Sunday, December 21, 2008

Top 5 Albums of 2008

Dan's Top 5:

OK, this is admittedly a bit premature, but I really don't see any part of my list changing in the last two weeks of the year. I also realize that these albums were stumbled on by myself alone, so consider these my official recommendations for the year.

1. Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke - I got this album not even a month ago, and already Ladyhawke (alias of Pip Brown) has broken my top 5 on This album summons ghosts of the 80's and never fails - it's like The Killers if they didn't go downhill after their first album. And if Brandon Flowers were even more of a woman than he already is. (Just kidding, Brandon.) There are no weak tracks at all, and it would be hard to even put together a top 5 list of tracks from this album. Look for that list in the future, because I'm all about trying to rank things that defy rankability. (Best song - "My Delirium")

2. Darker My Love - 2 - What I like about this album is that it has a wide range of influences. I can pick out a bit of early-era Black Sabbath, some U2, and even some earlier Snow Patrol. There's no single thing that makes this album particularly jump out at you, but it's solid, it sounds really good, and it has no weak tracks. If it got a bit more press, it would be one of those albums that will "save rock music." (Best song - "Pale Sun")

3. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular - This whole album is made of drugs. Then again, most of the classic albums throughout history are. But this is more like pure electro insanity. Overall, the sound is very original and fresh, and the first half of the album will just blow you away. The later tracks are a bit weak, though, which drives this album down the list. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some ecstasy to pop. (Best song - "Time to Pretend")

4. Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple - You know it's a good year in music when Gnarls Barkley winds up this far down my list. This is another sophomore release that initially failed to live up to the strength of the debut album, only to become far more listenable as time goes on. And my, how it has since rebounded in my playlist. It's good to know that these guys are not just a flash in the pan. (Best song - "Going On")

5. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend - Yeah, they're cheesy and über-white, but damn it, the music is catchy nonetheless. Though I will never forgive them for the annoying single "A-Punk," the whole album is vaguely reminiscent of Paul Simon's Graceland, Peter Gabriel, or some other African-laced 80's album. Hey, apartheid was horrible and all, but at least there was some great music to come out of it, right? (Best song - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa")

Honorable Mention: Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak, Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, Muse - H.A.A.R.P. (Quite awesome, but easily bumped to make room for studio albums.)

Ryan's Top 5:

Once again I am reminded of how un-current my tastes are... even the new stuff I get into tends to be a year old (see M.I.A.). Anyway, here goes:

1. Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke - I really can't stress enough how much I like this album. If I were growing up in the 80's and Ladyhawke was around, I'd truly have been obsessed. As it stands I'm doing my best to get obsessed now, and so far it seems to be working. She might be my biggest musical crush since Muse? Favorites: Paris is Burning, From Dusk Till Dawn, Magic, Back of the Van, My Delirium, I mean, the whole damn album.

2. Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple - A great follow-up to their debut album, and somehow they still seem to be under the radar, so their semi-underground appeal is maintained and they aren't omnipresent. Favorites: Run, Going On, A Little Better.

3. Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreak - I love this album. I love this album a lot more than his last two albums. "Paranoid" might be my favorite song of the year, and it's certainly in my top 5 (list forthcoming, I'm sure, at some point).

4. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs - Not nearly as good as previous albums, but whatever.

5. Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords - This album's placement at #5 is probably more a sign of how little new music I listen to than its overall greatness. Don't get me wrong, FOTC is one of the best things to happen this decade, but after the show/comedy acts this album was pretty underwhelming for me. There are numerous glaring omissions (I'm Not Crying, Sello Tape, If You're Into It, Bret You Got It Going On) and this album's version of "Robots" is maybe the worst there is (still good, but the eighteen youtube versions, and of course the show version, are better). Anyway, enough being an FOTC nerd, this album still kicked ass.

1 comment:

Roughly Speaking... said...

With respect to your #5 Ryan, keep in mind that they already released The Distant Future before the album -- I'm not sure why they included Robots and Most Beautiful Girl on both, but the prior EP already had Not Crying and If You're Into It, so I can't really hold it against them that they didn't include those songs.

Actually, I can. But I'll choose not to, because 2008 was a lousy year for music.

I've got a couple more albums from 2008 I have to listen to before I put my temporarily-definitive list together.