Monday, June 23, 2008

Mid-year Review- Best Albums of 2008 (so far)

I shouldn't really call these the best albums of 2008, these are just my favorites, and god knows my taste needs some sharpening. So here, in no particular order, my favorite albums of 2008, so far.

1) For Emma, Forever Ago- Bon Iver

Just a gorgeous collection of songs, some heartbreaking, all of them perfect for listening to at night. The myth behind the album is that Justin Vernon (I'm too lazy to fact-check, but I'm pretty sure that's his name) hibernated all-by-his-lonesome in a cabin for quite some time and emerged with these soulful acoustic tunes. NPR recorded his set when he opened for Black Mountain in DC in February. That recording can be found here. Listening to it makes me all the more excited to seem him in August. Should be a great show.

2) Narrow Stairs- Death Cab for Cutie

To all of you naysayers blabbing on about how Ben Gibbard is a wimp and Death Cab sold out once they were on the O.C., please kindly shut up. Death Cab will always get flack for being to sensitive and too girly, but dammit, this is a great album. It's got more meat than Transatlanticism, the songs are catchy as hell, and I got the album a week before it released through a leak (Don't worry, I paid real money for it when it actually came out. Otherwise I would feel dirty.) and it has yet to grow stale. The instrumentals shine here more than on any of their past efforts, and Chris Walla's production job is, in a word, fantastic.

3) Nouns- No Age

What fun! That's all I can say about No Age's wonderfully cacophonous Sub Pop debut (don't get all hot and testy- I know they made albums before, hence why I specified that this is their Sub Pop debut). The punk duo sounds like their having a great time through each of the melodic lo-fi punk gems on this album. I was hooked since I heard "Eraser," and I ain't letting go. Hopefully No Age sticks around for more great releases.

4) Hold On Now, Youngster...- Los Campesinos!

This punctuation-happy twee-core outfit has to be one of the (sorry) cutest bands I've ever seen. After hearing "You! Me! Dancing!" on a podcast, I purchased the album and was addicted to their hook-filled tunes, witty lyrics and charming use of the glockenspiel. I had the opportunity to interview guitar player Tom for my zine Pop (interested in a copy? email us at! woo!) and instantly fell in love. He was incredibly friendly and adorable and gushed about Pavement and had an accent. It was wonderful. **I just finished reading John Sellers's memoir, Perfect From Now On. In it, he mentions a particularly terrible album review in which the female author began by describing her immense crush on the lead singer. I ashamed to see that I just did that. My deepest apologies. This is why they don't let 16-year-old girls write for Spin.

5) Mission Control- The Whigs

The Whigs are a severely under appreciated group. The trio crafts concise rock n' roll tunes with a heaping helping of The Replacements and a grungy polish. I loved their first release, Give 'Em A Big Fat Lip, and Mission Control is in no way a sophomore slump. In fact, I think the boys got better. Every song feels like the best and each sounds better when the volume is cranked. The album is solid, cohesive and balanced, yet each song can stand strongly on its own. Why the Whigs don't have more mainstream attention is beyond me. Their songs are catchy and melodic, with what I think of as widespread appeal. This is the kind of band that you just want to hang out with. I can't wait to hear what they put out next. Just writing about it makes me crave it. Off go the Talking Heads, on go the Whigs. So...good....

6) Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend

Don't you just hate when some band is hyped to the point of exhaustion after the release of one EP, and then their album finally comes out, and it is, well, a massive disappointment? And you hear they suck live, to boot? Luckily, none of that (except the "hyped to the point of exhaustion part," of course) applies to Vampire Weekend. Their debut is original (to all of you who say it's a Graceland knock-off...just let it go already), obscenely catchy, and accessible enough to put on mixes for friends (I'm not one who cares deeply about accessibility, but Vampire Weekend is much more appealing to my less musically-inclined friends than, say, Animal Collective. So it's good to have stuff like this on tap when they ask for mixes.). Overall, I love this album. It's sunny and light, and I must admit, I'm impressed that the boys were able to crank through the trenches of hype and produce an album that lived up to, if not exceeded, expectations. I've been especially excited to get it back into rotation lately, because it is such a summer album.

That's all for now, folks. I would have put My Morning Jacket up there, but I just bought it last week. While I know it will probably be in my Top 10 of 2008 list, I'd feel like a sham if I judged it a week into the purchase. Some other albums I've bought and loved include The Dodos, Fleet Foxes and Girl Talk.

1 comment:

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Oh you've inspired me. This may be a theme for the Top 5 on Friday on Music Memoirs next week.