telling minor stories to avoid a major one

Lists! 2008: Albums 10-1 by Barbecue Bros
January 8, 2009, 11:25 am
Filed under: lists | Tags: , ,

Here it is, my (probably) unsurprising top ten albums of the year.

10. Deerhunter – Microcastle (Kranky)
Last year’s Cryptograms had its moments, but was a little too fragmented for me. Which is probably why I waited so long to hear Microcastle this year. While it retains some of that experimental nature, there are some great psych-pop songs hidden underneath the haze and drones.

9.  The Walkmen – You & Me (Gigantic)
For me, the most cohesive Walkmen album I’ve heard. Every other album has great songs among some filler (notably their last album A Hundred Miles Off). The jangly guitars, organ swells and singer Hamilton Leithauser’s vocals in “In the New Year” are exactly why I am so high on this album.

8. Vampire Weekend – s/t (XL)
Eff the haters…nothing sounds better on a lazy summer day. As long as the songs are solid (“Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” “Oxford Comma,” “Mansford Roof,” “Walcott,” “A-Punk”) then I can get past the preppy pretention and Wes Anderson aping.

7. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (Red Ink/Columbia)
MGMT had me from the first of the gurgling synths in “Time to Pretend.” They made me stay with “Electric Feel,” “Weekend Wars,” “Kids,” and the David Fridmann production.

6. The New Year – s/t (Touch and Go)
The Kadane Brothers have always been a favorite of mine, even when I went back and explored their days as Bedhead in college. They are, however, less than prolific (this is their first album in four years). I more or less know what to expect from a New Year song: slow, quiet build to a barely less quiet climax (don’t think Explosions in the Sky). This time out, they have added piano to the overall sound (at times to the forefront), but it still retains the feel of a New Year record.

5. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges (Red)
I never thought a My Morning Jacket album would have to be a grower for me. It’s not that I hated Evil Urges on first listen, I just think I was confused at what I was hearing (“Highly Suspicious” anyone?). The more I listened to it, the more I was able to follow Jim James’ vision that Evil Urges continues in the direction the band started to take with Z. Also, seeing My Morning Jacket, one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, live a few months later didn’t hurt either.

4. The War on Drugs – Wagonwheel Blues (Secretly Canadian)
Described to me as a mixture of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and Bob Dylan. And it actually manages to not be a trainwreck. Adam Granduciel’s vocals do recall Bob Dylan, but the sticker for me are the shoegazer elements of the album.

3. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals (Illegal Art)
The party album of the year, if your party guests aren’t my girlfriend.

2. The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead (Sub Pop)
A huge surprise for me, since I actively disliked their last album Love and Distance. Keep Your Eyes Ahead is a pretty eclectic album but for me, this band is at their best when they mix shoegazer and dreampop – “Lately,” “Can’t Say No,” “Hallelujah” and “Keep Your Eyes Ahead” as opposed to singer-songwriter – “Shed Your Love” and “Broken Afternoon.”

1. TV on the Radio – Dear Science (Interscope)
This should come as no surprise if you know me at all. When I heard that TVOTR were releasing a new album in 2008, I almost expected it to be my favorite album of the year. And it is. “Family Tree” is downright beautiful, Antibalas lend their horns to “Red Dress,” Tunde harkens back to the Desperate Youths days on “Love Dog,” “Shout Me Out” and “DLZ” have a furious energy to them and “Lover’s Day” is an R-rated love song with Celebration‘s Katrina Ford. And this is the last six songs, a murder’s row to end the album. The first half is great, but you simply can’t eff with the second half of this record. I expect even more great things with TVOTR‘s next album, and it’s officially the favorite for my top album of whatever year it ends up being released.


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

So “In Rainbows” (officially released on 1/1/08) didn’t make your top 50? I’m just saying, I thought it was a great album.

Comment by Avent

It was actually #5 on my 2007 list since it was released digitally in the fall of that year. You’re right though, the cd release was indeed 2008 though.

Comment by twoguns

Some noticeable absenses from your list were

1) Human Highway
2) Darker My Love
3) Vivian Girls
4) Gentleman Jesse
5) Unicorns

Comment by Steve B

Ah ha. Just wondering. Solid list though.

Comment by Avent

Steve B, thanks for the recommendations. However, the Unicorns broke up in 2004. Are you referring to Islands maybe? I’m guessing so since you also recommended the Human Highway album.

Comment by twoguns

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