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Best Albums of 2008 (so far)

Date June 24, 2008

Click here for my final best albums of 2008 list.

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We’re quickly approaching the halfway point to 2008, and that can only mean one thing.  It’s time for midway-through-the-year lists. I’ve been relistening to all my favorites from the year and deciding which ones were worthy of a much-heralded list placement.  It wasn’t easy, but I settled on 12 (and a half) favorite albums for this year.  I also made a nifty graphic that includes visuals from all the albums I have listed.  I noticed there was a theme for album covers this year: Disembodied Body Parts, Chandeliers, and Clouds (every album has at least one of these items. odd right?).

These 12 and a half albums (because it’s half of 25) are listed in chronological order and only include albums physically released in the first half of this year (sorry Girl Talk, Hold Steady).

Evangelicals – The Evening Descends
This was a big grower album for me.  I loved “Skeleton Man” from the beginning but it took seeing their absolutely wild live show and spending some time with the album to realize that the rest of the album is just as amazing.  Dripping with horror b-movie film references and delicous psychedelia, The Evening Descends is an incredible album from a still-developing band.

MP3 Skeleton Man

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
If you take away all the crazy hype that this band has received, you still have a 11 ridiculously catchy tunes. It’s amazing how strong people’s opinions are of this actually fairly unassuming, fun pop album.  I still listen to it and enjoy it on a regular basis, and I’m of the opinion that M79 is one of the best songs of the year.

MP3 M79

Quinn Walker – Laughter’s An Asshole / Lion Land
This is my one oddball pick on the list, but if you’ve ever listened to Quinn Walker’s music you probably realize that this double-album, his first ever official release, begs to be recognized.  Quinn’s music ranges from psychedelic tribal folk to epic post-rock to highly-orchestrated baroque-pop, sometimes in the same song.  There’s also moments of breathtaking, transcendent beauty here like “Smile For Me”. I honestly can’t recommend this guy enough.

MP3 Save Your Love For Me
MP3 Smile For Me

British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
Easily the most anthemic, epic rock album released this year.  If you answered “yes” to the album title’s question and can listen to huge choruses and even huger guitar riffs without immediately making silly comparisons to U2, you need to pick up this album.  This music is powerful, majestic, vast, sublime and explosive.  It’s also probably my most listened to album of the year.

MP3 Waving Flags

The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride
John Darnielle is a ridiculously talented guy, both musically and especially lyrically and this album is one of the best of his illustrious career.  Unlike Get Lonely (which I loved) there’s a lot of variety on this album, especially thematically. Heretic Pride features some absolutely gorgeous instrumentation, some much-needed rocking out moments, and some of Darnielle’s best vocal performances ever.

MP3 Sax Rohmer #1

Sun Kil Moon – April
Sun Kil Moon is a band I had no knowledge of going into the year.  After hearing April I rushed out to get the rest of the band’s albums and am now glad to call myself a fan.  These songs are intimate, hypnotic, and beautifully played with lush acoustic guitar, piano, and string flourishes. From the sprawling ten-minute epic “Lost Verses” that opens the album to the plucked acoustic greatness of closing track, “Blue Orchids”, everything on April is drop-dead gorgeous.

MP3 Lost Verses

Cloud Cult – Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)
After last year’s outstanding, breathtaking album The Meaning of 8, Cloud Cult shot up to “new favorite band” ranks in my book.  I obviously was very excited when the band released Feel Good Ghosts so soon afterwards.  The album doesn’t match the greatness of 8, but there’s plenty on here to love including some of the most jubilant and triumphant songs the band has recorded.  Seeing many of these songs being played lived, raised my already sky-high appreciation for this band and this album.

MP3 When Water Comes To Life

Islands – Arms Way
This is an album that takes some time to fully appreciate how awesome it is.  Return to Sea was a more immediately catchy, but Islands have fully expanded their sound here and created a much darker, theatrical, epic album.  Arm’s Way is filled with bombastic instrumentation and elaborate compositions, but also leave room for some of the completely infectious melodies that made fans fall in love with them in the first place.

MP3 Abominable Snow

Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us
It’s true, Re-Arrange Us is not as breathtakingly original and spectacular as Bring It Back, but I still can’t get enough of this album.  The unbelievably catchy melodies are there, and they still do boy/girl harmonies better than any other band out there.  This album is easier on the ears then anything they’ve done before (a good or bad thing depending on who you ask) and features a more varied musical palette, which on awesome songs like “Re-Arrange Us”,  “Get Better”, and “You Are Free” is a very good thing.

MP3 Re-Arrange Us

Shearwater – Rook
I loved Shearwater’s last album, Palo Santo, which was a breakthrough album for the band and Rook improves upon the band’s sound in almost every way.  Johnathon Meisburg’s vibrant vocals alone are enough to bring someone to tears and matched with the dynamic, enchanting instrumentation you have one of the most beautiful albums of the last few years.  If you can listen to a song like “Leviathan Bound” without getting chills, you probably don’t deserve to have ears.

