yay! My much awaited (by no one except myself it would seem) top 50 albums of 2008! A note however; the order of the albums is not comprehensive. That is to say I haven’t poured thought over the order of the albums for days and days…
50. The Tumbled Sea – S/T
49. Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing
48. Aussitot Mort – Montuenga
47. Goldmund – The Malady Of Excellence
46. Sumner Mckane – What A Great Place To Be
45. Maybeshewill – Not For Want Of Trying
44. Killing The Dream – Fractures
43. Sun Kil Moon – April
42. The Magnetic Fields – Distortion
41. Vessels – White Fields And Open Devices
40. Mystery Jets – 21
39. These Arms Are Snakes – Tail Swallower And Dove
38. Giants – Old Stories
37. Ben Folds – Way To Normal
36. Dan Friel – Ghost Town
35. Kyte – Kyte
34. Beach House – Devotion
33. Okkervil River – The Stand-Ins
32. Sigur Ros – Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
31. Jason Collett – Here’s To Being Here
30. Helios – Caesura
29. VA – Thursday – Envy Split
28. Fleet Foxes – S/T
27. Damien Jurado – Caught In The Trees
26. Mogwai – The Hawk Is Howling
25. Mount Eerie – Lost Wisdom
24. Library Tapes – A Summer Beneath The Trees
23. Johann Johannson – Fordlandia
22. The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride
21. The Samuel Jackson Five – Goodbye Melody Mountain
20. Asmz – 13 Blues For 13 Moons
19. Surrounded – The Nautilus Years
18. Boduf Songs – How Shadows Chase The Balance
17. Mount Eerie – Black Wooden Ceiling Opening
16. Destroyer – Trouble In Dreams
15. The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead
14. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
13. James Blackshaw – Litany Of Echoes
12. Parts And Labor – Recievers
11. Nick Cave – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
10. The Abbasi Brothers – Something Like Nostalgia
Shoegaze as a genre has taken a new shape over the past couple of years, merging itself with ambient to give rise to bands like Beach House and Serena Maneesh who don’t do the rather rock heavy shoegaze of MBV and Ride. The Abbasi Brothers take this contemporary shoegaze and run with it, providing cinematic soundscapes that sound absolutely gorgeous.
09. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
Not much to be said about Craig Finn and co except that they’re the best bar band on the planet. Yes, that term has been bandied about quite a bit, but it succintly sums them up. Meshing classic rock and elements of Husker Du with Finn’s incredible lyricism (which overflows with characters and their narratives), this is in my opinion the best album they’ve ever done.
08. Matthew Robert Cooper – Miniatures
Matthew Robert Cooper. Eluvium. There’s nothing this man can do wrong (for me anyway). An absolute genius.
07. Foals – Antidotes
Foals had shitloads of hype behind them (something the UK press/e-zines are very natural at creating (falsely or otherwise), and for some reason I kept my distance from them for a while. Huge mistake that, on my part. Antidotes is a brilliant marriage of varying time signatures and polyrhythms providing a base for thin, trebly guitars that weave into each other. Math rock, though, this is not, because I can bet you the minute Red Sox Pugie kicks in (or Cassius), your foot will be heaving and moving on its own accord.
06. M83 – Saturdays = Youth
Anthony Gonzales’ homage to 80s music, I had my reservations when I first heard it. Then Couleurs came on and I was completely floored. There’s distant melancholy on this album, a lamented nostalgia almost. At the same time, you’ve got some pretty foot-tapping beats and the result is a distinct sound for a band that’s already carved its sonic niche in the world.
05. Frightened Rabbits – The Midnight Organ Fight
I don’t know what it is with Scotland and Glasgow in particular. Arab Strap, Belle and Sebastion, The Twilight Sad, Mogwai, Boards of Canada – something about the weather must play a role. In some ways similiar to Arab Strap in terms of the melancholy and almost crass (but wonderful) lyrics, Midnight Organ Fight (euphemism for sex, btw) is an absolute gem. and is that you/in front of me/coming back for even more of exactly the same/you must be a masochist/to love a modern leper/on his last leg sings Scott Hutchison on opener and belter The Modern Leper. They also have a strong grasp on dynamics, making sure songs never get boring nor lose their intensity.
04. Russian Circles – Station
Easily one of my all time favourite bands. Station, as opposed to debut Enter, takes a step back from the metal part of their post rock meets metal music binge. The songs are softer, with less emphasis on noise, yet with no loss of dynamics. Turncrantz on the drum kit is still a fucking monster, and though the heavier parts of the album seem less inspired that they were on Enter, the cleaner, post-rock parts are far better. There’s more colour in them, more meaning. And they sound less like EITS and more like something Williams has created.
03. Shearwater – Rook
I love Jonathan Meiburg. Rook is the album that takes Shearwater away from the shadow of Okkervil River, and onto a stretch of road they can call their own. Meiburg sounds less like Antony Hegarty here, and Shearwater have incorporated a more ‘orchestral’ sound to their music (helped a lot by their usual array of non-conventional folk-rock instruments; hammered dulcimers, glockenspiels, etc). Leviathan, Bound too, has to be one of the best (and saddest) songs I’ve heard this year.
02. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
If I could, I’d love to give Justin Vernon a hug. Skinny Love, Flume, re: Stacks, Blindsided, Wolves (Act I & II); the melancholy is overwhelming. His voice is simply beautiful and ridicously emotive. With alternate tunings helping find his voice and his niche, Vernon’s created an album that is unrivalled this year in terms of its emotional impact. I doubted how he could top this album, but as his Blood Bank EP shows, my doubts may very well (and hopefully will be) consigned to the bin.
01. TV On The Radio – Dear Science
Forget your Coldplays, your U2s, your (insert-name-of-other-stadium-playing-big-bands). TV On The Radio are the greatest band in the world. 3 mind-blowingly original releases later, TVOR are probably one of the few bands in the world you can expect to blow your socks right off. It’s not just that they’re unbearably good songwriters, it’s that they are not shy in the least to continue experimenting, to continue challenging musical boundaries. There’s not a single poor track on this album (even the weird Golden Age is something you warm up to eventually).
So, that’s that. I really shouldn’t be writing shitty top 10 album ‘blurbs’ at 4:20 am with my mind pretty much done in for the night! Anyway, even though 2008 wasn’t a great year (not as good musically as ’07), 2009 promises to be absolutely stellar. Hopefully in 2009 we’ll see the release of:
Sufjan Stevens (pushing it though, I think!)
Andrew Bird (already leaked though, and it’s loooovelly)
Future of the Left
Antony & The Johnsons
Circle Takes The Square
Broken Social Scene
oooh. I can’t wait :$