Monday, November 17, 2008

Year-End Lists: Top Albums of 2008

Well, it's only November's that time again. Time to take a look back at 2008 and the best music of the year. At XPN we are now asking you to tell us your top ten songs and top ten albums of 2008. In preparation for that, we were asked to submit our own lists. So here are my Top Albums of 2008. One caveat...I did this with XPN in mind. So following my top ten list for the year I've included some other albums that I really liked from 2008. 

1. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs - Over the years Death Cab has always been flying just under my radar. For some reason, this album really grabbed me and made me a believer. Plenty of strong songs here and they never seem to get old. Now I have to go back and revisit all of their older stuff.

2. Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty - I loved their debut disc, Robbers & Cowards, and was worried about how they would fare with their sopohomore effort. A pleasant surprise. Much stronger than I expected. These guys have a unique sound: catchy, smack-you-in-the-face indie rock.

3. The Shackeltons - The Shackeltons - Self-title debut from this Central PA band. First saw them live at our Y-Rock on XPN Free at Night at the Abbey Bar back in February. The CD is wonderful, but hardly does the band justice as their live show is a sight to see. Great guys, great music. Really looking forward to what they do for a follow-up.

4. Joe Jackson - Rain - I'm a big fan of Jackson's music, all the way back to his strong debut disc, Look Sharp! Over the years I've appreciated his thumb-your-nose at the industry attitude, as he slid from genre to genre. He disappeared from my musical consciousness for awhile, but this new disc is a return to form for Jackson. Incredibly strong stuff here.

5. Bob Dylan - Tell-Tale Signs - I'm a big Dylan fan and I have really enjoyed his material from the past two decades. This disc features rare and unreleased tracks from that time period and has some real gems.

6. She & Him - Volume 1 - M. Ward and the adorable Zooey Deschanel team up for one of the most listenable albums of the year. Even though most of the material is new, this disc has a very comfortable and familiar sound that hearkens back to the music of the '60s. Here's hoping that the title of the disc means that Volume 2 can't be far behind.

7. Farewell Flight - Sound.Color.Motion - I got to know a few of the guys in this Central PA band over the past year and fell in love with this new disc. Great indie-pop from a band that can really put on a great live show. I'm really glad that XPN jumped on board and started playing these guys.

8. The Sleeping World - The Sleeping World - Self-titled EP release from another Lancaster-based band. Jessica Smucker and her band have put together a really strong disc of well-written, well-performed songs. The in-your-face honesty of Smucker's songwriting really punches you in the stomach at times. I think this band has the chops to move on to something bigger and better.

9. O'Death - Broken Hymns, Limbs, and Skin - The first time I heard this band on XPN I knew I had to hear more. Their gothic/country sound reminds me a bit of one of my all-time favorite bands, 16 Horsepower.

10. R.E.M. - Accelerate - Another band I've loved for decades, and this time around they return to the rockin' sound of their earliest discs. I love that these guys are still able to put out strong releases of relevant music.

But beyond my top ten, there are a lot of other discs I enjoyed this year. Here's a quick list, in no particular order:

Woven Hand - Ten Stones
David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
T-Bone Burnett - Tooth of Crime
The War on Drugs - Wagonwheel Blues
Van Morrison - Keep it Simple
Wild Sweet Orange - We Have Cause to Be Uneasy
My Brightest Diamond - A Thousand Shark's Teeth
Dead Confederate - Wrecking Ball
Ben Folds - Way To Normal
Thrice - Alchemy Index III & IV
Welcome Wagon - Welcome to the Welcome Wagon
Al Green - Lay It Down
The Myriad - With Arrows, With Poise
Cool Hand Luke - The Sleeping House
Lovedrug - The Sucker Punch Show
Copeland - You Are My Sunshine
Damian Jurado - Caught in the Trees
Haste the Day - Dreamer
Black Kids - Partie Traumatic
Ratatat - LP3

So there ya go. Now it's your turn to tell us what your top ten albums of 2008 are. Post them here and make sure you also submit them to XPN for our year-end countdown. When you vote you'll be entered to win an iPod Touch. They'll be tallying up your votes and playing back the top albums of the year on December 30 & 31, then they'll play back the Top 100 Songs on January 1st.

And tomorrow I'll post my Top Ten Songs of 2008


Jenny said...

I have so much fun with these lists every year!

Top Ten Album List 2008

1. Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes
2. Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend
3. Death Cab For Cutie- Narrow Stairs
4. Radiohead- In Rainbows
5. Ingrid Michaelson- Boys and Girls
6. She and Him- Volume 1
7. Delta Spirit- Ode To Sunshine
8. My Morning Jacket- Evil Urges
9. The Kooks- Konk
10. The Sleeping World- The Sleeping World

Jeff said...

1. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs. I hadn't paid much attention to Death Cab before Narrow Stairs, but I Will Possess Your Heart grabbed me from the start.

2. Sam Phillips - Don't Do Anything. I've followed Sam Phillips since before she was Sam, and this album continues pop that is stripped down to its acoustic essence.

3. The Cure - 4:13 Dream. The Cure doing what they do best: 1980s era alternative rock.

4. Coldplay - Viva La Vida. It doesn't hold up to the major shift in sound and style that it was hyped to be, but it's great music nonetheless.

5. Ben Folds - Way To Normal. For some reason, the Ben Folds Five annoyed me. But this album is full of catchy hooks and great pop tunes that become easy earworms.

6. REM - Accelerate. One of the all-time great bands returns to form.

7. Kings Of Leon - Only By The Night. The Kings have found a groove with great hooks and songwriting.

8. The Kills - Midnight Boom. I heard very little all year long that sounded anything like this band.

9. The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing. They created a lot of hype with some of the year's best hooks and tunes. I'm not sure they can keep it up, but I like what I hear on this album.

10. The Shackeltons - The Shackeltons. Hailing from Chambersburg, Pa., just 8 miles from my hometown, I am impressed with the raw talent. Expect big things from them.

Nick said...

I'm surprised She & Him hasn't made a few more peoples lists. It's a lovely album.

Lydia said...

Beck - Modern Guilt
Dr. Dog - Fate
Ray Lamontagne - Gossip in the Grain
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
She & Him - Volume One
Bob Dylan - Tell Tale Signs
Kenny Neal - Let Life Flow
Various Artists - I'm Not There Soundtrack
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend