Top Ten Albums of 2008

This has been tough and a long time coming.  I have been thinking about this list for about two weeks and it has been tough deciding which albums deserve it strictly talking about quality and intrigue, versus strictly enjoying the music.  I decided to go with what I found myself going back to the most.  There may be an album that I think is a beautiful and epicly grand landscape, but not something that I can listen to at anytime.  So I guess this may be a “Top Ten Most Enjoyable Albums of 2008” list.

1) Blitzen Trapper – Furr

I think this is a beautiful album in every way shape and form.  I enjoy it everytime I listen to it, and I listen to it a lot.  The combination of classic, indy, and bluegrass is the greatest example of cross genre production I can think of.  Just listening to this album brings a wave of recollection including names like The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Bruce Sprinsteen, Bob Dylan, Iron & Wine, and many others.  It seems that evertime I listen I see something new and appreciate it even more.

2) Fleet Foxes – “Fleet Foxes”

This is a similar cross genre project.  Blending Indy & Country.  It also bleeds a Pacific Northwest tone.  It feels like a late autumn dusk.  It feels a little colder but there is still the warmth of autumn colored leaves.  This album has a beautifully landscaped and comforting tone.  It feels clean and well thought out.  “White Winter Hymnal” is the best example of the overall tone of the album.  The albums knocks the wind out of you with the vocal echoes and almost hallow sound.  The gorgeously barren voices bounce of the solid and full instruments.  It’s tough to say where this leaves Fleet Foxes.  As a debut album they have put themselves on the map of bands to watch, but I can’t help but worry that frontman, Robin’s, perfectionist attitude has made them peak to early and it’s all downhill from here.  Let’s hope not and Fleet Foxes have a discography that can compare to some of the great bands in history.  They have proven they have it in them.

3) Vivian Girls – Vivian Girls

Vivian Girls to me was one of the most surprising albums of the year to me.  I bought it completely on a whim, having no idea what I was getting myself into hoping that I was purchasing what I was looking for.  The cover art caught my eye and I was in the mood for a girl band.  I was hoping the band name lived up to itself.  Little did I know I was buying what to me felt like 22 minutes of near perfection.  It was over far to early, but preserved itself for repeat listens that support it well on my “Most Played” playlist.  They close the doors before last call, but it’s okay because they don’t give themself enough time to make that big mistake.

4) MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

MGMT is the oposite of Vivian Girls because it almost came to the point that a friend had to force me to buy the damn CD before I had listened to it.  It took a while but then I realized I was missing out on the gem of the year.  MGMT has officially recieved the accolades they deserve and sadly I was behind the times and a late adopter but a happy supporter none-the-less.  This album is as tranquil as it gets without getting into the realm of New Age.

5) Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

I guess this album goes to show you that music is at it’s best when it’s fun.  Everything that precedes it on my list isn’t sad, they may be solemn at times, but never sad, and I think this album sets this idea in concrete.  There is music out there that can make you feel happy, sad, angry, or any other emotion under the rainbow, but there is nothing that can put a bounce in your step like listening to Vampire Weekend.  When you listen to “M79” and the strings hit, I still think it’s impossible not to smile just a little.  I am sitting at my computer right now with  the goofiest smile, ear to ear right now and I can only imagine what people think when they see me walking to work.

6) Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – We Brave Brave Bee Stings & All

This was an album that touched me even though I think it touched very few others.  This could have been the album that gave birth to my new found love for Indy rock.  There is nothing special here, nothing over intelligent, nothing mind blowing.  Simply great music, that seemed to sneak it’s way into my life at the most opportune time to become one of my favorite albums ever.  Thao Nguyen voice is nothing special, almost bad at times, but few people sound like they want to sing as much as she does.  She sings like it’s the last thing she can do.  At least that’s what it sounds like to me.

7) Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple

I guess this will be one of the most debated entries here.  Enough people have listened to this album to talk about how bad they think it is.  There is something that I get out of Cee-Lo when he works with Danger Mouse on Gnarls Barkley projects.  There is a darkness that eminates, protrudes, and almost errodes everything around it.  Very few people can take a song like “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul” consisting of nothing more than a simple drum beat accented with a simple guitar and make it sound so landscaped.  I think “The Odd Couple” speaks to the artists as musicians more than any other project they have touched.

8 ) Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

Bon Iver snuck up on me.  Between a friends recommendation and a plug on “All Songs Considered” it required a listen and as all my friends soon found out, I couldn’t let it go.  It has a weird haunting feeling that almost surpassed description for me.  It feels as though the album wasn’t created, it simply appeared.  There is a pain and tranquility that seaps from it that feels far to natural and at home.  This feels like an album that I would want to create if I had an ounce of musical talent residing in a single bone of my body.

9) Girl Talk – Feed the Animals

So much about this album is amazing while being horrible at the same time.  I can’t believe someone made it so I could enjoy Soulja Boy because every time I hear it, I hear Journey in the background.  At least I think that was Journey.  The amalgamation of sound created on a Girl Talk track is just unreal that it does surpass any form of description.  If you haven’t listened to it do.  The highest recommended thing on my list simply because absolutely anyone who listened to pop music will love it.

10) Bloc Party – Intimacy

I have been seeing nothing but bad to mixed reviews about this album and maybe that is due to hope for something better to come out of the “break-up” album of a band who’s debut was so stirring and follow up so disappointing.  Whatever the reasons for the reviews, this album struck me.  Maybe it’s because there is no stand out track, nothing screams amazing, There isn’t a track you can referance to describe the album.  Every track requires the previous one to feel in place.  To me, this is an example of an album, not a series of songs.  Except “Mercury” which just sucks.

So there we go.  My top ten list is finally complete.  It took me a while but it happened.  Yay!

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~ by Dar Man Hat Tan on January 4, 2009.

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