I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that “the album is dead”. I don’t see how that makes any sense with the countless top whatever lists I’ve seen over the past month. 2008 was indeed a great year for music and here are a few reasons why:
12. Black Kids – Partie Traumatic
Black Kids started as indie favorites in 2008. Needless to say, some fans weren’t too happy (see pathetic Pitchfork review).The band’s rough cut/garage sound from the Wizard of Ahhh’s EP was replaced with a refined indie pop major label debut. Similar to many “blog bands”, once something reaches a certain level of exposure, some fans turn their back on their so-called favorites. Partie Traumatic is still one of my favorites of the year. Songs like “Hurricane Jane” and “I’ve Underestimated My Charm Again” only benefit from the extra synth and attention. If I could put down “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” as a top song in 2007 and 2008, I would.
11.MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
Oracular Spectacular could be classified as a 2007 album since it was digitally released in October 07, but we’ll go with the physical release date. Most people didn’t catch on until the depressed rock star story “Time to Pretend” was featured in the trailer for “21” anyways. MGMT‘s 1st album was the leader in what I like to call Synthfest ’08. MGMT made electro pop cool for indie kids and picked up some mainstream fans along the way with “Kids” and the incredibly catchy “Electric Feel”. Underrated though is the eerie uprising gem “The Youth”.
10. Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us
Mates of State were one of the first bands that caught my ear, when I found out there was more than what top 40 radio/rap has to offer. Re-Arrange Us only made their resume better with their own brand of indie pop. When listening to the married duo on tracks like “My Only Offer” and “Get Better”, you get the sense that they actually mean what they sing/shout at each other. “The Re-Arranger” was in heavy rotation on my iPod with the couple’s pulsing electric organ and drum work.
9. The Black Keys – Attack & Release
I’m not a big blues-rock fan, but there is something about the way Dan Auerbach and Dan Carney play it (see my praise from May). For Attack & Release, the Black Keys enlisted the help of go-to producer, Danger Mouse. Danger Mouse’s presence isn’t as visible as his Gnarls Barkley work, but he adequately chimes in with psychedelic samples (the paranoia anthem “Strange Times”) and eerie keys (“Psychotic Girl”). Attack and Release really peaks when the duo is at their garage/blues rock best on the loud cuts like the mournful “Lies” and Zepplin-esque “I Got Mine”.
8. The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely<
I was never really on the Jack White bandwagon, until he linked up with The Greenhornes to create the Raconteurs. Much more diverse than the band’s first outing, Consolers of the Lonely melds Southern blues (“Top Yourself”), rock (“Salute Your Solution”) and bluegrass (“Old Enough”) to near perfection. The Raconteurs’ strengths truly shine through with dark story telling on the mudersome closer, “Carolina Drama”.
7. Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
Ra Ra Riot was just starting to gain a steady following from their self titled EP, when tragedy struck in 2007. Drummer John Ryan Pike drowned after a show last summer. It would have been easy for the band to give up music after such a shocking loss, but they persevered. The Rhumb Line greatly showcases the band’s penchant for creating catchy, baroque pop. Songs like “Too Too Fast” and “Each Year” made me quick to press replay, while “Dying Is Fine” and “Oh La” had me entranced with classical strings. Ra Ra Riot falls somewhere between Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire, which is just fine by me.
Look for albums 1 – 6 soon.
Top 10 Albums of 2007 – here