Wednesday, December 31, 2008

music madness: top albums of '08

There’s no disputing that 2008 was a solid year for new music. I actually had to create a criteria spreadsheet to narrow down my finalists. My Top 10 came out of the average number of album listens since I put it on my iPod, whether I bought the physical CD or purchased online, if I saw the band in concert and if they played a show in Milwaukee.

Before I get into my Top 10, let me touch upon some of the folks that didn’t make the cut this year. I'm not typically a fan, but I do need to send a shoutout to Trent Reznor for the surprise and free Nine Inch Nails album, The Slip. The whole album is quite good, and "Discipline" was one of my major biking jams of the summer. I also need to admit that after two disappointments in a row, I'm a big fan of the new Coldplay album Viva la Vida, even if they allegedly stole half the songs. I feel it went back to the Coldplay roots more than trying to emulate a U2 album.

I also have to point out two items that you may notice that are missing from my Top 10, even from my Honorable Mention. The Hold Steady's Stay Positive felt like a shell of Boys and Girls in America, even though it did grow on me after awhile. Sad because they are one of my fave bands ever. I've never been a huge fan, but I definitely didn't buy in after My Morning Jacket's Evil Urges. I guess some of it was good, but "Highly Suspicious" may go on my most annoying song ever list.

Okay, now on to my likes. Again, the strict criteria did bump some albums out of the Top 10 and I know I'm going to get flack for my #1's technicality, but whatever. Here's the list:

Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer: Only lost major points for not playing in Milwaukee to my knowledge. A great album to get your epic rock on to. Songs are so epic you don't even realize they've lasted 11 minutes.

Hercules & Love Affair - Hercules & Love Affair: Another biking jam for me, this album makes me want to go to mid-70s New York and dance in a shower of glitter. Part dance party, part aching beauty. Antony vocals make "Blind" my single of the year, along with Pitchfork.

Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours: One final bike album, makes me want to go to mid-80s Manchester and dance with the pre-Goths. All dance party, all the time. Can't wait to see future of this band.


10. She & Him - Volume 1: Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward expand on her showing in Elf in a beautiful saccharine way. Warmed my "Sentimental Heart."

9. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins: Never got why people loved this band, but now I do. "Lost Coastlines" sounds like Jens Lekman and The Decemberists jamming for their lives.

8. TV on the Radio - Dear Science: Would have been higher up the list, but this band has never come to Milwaukee to the best of my knowledge. "Golden Age" secures my faith in the future of music.

7. Dr. Dog - Fate: Severely underrated and I can't figure out why. Part Big Star, part modern indie rock, this was a wonderful summer album. I loved every track.

6. Jamie Lidell - Jim: I swear I listened to this album almost ever day in Summer 2008. "Another Day" cheesily would kick off my mornings. And I swear even if I have to marry myself, I'm dancing to "All I Wanna Do" at my wedding one day. My favorite happy love song of the year.

5. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes: Still kicking myself for missing the concert, as this album improves with every listen. Most people drool of "White Winter Hymnal," but "He Doesn't Know Why" is hands down my favorite song off the incredibly gorgeous album.

4. Two Cow Garage - Speaking in Cursive: I have the pleasure of being friends with these guys and it's been fantastic to watch them evolve from scrappy kids who wanted to rock to excellent professional musicians. This is by far their best album and one I wish more people could hear. It's on iTunes and once you get the privilege to see these guys live you'll go out and buy right away.

3. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals: Making an exception and including an album entirely comprised of samples on my list, because damn, no one does it like Greg Gillis. How can you not dance your ass off listening to this album?

2. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend: There's a lot of backlash, but I think that's from people that don't like fun. I tried to fight it too, but I gave in and accepted this album for what it was. And wow, did I listen to it a lot.

1. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago: I'm fully aware that this was self-released in 2007 and many people have DQ'd it from their lists. Screw that. I had no way of hearing it last year, but since I discovered in early 2008 (thank you WMSE) I haven't put it down. The concert blew my mind as well. I could listen to every track and have a different emotion. I'm glad this band is Wisconsin's own.

Looking forward to the music of 2009!

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