Albums Of The Year: 15-1

A few days ago, we gave you part one of our albums of the year list.  Today we bring you the best of the best from a wide range of artists who brought the noise this year.  We’ve fought it out amongst our ATH writers for weeks and these are the albums that we all loved.  These 15 albums went into thunderdome and emerged victorious.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite band made the Top 15 of 2008.

15. The Wedding Present – El Rey

David Gedge has been at it for decades. He’s not concerned with what anyone thinks anymore, and now he’s back together with famed producer, Steve Albini, their first album together since Seamonsters. The production makes for a hard-hitting album, full of plenty of wit, which is what you come to expect from a writer like Gedge. Guitar sound alone makes this album one of the stronger albums of the year. Gedge is back in full swing, and we are the better for it.


14. The Dodos – Visiter

Jangly folk guitars looped with various percussion instruments, predominantly drums, makes for a unique listen. What most didn’t expect was for this album to continually seep into their subconscious as simple melodies melded with a creative touch. Some songs took you for an adventure, while others stayed right at home; all these songs hit home. Welcome to the big leagues, fellas.



13. Magnetic Fields – Distortion

Painted dark with, well, distortion, the unpredictable baroque-pop of Stephin Merritt and friends continues to please. Whether throwing out witty tunes about hating California girls or the shame of being too drunk, Magnetic Fields always seem to be taking aim at us all, but with a one-eyed wink. It’s great to see that a band with such gifts is willing to push the boundaries rather than rest on their much deserved popularity.



12. Caleixco – Carried to Dust

After an experiment in rock with Garden Ruin, Calexico stayed with what they know best for their stellar 2008 release. This album will be added to the impressive and expansive Calexico discography along with some of their best work. Need we say more?




11. TV on the Radio – Dear Science

It’s hard not to like this band because when they are on, they are completely on. Dear Science definitely had some spectacular moments that won the favor of interested parties, but it also went in some interesting directions, like in “Red Dress.” Still, the band is always going to be one of the more interesting listens of the year when they release something. Such are the gifts of these fellows.



10. Shearwater – Rook

Austin is quickly  being introduced to a new hero, though this one has been laying in wait for years. Nothing was more fitting for a score to your favorite movie; nothing deserved to be this operatic. Gentle piano covered the album as the sounds rose and fell in unison. It’s one of those albums where you can tell that the person writing the music took a great deal of care in his or her creation. Truly a beautiful piece of work.



9. The Black Keys – Attack & Release

What do you do when you put out a fairly mediocre album and want to make a change to spice things up a bit? Call up Danger Mouse to produce your new record.  Everyone from Beck to Gorillaz have called on the famed Gnarles Barkely DJ to produce their albums, but none of those artists have put out an effort like Attack & ReleaseDanger Mouse took the old Black Keys sound and added a dash of hip-hop with just a little bit of spooky to create what may stand as the band’s best effort to date. If the jazz flute on “Same Old Thing” doesn’t do it for you, well sir, maybe you need to lighten up.


8. Gentleman Jesse and His Men – s/t

When you encounter something from your past, you always seem to wonder where it’s been; especially when you look back on it with such fondness. Coming across this album reminded us all of how great power-pop could be, and is. You’ll be hard pressed to find a bad song on this album, and most people will find that you can listen to over and over again. Let’s all welcome back the glory of clean guitars and perfect percussion.



7. Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

David Berman has been writing great songs longer than most of his contemporaries. He comes back big here, writing great country-tinged tunes that immediately won us over. The female vocal during “Strange Victory, Strange Defeat” gets us every single time we hear it. It’s always good to know that this guy is around keeping it going for all of us. Keep on taking that “Party Barge”, Dave.



6. Blitzen Trapper – Furr

The band cleaned up their sound, perfecting and building upon the foundation they put down with their last album. “God and Suicide” was one of the year’s great tunes, and that was just one of the great tracks that came with this album. A perfect mix of slow burners with power-funk-rock anthems; this album was a great spin from start to finish.



5. Human Highway – Moody Motorcycle

A certain ex-Unicorn really seems to have his hands all over the place these days. This was his second album of the year, but definitely a more complete album than his effort with Islands. “The Sound” was one of the best songs we got our hands on this year, and it only just started there. In all honesty, this album spun as much, or more, than any other album we listened to this year.  To top that off, it never gets old. Never.



