But amidst all that insanity, we managed to sneak in some pretty dang good music along the way. So without any further ado, enjoy our list of the Top 10 Albums of 2008.
10. Vivian Girls, Vivian Girls – Have to say I didn’t have high hopes for this one when I downloaded it. Instead though, I got a lo-fi blast of garage rock and pop songs that matched anything else that came out this year. The record’s simplicity is the key to its good times. Honestly, who would take a 7-minute Bradford Cox krautrock noise-fest over a 2 minute punk song where the only lyric is the word “No!” shouted over and over again?
9. Girl Talk, Feed The Animals – The first time you listen to a Girl Talk record it’s always fun to count the number of times you have an “Oh my GOD!” moment. For me it was when he mixed Journey and Andre 3000. Mind explosion pure and simple.
8. Gentleman Jesse, Introducing Gentleman Jesse – Thank God that Gentleman Jesse came along to sweep away the boring music that seemed to dominate the indie scene for 2008. His razor sharp power pop channeled equal parts New York Dolls and Elvis Costello while making for some of the best listening of the year. And by the time you realized how good it actually was, the record was over. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, the 12 songs here display the kind of inspired abandon that makes singing in the car at the top of your lungs the best thing ever. Not that we ever partook in that.
7. Wale, The Mixtape About Nothing – When I first got word of a concept mixtape based on a sitcom that was canceled ten years ago and released by a clothing label the only thing I could think was “Whaaaaat’s the deal with that?” Thankfully though, Wale (Wah-lay) is probably the one guy smart, deep and funny enough to pull it off. Like the show, he mixes stinging pain with hilarity to make you shake your head in disbelief. Sampling dialogue from the show and even going so far as to title his songs using the same formula that Larry David used to title each Seinfeld episode (e.g. The Kramer, The Vacation From Ourselves, The Artistic Integrity), Wale manages to take the genius of the show and make it his own.
6. Jay Reatard, Singles ’06-’07 – Okay, in case you can’t tell from this list, we really like garage punk. And if you’re a regular reader of ours, you know how much we like Jay Reatard. So sue us. I defy anyone to find a record that grabs them more immediately than this one. Definitely the strongest release from one of 2008’s most impressive artists.
Top 5 after the jump:
5. French Kicks, Covers E.P. + Swimming – Okay we realize that these are two separate releases. But they deserve the credit. Is it safe to call these guys the Tom Wilkinsons of indie rock? You know, they’re consistently overlooked as one of the best working bands out there today? We’ve tried to tell you about these guys for so long that it’s almost ridiculous, and yet again, they managed to put out some of the best music from the past year. Here’s hoping they can stick around to do it again in ’09.
4. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend – One of the tools I use to measure the strength of an album is the amount of time it spends in my car. This record stayed firmly planted in the car for all of winter and early spring and then made an unprecedented comeback to carry me through summer as well. This debut proves that the simple formula of tight pop songs with perfectly curated influences usually makes for a winning music.
3. The Walkmen, You & Me – Question. Was You & Me actually as good as it was made out to be or was A Hundred Miles Off just that terrible? Regardless, it’s rare that a band can recover from a misstep with so much aplomb to make a record as consistently strong and moving as You & Me and for that alone they should be commended.
2. The Killers, Day & Age – While some will inevitably stick their noses up and claim to be too cool for these guys for various reasons ranging from insanity to stupidity, you can’t deny that Brandon Flowers can write a hook. With Day & Age they made a record that 45 year olds could like just as much as 8 year olds and that’s a much harder thing to do than to make another bedroom masterpiece. This record basically plays like a singles collection and manages to fuse the immediacy of the Hot Fuss with the scope of Sam’s Town.
1. Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours – I’ve thought a lot about this record in the past year and still haven’t managed to come up with a decent way to explain what makes it so great. Pop hooks? Has them in spades. Danceable? My ass is shaking just thinking about it. But those descriptions only scratch the surface. While people often complain that electronic music lacks warmth or depth, they’d be forced to discontinue that opinion after listening to In Ghost Colours. The songwriting and production (courtesy of Tim Goldsworthy) are so crisp, so lush and just so damn good in every other respect that we knew we were listening to the record of the year way back in April. This music makes us speechless and, really, that’s the only reason we need to name it number one. Besides, this fan video set to the climactic scene from Rad says all the things we never could.