MP3 Leviathan Bound

Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
Dan Broekner and (especially) Spencer Krug are two of the best songwriters in indie rock today, so you know this album is going to be good, but At Mount Zoomer surpasses all my expectations and provides an album that will likely go down along with their debut as one of the best indie albums of the decade.  The album is thrilling ride of proggy explosions and rock opera anthems.  More accessible than anything from Sunset Rubdown or Handsome Furs, this album combines the best parts of both frontmen into glorious triumph.

MP3 Language City

Sigur Rós – Með suð i eyrum við spilum endalaust
Sigur Ros haven’t ever made anything close to a bad album, and they’re not about to start now.  The first single “Gobbledigook” sent fans into a excited frenzy about the band’s new sound, but the album has shown that the band hasn’t at all abandoned their massive scope of music.  They’ve just evolved their sound to be much more jubilant and spirited that we saw in smaller doses on Takk… and now is fullly-realized in incredible songs like “Við spilum endalaust” and “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur”.  There’s still flashes of the longer, drawn-out epics like the beautiful “Festival” but it seems more of the band efforts have gone into making shorter, livelier tracks which I couldn’t be more happy with.

MP3 Inní mér syngur vitleysingur

Favorite EP of the 2008 (so far):
Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant EP
I decided to include Fleet Foxes Sun Giant EP as the half of my twelve and a half favorite albums, partly because I didn’t have the room to put the full-lenghth on here and because it is, in it’s own right a fantastic collection of acoustic chamber pop songs that is still revealing itself to me.  I still can’t get over the lovely, gospel-like qualities of the vocals in songs like “Sun Giant” and “Drops In The River”.  Easily one of the best new bands of the year.

MP3 Drops In The River

Just Missed:
Jamie Lidell – Jim
Headlights – Some Racing, Some Stopping
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Honorable Mentions:

Los Campesinos – Hold On Now Youngster
Destroyer – Trouble In Dreams
The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
The Dodos – Visiter
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
M83 – Saturdays=Youth
No Age – Nouns
Okay – Huggable Dust


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44 Responses to “Best Albums of 2008 (so far)”


  1. Cuppycake said:

    Why? – Alopecia

    Not even an honorable mention? =(

  2. Jennson said:

    the Cool Kids record is pretty hot and I’ve been listening to Girl Talk mashups almost nonstop since he released the album last week. I’m wondering if Rza’s Digi Snax will be any good. the new single’s pretty awesome. I can’t think of any other albums that should go up there… Third by Portishead?

  3. Taylor said:

    Yeah, I haven’t listened to Third enough yet to warrant a mention, but if I were making a top songs list, “The Rip” would definitely be on there.

  4. Jeff said:

    Re: Shearwater…nicely said.

  5. Alex Burford said:

    ???What about these fine albums???

    Spiritualized – Songs in A&E
    The Ruby Suns – Sea Lion
    Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig Lazarus Dig
    Mount Eerie – Black Wooden Ceiling
    The Magnetic Fields – Distortion
    Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Lay Down In The Light

  6. Taylor said:

    I like Ruby Suns and Magnetic Fields albums. Haven’t heard the others in full yet.

  7. Agnes said:

    Great list.
    I think She & Him should be up there though.
    My fave lately has definitely been Girl Talk.

  8. Fidelis said:

    Aww, the no man man makes me very sad. I agree with everything else though.

    Man Man – Rabbit Habits is ammmmaazing!

  9. sydney said:

    this list is fabulous, especially since i’ve discovered alot of these bands through your blog

  10. wayne said:

    Very good list. Wolf Parade is easily my number one.
    Love albums by Destroyer, Islands and The Dodos.
    I also love the Born Ruffians album

  11. BJ said:

    I’m with you nearly all the way, especially Quinn Walker and Evangelicals. Not as high on Vampire Weekend. I would probably have put Destroyer in there. Great list.

  12. JAX said:

    The Dodos Visiter and Bon Iver have been ruling my stereo all year long. Sigur Ros is also redonkulous.

  13. Bradley said:

    CLOUD CULT

    Have you ever listened to the Dear Hunter? They are my new favorite, and should be yours too. Act II.

  14. Heather said:

    My favorites have been Vampire Weekend and Jamie Lidell’s Jim. I’ve been listening to Jim a ton this summer… it’s a great summer album, lots of fun!

  15. adam said:

    nice list. i think beach house’s “devotion” should earn some consideration too.

  16. Suskie said:

    Hooray for Mates of State and Shearwater, though I wasn’t as crazy about British Sea Power (“passionate” = the lead singer sounds like he’s in a state of constant orgasm) and Vampire Weekend. How the hell did the Lodger’s Life Is Sweet not even make honorable mention? I know you like that album and it’s better than at least half of what’s on this list.

