Top 5 Albums of 2008

So after taking careful inventory of my iTunes, lastfm, and concert experiences of 2008 here are my top 5 releases of the year.
{column1}2312700715_916d979a66_o{/column1}{column2}5. Rabbit Habits, Man Man
Absurd, wacky, and genius all at once, this album is all the pieces I love about Tom Waits without the sometimes remote, inaccessible parts of Waits with which I sometimes struggle. I was a little overwhelmed with the frenetic pace initially, but after a few listenings I began to appreciate how masterful it really is. Easily a sound that would crumble into chaos & confusion with less skilled musicians, the production is flawless and effortlessly tight. And also, just so damn exuberant, there’s obviously no pretense at playing anyone else’s music but their own. So, go them, and go me for sure to their next show because I have no doubt this will be a major one for rocking out.{/column2}{column1}fleetfoxes-fleetfoxes2{/column1}{column2}4. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
I grew up listening to artists like Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel, & Dylan, so it follows that I completely identify with the tone of this album. Dusty boxes of forgotten photographs, wood smoke, and road trips seem like perfect accompaniments here, sweet and poignant alongside the brilliant harmonies, just begging to be played on vinyl on a humid summertime evening. Oh, and the Bruegel cover art is a nice touch too. ‘Nuff said, right?{/column2}{column1}pe-portishead-third{/column1}{column2}3. Third, Portishead
Wow, this is definitely a stunner of an album. I was lucky enough to hear this on a audiophile’s system and without it I may have never appreciated the true depth of sound present here. Abstract layers of sound that go from intense to dissonant to delicate, coupled with rich bass are much improved with the presence of a subwoofer. Despite my own apartment’s lack of said equipment, however, I consistently get lost in this album. Also interesting, I find the vocals easily transition from being lyrical to almost instrumental in nature, adding to the overall texture of the songs. Definitely like nothing else I’ve heard this year.{/column2}{column1}dodos{/column1}{column2}2. Visiter, The Dodos
I first discovered this band through RCRD LBL’s free downloads, and serendipitously ended up going to their tiny not sold out show at erstwhile venue The Note a couple weeks later. I’m so glad I did, because this has been an album I’ve yet to be sick of. Jamming percussion carefully balanced with vocals & unique melodies are what makes this a stand-out for me. Not to mention their fantastic live shows, I predict big big things for this band if they continue this trajectory.{/column2}{column1}2192251561_50024654b3{/column1}{column2}1. Alopecia, Why?
After months of listening, I’m still finding new hooks in this album. Combining elements of hip-hop with melodies reminiscent of Menomena, this album is both pop and profound, one of those rare gems that seem applicable for most any mood. Top with skillful lyrics that will imprint themselves indelibly on your brain (“never in the night when the knot grows tighter than thinkers can untie/and all the last half dammed rivers have gone dry/does the cock crow thrice until someone is denied” -Gnashille) makes this one a long time keeper for sure.{/column2}

So that’s the top 5, but I also want to throw a special shout-out to WNYC’s Radio Lab. Not technically an album per se, but some of the most thought-provoking and unconventional programming in radio. I would never believe that they could make some really complex topics so human, relatable, and affecting. Sorry Ira, but these guys are giving you a serious run for the money in the human interest category.

Lastly in this this epic (for me) post, I just want to call out some of my other new finds from this year. Some just barely got cut from the top 5 and some aren’t new at all, but just new to me. Here they are in no particular order. And If anyone has any other suggestions for listening, I’d love to hear them!

Burial, Les Savy Fav, Zoe Keating, Tim Fite, Animal Collective, Juana Molina, Fuck Buttons, TV on the Radio: Dear Science, Caribou, Cut Copy, MIA, Bon Iver, Girl Talk, Atlas Sound, MGMT, Andrew Bird, Lindstrom, Bibio, the Books, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Tobacco, Of Montreal, the Kills, Sybris, the Knife, Menomena, Rachel’s, the Cars, Busdriver, and Anni Rossi.

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