Monday, December 22, 2008

My Year in Lists - Top 10 Albums in 2008

#10 Tilly and The Wall - o
o is the most aggressive Tilly and The Wall album to date. The Omaha quintet uses feet to keep the beat... Tap Shoes, to be exact. o is the Tilly's third full length release, and was produced by Mike Mogis (Saddle Creek Records). I only bring this up because the production quality of o really accentuates this musical element more than their previous two albums, which is important, because the tapping is what defines Tilly and The Wall. This is an album that will put you in a great mood. You can listen to it from beginning to end and then want to replay it over and over again.

#9 Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
This list would be thoroughly incomplete without Vampire Weekend's debut album. After I saw them in 2007, I knew they would have a quick come-up in 2008. And they did, which I think makes me brilliant. This is a thoroughly fun album that is extraordinarily accessible to all musical tastes. Well, mainly white people. According to a interview with Christian Lander, founder of

SC - What about the whitest band?
CL - Right now? I have to say Vampire Weekend all the way. They're pushing it to levels unseen.

#8 Girl Talk - Feed The Animals
Steph Benson (writer for Rhapsody) posted on her facebook status that Girl Talk is truly music for those with A.D.D. Mashing almost every conceivable song with a beat from 1970 to 2008, Feed The Animals is an action packed dance marathon. I was sitting in a middle seat on a flight from Denver to LAX between two giant men. I put on Feed The Animals on my iPod and annoyed the shit out of them with my seat dancing and head bobbing. Sorry guys... you'd have been dancing too.

#7 Portugal. The Man - Censored Colors
Plug the headphones into the Hi-Fi, switch on the lava lamp and listen to this amazing musical journey. This album deserves more than a few blurbs, so I'm going to direct you to to read a terrific description of the album. F-You. I'm not lazy. Take it back.

#6 Eagles of Death Metal - Heart On
Heart On was the most difficult album to place on my Top 10. I knew it belonged but I had a very difficult time placing it. I wasn't entirely impressed with them when I saw them live during San Diego's Street Scene, but since the album came out in November, it has been in constant rotation. It's a true blooded rock and roll album with very catch riffs and sounds like the offspring of a Mick Jagger and David Byrne project.

#5 Thievery Corporation - Radio Retaliation
As I mentioned in my previous post, Radio Retaliation has a theme of political fury and is quite possibly their most lyrically robust and musically diverse album to date. They mix reggae, hip-hop, arab, indian, among musical styles from a variety of regions while singing in at least 3 different languages.

#4 Los Campesinos - Hold On Now, Youngster
Los Campesinos! may not have a sound that will appeal to everyone, but this album oozes energy. The riffs are catchy, the choruses are singable, and the songwriting brings with it a clever youthfulness. "I'll be CTRL-ALT-Deleting your face with no reservations". LC! however, not only has one spectacular album released this year, but two. Hold On Now, Youngster was released in February and We Are Beautiful, We are Doomed was released in October. Both albums are similar in nature; that is to say, great. However, We Are Beautiful, We are Doomed could very easily have been an extension of Hold On Now, Youngster which is why I left the latter off the top ten, but it definitely gets an honorable mention.

#3 Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead
This Portland duo incorporates guitar, drums, synth and harmonica. Comparisons to Bob Dylan are often drawn with their songwriting and vocals. Though the poetry allows the listener to reflect upon self-awareness, heartache, hope, and independent thought about God, it is mostly upbeat with complex musical rhythms which may be why this album scored so high with me.

#2 Jamie Lidell - Jim
When you start to be compared to Stevie Wonder, Little Richard, Sly Stone, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye while creating a sound that none of the above would have ever dreamed of, it's fair to say you are in good company. This album is brimming with soul from beginning to end and is funky enough to guarantee a little bit of feel good to all its listeners.

#1 Portishead - Third
While Third is technically the third full-length release by Portishead, it is their first release in eleven years. There are many that are calling this album a 're-debut' or 'comeback' album... I think what really happened was that they died and became vampires with incredible musical abilities. The good part about that is that they will live forever and hopefully make music for as long as I live. Portishead makes it to the top spot because they not only push the limits of their own core-competency, but also because they break new ground (and set the bar high) with new experimental sound.

Honorable Mentions go to:

Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
Marnie Stern - This Is it and I Am It and You are It and So Is That and He is It and She is It and It is It and That is That
The Mighty Underdogs Droppin' Science Fiction
Black Mountain In The Future
Ratatat - LP3
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
She & Him - Volume One

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