the Radio - Dear Science: TVOTR once again release an absolutely incredible album. Sprawling and amazingly loaded with layer upon layer, Dear Science is a masterpiece. I sound like a broken record, but here is another album that gives back the more you listen. TVOTR just continue to floor me with the lush atmospheres they create. With all that being said, I did enjoy Return To Cookie Mountain slightly more. However, Dear Science is rising fast due to those repeated listens. These guys never cease to thrill.

4. Coldplay - Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends: Many indie critics will disagree (e.g. Pitchfork) but Coldplay are so talented. Every previous Coldplay album is unique and has its own theme. Viva La Vida is no exception. Here Coldplay really shake things up a bit from past records. Employing new sounds, rhythms, etc., Coldplay get even closer to U2-type status on this album. An easy listen no doubt (even my parents love it), but still a welcome sound coming out of my speakers any day of the week.

3. Blitzen Trapper - Furr: Here is another very much under-recognized sextet from Portland, Oregon (what up Chip?). These guys have such amazing talent (check out last album Wild Mountain Nation) one minute sounding like Beck, the next minute sounding like Grateful Dead. Incredible songs full of tales and soaring vocal harmonies. They have a knack for the unpredictable yet never stray too far from that vintage folk feeling they give you. These guys are only going to get better and continue to rise in the indie scene.

2. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago: Wow, Wow, and Wow! Right from the beginning song, I realized that I had come across something special. Justin Vernon's (aka Bon Iver) voice cannot even be described in just have to hear it. Bon Iver (french for 'good winter' and pronouced like 'bohn eevair') recorded this album deep in the Wisconsin woods at his father's hunting cabin. The result is an album that is both simple yet complex, subtle and full of life, and nothing short of beautiful. I cannot even do justice for how good this album is (even better with a pair of good 'cans'). Will be enjoying this album for many years to come.

1. Fleet Foxes - Self-Titled: I first heard Fleet Foxes EP Sun Giant (also highly recommended) back in early May. From that moment, I was counting the days until their self-titled release on June 3rd. And on June 3rd Fleet Foxes full-length LP rose to the top of my list and has not moved since. Their much anticipated album is outstanding and reminds me why I love music so darn much. Their harmonies are absolutely remarkable, the instrumentation is second-to-none, and the songs are all top rate. If I didn't know better, I would have thought I was listening to one of the best albums of the late 60's. A classic in every sense of the word is Fleet Foxes' album. And the amazing thing...this is their debut record! I am already eagerly awaiting the next album from this ridiculously talented band. If you have not heard this album only comment is this: Where have you been all year???

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
  • The Walkmen - You & Me (Definitely the hardest to leave off the list. This is like 10.1 and probably should be on the list. An amazing album that flows extremely well. Do not miss this one!)
  • Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. (Amazing new discovery this week! The way it is probably should have been in my top 10. 'Nothing Ever Happened' is an outstanding song)
  • Sun Kil Moon - April (Mark Kozelek is amazing! This one was particularly tough to leave off top 10 list)
  • Mates of State - Re-Arrange Us (New discovery and rising fast)
  • Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane (Ditto the above statement)
  • Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs (Another excellent album from Death Cab)
  • Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creations Dark (The Truckers continue to impress)
  • Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight (Excellent record...although his voice can get to me at times. Keep an eye on this band down the road)
  • Damien Jurado - Caught In The Trees (Damien Jurado is a phenomenal songwriter)
  • Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (A great electronic record for us 80's kids)
  • The Whigs - Mission Control (Swirling guitars combined with a frontman Parker Gispert's 'sandpaper growl' make this a very fun album)


Post a Comment