The Best Albums of 2008

If for some reason I thought it was hard last year to decide the top ten albums then this year has been a nightmare compared to that walk in the park.  Quite honestly this year has produced a veritable slew of brilliant albums.  From up and coming acts to bands on their forth or fifth album 2008 has seen some incredible music released.  Here is my personal list of the top ten albums of this past year.  If you’re still looking for a gift for someone special I suggest snagging few of these albums and stuffing their stockings with the best of what came this year.

All the tracks in one zip file : here {zshare = left click}

01 : Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (amazon) (itunes)

I’ve long been a supporter of all things that Sigur Ros has done.  From the first time I heard their music when I was in university there has been something special about these boys from Iceland.  This year they released their most easily accessible album to date and they’ve literally stolen the show.  There are a great many artists who have put their best foot forward this year, but although many came close, none of them quite live up to this masterpiece.

mp3 : Sigur Ros – Gobbledigook
mp3 : Sigur Ros – Inní mér syngur vitleysingur
mp3 : Sigur Ros – Fljótavík

02 : Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight (amazon) (itunes)

This album is a perfect combination of melancholy and clever lyrics.  The music sets the mood perfectly on this trip through lost love and a true feeling of being sad.  Although a bit of a downer emotionally it never strays too far into the realm of depression to leave you wallowing in your own self pity.  If this is what Frightened Rabbit will sound like in the future you can be sure to see them appear on best of lists for years to come.

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – The Modern Leper
mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Fast Blood
mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Poke

03 : Cloud Cult – Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) (amazon) (itunes)

Last year Cloud Cult topped my list for the best album of the year.  To think that less than one year later they went out and made an album that is literally better than their last is simply mind numbing.  What other band puts out this high quality an effort in back to back years?  Literally no other band is producing at such consistently high a level.  If there was one band on this years list that everyone should immediately start listening to I would recommend Cloud Cult.

mp3 : Cloud Cult – Journey of the Featherless
mp3 : Cloud Cult – The Ghost Inside Our House
mp3 : Cloud Cult – Love You All

04 : Coldplay – Viva la Vida (amazon) (itunes)

I’ve been a fan of Coldplay since the first awkward steps Chris Martin made to the microphone and it’s been a delight to watch them move from behind the U2 and Radiohead curtain out into their own worldwide acclaim.  And rightly so I might add.  Viva La Vida found this foursome out of England reaching a new height and a cohesion of sound that was only alluded to on their previous albums.  It’s great to hear a band really starting to use their full potential.

mp3 : Coldplay – Lost!
mp3 : Coldplay – Death And All His Friends

05 : Greg Laswell – Three Flights from Alto Nido (amazon) (itunes)

Greg Laswell has a streak of brilliance not often found in the overflowing singer/songwriter set.  He has a mind for clever arrangements built upon relatively simple, but elegant, melodies and in this regard he reminds me a bit of Sufjan Stevens {they definitely have very different musical tastes, but their gift for arrangements is the parallel I see here}.  Regardless of who or what this album reminds you of one thing is certain; this is the best Greg Laswell has done and it’s easily one of the best albums of the year.

mp3 : Greg Laswell – Comes And Goes (In Waves)
mp3 : Greg Laswell – I’d Be Lying

06 : The Dodos – Visiter (amazon) (itunes)

When you pare down a musical group until it contains a simple guitar and a simple drum kit you either get garage based disaster or you find that within a minimalistic setting true brilliance shines through.  In the case of this duo it’s easy to hear the talent that lies behind this album.  From track to track Visiter flips through well written stories with a sense of quiet urgency that never leaves your mind, and yet never becomes a frustrating distraction.  There is a fragile and perfect balance to be heard.

mp3 : The Dodos – Fools
mp3 : The Dodos – Ashley

07 : Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us (amazon) (itunes)

This year the top ten seems to be filled with established acts who just now are releasing their best album to date.  This is the case of Mates of State.  Their previous albums have largely been forgettable with a few random acts of brilliance sprinkled throughout.  This album, on the contrary, is solid from start to finish and it’s refreshing to see an older act pull their formidable talent together and focus it on a full album.