4. Department of Eagles – In Ear Park

We all know about the Grizzly Bear association, so let’s just leave that out of this equation. In Ear Park came out at just the perfect time; the album fit perfectly with the changing of seasons and the necessity for bedroom music. Clearly Mr. Rossen has a future here, should other things not work out, but let’s just hope that both his projects pan out as beautifully as this one.



3. Spiritualized – Songs in A & E

Jason Spaceman returned in 2008 with a newfound respect for life, and in that respect, he wrote an album dedicated to Accidents and Emergencies. Nothing felt as downtrodden and honest as “Soul on Fire,” but still made you want to push forward. The sincerity in the song-writing makes each song on here, minus the various Harmonies, worthy of listening to time and time again. Go to sleep with this record, and you’ll be grateful Jason came out of the A & E with this album for all.


2. Fleet Foxes – s/t

This is a popular album, and it will make a lot of year end lists, perhaps even making it to the top. We here at Austin Town Hall loved their debut album, and we were honestly won over by their fantastic live show at the Mohawk this past summer. A possible detractor is that you might not always be in the mood for listening to this band, as it takes a lot to absorb it all. Regardless, this is one of those debut albums that is sure to stand the test of time.


1. The Dutchess and the Duke – She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke

Not many people will love this band nearly as much as we do at ATH; the band’s initials are D & D! What made this a great record, besides the songs, was that you could put this on no matter what mood you were entertaining. Shower?  Throw on that D & D record! Dinner party? Throw on that D & D album! Crying? Listen to that sweet  D & D music! Their male/female vocals, draped neatly over Dylanesque-Rolling Stones-ish songs, guaranteed multiple spins in our record players. For us, there wasn’t a more perfect album than this one. We stand by our love for this band. All hail your Dutchess and Duke.

So fans of ATH, how’d we do? 


  • God bless ya for tryin’. It’s not easy to do a list such as this. I think you nailed #1. Even #2. I would put The Black Keys at #4, right before KOL at #3. Excellent job though. But left out of the top 30: Hercules and Love Affair, Why? and where is the best hip hop of the year Talib Kweli….

  • Here is my reasoning behind leaving those three out, and this is just my opinion, which may or may not mean a thing…just an explanation.

    HandtheLA-I thought it reminded me of a really cheezy porn soundtrack, even a gay porn soundtrack, which I’m not against, I’m just not as into it as I used to be back in the day…but I am looking forward to the latest Antony release!@!

    Why?-The single was catchy, but the rest of it just missed me completely. I can see how a lot of people dig it, but for us, it just didn’t fit in.

    Talib Kweli-Outisde of pre-97 hip-hop, I know absolutely nothing about the genre, other than my adoration for Sean Paul to make beach club-bangers. I’ve got nothing against it, I just don’t listen to it, so I can’t comment on it’s goodness.

    Given all that, maybe that helps, but again, its just an opinion. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • ATH = highly underqualified to comment on hip-hop. I think Steve Harvey said it best on the Kings of Comedy tour: “Rap shows have too many damn instructions. I paid forty dollars to get in here. You put ya hand up mutha fu*kah! You scream!”

  • Where the f#%k is Lil’ Wayne?! Tha Carter III was a masterpiece of many genres (rap/hip-hop/soul/urban/eastsideAustin/children/floetry)
    Best watch yo step ATH. Lil’ Wheezy said it best, “Started out hooostlin.’ Ended up ballin.’ N*%ga I’m da sh#t, get da’ f$*k up off my toilette.”

  • Thanks for the explanations. Big fan of this site and it’s opinions. To each their own. Just wish you didn’t hate on KOL for their last album.
    There are so many other great albums out there right now, and I see now why you tailored your list to suit the site more. It’s hard to allowed the blurred lines of “mainstream indie” into “true indie” lists like this.
    Looking forward to ’09!

  • No MGMT? No Vampire Weekend? You forgot Deerheads and Deernuts and every other Dear/Deer band. A lot of sad bastard music (don’t get me wrong, I can’t get enough sad bastard music) but no Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago?

    Dr. Ram, Tha Carter III is garbage. If I wanted to listen to a robot sing for an entire album, I’d just put track 7 off OK Computer on repeat. But maybe Gnarls Barkley or Santogold?

  • Hercules and the Love Affair would have been in a top50.

    Lil Wayne – I think King Tut nailed that one.

    Vampire Weekend – Full of some great singles, but the album itself is pretty dull after a few listens. I think seeing one of their boring ass live shows made us leave that one off. Not a cohesive album at all.

