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Old 12-26-2008, 06:59 PM   #1
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LM's Top 10 Albums and Best Of 2008 playlist...thread

I've been planning this thread out for a little while now. I wanted to make sure there was enough actual content for it to deserve its own thread. If that's not the case, well, fuck me, I tried. Basically, I'm going to run through my top 10 albums for the year (and honorable mentions) and show you a 2008 playlist I cooked up especially for Interference.

Let's begin.



10. Sun Kil Moon - April
Our countdown starts off with the winner of 2008's "Album Most Closely Resembling Molasses" award. This is not to say that the record is anything less than gorgeous, of course. Imagine Neil Young at his most melancholy, but with the singing voice of a considerably smoother Eddie Vedder instead of an old woman. There you go. This is one of those albums that make you appreciate the little things; the interplay among the instruments, the lyrics, the quiet silences. At 11 tracks and 72 minutes, you can assume that patience is a necessity with this collection of folksy grunge, but it's hypnotic at worst, and completely involving at best. The only reason this album is placed so low on the list is because it lacks pick up and play accessibility; there are only certain days I would ever want to put this on repeat, and I would prefer not to have very many of those if I can avoid it.

Download:

Lost Verses
The Light
Moorestown



9. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Real Emotional Trash
After years of reveling in eccentricity, Pavement frontman and indie icon Stephen Malkmus has returned with one of his most coherent and playful sets as a solo act. Feedback is replaced with extended guitar soloing. Non sequitur is replaced with detailed storytelling. That probably sounds like a nightmare to those who think Slanted & Enchanted changed rock n' roll forever, but for someone like me who not only appreciates classic rock, but progressive(!) rock as well, this experiment is a welcome change of pace. I was actually surprised by just how accessible the album is, but had I known beforehand about its '60s AM pop throwback melodies and its affable, charming lyricism, I could have spent more time banging my head to the especially awesome guitar work that Malkmus turned in instead of wondering why he wasn't still referencing the Smashing Pumpkins.

Download:

Dragonfly Pie
Hopscotch Willie
Baltimore



8. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
I've never made it a secret in the past that I am an admirer of British music. It's amazing how so much brilliance can originate in such a small area. However, I would argue that the UK in general is doing quite poorly in that area at the moment. Punky Brit-rock with some guy shouting obscure lyrics over ever-so-slightly danceable beats has become the norm, and this is pretty damn disheartening. Thankfully, Elbow is here to quietly croon obscure lyrics over gorgeous melodies and creative song structures. I would simply say that The Seldom Seen Kid boasts some of the most complementary sequencing and production of any album this year, and it earned that Mercury Prize it received a few months back, but since that's not particularly helpful, I'll embellish. Lead singer Guy Garvey is a genius, as he can not only write tracks as gorgeous as the shimmering (lolz) "Mirrorball", but has one of the very best voices in music today. He's not a rock screamer, but he manages to take the stomping blues of "Grounds For Divorce" to the next level, which is an awesome feat. The album manages to be simultaneously eclectic and liquid thanks to the aforementioned excellent sequencing, and every track is superbly performed. There's just a lot of really great stuff here.

Download:

The Bones Of You
Mirrorball
Grounds For Divorce



7. Coldplay - Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
After all the smack that I talked over 2005's X&Y, that I even have the guts to place this record here is a testament to how solid it is. That record managed to take everything that I disliked about Coldplay's first two records, Parachutes and Rush Of Blood To The Head, and water it down even further with the overuse of keyboards and a lack of band chemistry. Not to mention the terrible lyrics and that damn falsetto of Chris Martin's being used waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too often. Viva La Vida, however, tosses out the old formula to an extent, and shows Coldplay finding a new set of influences to pilfer, a set that producer Brian Eno (who does a wonderful job here) can more a bit more comfortable with (namely, The Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine, Sigur Ros, etc.) Eno's influences here are very obvious indeed, but the band steps their game up as well. Chris Martin delivers his best set of vocals since the early portion of this decade, while writing lyrics that aren't even remotely embarrassing (although a tad vague and platitudinous for my tastes). The melodies throughout are gorgeous and instantly memorable, and the atmosphere of the record is something to marvel at and get lost in. Coldplay claimed this album was going to come out of left-field, but the only thing that's truly shocking about it is just how consistently brilliant much of it is. If nothing else, it's a giant step towards a bright future. But please, guys, never write another song like "Fix You", or I'm going to look like an idiot for making such positive assumptions.

Download:

Lost!
Lovers In Japan
Yes



6. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Recorded in a cabin during three months of solitude up in Wisconsin, For Emma is precisely what you imagine it would be; a broken man singing rustic folk music over (I would assume) a distant fire. He performed the entire album himself, which won't seem to be a very impressive feat on first listen, as the backing is quite limited, but this is an album that thrives on simplicity; moments of studio trickery are few and far between, but they're there if you listen for them. Justin Vernon's voice is like Al Green on helium, but the passion remains, and this passion carries some already heartrending songs. The album deserves bonus points for placing its best tracks at the end, which is quite a rare occurrence these days.

Download:

Flume
For Emma
Re: Stacks



5. Beck - Modern Guilt
The only consistent thread throughout Beck Hansen's 15 year career is that you can never expect him to keep a consistent sound from album to album. This aural shape shifting has provided the world with some sheer brilliance and kept his fans on their toes. This time out, he's chosen to make a tribute to '60s AM pop and psychedelia, placing Danger Mouse, one of my very favorite producers, behind the boards. When I first heard about the album, I was understandably giddy. On paper, it sounds amazing. In practice, it's still a fine album, albeit extremely brief, featuring a mere 10 tracks that amount to a half hour of music. This was likely meant as a throwback to '60s LPs that generally ran 30-40 minutes, but it still wouldn't have hurt the album any to add a few more tracks. In any case, this is a fairly coherent collection thanks to DM's production, which gives the album a dreamy, psychedelic vibe that takes the slower tracks to another level, but leaves the rockers out to dry to an extent. Thankfully, the majority of the album falls into the former category, and the rockers are still expertly written. Beck turned in a brilliant collection of lyrics here; he no longer strings together bizarre similies, but his sketches of dread are an excellent fit with the album's miasmic musical backing. Hey, if nothing else, it's a quick listen, so if you don't really care much for it, it's only a 30 minute investment. Me, I think it's superb.

Download:

Orphans
Chemtrails
Profanity Prayers



4. Deerhunter - Microcastle
This was one of the records I checked out later in the year based on word of mouth. Brimming with affable melodies and surging, tremolo-drenched guitars, it sounds a bit like The Shins crossed with My Bloody Valentine, with a hint of the Flaming Lips during those glorious days when Ronald Jones colored their sound with searing feedback and unorthodox guitar lines. This album jumps back and forth from unstable shoegaze to solid riff rock with giddy melodies, but it's remarkably consistent in the area of quality, featuring few lulls, and a number of standout tracks. Bundled with reissued copies of the album is Weird Era Cont., which features much of the same, but proves to be considerably more fussy, taking the fringe of Microcastle's weirdness (LOZLZOZLLZOLZ) and stretching it out over 42 minutes. There are plenty of wandering instrumentals, but also a number of solid tracks that provide everything I loved about its sister album in spades. I wouldn't buy it separately (it is available as a download via Deerhunter's record label 4AD) but, as far as bonus discs are concerned, it's excellent.

