Top 50 Albums of 2008

17Dec08

To be completely honest, this list is missing a lot. Some albums were lost in the great iTunes deletion accident of ’08, other albums I never got, but through thick and thin, I’ve developed a top 50.

After spending hours and hours going through over 5,000 songs, I carefully chose and ordered the albums. To make it more exciting, I’m going to be putting a lot of more lines in here. So let’s get this countdown started. As a head’s up, I’ve realized that sincerity and organic sounds tended to to be more important for me.

(Few honorable mentions: Bon Iver (I never got the album). Deathcab For Cutie’s “Narrow Stairs” and The Heavy’s “Great Vengeance Furious Fire” got deleted.

50 – Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
(Illegal Art) This is a catchy, party-anthem mash up album by Pittsburgh-based Greg Gillis. There are more hits and cuts that are recognizable and even more nostalgic than his previous releases. For the Girl Talk review, check out the review.

49 – Department of Eagles – In Ear Park
(4AD) This duo comes from New York and are really great friends! One member is also known for his work as Grizzly Bear. The music is soft spoken and gentle, but really tugs at the heart strings.

48 – Shugo Tokumaru – EXIT
(Almost Gold) Shugo, known for his bells and whispy but substantial music, hails from Japan. Therefor, the vocals are in Japanese, but the music it’s self is universal.

47 – The Evangelicals – The Evening Descends
(Dead Ocean) The Evangelicals is a 4 piece band from Oklahoma. With strong riffs and some prog rock influences, the Evangelicals call attention to themselves in an orchestrated and beautiful way.


46 – Grampall Jookabox – Ropechain
(Asthmatic Kitty) Grampall Jookabox is a duo from Indianapolis, IN. Their last.fm profile says “‘I have no idea what you’re trying to do, and that’s either really good or really bad, I’m not sure.’ — Jello Biafra”. They mix hip hop with pop with a spastic and humorist quality.

45 – State Bird – Mostly Ghostly
(Record Collection) It’s just a small band released on a small label from Dover, OH, but they have captured my attention. With some tracks that are easily-digestible up indie-folk, they also cross over to a Fleet Foxes-type  organic sound on other tracks. Either way, their authentic and fun sound is something you should definitely check it out. Review.

44 – Hot Lava – Lavology
(Bar/None) Hot Lava is a 4 piece band from Virginia. What’s so great about them? They have this sense of innocence and light-hearted-ness that you don’t hear anymore. They mix electronic elements with a standard rock group set up. Prepare yourself for a pop album.

43 – Ssion – Fool’s Gold
(Sleazetone) This headache of a group makes really fantastic, weird, and spastic music. This four-piece hails from Kansas City and covers and mocks musical genres while promoting their own personal brands and styles. Review here.

42 – Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair
(Mute) Hailing from New York, Hercules and Love Affair bring back the long-lost funk. They add in electronica to some funky grooves. The album took me by surprise. I was not prepared for something this good after reading that they were reintroducing funk, so check them out with an open mind.

41 – Laura Barrett – Earth Sciences
(Paper Bag) This Canadian offers something you don’t hear often in today’s indie rock. What’s that? The African thumb piano. It does get a little tired after listening to the strange album all the way through, but there are very strong stand alone tracks.

40 – School of Seven  Bells – Alphinisms
(Ghostly International) This 3 piece part psychadelic part structured band comes from New York. They create this effortless sounding music that is orchestrated and enjoyable.

39 – The YMD – Excuse Me This Is The Yah Mos Def
(My Pal God) I’m from Philadelphia and I like to have fun! And so does this Philadelphian group! This is a punk hip hop album that is loud and outrageous. They are also signed to the same label as Eyeball Skeleton!

38 – Animal Collective – Water Curses EP
(Domino) This experimental comes from Baltimore. They have always been known for their unpredictable releases. This one, like their more recent releases, are little more congruent have a theme. This one, surprise, surprise, has a flowing theme. It makes for an enjoyable and relaxing but still unpredictable short EP.

37 – The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing
(Columbia) This fills out “mainstream” pop quota for the countdown. This 2 piece band comes from Manchester. And it is filled with heavy drum beats and female vocals that are just so catchy you can’t help but either dance or move in response to their sound.

36 – Bad Dudes – Eat Drugs
(Retard Disco) This Los Angeles 5 piece band has combined two different albums into one, so to speak. The first half is hard and in your face. The 2nd half doesn’t slow down but has more electronic sounds and isn’t as aggressive, but just as enjoyable. The title track describes how I feel about drugs.

35 – Flight of the Concords – Flight of the Concords
(Sub Pop) Yes, they have their own show on HBO and the tracks on the album come pretty much directly from the show, but so what? They mix indie folk music with humor and it works. They seem to be completely overlooked on other countdowns, but not this one.

34 – Foals – Antidotes
(Trangressive/Sub Pop) This English 5 piece has a pop punk sound but goes beyond the superficial comparisons. For more, check the review.

33 – No Age – Nouns
(Sub Pop) From listening to this duo, you’d never know that it’s just a 2 guys rocking out really hard. The album is combusting with energy. Besides being known for a great album, they are also known for their DIY attitude. This indie rock band does use some distortion but all in all brings back the energy that is often lost in the indie scene.

32 – Clinic – Do It
(Domino) This band is really unclassifiable. Hailing from Liverpool, I can still not confidentially compare them to another band. Can you? Their music changes from spastic-fantastic to catchy riffs. Review.

31 – These New Puritans – Beat Pyramid
(Rough Trade) I also wrote a review for them a while back. They have this hard edge that comes from heavy beats and a heavy voice, but they also convey a sense of something more sincere. Their music has this intensity that can easily be understood and appreciated.

30 – Pale Young Gentlman – Black Forest
(Science of Sound) This 5 piece band comes from Madison, Wisconsin and they offer a very unique take on the indie folk genre. Their music has a movement to it that it isn’t directly related to finger plucking, but from all the elements on every track.

29 – Mad Gregs – Big Nun
(Fake Four, Inc) Another Los Angeles band on our countdown! With different instrumentals, like bells and vocal hoots, Mad Gregs create a unique sound for each of their tracks that makes it into a cohesive album. Not only does the album sound like it was organically made, but has a sincere attitude to it as well.

28 – Larytta – Difficult Fun
(Creaked Records) This album only came out a few months ago and has left a large impression on me. Larytta is 2 producers from Switzerland. The beats and sounds you hear as beats are unusual. For “Money”, they use creaking doors and rocking chairs to create a unique but captivating beat.

27 – Deerhoof – Offend Maggie
(Kill Rockstars) Known for their noise pop qualities, Deerhoof does it again with a thought provoking and slightly humorous album. As usual, I can’t understand everything she says in her shrill/baby-talk sounding voice, but the music lends as a helping hand to share emotions and an overall feeling.

26 – Pepi Ginsberg – Red
(Park The Van) This Brooklyn artists has a distinct voice, which is deeper, yet hollow compared to Cat Power. The album relies on sweeping and swooping vocals and a mix with steady beats. Pepi provides something refreshing to the scene. Review.

25 – Fugiya and Miyagi – Lightbulbs
(Deaf Dumb+ Blind) In last year’s release, this 4-piece Brighton English group defined their sound to a receptive audience. Known as krautrock, Fugiya and Miyagi made their whispery vocals a stand out point. This album, they take their sound and combine it with funk. Every track grooves a little more.

24 – Portugal, The Man – Censored Colours
(Approaching AIRballoons / Equal Vision Records) The album is so layered, so developed, so orchestrated and deep, that one listen won’t do it. To classify it, I’d say they are more progressive rock than anything else.

23 – Dr. Dog – Fate
(Park The Van) Dr. Dog, another Philadelphian band, take this with folk pop sound to the next level. While maintaining their distinct sound of catchy but accoustic sound, Dr. Dog created an album that their current fans will gladly gobble up, but something that new fans can also sink their teeth into.

22 – Boy Eats Drum Machine – Booomboxxx
(Tender Loving) BEDM is Jon Ragel, a Portland, OR native. BEDM is a electronic album that combines sound that are both cohesive and non-repetitive. It’s something you can listen to, digest and enjoy on the first listen through.

21 – Jay Reatard – Matador Singles ’08
(Matador) Reatard, from Memphis, released a bunch of EPs this year. So Matador combined their tracks into a compilation. So instead of placing EPs through out the countdown, I, like Matador will group them here. The tracks are easy to sing along to, the lyrics make sense and all along enjoyable. It’s fresh and fun, although it sounds familiar, it also has some surprises musically and instrumentally that keeps you wanting more.

20 – Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold
(Ryhmsayer) Here’s something I didn’t expect. I haven’t really gotten into Atmosphere, ever. This album though 1. fills my hip hop quota, and 2. is great. Slug and Ant, the Minneapolis duo, work well together. The hooks are catchy. The lyrics are filled with stories of the everyday, (ahem) Joe Plumbers.

19 – Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
(XL) This band got hyped before their album was even released. In fact, it was annoying. But I still have to credit them. They created a catchy pop album. They’ve seen then been mentioned on 90210 as the pinnacle as underground, and have been played on MTV and on Gossip Girl. I can say, with  confidence, that this debut album is their peak.

18 – Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Angles
(Lex) This British duo does something that I can personally appreciate. They combine topics that I know, music snobbery and good times, with a hip hop beat. Their lyrics are honest and humorous.

17 – Megapuss – Surfing
(Vapor) This 3 piece band comes from Los Angeles. They do something special. They just do stuff. Some tracks remind me of Devendra Banhart, others pull from funk music. The songs are attention grabbing (like the cover art). I really can’t say much more than that.

16 – Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid
(Polydor) This album is the album I’d choose to cry to this year. The songs are so melodic and beautiful. The lyrics are filled with stories and wisdom. Review.

15 – Santagold – Santagold
(Atlantic) Hailing from Philadelphia, she has electronic rock music and a distinct voice (however, can be confused with M.I.A). Her songs have been used in commercials for Budweiser and Converse, and also on Gossip Girl and all over MTV. Really catchy, some what aggressive, but good!

14 – Cloud Cult – Feel Good Ghosts
(Earthology) The album is heavily themed on weather. The 7 piece Minneapolis band sometimes sounds like early Modest Mouse because of the vocals. The songs are catchy. The songs vary from story-telling, to dance anthems, to easy going. Review.

13 – Lykke Li – Youth Novels
(EMI Sweden) Unique for a female vocal pop album. The songs are catchy, the lyrics make sense and go perfectly with her personal brand. It is quirky cute but can stand on it’s own.

12 – Okay – Huggable Dust
(Absolutely Kosher) This is a heartbreaking album. There is something very sincere to it and kind of sad. Immediately, you feel a bond with Marty Anderson, the man behind Okay, as he sings in a very small kind of voice about love, lose and hope.

11 – Hot Chip – Made In The Dark
(Astralwerks) The London electropop group has done it again! Another album that works extremely well together with brilliant songs. The video for “Ready for the Floor” is wonderful too. Yes, the band is pretentious with some of their lyrical content in “Wrestlers” but they have earned it.

10 – Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
(Sub Pop) This album re inserts what I meant by organic music being a trend this year. Fleet Foxes’  music flows with earnestness and honesty. The music itself is folk-based because of its instrumentation and the airy nature in which the instruments are played. I’ve gotten lost in the album for a week. Also ’tis the season for the track “White Winter Hymnal”. Review.

9 – The Death Set – Worldwide
(Counter) Can you believe it? This is their first full length release after countless EP. They continue on with their “just do it” attitude in their electronic punk kind of way. The music is loud and high energy, so for those of weak hearts, please approach carefully. Review.

8 – Tobacco – Fucked Up Friends
(Anticon) Tobacco is not a band, but rather one guy from Pittsburg and a member of Black Moth Super Rainbow. The music is psychedelic electonica. It features well crafted loops and electonically hazed out vocals that are transfixing and groove able. After seeing him live at a less than enjoyable show(review), I realized the music can speak for itself.

7 – The Mae Shi – Hlllyh
(Team Shi) These guys are all about fun and it comes through. Although this album focues on religion (strange) and politics (yuck), their messages and attitude clash and result in something that’s deeper than just a rampunctuous album. Review.

6 – Thao and the Get Down Stay Downs – We Brave Bee Stings and All
(Kill Rockstars) Headed by Thao Nguyen, the band can be related to Feist. The band combines elements from all three genres of Pop, Folk and Indie rock. The songs tell stories in some instances, or just convey something else. The songs are not so much as catchy but curious.

5 – The Black Keys – Attack and Release
(Nonesuch) Blues rock from Akron, OH. I still don’t think get the appreciation they deserve. It has the elements that I crave. It has soulful, groove and bittersweet emotion.

4 – Crystal Castles – Crystald Castles
(Last Gang) Electronic dance music from Toronto. The duo has personified the hipster’s dream. Review.

3 – Tim Fite – Fair Ain’t Fair
(Anti) From the distinct vocals, to the honesty and relatable lyrics, Tim Fite has gained himself a new fan (me). The music itself is on the folk side of things, and “Big Mistake” is my personal anthem.