    MGMT – Same story. Lots of really good singles, but the second half of the album is mostly filler. This album was released digitally in October of 07 so we didn’t even consider it.

    Gnarls Barkley – This album bored me to tears. I tried really hard to get into it, but how do you say… “I miss the rising action”? Danger Mouse has been pretty hit or miss with me on his stuff.

    Santogold – uhhhhh no. I can’t take this chick for more than one song or two. I love “Creator”, but I’ve had about enough after that.

    Bon Iver – wins award for most overrated act of 2008.

  • as long as we’re piling on…

    Good list, really is. Haven’t heard most of this stuff, but on that note, haven’t had the same access as you. If I reviewed an album a day for a year, i’d probably agree with you. But I’ll be checking this stuff out going forward. Love the black keys inclusion.

    I really enjoyed the Raconteur’s second album. Just a great, great, rock and roll album. I know you don’t have a meat and potatoes rock and roll bias because the Hold Steady is up there (appropriately so.) Great ACL fest set as well.

    Sigur Ros had a great album this year. Much more accessible, yet still as bombastic, epic, mindblowing as the older stuff. Definitely on the short list of bands i have to see live. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

    Girl Talk is a party in a box.

    Album to give another serious listen after initially dismissing:
    Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs

  • Very good call on the Raconteurs album. I have nothing bad to say bout it at all.

    I think I might just be tired of Sigur Ros. I’m sure that album is great, but Sigur Ros just wasn’t doing it for me this year. I have the live DVD/album and all their old material and that’s enough for me.

    I’m not sure using none of your own material is considered an album. Girl Talk is a party in a box, but that record is more of a mix tape to me.

    Death Cab’s album wasn’t bad.

  • bon iver… (or was that late 07?)

  • *Jumps into the fray*

    Bon Iver and Wolf Parade are the only glaring omissions I can see from my vantage point. “Bon Iver – wins award for most overrated act of 2008.” You cold RayRay… c. o. l. d.

    Strong showing aside from that. Good job ATH.

    I was a little jaded on Sigur Ros after their past releases, too. The new album was a pleasant surprise, though. It doesn’t exactly bother me that it didn’t make the list. Seems like it might be out of place here. Same goes for Tha Carter III, but that hardly qualifies it as being “garbage”.

    Comparisons of Lil’ Wayne to Radiohead can and will only be made by someone who doesn’t appreciate hip-hop (i.e. King Tut). It’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. If the closest frame of reference you have to hip-hop is OK Computer, you shouldn’t even comment on hip-hop albums. If you don’t like hip-hop… that’s cool, but don’t s**t on other people’s opinions.

  • I will have to say that the as far as Wolf Parade went; I think I expected more from them. They just didn’t come out swinging for the fences like I needed them to, which left that album out of our list.

    As for Bon Iver…I just don’t think it worked for me this year. I have this feeling that in a year or two I will listen to it and hate myself for not appreciating it earlier, but as of now, I just can’t get into it.

    Our lack of hip-hop knowledge led us to leave out Lil Wayne. I will claim to know a great deal about hip-hop circa 90-97, but aside from that, I dare not venture down that path. I would love it if someone with knowledge wanted to drop by from time to time to review a hip-hop album for us.

  • Fair enough… thanks for the explanations. I appreciate ATH not trying to front a taste for hip-hop. That says a lot in and of itself.

    As for my scathing comments about King Tut. Let it be known that I had no freaking idea King Tut = Vijay. I was only trying to pull the haters off of Ramsky. Apologies have been made and hopefully accepted. From now on, what King Tut says… goes.

  • I guess I just don’t get it. Bon Iver is doing nothing that hasn’t been done by millions of people before him. He sounds like too many other artists that are better than he is.

    I’ll have to agree with Nathan on Wolf Parade. We both heard the new album and were slightly let down. It’s not horrible by any means, but it doesn’t deserve a spot in this list.

  • i dunno about the Bon Iver slams fellas–going falsetto with a guitar isn’t something many singers do well. And no AutoTune, either? What’s with that?

    Maybe I’m just tired of so many indie-pop singers who can’t carry a tune, esp. live. Couldn’t get into Spiritualized but I’ll have to check out Human Highway and Dutchess/Duke.

    and no Nick Cave???

    Vijay = King Tut? Tan you’re rough…rippin KT for that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :