No Age, Harvey Milk, Loma Prieta, Sun Kil Moon, Flying Lotus, and The Dodos are just a few, but they have one thing in common - before this year, they were pratically non-existent. While some of the above artists have been around for quite some time, the nature and distribution of music hide artists from people far too often. This time is different because they are all fully digested and enjoyed thanks to their 'breakthrough' releases in 2008 that made way to my listening pleasure.This list of 'newcomers' defined my year in music and continuing on that note, with each passing day, music becomes more multifaceted than ever.
One genre in particular made leeway to prove its worth since its contemporaries in the early 90s, and that would be trip-hop.Flying Lotus’ Los Angeles was a complex new-aged saga pushing trip-hop to a beautiful, chaotic state.Another notable artist is Portishead, who triumphantly made their decade-long record hiatus a success with Third.It goes without saying that Flying Lotus and Portishead will be frontrunners in the future, but newcomers DJ/Rupture, Blue Sky Black Death, and Metaform will be artists to look for in the future.
But it wasn’t all about trip-hop.Bon Iver and The Dodos struck hearts with their emotionally laden tracks and brilliantly crafted indie-folk songs.Meanwhile, United Nations tried their best at recapturing the 90s emo sound that they grew up listening to and succeeded, while Off Minor released yet another consistent hardcore record.It was the type of year that maybe be defining in the evolution of music, which has such a long learning curve and time for understanding.The re-release of The Microphones’ indie-folk masterpiece, The Glow, Pt. 2 opened my eyes to one of the best records ever released.Had 2008 given more time, perhaps more albums would have affected my life and listening experience for the better. Without further verbal vomit, here lies top fifteen albums of 2008.
Top 15 Albums of 2008
15. The Mars Volta - The Bedlam In Goliath [Review]
Following a disappoint record in Amputechure, The Mars Volta advanced beyond expectations with The Bedlam In Goliath.Besides the ongoing ridiculous lyrical content, their songwriting is near its peak within the tracks "Goliath," "Metatron," and "Conjugal Burns."The experimental/prog-rock album is certainly an album that is near the top of their catalogue, but until they find that right niche for what could be a defining album, they will be on the backburner, but don't underestimate The Bedlam In Goliath.
Nouns was the giddy, indie-rock album I needed this year. Coupled with dense noise, underlying melodies and a charming voice, No Age romped up the charts with their rock sensibilities. There's no real complexity in Nouns which ultimately creates its defining characteristic. Tracks like "Teen Creeps" slowly pull you in with a simple guitar riff that immediately stirs everything into a jumbled, beautiful creation. That also speaks for the Nouns as a whole.
If there are musicians making music in the next decade, there is a good chance Girl Talk will be around making those songs sound even better.Taking the latest and greatest hits of the past few decades, Greg Gillis recreates hundreds of songs into the ultimate party version.Feed The Animals is no exception to his creativeness through other artists.I hope that Gillis anticipates a record in 2009, because this latest party is almost over.
12.Sigur Ros – Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust [Review]
At first, the folk single "Gobbledigook" from Sigur Ros’ latest album, Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust,provided the most refreshing sound thus far from the Icelandic post-rock group, but it quickly changed.In fact, "Gobbledigook" is the beginning of a journey through life, which continues with the breakthrough pop-folk track "Inní mér syngur vitleysingur."While the first glimpses at life were the most challenging pieces from Sigur Ros, the rest of the album remained in check with their classic sound that brought them to where they are now.Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust may have been overly safe, but it showed that Sigur Ros are still one of the best around.
11. DJ/Rupture – Uproot
The placidity of Uproot is what defines its seemingly free-form style produced by DJ/Rupture. The path set is refined, vocally enticing, yet mystifying. Throughout Uproot it's hard to pinpoint the moment where the breakthrough occurs, but the album redefines itself by growing increasingly complex and addictive. While not the best electronic/hip-hop record of the year, certainly a contender that has definitely been under looked.
I am having trouble mustering any type of comparison to Third, Portishead's first release in nearly a decade. For starters, this trip-hop album always leaves room for a surprise around the corner. "We Carry On," the staple of the album, is a dark, mysterious journey with the perfect blend of slow, methodical beats carrying a bittersweet voice through its length. The variety shown in Third is well-balanced and a pleasurable listen. While it took a few months to finally hit me like the way it finally did, it was well worth it in the end. Hopefully, Portishead will stick around for another decade, because their music is simply breathtaking.
9.The Sound Of Animals Fighting – The Ocean And The Sun[Review]
Quietly and deadly, The Sound Of Animals Fighting struck with their third album, The Ocean And The Sun.The experimental/ progressive-rock supergroup decided to venture down a less befuddling path and steer towards a consistent and well-rounded album.Their meticulous songwriting pays off in their best track to date, "The Heraldic Beak Of The Manufacturer's Medallion" which leads listeners through a barrage of the finest riffs and vocals churned out yet.Whether they will continue on this hard-nosed technique is yet to be seen, but it surely paid off with The Ocean And The Sun.
Following their hit album Cryptograms, the expectations for Microcastle we insurmountable. While Microcastle isn't as brood, it makes up with a playful undertone that builds as the record progresses. The staple of the album comes with "Nothing Ever Happened," a methodically controlled song, led by bass of Josh Fauver. For nearly six minutes, "Nothing Ever Happened" encapsulates how complex an album based around simplicity can actually become.
Los Angeles is what I consider the best electronic hip-hop album this year with its abrasive beats, yet dynamic melodies.The complexity and meticulously persistent beats bind melodies and harmonies to create an intense atmosphere.Flying Lotus created an album that is hypnotizing, unique, and certainly memorable.Oh yeah, if you have yet to see it, the video for “Parisian Goldfish” is pretty memorable too.
6.Harvey Milk – Life…The Best Game In Town [Review]
Harvey Milk cites singer/songwriter/poet Leonard Cohen as one of their main influences, in fact covered “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong” on their seemingly ancient album Courtesy And Good Will Toward Men.While their sound does not exactly echo the sediment of Cohen’s, the lyrical brilliance and wittiness found in Life…The Best Game In Town is phenomenal with lines like, 'life is the best game in town and death goes to the winner.'With that comes a noise/sludge rock that is so crisp and seemingly natural.The riffs are heavy, vocals are clear, yet dense, and the lyrics are sweet and often cynical.Harvey Milk’s influences cultivate such an immense, brilliantly strung album; it is hard to miss their talent.
Some Blood is a consistent, well-written record to add to Off Minor's glowing discography. Their sound is purer than ever with a stellar hardcore album with that touch of raw emotion. The bass is crisp, moving songs and setting the tone for the drums and guitar to take care of the rest. The pace and dynamic of the record is perfect. It's an album that constitutes few words, but when you listen to Some Blood, you'll understand. 'That’s how we left it: unsaid. I’m at a loss for words.'
This album should not be as good as I say it is.Geoff Rickly (and maybe members of Converge and GlassJAw) decided to write an album that brought the past flock of emo band’s sound to the present under the name United Nations.Somehow, they managed to write one of the best albums, musically, this year.Containing the technicality and rawness found in early 90’s emo recaptured with vigor and liveliness.The album is riddled with on-and-off melodic/coarse vocals countered with dense power-chord riffs and the occasional finger tapping found notably on “No Sympathy For A Sinking Ship,” “Subliminal Testing,” and “Model UN” among others. With that, United Nations were not trying to copy or perfect that sound, but rather attempt to revive it.Well, it’s alive.
Personally, The Dodos’ breakthrough album, Visiter, was one that resonated brighter than any other did.The similarities in the story of singer/guitarist Meric Long with my personal life were almost scary.Long writes about tragic heartbreaks and the desire of reacquainting the one that meant so much, among other topics, behind a unique folk sound unlike any other.The empathy and whimsical nature of the album is spellbinding and addictively catchy.This album is one thing when the meaning is lost and the words mean nothing, but becomes another entity when it is understood.
Coming into the year, I wasn't exactly looking forward to TV On The Radio’s release.RtCM was a solid album, but it wasn’t even in the same stratosphere as Dear Science.Upbeat indie-rock songs like "Dancing Choose" and "Golden Age" counter somber ballads like "Family Tree" and "Shout Me Out" that balances the number of styles found in Dear Science that make it unlike any other album.Dear Science is an album that'll get you up off your feet dancing, but also leave you decoding the intelligent verses spit out by Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone.The feeling and vibe of Dear Science is euphoric. It's one to remember for a long time.
Singer/songwriter Justin Vernon’s crackled voice uncovers a deep sense of passion with sweet, subtle perfection.In this perfection comes Bon Iver’s well-defined and emotionally touching For Emma, Forever Ago.The tone of the album never wavers, consistently churning out beautiful tunes of sorrow and defeat that never becomes overwhelming or dull. The pieces of For Emma, Forever Ago are captivating for a record that is nearly perfect.
Top Songs of 2008
1.Deerhunter – Nothing Ever Happened
2.The Sound Of Animals Fighting - The Heraldic Beak Of The Manufacturer's Medallion
3.Bon Iver – Skinny Love
4.The Tallest Man On Earth – The Gardener
5.The Mars Volta – Goliath
6.Sigur Ros – Gobbledigook
7.The Dodos – The Season
8.MGMT - Time To Pretend
9.Fuck Buttons – Sweet Love For Planet Earth
10.TV On The Radio - Dancing Choose
11.Portishead – We Carry On
12.Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
13.No Age – Teen Creep
14.Death Cab For Cutie – I Will Possess Your Heart
15.Kanye West - Heartless
1.The Microphones - The Glow, Pt. 2
2.Steinski – What Does It All Mean?
3.Daitro / Sed Non Satiata – Split
4. The Mountain Goats - Satanic Messiah EP
5.Mount Eerie - Black Wooden Ceiling Opening
Not worth the hype:
1.Protest the Hero - Fortress
2.Pg.Lost - It's Not Me, It's You!
3.Have A Nice Life - Deathconsciousness
4. Cynic - Traced in Air
5. Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up A Hill
Albums fell off the map:
1.A Silver Mount Zion – 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
2.Dr. Dog – Fate
3.Islands – Arm’s Way
4.Flight Of The Conchords – Flight of the Conchords
5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Nice format and good writings, the only thing I'm curious about is your not worth the hype album list. It's like anybody you had a disagreement with over the course of the past year has one of their favorite albums on there. Lovely EP/compilation list, though, and I agree with a lot of your descriptions (Portishead, United Nations) and wonder what you hear that I don't (Mars Volta).
1. Protest the Hero - Fortress 2.5/5
the songwriting is pretty bad
2. Pg.Lost - It's Not Me, It's You! 3/5
the progressions of each song are way too similar
3. Have A Nice Life - Deathconsciousness 3/5
The Cure - Disintegration with some bad quality
4. Cynic - Traced in Air 3.5/5
It's great, I just never latched on the way others did
5. Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up A Hill 3/5
It's hard to get through the album
I mean as you can see none of them were terrible, but they just weren't the cream of the crop from 2008.
While The Mars Volta had some iffy moments on The Bedlam in Goliath (Tourniquet Man), I think their songwriting was a step towards a direction that they are ultimately headed towards. idkk
nice list, of all the staff ones so far, I agree the most with the content. Top 3 albums are pretty darn close to mine, though I have Fleet Foxes in there. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! didn't fall off the map with me, but whatevs, good stuff.