2 – Rafter – Sex, Death Cassette
(Asthmatic Kitty) A very quick paced album. The songs are short and punchy. Rafter, Sufjans best friend, creates a pop album that anyone can listen to and find something to like. (well, almost everyone). The songs are either cute, funny, lovely, but always “special”.

1 – Why? – Alopecia
(Anticon) Alopecia is a genre bending album , led by an unusual vocalist, Yoni Wolf. The music can change from strange experimental, to form a pop song. The lyrics have a hint of truth and wisdom to them without coming off as prentetious. And although there is no simple beat in any of the tracks, it is still considered a hip hop album. Respect my opinion and definitely give them a listen.  Review.

And there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Am I missing something? Share your thoughts.

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12 Responses to “Top 50 Albums of 2008”

  1. 1 thewitchfire

    Devendra Banhart is in Megapuss

    • haha, that explains that then. in fact, Megapuss now goes up a little bit in my mind. Before, I thought it was a knockoff of his style, but now it’s almost collaborative.

  2. 3 blair waldorf

    Pepi Ginsberg is one of my favorite voices in music. So pure and talented, i loved her latest record. Her top 10 list of 2008 is also pretty cool too. i checked out her featured playlist on erockster.com.

  3. 5 7duckets

    The Black Keys? Yes! Santogold? Yes! Vampie Weekend? YES!

  4. 7 MW

    I’ve been flying through a ton of different top # lists for 2008 music.. aaaand there is SO MUCH OVERLAP!

    Is there just not enough music!?.. Or not enough music we’re all aware of?

    • MW, What are you looking for? Maybe we’ve just filtered out the masses and masses of music to a roughly top 100 or so that perhaps deserve it? Or maybe it’s all hype… thoughts?

  5. 9 sick agent

    Hey just thought I should say that your list is pretty awesome. It caught my attention while I was reading through RS’s terrible top 50 comments to see what people were saying, and I saw that Why? was at the top of your list, and I’ve been a big anticon fan for years. Yeh so your list is really good, and a lot of it I didn’t recognize so I’m checking out a few new bands (torrents obviously). If you like why? make sure to check out Almost live from Anna’s Cabin, and Almost live from Eli’s Live room. (mininova or demonoid should have them) These are two great mixes, with old and new songs of his. Also, since I’ll prob like some of this new stuff you showed me, heres some bands that I didnt see on your list that I’m into and you might like too: wolf parade, Chad vangaalen, Deerhunter, kleerup, jim noir, her space holiday, mountain goats, thee more shallows, mercury rev, low vs diamond (!!), bright eyes, patrick watson, dntel, nada surf. Thats all I can think of right now, thanks again for the list.

    • – Wolf Parade’s 2008 album was a let down. It is definitely a sophomore slump.
      – Chad Vangallen has a strong unique sound, but it never seems to vary. I personally need that variation
      – Kleerup I saw was all over the scene. They are electronic, correct? I’ll have to check them out
      – Jim Noir: I’ve only heard one song but him and loved. It’s a indie pop folk with an emphasis indie (right?)
      – Her Space Holiday – Which album are talking about. They always relied on electronic beats and sample sounded stuff. But their latest album Xoxo panda and Sleepy Tigers EP were more acoustic and organic sounding, I kinda prefer their new sound and find their change really brave.
      – Mountain Goats. Oh God, I love the Mountain Goats – sadly, I didn’t get their album. If you have, I would love it if you sent it to me.
      – Thee More Shallows – That’s another band i have a few tracks from but no full album. If you have that… ekkk… I would love to hear it.
      – Bright Eyes – I haven’t gotten back into Brights Eyes since I left middle school. It’s only worth a listen to on certain days, usually rainy.
      – Dntel – I have their 2005 EP, I never got into it, kinda strange
      – Nada Surf – I knew they had a release also in 2005 (may ’06) and it changed thier sound to more congruent and pop than their previous releases. Its good for an occassional listen, I didn’t know they came out with something new.

      I haven’t heard of Mercury Rev, Low vs Diamond or Patrick Watson. What do they sound like?

  6. 11 jay

    THANKS for taking the time and sharing. Just two quick comments –
    SantOgold rather than SantAgold (easier for those of us new to her to find)
    and in response to #10 comment above by saraknee – personally i really like Low v. Diamond and suggest they are worth checking out. Thanks again!


  1. 1 Buy: End-of-Year Lists | Buy Or Don't Buy

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