It’s only November but I’m already seeing Best of 2008 lists popping up, so I’ll contribute with my Top Five Albums of 2008...
Vampire Weekend, [Self-Titled]
These guys lost a bit of their luster for me as the year went on, partly due to their overexposure, but revisiting the album proves that it’s still one of the best releases of the year. Breezy and quirky, they remind me of vintage Weezer. Hopefully VW can avoid becoming a cliché of itself, or at the very least come out with a worthy follow-up. Stand out tracks to me are Oxford Comma, A-Punk and One (Blake’s Got a New Face).
Hercules and Love Affair, [Self-Titled]
A great dance record that was an instant favorite of many of my friends. Heavy nods towards the Eighties, but the album is varied and interesting enough to avoid being too derivative. I’ve found this album will get a party dancing in no time. Best songs are Hercules Theme, Iris and Raise Me Up.
The Dodos, Visiter
Their heavy handed guitar strumming and percussion caught my attention from the first few seconds I heard this band. Just about every element of this album (the vocals, melodies, lyrics) hits pitch perfect for what I like in this genre of music. My favorite tracks are Walking, Red and Purple, Undeclared and God.
Jamie Lidell, Jim
I was blown away by how much this record sounds like a freshly minted Motown LP. But Lidell also infuses many subtle elements to bring his vintage sensibilities up to new levels. Still, I know that I’m just programmed to love this album due to my repeated exposure to the Temptations, Al Green and Otis Redding. The tracks have great grooves that also do well at parties. Best songs are Little Bit of Feel Good, Figured Me Out and Green Light.
Fleet Foxes, [Self-Titled]
By far my favorite discovery of the year. Lush harmonies and folk stylings haven’t been this gorgeous in decades. I’ve gone on at length about this group already and can’t say enough about how much I love them, so don’t get me started. Simply magnificent. The entire album is amazing (as is their Sun Giant EP).
I’ll also add my Dud of the Year, which was Beck’s Modern Guilt. Sorry Beck, I love ya, but this was a big let-down.
And that’s that for this year. Here’s looking forward to 2009 and much more great music.