About a month ago I thought this list would be easy. Heck, it might only have been five albums. My musical experience in 2008 was pretty limited for the most part. It wasn’t that I didn’t find new music, it’s just that so much of it came out before 2008. But then I went scouring and started finding stuff I had no clue was out there and hearing songs I’d heard all year and finding the albums that went with them and, hey, they weren’t bad at all. But, since so many hit me so late, it was hard to figure out just where in the top ten they would go. The top three was pretty set early on, but the back seven really could fall in any order. Every one of these albums are pretty damn good and would make an excellent addition to your collection. So, without further ado:
10. The Stand Ins – Okkervil River (Jagjaguwar)
With a varied sound Okkervil River almost sounds like they’re in search of a theme. But the album holds up, from the fun opening with “Lost Coastlines” to the beautiflly put together but fun named “Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed On The Roof Of The Chelsea Hotel, 1979”.
9. With Blasphemy So Heartfelt – Jessica Lee Mayfield (Thirdy Tigers)
Light country based fare, Jessica Lee Mayfield’s voice holds you on this one. Some sad numbers make this another album that might not bring sunshine into your life. What can I say, I like the dreary stuff sometimes.
8. Mudcrutch – Mudcrutch (Warner Bros.)
Mudcrutch was formed in 1970 and spent about four years grinding through Gainsville, Florida before being signed to Shelter Records and releasing one single before breaking up in 1975. That might have been the end of it since the band members moved on to other projects, the most popular being the one formed by Mudcrutch’s front, guitarist and keyboardist: Tom Petty and the Heartbrakers. Maybe you’ve heard of them. Over thirty years later Mudcrutch has gotten back together and finally released a full length album, some parts old, some parts new, all parts pretty good. A must for Petty fans and anyone that likes good stuff.
7. Only The Night – Kings Of Leon (RCA)
Hey, now we’re getting more upbeat! A lot of folks say the fouth album form this lo-fi group is a bit too produced and polished, but personally I like the sound. They clean up nicely with a good southern rock sound.
6. You & Me – The Walkmen (Gigantic)
There’s something about distant vocals sounding genuinely sad as they work through an album.
5. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (Xl Recordings)
A liberal use of Afrobeat kinda gives these guys a bit of an early 80s Paul Simon sound but they use it well, creating a fun, upbeat album unlike anything else you’ll come across this year.
4. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop)
Last year Sub Pop had four albums in the top ten. This year they pull only one, but not for lack of trying. I can only blame myself.
I came to Fleet Foxes thanks to hearing their single “Your Protector” on KEXP. But even if I hadn’t I probably would have found them based on other purchases made by folks who bought half the albums on this list. I’m unique and original like everyone else. That said, we mellow out again this this first offering from Fleet Foxes. A light folksy sound that even got Pitchfork to give it 9 out of 10.
3. Hold On Now, Youngster – Los Campesinos (Arts & Crafts)
I don’t think I’ve heard an album this fun in a long time. There’s a lot of noise, there’s a lot of shouting, there’s a lot of good music.
2. Heart On – Eagles Of Death Metal (Downtown)
Starts rockin’, ends rockin’, but they are neither eagles nor death metal. I’m not a big fan of Josh Homme’s work with Queens of the Stone Age but I dig his two man group work with Eagles Of Death Metal.
1. Attack & Release – Black Keys (Nonesuch)
Ike Turner would have had one hell of a come back if he’d lived long enough. Instead, the Black Keys had to take the album they wrote for him and make it themselves, teaming up with Danger Mouse to churn out what is the best album to come out in 2008. Danger Mouse’s work here is less influental on the sound than it was in Beck’s “Modern Guilt”, instead merely polishing up and helping flesh out the Black Keys while still allowing them to keep a blusey, rockin’ sound.