Best Music 2008: Albums

So, here it is - the final list: Albums of the Year. I've got some of the basics and a few surprises, so debate and enjoy.

20 Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Real Emotional Trash
Stephen Malkmus might be accused of getting a little too jammy, but I think it's more about keeping him interested in music. And hey, if that's what it takes, jam away.

19 eMC The Show
It might surprise you to know that Lil Wayne's Tha Carter 3 was not the only good hip-hop album released in 2008.

18 Girl Talk Feed the Animals
Everyone can pick out their favorite combo of to unlike songs forming a new (and arguably better at times) song. Mine is an early Wu-Tang rap by Raekwon matched with a long lost 70s song by Argent, "Hold Your Head Up."

17 The Raveonettes Lust Lust Lust
They stick to the "pop songs with big guitar" formula but add a little emotional variety and depth to the songs. Best album yet.

16 Deerhunter Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.
Bradford Cox had a good year. He put out one of the better side projects earlier this year (under the solo alias Atlas Sound), then followed it up with a great album from his main gig, complete with a bonus disc. So that's 39 songs to my zero. Damn.

15 Randy Newman Harps and Angels
A few words in defense of Randy Newman: Sure he's not the trendiest musician and his piano-based New Orleans jazz music will turn some people off, but lyrically, the guy's still sharp. This set proves he hasn't completely Disneyed out.

14 Jean Grae Jeanius
Who says women can't rap in 2008? You? Stop that. Listen to this.

13 Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple
I also direct you to the video for "Who's Gonna Save My Soul" as it's the good kinda weird.

12 of Montreal Skeletal Lamping
You love it or you hate it, but the test is whether or not you can keep up with Kevin Barnes' alter ego's erratic behavior. To me, this thing is hook on top of hook on top of hook.

11 Kidz in the Hall The In Crowd
Underrated hip-hop, lesson number two. This album has gotten so little praise, I thought it wasn't actually released this year. It's a shame - good old school base with modern sensibilities, a good direction for hip-hop to move.

10 Love Is All A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night
Awesome songs about people getting stuck with each other at the end of the night and snubbing your neighbors.

9 Q-Tip The Renaissance
While people still clamor for the reformation of A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip seems to be doing just fine. So check it out - it's a decent attempt at hip-hop crossover.

8 Ra Ra Riot The Rhumb Line
Vampire Weekend might have gotten all the love, but this band (formed in Syracuse, NY - hey, I used to live near there!) put out an equally catchy crop o' songs in the indie pop style.

7 Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
Lots of Fleet Fox love this year (i.e., #1 Pitchfork). The pastoral pop thing might be nothing new, but the band has started off on the right foot, doing The Shins filtered through Neil Young thing.

6 Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend
As with many years, some of 2008's best albums were debuts. And no debut was more hyped than Vampire Weekend's. It's a shame, because all that press created a inevitable backlash on what is actually a decent album. So keep your expectations reasonable and give it a shot.

5 The Walkmen You & Me
Comeback of the year maybe? After following their muse a little to unapologetically (a note-for-note retelling of the obscure Harry Nilsson album Pussycats comes to mind), I thought maybe The Walkmen had gone the way of other NYC bands Hip in '01 (y'know, like Secret Machines or Calla). But, no - The Walkmen have officially escaped that fate with You & Me an amazingly consistent album that recalls that really good first album.

4 M83 Saturdays = Youth
M83 aren't an easy band to get into. They like bombast. They aren't big on words. They have a tendency to lean toward 80s synth production (not always in a good way). I'm not sure if they abandoned this or if I've just gotten used to it, but Saturdays = Youth is a huge breakthrough. I tried unsuccessfully to get into their previous two albums, but there's no challenge involved with this one. It just clicks.

3 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Dig Lazurus Dig!!!
Nick had basically mapped out his plan for 2008 with last year's "side project" Grinderman. When he discovered that his fans actually liked it when he cranked it up and stopped crooning about death, it set the stage for this year's brilliant Dig Lazurus Dig!!! - the only album title with multiple exclamation marks that I've liked ever.

2 Department of Eagles In Ear Park
I've filled the number two spot with another underrated album (again cursed with the label "side project") from the guys from Grizzly Bear. Don't get me wrong - I like Grizzly Bear, but I love this. Just keep in mind your source for this list is a little mad for sadness...

1 TV on the Radio Dear Science
I hate to get all consensus-y on my number one this year (it happens that Spin, Rolling Stone and a few others have labeled it their album of the year too), but upon first listen, no other album caught my attention as instantly as Dear Science. And there aren't many that I listened to as much as this one. It's not so much what usually grabs me (I tend to prefer smaller, personal albums over big picture, complicated ones), but it's an album with big U2-style ambitions that actually pay off and that's tough to do these days (if fact, not even U2 can do it anymore).

So there you go, albums of the year. Thanks for sticking with me and Happy New Year!


Kari said...

time for a new blog post, i think!

Ronson said...

Yeah, it's been awhile. BLogging is hard work! You have to have ideas!