Albums Of The Year: 30-16
The year of 2008 is winding to a close, so it’s only appropriate that we wrap it up with our year-end albums list. We don’t expect many to necessarily agree with our list, but we worked really hard to make sure we had what we thought were the best thirty albums of the year. These are the records that spun over and over again in our heads and stereos, so this list is dedicated to their longevity in 2008. We’ve conveniently broken it down into two segments, with albums 30-16 after the jump.
This may be the most polarizing album that has come out in years, especially when it comes to the hodge-podge stylings of Kevin Barnes. An elaborate stage show accompanied the band on their tour of this album, but more important was the elaborate detail that went into crafting this album. Sure, it’s completely pyschotic at moments, but at every turn lies the possibility for some of the most special pop elements we will here anytime. Check out the chorus on “Triphallus, to Punctuate,” for a solid glimpse.
Montreal outfit, The Dears, have continually put out some of the most atmospheric indie-pop albums this decade; each one continuing to push new limits for the band. After being stripped down to a mere duo, The Dears were forced to create that same beauty with less backup, and did they ever come up with perfection. Our adoration for “Meltdown in A Major” probably wouldn’t do this record justice, nor does this paragraph. Find love here.
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy has yet to put out a less than outstanding album and Lie Down in the Light continues that trend. Billy takes typical themes like lost love, traveling and the great outdoors and gives it that something extra to stay around in your ears all day. With album after album of brilliantly written tunes, Will Oldham will go down as one of the greatest and most prolific songwriters of our time. Oh and don’t you dare call this “folk music”, it’s so much more than that.
We’ve been following this group of neo-space-rock-hippies for several years, even if you didn’t know it. The band brings you anthemic power with songs like “Put In a Little Gas” and “Yes.” Then they flip you on your back and throw a subtle pop-gem like “Wintersong” in your face. Mix that in a bowl with their bruising live shows, especially the one from Fun Fun Fun Fest, and you have ooey-gooey-goodness.
It’s hard to keep track of an artist like Conor Oberst, no matter how much Pitchfork keeps you posted. But, one has to admit that the little fellow writes some pretty solid tunes. This venture away from the Bright Eyes moniker finds Conor rocking a mellower vibe, influenced by the recording in Mexico. Standout track “Danny Callahan” should pop up on other end of the year lists. This album just shows how consistent Conor has grown over the years.
How does one categorize this band? Just when you want to put them in a corner as progressive-post-punk, they turn a corner, bouncing off down the hallway with glee. Their album was incredible, and songs like “Offend Maggie” and “Basketball Get Your Groove Back” played this year at Fun x 3 Fest surely proved that creativity and energy are sure to carry any band a long long way. Something tells us that had this record come out earlier, it would have been way up on the list.
Nothing came across so honest this entire summer as this little album by Jeremy Jay. Part Jonathan Richman, part Calvin Johnson. Considering how many bands blatantly ripped those two off this year(I’m looking at you Vivian Girls), how did this album go so unnoticed? Don’t be the last one to get in on this stellar album; grab a good stout, a smoke, and enjoy.
23. Little Joy – s/t
For all of you who have the significant advantage of extra income and a desire to travel, please go visit Puerto Viejo in the Southern corner of Costa Rica. Enjoy one of their local beers, Imperial preferably, and put on your headphones. 99% of you will find that this is the album that comes across your place. It is a calling if you will, and it’s one of the more consistent albums of the year, growing better and better with each spin.
Most people found their interest here piqued due to the presence of a certain Deschanel, while others reveled in the enjoyment of M. Ward’s warm guitar work. Regardless of where your pleasure lies, this album is full of nostalgic beauty that is sure to appeal to any listener of the alt-country vein. Everything here screams fireside chats and hot chocolate; this is an album everyone in your family surely fell in love with, or should have.
Yet another album that forced people to pick sides. The hype coming in set this album up for too much, but for the most part, listeners probably found that it faired well in most regards. However, it clearly demonstrated that the group has a ways to go in order to establish the supremacy in the indie world that everyone thought they deserved, or desired. Buy into the hype here, just get it at discount price.
Did anyone have more fun this year than Los Campesinos!? Listening to this album reminds us that being young and vibrant have their benefits. Fast, choppy, creative, guy/girl vocals: this band simply had it all. On top of that, they thought they had enough power to put out another album of similar joy and vigor in the same year. Sure enough, they pulled it off, and no one was the wiser. Nothing wrong with ambition, nothing wrong with this album.
Dan Bejar once again steps outside of the confines of New Pornographers to create a splendid album. Every moment on this album represented splendor and grandiosity, but all in a sensible manner that only Bejar could pull off. “Dry Foam Hands” became a staple around the Austin Town Hall desks throughout the time of this release. Trouble in Dreams just goes to show us all that a certain Mr. Newman isn’t the only one with the magic touch.
As a listener, nothing wreaked more of heartache and despair than any given song on this album. Every single song makes you want call your best friend or lover, if only to say hello and goodbye. If your world is crashing down, then you surely need this fellow around to write about it. Not to mention, he’s an up and comer, which makes the fact that his debut so beautifully written all the more intriguing. Someone out there thanks MBAR for this, if not all of us.
Naysayers suggested that Mr. Malkmus, the father to many of indie, might be on the decline, but just as you doubters thought he was done, he makes a grand return. This might just be the best thing that he has put out, post-Pavement, of course. A ten minute title-track jam just goes to show you that the man still has what it takes to win you all over. Here’s to many more years of good Malkmus tunes.
16. Dr. Dog – Fate
While the band might not have broken any new ground with this album, they definitely solidified their standing here at Austin Town Hall. Swinging bar room stompers and mellow country tunes are a quick way to our hearts. “The Old Days” could easily make its way into your heart, if it hasn’t done so already. At this point in time, it’s easy to say that the band has the groundwork put down for a solid career in our neck of the woods. Thanks fellas.
What do you think so far? Check back later this week for the highly coveted 15-1 spots.