I’ve seen in many spaces that “best of lists” aren’t important and biased. I personally comb through and look forward to them. I don’t always agree with the reviewer’s opinion, but I have found countless new bands this way. Its almost as good as a friend’s recommendation.
6. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Cornering the market on bearded backwoods crooners, Fleet Foxes made quite an impression across the land. Their self-titled album is filled with harmonoius folk gems that are great for relaxed listening. Fleet Foxes are probably most known for one of my favorite songs of this year, “White Winter Hymnal”, but minimalism isn’t their only strength. “Your Protector” (watchful love) and “Tiger Peasant Mountain” (a regretful murder) showcase the band’s storytelling abilities, while “Ragged Wood” proves folk can be upbeat. There really isn’t a song on Fleet Foxes that I don’t recommend.
5. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
Greg Gillis aka Girl Talk went from indie darling to mainstream mash-up king in 2008. His 300+ song sample-fest justly garnered attention everywhere from the New York Times to MTV. Fueled by more recognizable samples than The Nightripper (superior in my opinion), this album came off as a pop song volcano. Strokes of genuis included Jay-Z/Radiohead/Mary J. Blige/The Guess Who on “Set It Off”, Roy Orbison/Drama/Jermaine Stewart on “In Step” and the epic Huey/Journey finale on “Play Your Part Pt.2”. Even though Feed the Animals was the album I listened to most this year, I can’t justifiably make an album of mash-ups #1 in 2008.
4. Santogold – Santogold
An album that dabbles in new wave, dub, punk rock, synth and rap. When has Brooklyn sounded so eclectic? Santogold dropped her self-titled album in April and it was one of the most diverse of 2008. Fighting off comparisons to M.I.A., Ms. White strives more for Karen O (“I’m A Lady”) with Deborah Harry (“You’ll Find A Way”) sound. The consensus standout across the land is “L.E.S. Artistes”, but Santogold’s bravado and command is most apparent on punk anthem “Shove It” and the grimy cut “Creator”. Santogold also has one of my favorite album covers of the year.
3. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
You’re probably seeing a pattern here: ’80’s style sythesizers was a big part of 2008. No one utilized it better than Australia’s, Cut Copy. In Ghost Colours is a giant dancefest, filled with electropop (“Lights and Music”) and indie-rock (“Feel the Love”). I had a new favorite song, depending on the month, but “Hearts on Fire” and “Far Away” were pretty much on repeat all summer.
2. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend‘s self titled debut was probably the most dissected and discussed album of 1st Quarter and with good reason. These Columbia grads artfully crafted an album with influences ranging from Afro-pop (“Cape Cod Kwassa”) to baroque (“M79”) to indie-pop (“A-Punk”). Each song flows freely from one to the next with lead singer Ezra Koenig’s high pitched vocals amid lush backings and college age narratives.
1. Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
Aside from The Sadies, the other alt-country act I was enamored with this year was Drive-By Truckers. Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, the band’s 8th (!) album, features guitar heavy, working man’s story-telling in the same vein as Tom Petty and Johnny Cash. Co-creator Patterson Hood impressively takes the lead on the cryptic, but hopeful “Two Daughters and a Wife” and family struggles of “Righteous Path”. The group is a collective effort though, and everyone contributes to the Athens, GA classic. Bass player Shonna Tucker glows on the bluesy tale of a lost, old friend with “I’m Sorry Huston” and co-founder Mike Cooley croons on the Sin City opus, “Check Out Time In Vegas”. Most memorable is “The Man I Shot”, a take on a soldier’s nightmares of a man he killed in war.
See my dissection of albums 12 – 7 here (12 Albums for 2008 pt 1).
Kanye West – 808’s & Heartbreaks, Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple, The Hold Steady – Stay Positive, Mike Moran Music – Spaces, Lykke Li – Youth Novels, Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping, Kings of Leon – Only By The Night.
Discuss. Hate. Let Me Know What You Think.