Saturday, January 10, 2009

Top 10 Albums of 2008

What a disappointing year for me, musically. In a year with releases by Destroyer, The Lucksmiths, The Magnetic Fields, My Morning Jacket, The Notwist, Of Montreal, Okkervil River, and the Silver Jews, none of them got much serious consideration for the top 10. I think most of the albums are on here because I've had them for a while and so am more familiar with them. Still some pretty good stuff, but I'm hoping for more next year.

10. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight

"Hutchison and his bandmates reward patience as well as repeated listens, and they deserve credit for unearthing a unique chunk of the Scottish heart, raised on equal parts American punk and traditional folk and bleeding beautifully." - Slant

The Scottish accented vocals are more interesting and less grating than The Twilight Sad's. It's not the most original thing in the world, but it's well crafted and catchy.

NT: The Modern Leper; Old Old Fashioned; The Twist

The Modern Leper

9. Dark Captain Light Captain - Miracle Kicker

"Refreshing is the word here; simple, clever, refreshing, breezy, beautifully mesmeric, time-stopping, uplifting, liquid songs lovingly crafted and catching the light just right." - Organ

The only album from this year that I liked on the first listen. It's a lot like what The Notwist's new album should have been like.

NT: Jealous Enemies; Circles; Remote View

Jealous Enemies

8. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

"Bring any baggage you want to this record, and it still returns nothing but warm, airy, low-gimmick pop, peppy, clever, and yes, unpretentious--four guys who listened to some Afro-pop records, picked up a few nice ideas, and then set about making one of the most refreshing and replayable indie records in recent years." - Pitchfork

It's still just as catchy and fun as it was a few months ago. There's actually a pretty good album underneath all of the hype.

NT: Oxford Comma; Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa; Walcott


7. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

"It’s seamless in its construction, poetic in its songwriting and moving in its aesthetic impression." - Delusions Of Adequacy

Great sparse folk album in the vein of Iron & Wine's earlier work.

NT: Flume; Creature Fear; For Emma

For Emma

6. Islands - Arm's Way

"Arm’s Way is a detailed, richly-rewarding album. These are undeniably melodramatic AOR songs--but they’re nuanced in form, graced with melody, and any obvious tropes are usually subverted." - Tiny Mix Tapes

There is some filler, but it has some of the catchiest songs of the year. While not Return To The Sea, it's still pretty good.

NT: The Arm; Creeper; Vertigo (If It's A Crime)

The Arm

5. The Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead

"Even when it fails, Keep Your Eyes Ahead has a refreshing maturity and presence, old enough to admit that folk jamboree and synth-rock can coexist, hopeful enough to think "Joshua Tree," or at least "Ocean Rain," was a really good idea." - Pitchfork

I don't reach for it that often, but I always enjoy a lot more than I expect to.

NT: Can't Say No; Keep Your Eyes Ahead; Hallelujah


4. Liam Finn - I'll Be Lightning

"Liam has an ear for hooks and a predilection for melodic craft...a richness in lyric and music uncommon to young singer/songwriters. The arrangements are slyly inventive, too." - All Music Guide

Finn has been compared to Elliot Smith, but I find this album to be catchier than any of Smith's, if not quite as good as some of them. Neil Finn's (of Crowded House) son has inherited some impressive talent.

NT: Better To Be; Second Chance; Energy Spirit

Energy Spirit

3. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

"At Mount Zoomer will get hipsters dancing around once again, but I think the respect and hype is most definitely due to Wolf Parade this time." - Urb

It's not the same as 2005's excellent Apologies To The Queen Mary, but it's not a distant departure. There's no big-time single on this one, but album is still very good - even if it takes a little while to figure that out.

NT: Soldier's Grin; Language City; Fine Young Cannibals

Language City

2. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

"The sense of wonder in Fleet Foxes' songs is matched only by the discipline and talent that created this adventurous, evocative record. One which is already shaping up as an album of the year." - Mojo

The harmonies are fantastic, and the production is clean and adds to the music without overshadowing it a bit. If I had to pick any album on here to recommend to someone it would be Fleet Foxes.

NT: White Winter Hymnal; He Doesn't Know Why; Oliver James

He Doesn't Know Why

1. Stephen Malkmus - Real Emotional Trash

"Real Emotional Trash conjures a virtuoso meld of folk rock, prog and cosmic blues tropes, all filtered through the ex-pavement frontman's trademark arch surrealism." - Mojo

It's kind of unfair - Malk makes a flawed album with songs that drag on too long, and there's still nothing else I've heard that I'd rather listen to.

NT: Hopscotch Willie; Cold Son; Gardenia


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