These are my favorite albums released this year. I try to listen to as much music as I can. Let me know what you think of the list. What were your favorites of 2008? Enjoy.
10. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
(self-released in 2007; officially releases in 2008)
Justin Vernon, recovering from a broken relationship and a dissolved band, travels to a lonely Wisconsin cabin, writing songs to pass the frigid winter. Great album but I wonder: if no one knew the story, or liked to tell other people they knew the story, would they care so much? Still, Bon Iver released one of the better albums of the year.
Listen To: Re: Stacks, Skinny Love, Blindsided
Bon Iver - "For Emma" from MySpace Transmissions
9. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III
It’s safe to say the self-proclaimed “Best Rapper Alive” was the Best Rapper of 2008.
Listen To: Let The Beat Build, A Milli, Mr. Carter
8. The Welcome Wagon – Welcome to the Welcome Wagon
Welcome to the Welcome Wagon was the most honest collection of songs I heard this year – a husband and wife (and friends) making music in their living room because it’s fun. This may be the closest I get to Sufjan Stevens, who produced the album, for awhile.
Listen To: Up On A Mountain, I Am A Stranger, Deep Were His Wounds and Red
7. Girl Talk – Feed The Animals
There are few listening experiences more exciting than the first time through a Girl Talk album. I can remember exactly where I was (a sunny day in Dallas, driving up 75 back to work after lunch) when Feed the Animals first blasted through my speakers. Here you find Gregg Gillis forced to confront his newfound celebrity status. The underdog role suited him well on Night Ripper (a superior album to Feed the Animals), but as the frontrunner, Gillis refuses to disappoint.
Listen To: The whole thing.
CAUTION - EXPLICIT LYRICS IN THIS VIDEO
6. Ben Rector – Songs That Duke Wrote
I am admittedly biased. Ben is one of my favorite people. This album is genuine yet radio-ready, a quality effort from a well-rounded musician. Listen to Songs That Duke Wrote and you’ll find yourself singing Ben’s tunes for the rest of the day.
Listen To: The Kill, Ready For A Change, Associated
Not on the new album, but the a good example of Ben Rector's talent.
5. Beach House – Devotion
Tragically, hauntingly beautiful. The appropriately titled Devotion conjures up images of romantic commitment bleeding into obsession. Maybe I’m getting this from the album cover, but this music is the equivalent to a candle-lit room in the middle of the night.
Listen To: Gila, You Came To Me, D.A.R.L.I.N.G.
4. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
In Fleet Foxes you hear a band producing a fully developed sound – lavish harmonies, layered arrangements – so thoroughly carved out it is hard to believe you find it on a debut album. After such a gorgeous introduction, where does Fleet Foxes go from here? That will be their question to answer in 2009.
Listen To: White Winter Hymnal, Ragged Wood, Sun It Rises
3. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
It took a little more than a month for Vampire Weekend to make it to Saturday Night Live after their album’s release back in January. For most indie-darlings, this type of mainstream exposure would lead to immediate hipster backlash. But here’s the thing about VW – they deserve the hype. Infectious melodies. Intelligent lyrics. The Ivy League did them well. This album becomes more enjoyable with every listen.
Listen To: Oxford Comma, M79, Walcott
2. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
I waited the entire year to purchase this album, content to settle with tracks downloaded here and there and songs streamed over Myspace. Now that I own it, I wonder, “What took me so long to officially purchase this?” There was no album more beautiful released in 2008; In Ghost Colours is a techno-pop masterpiece. A year from now, Cut Copy will be the next big thing – and I’ll be happy that everyone joined the party.
Listen To: Out There On the Ice, Lights & Music, Feel The Love
1. The Walkmen – You & Me
You & Me occupied more of my time this year than any other album. In my opinion, this is The Walkmen at their best: comfortable within the cavern that is their distinct sound. As a frontman, Hamilton Leithauser can compete with anyone. From top to bottom, this was the best musical effort of 2008 – raw, earnest, and full of life.
Listen To: In the New Year, On The Water, Red Moon
Honorable Mention (Alphabetical Order):
Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends
The Cool Kids – Bake Sale EP
Deparment of Eagles – In Ear Park
The Dodos – Visiter
Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak
Little Joy – Little Joy
She & Him – Volume One