Download:

Agoraphobia
Never Stops
Little Kids



3. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
This was a surprisingly good year for '80s throwbacks. M83 released Saturdays = Youth, which had a great feel and a number of strong singles, and Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys started a side project called Neon Neon and made an album about the DeLorean. How cool is that? Fact is, Cut Copy outdid them all with this brilliant synthesis of '80s new wave, funk, and rave parties. It's bristling with energy, almost like a live gig, while still remaining coherent thanks to a number of carefully-placed transitional tracks that delve into wandering shoegaze. Generally, this album should be classified as a straightforward dance album, but some tracks, such as "So Haunted" rock hard enough to reach into post-punk territory, and there are great guitar lines all over this album. Ultimately, In Ghost Colours' greatest virtue is that the album plays like one of those dance collections you can buy at a gas station for $5.99; every track has a melody that sounds familiar and well-worn. However, it doesn't sound as dated as Best Of House Music, Vol. 3: House Music All Night Long, so that's good.

Download:

Out There On The Ice
Lights & Music
Hearts On Fire
Nobody Lost, Nobody Found



2. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
This is one of 2008's most hyped albums, and I have been on the bandwagon since day 1. Its predecessor, Return To Cookie Mountain, was equally adored by critics, but it always went over my head a bit. Gorgeous atmosphere, superb production, and a handful of knockout tracks weren't quite enough to justify the constant praise it received, but Dear Science manages to put that album into perspective, and my appreciation for it has grown. It does this by revealing a talent for writing brilliant pop hooks that the band always had but didn't quite have the gall to push to the service. Those moments of hooky pop goodness were the sunlight in an otherwise overcast album; Dear Science is almost entirely sunlight, crossing indie rock, electro, hip-hop, funk and soul to perfection. Always teasing us with political themes, with Dear Science TVOTR take Prince's stand on the issues: dance now; judgment day is right around the corner. It's this attitude, along with the buoyant, thrilling beats and soulful vocals, that makes Dear Science one of the premiere dance records of the year. However, it even boasts some fantastic ballads, such as the slowly building, subtly gorgeous "Family Tree". So yeah, it's pretty much all that and a bag of chips.

Download:

Crying
Dancing Choose
Golden Age
Family Tree



1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
As if April and For Emma, Forever Ago weren't enough, 2008 also boasted one other melancholy beauty of an album, but this one stands tall above its peers. What sets Fleet Foxes apart? The unique production style, the consistently strong songwriting, the excellent group harmonies? All of the above. It's hard to describe the band's sound, as their influences are clear as day, but there are so many that it's difficult to name off just a couple and have the result be truly representative. I've heard their harmonies be compared to those of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, while I would say their style of guitar picking brings Simon & Garfunkel to mind. Ultimately, they just sound like a bunch of guys well-versed in '60s folk-rock who recorded an album in the back of a cave somewhere in Appalachia. Of course, they're from Seattle, but the album is way too rustic to bring such dreary locales to mind. It's scary, but just about every song here is either obviously excellent or, at the very least, relaxing. The album flows extremely well, and it makes for great background music, but stands up under scrutiny. It really has no obvious flaws, and the fact that this is the band's first full-length album just makes this achievement that much greater.

Download:

Ragged Wood
Your Protector
Blue Ridge Mountains

Honorable mentions:

The Dodos - Visiter
Hercules And Love Affair - Hercules And Love Affair
Shearwater - Rook
The Roots - Rising Down
Neon Neon - Stainless Style

Now, onto the playlist. This was put together using only music released during the calendar year 2008. It's not just a bunch of stuff I threw together; I made sure that it flowed exceptionally well, and covered a lot of musical ground. Since you can't post links to commercially released music on this forum, I would like those who are interested in hearing it to let me know, and I'll PM you the link. Here's the playlist:

1. Weezer - "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations On A Shaker Hymn)" - The Red Album
2. The Roots - "Get Busy" - Rising Down
3. My Morning Jacket - "Evil Urges" - Evil Urges
4. The Verve - "I See Houses" - Forth
5. Coldplay - "Yes" - Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
6. Beck - "Replica" - Modern Guilt
7. TV On The Radio - "Crying" - Dear Science
8. Neon Neon - "Raquel" - Stainless Style
9. Cut Copy - "Out There On The Ice" - In Ghost Colours
10. M83 - "Kim & Jessie" - Saturdays = Youth
11. Oasis - "The Turning" - Dig Out Your Soul
12. Fleet Foxes - "Your Protector" - Fleet Foxes
13. The Flight Of The Conchords - "The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room)" - The Flight Of The Conchords
14. Elbow - "The Bones Of You" - The Seldom Seen Kid
15. Sigur Ros - "Gobbledigook" - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
16. The Streets - "The Escapist" - Everything Is Borrowed

Took me all day to write this out. I hope it wasn't total crap.
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Old 12-26-2008, 07:26 PM   #2
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even though the TV on the Radio one is the only 1 that would also make my top10 I have to say this is some excellent work
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Old 12-26-2008, 09:10 PM   #3
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I enjoyed reading that, and thank you for the reminder that I need to hunt out some Bon Iver and see what all this fuss is about.
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Old 12-26-2008, 09:33 PM   #4
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Excellent, LeMel. I need to check out a couple of things.

I do believe The Bones of You might be my favorite song from 2008. I love everything about it.
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:30 PM   #5
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I do believe The Bones of You might be my favorite song from 2008. I love everything about it.
Same here. It even impressed my father, and he hates just about all new music I play for him. I love the way it's arranged, and how that fuzz bass comes in near the end of the song. Not to mention Garvey's vocal. That and Mirrorball are simply perfect.
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Old 12-27-2008, 12:17 AM   #6
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Great list, LeMel. A few of my favorite albums from this year were on your list and the rest were all albums I had been meaning to check out.

If you could PM me the tracklist you made, I'd love to hear it. Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-27-2008, 12:21 AM   #7
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Good list. I would have chosen the same album for the #1 spot.
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Old 12-27-2008, 04:45 AM   #8
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a lot of that is stuff i've been trying to check out, but keep getting sidetracked on. i guess with your more manageable 3 or so "download this" reccomendations, i've got fewer excuses.

no idea what would make my list. i can't even think of 10 albums i liked from 2008.
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Old 12-27-2008, 05:51 AM   #9
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Excellent reviews LemonMelon. Very fascinating read.
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Old 12-27-2008, 06:01 AM   #10
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I really probably should give Elbow, TV on the Radio and Bon Iver another chance....
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Old 12-27-2008, 12:46 PM   #11
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I really probably should give Elbow, TV on the Radio and Bon Iver another chance....
What did you think of Elbow and TV On The Radio's albums? I don't even remember you posting in those threads, but maybe your take just got drowned by our tears of joy.
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Old 12-27-2008, 03:15 PM   #12
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What did you think of Elbow and TV On The Radio's albums? I don't even remember you posting in those threads, but maybe your take just got drowned by our tears of joy.
I never did post in those threads. It's been a few months since I listened to them, and honestly I don't remember them. I just wasn't impressed, I guess, at first listen.
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Old 12-27-2008, 03:19 PM   #13
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Same here. It even impressed my father, and he hates just about all new music I play for him. I love the way it's arranged, and how that fuzz bass comes in near the end of the song. Not to mention Garvey's vocal. That and Mirrorball are simply perfect.
Have you seen them Live yet? I caught them early in the year, and was fairly blown away. Just a perfect concert.

Thanks for the list, well done as usual.
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Old 12-27-2008, 03:49 PM   #14
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Solid. Plz add your voice to the other thread.
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Old 12-27-2008, 04:27 PM   #15
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What an utter shite list!!! What is all this crap??? Are you smoking something maybe and not sharing with me? Viva La Vida is the only worthwhile album on that list and it should probably be closer to #1. Where is Oasis? REM? Chinese Democracy, for fuck sake???





























Extremely "indietastic" list I see. I only know Coldplay from that list but have been meaning to check out Elbow and maybe even Beck. I do like a bunch of his songs from the 90s.
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