mp3 : Mates of State – The Re-Arranger
mp3 : Mates of State – Blue and Gold Print

08 : MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (amazon) (itunes)

MGMT found a way to make space rock and classic rock throwback into an insanely enjoyable acid trip of mashed up tracks.  There’s no simple or easy way to quantify this album as it caterwauls from proggy futuristic beat heavy pop to songs that remind me of a mythical pairing of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.  Whatever words you find to describe this album I’m sure they’ll be of a positive nature.

mp3 : MGMT – Weekend Wars

09 : TV On The Radio – Dear Science (amazon) (itunes)

Their previous effort, Return to Cookie Mountain, began to hint that this eclectic gathering of talented musicians just might be onto something.  With Dear Science the boys that make up TV On The Radio proudly display their particular brand of music.  I’m willing to put money on the idea that twenty years from now this album will be listed as one of the most influential albums of this decade.

mp3 : TV On The Radio – Lover’s Day

10 : Snow Patrol – A Hundred Million Suns (itunes) (amazon)

Somehow Snow Patrol’s latest album found a way to sneak into the top ten.  This is probably largely due to the fact that the final sixteen minute mega-track is insanely well constructed I kept listening to this album over and over again.  Snow Patrol has found a way to consistently make solid albums.  They might not be as attention grabbing or as trendy as their counterparts but the find a way to impress with each album they release.

mp3 : Snow Patrol – If There’s A Rocket Tie Me To It

All the tracks in one zip file : here {zshare = left click}

And that’s it.  That’s the top ten albums of 2008 in my humble and rather correct opinion.  I’m sure you’ll find a way to disagree with me {even going so far as to claim you’ll delete me from your feed reader}, but in the end you’ll see the wisdom of my discretion.  Granted there are two other bands that I really wanted to include on this list, The Walkmen and Nada Surf, and for their effort they easily deserve an honorable mention.  Amongst the letdowns of the year were the fact that both Sufjan Stevens and The Postal Service failed to make good on rumours that new albums would drop this year, Weezer put out a really great half of an album and then mucked it up with three or four tracks that are just terrible, and Death Cab, Ben Folds, The Killers, and Phantom Planet put out decent albums but not really the quality that deserves a spot on the top ten.

Until next year so long.  I’ll keep posting as long as you all continue to listen to good music.  If you’d like to see my 2007 list you can click here.

+ twf hype elbows amazonmp3 itunes
add this post to del.icio.us / digg / facebook

Greg Laswell

A few months back Greg Laswell impressed me with his cover of Cyndi Lauper’s classic Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.  At that time he had just come out with an EP and was dutifully slaving away on creating his latest album, Three Flights from Alto Nido (amazon) (itunes), which was quite awesomely sent out to me a few weeks after writing that first post.  Here is the part of this post where I try to make up a clever reason why I haven’t posted about this album in such a long time, but I’m bored, it’s Monday, so I’ll just stick with the truth this time around {usually I lie like a rug here on TWF.  You really can’t trust the interwebs}.

So why haven’t I written about this album yet?  Because it’s brilliant.  Most of the time the word brilliant being associated with an album makes me want to post about it immediately, that day, on the spot.  This time around, though, everyone I know agrees that it is brilliant.  As such this album has been loaned out, heard by quite a few people, and garnered almost universal acclaim amongst my friends and family  {I think even my mother likes it}.  Trust me when I say that every single track on this album is worth listening to.  From the opening track to the closing acoustic revision of That It Moves, which also appears in a more electric version as the second track, you’ll be grateful you’ve added Greg Laswell to your 2008 album collection.

mp3 : Greg Laswell – Comes And Goes (In Waves)
mp3 : Greg Laswell – I’d Be Lying

Find a way to listen to the entire album.  Go, leave, find it.  The end.

+ twf hype elbows site myspace amazonmp3 itunes
add this post to del.icio.us / digg / facebook