  17. Boon Ken said:

    I totally love Jamie Lidell’s Jim and Vampire Weekend; Los Campesinos! are hot too. Great list; cannot wait to finish listening to all the albums, but The Do’s A Mouthful is a pretty good listen as well…

  18. Tyler said:

    Someone forgot how good the Bon Iver CD is…

  19. Tim said:

    MGMT

  20. david said:

    the new wolf parade is incredible. from what i have heard of the hold steady’s new album, i think it will be up there, as well as brendan canning’s cd. one of my favorites of the year so far is malkmus’ real emotional trash, but i think i might be alone on that one

  21. Sussanah said:

    So with you on the Shearwater! I was really looking forward to this album and it has not disappointed. His voice is superb. It gives me goosebumps. Loving Mates of State, Vampire Weekend, British Seapower, mOuntain Goats and Wolf Parade. Good Choices!

    One not on your list that I love, for a bit of indie joy is the Ting Tings ‘We Started Nothing’ Great DJ and That’s not My Name are stand out tracks.

  22. Ian said:

    And… what about Devotion by Beach House. I’m pretty sure that was 2008 and it’s amazing.

  23. Sunny said:

    Jaime lindell should’ve 100% been number 1! Have you heard the amazingness of this album, once you get started you just can’t stop listening to it! I’ve seen alot of lists for best albums of 2008,and haven’t seen his album alot,it’s deffinitly not getting the reconition it deserves!

  24. Clstrfcuk said:

    Foals, Midnight Juggernauts, Crystal Castles?
    Seems like u wasted too much time on Elbow’s top 10.

  25. Chelsea said:

    I never cease to be amazed at how similiar our tastes are, but I still could see She & Him being on this list, as well as (My Guilty pleasure..) Jason Mraz’s “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things” Album. I would like to hear your opinion on those.

    Also, Emmy the Great’s “Secret Circus” EP is very good, I’m just not sure if it’s been released fully in the US?

  26. Sussanah said:

    OH Yeah! Bon Iver ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ should be there. ‘Blindsided’ is in my absoulute favourite songs of the year.

  27. adam said:

    excellent list. you should take a listen to Panic at the Disco and Phantom Planet’s albums. I know that sounds ridiculous, but both are fantastic.

  28. miriam said:

    wow, with you on loads of those, although also not so sure about vampire weekend. what about Alopecia by Why?, or Alas, I Cannot Swim – Laura Marling?

  29. James said:

    How about Frightened Rabbit’s Midnight Organ Fight? It is certainly my most played album of the year.

  30. Brendan said:

    Here are my favorites so far.

  31. Jon said:

    Yes, yes, yes on the Quinn Walker love. Blows everything else away a hundred times over.

  32. John said:

    The Last Shadow Puppets have released the best album of the year by far. Why they are getting no love stateside is pretty much beyond me.

  33. Mowno said:

    Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight is definitely an amazing piece of work.

  34. Steven said:

    Thao and the Get Down Stay Down’s album is up there for me.

  35. theskinnyfists said:

    i have to agree with the thao album. “feet asleep”‘s one of the best songs of the year.

    i’d add hercules and love affair to your fine list.

  36. Robert said:

    Panic’s latest album was them trying to a Beatles album. Unfortunately, the album was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

    Vampire Weekend deserves it’s spot on the list, but you should take Wolf Parade off and tack on M83.

  37. Kevin said:

    4 words: Pete and the Pirates

  38. hype said:

    after seeing the Evangelicals twice this year they are quickly becoming a favorite of mine, the live show definitely sold me! And “Evening” will probably end up on my “Best of” list too!

  39. Patrick Debener said:

    Keats Handwriting! Best album of the year!

  40. Graeme said:

    Fleet Foxes is without doubt my album of the year…can’t wait to see them over New Years in Australia.
    I’d have Los Campesinos! and The Kills in my list, as well.

  41. Will said:

    Whoa. Bon Iver should be on every top album list. Ever.
    And of course Fleet Foxes.

  42. George Dvorsky said:

    Great list. Here’s mine.

  43. brainpicker said:

    Really neat list. I love the Sigur Ros one, so wonderfully neo-hippie, hipster-vintage.

    I did a similar (albeit much more modest) list earlier this month, check it out if you’re so inclined: http://twurl.nl/ae4132

    Rock on.

  44. Joel said:

    Thanks for the shout out Patrick, but we dont even have a real album out yet! haha

    Anyways, I wanted to tell you guys about a mix – I took the liberty of mixing the The Very Best together with Architecture in Helsinki’s ‘Heart it Races’.

    Video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhtX9OsxiIs

    Mp3:
    http://soundcloud.com/keatshandwriting/kamphopo-it-races/download

    I hope you enjoy the mix!

    Cheers,
    Joel
    Keats’ Handwriting
    http://www.myspace.com/KeatsHandwriting