Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top 10 albums of 2008

1. Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend is a band that’s easy to pick on, but it’s hard to find fault in a record that’s so dud-free and outright fun. It may not be high art, but I promise this album will be listened to for a long time to come. (Previously reviewed here.)
Vampire Weekend: Oxford Comma (mp3) (buy)

2. 808s & Heartbreak by Kanye West
I’ve gotten used to putting Kanye’s records at the top of my year-end lists, but he falls just short this year. Considering 808s & Heartbreak is a record that focuses on his failures (in both life and love), I suppose second place is apt. And here’s hoping 2009 brings us less Auto-Tune. (Previously reviewed here.)
Kanye West: Street Lights (mp3) (buy)

3. Youth Novels by Lykke Li
The next three records could easily swap positions, but I give a slight edge to the stunning debut record from the 22-year-old from Sweden. Youth Novels might not be as consistent as I’d like, but several tracks, such as “Little Bit” and “Tonight,” were among the most impressive and eye-opening songs I heard this year. (Previously reviewed here.)
Lykke Li: Tonight (mp3) (buy)

4. Santogold by Santogold
The year of the debut record continues, but Santogold’s no prodigy. Toiling for years at the outer reaches of the music biz, she’s made a record that effortlessly bridges genres (punk, dance, alt-rock, reggae) while maintaining its pop core. Stay tuned. (Previously reviewed here.)
Santogold: Creator (mp3) (buy)

5. Dear Science by TV On the Radio
I feel like I’m letting my indie-rock brethren down for putting this so low (i.e., not Number One), but as good as Dear Science is — and it’s very good — I can’t shake the feeling it could have been even better. Or, put another way, give me an album full of such menacing and powerful songs as “DLZ” or “Stork & Owl” and there’d be no debate. (Previously reviewed here.)
TV On the Radio: Stork & Owl (mp3) (buy)

6. In Ghost Colours by Cut Copy
Reminiscent of Madonna’s excellent Confessions On a Dance Floor, In Ghost Colours plays like a smoking DJ set, hit tune after hit tune without gaps. And unlike Madge’s CD, this one works just as well on college radio as on the dancefloor. Go figure.
Cut Copy: Out There On the Ice (mp3) (buy)

7. Intimacy by Bloc Party
My favourite rock album of the year, Intimacy re-establishes Bloc Party as the best Brit-rock band (sorry Oasis and The Verve) and neo-new wavers (apologies Metric, The Rapture) out there. (Previously reviewed here.)
Bloc Party: Trojan Horse (mp3) (buy)

8. Elephant Shell by Tokyo Police Club
After a couple of smouldering EPs, Tokyo Police Club kept their first full-length album at a lower heat — a mistake perhaps, but a promising debut nonetheless. (Previously reviewed here.)
Tokyo Police Club: Juno (mp3) (buy)

9. Partie Traumatic by Black Kids
Pitchfork be damned — Partie Traumatic is the best of a bunch of twee-core records (Los Campesinos!, Johnny Foreigner) released this year.
Black Kids: Love Me Already (mp3) (buy)

10. Little Joy by Little Joy
The Strokes are splintering into their side projects (Nickle Eye, Julian Casablancas solo), and it’s this effort from drummer Fabrizio Moretti — a Velvet Underground-inspired soon-to-become coffeehouse staple — that’s the biggest surprise.
Little Joy: Keep Me In Mind (mp3) (buy)

Honourable mentions:
Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust by Sigur Rós
Saturdays = Youth by M83
Stay Positive by The Hold Steady
The Rhumb Line by Ra Ra Riot
19 by Adele

And please make sure to check out my list of the Top 20 songs of 2008, along with the accompanying podcast.