Favorite Albums of 2008
I’ve been looking at the year-end best-of lists that are coming out now (Fimoculous has a nice list of the lists, and so does LargeHeartedBoy), and I’ve listened to quite a few of the frequent entries (Bon Iver, Santogold) and not listened to quite a few (Deerhunter, No Age), but anyway, here’s my (very short and woefully incomplete) Best Albums of 2008:
7. The Gaslight Anthem, “The ’59 Sound.” OK, some home-state bias here, but these guys friggin’ rock. If you’re from Jersey and you write a song about asking your girl to leave her parents behind and come out for a ride, either your name’s Bruce or you’ve got some serious balls. None of these Jersey boys is named Bruce.
6. Death Cab for Cutie, “Narrow Stairs” Another step past “Plans” in the group’s progression toward well-produced not-quite-pop darkness.
5. Fleet Foxes (self-titled debut) Maybe these guys didn’t hear that Brian Wilson actually completed “Smile,” since it seems like they were trying to do the job themselves. Gorgeous harmonies, blah blah blah.
4. R.E.M., “Accelerate” Tempos and attitude from “Murmur” blend with snarling distorted guitar from “Document” or “Life’s Rich Pageant” to produce an album that’s startlingly different but instantly recognizable.
3. Vampire Weekend (self-titled debut) Some of this sounds like a demo for an album that’ll be really great once they get the rest of the instruments, but it’s still awesome.
2. The Hold Steady, “Stay Positive” I first thought these guys sounded like Elvis Costello if he’d never grown up, but now they’re growing up, and that turns out to be a good thing. Ambitious and epic, burnished with age and experience.
1. Girl Talk, “Feed the Animals” Ignore the track list, this is one big song — and what a song it is. An hour-long nonstop jam that’s a great big stick in the eye to anyone making the unoriginal claim that sampling is unoriginal. Michael Jackson meets Queen, Busta Rhymes meets The Police, DJ Kool meets Dexy’s Midnight Runners, none of it has clearances, and all of it works. And you can be part of the revolution by visiting the website and downloading the most-likely-illegal album for free and putting it on your hard drive. Play your part.
(Video mashup of Billboard Top 25 by DJ Earworm)