Music Blogs - Blogged Blog Directory Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Top 31 Albums of 2008 (Pt. 3)

Albums 31-21

#10: Conor Oberst: Conor Oberst - Another year passes and another Conor Oberst album makes it into my Top 10. The whole idea is getting quite old, yet Oberst’s music remains just as fresh today as it was back in August. On his self-titled solo album, the Bright Eyes frontman ditched a lot of the self-loathing, depressing songwriting for a more upbeat, exciting record. Even depressing songs like “Danny Callahan” have an uplifting feel to them. Oberst also takes the time to clean up that death rattle of a voice to something much more accessible (or acceptable). In the end, it’s just a great album that you absolutely need to hear.

#9: CSS: Donkey - I, like many, found CSS’s debut to be a bit on the annoying side. Their follow-up has its fair share of annoyances as well. However, for every minor annoyance, there are a handful of cool harmonies, infectious grooves, and inescapable hooks! Donkey is one of the most solid pop albums in recent memory. It will make you feel dirty, it will make you want to dance; but I promise it will not make you want to watch Dirty Dancing.

#8: Jaymay: Autumn Fallin’ - When I first received an email about Jamie Seerman in early 2008, I had no idea how much her music would affect me throughout the year. An mp3 sample of single “Blue Skies” hooked me, and I politely requested a copy of the album for review. Two months later, I gave the album an 8 out of 10 rating, and it remains just as poignant, beautiful, and poetic today! Seerman is an undeniable talent in songwriting, and you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this album today!

#7: Plants and Animals: Parc Avenue - P&A managed to take the best from 60s psychedelia and indie rock and turn it into one masterful work. I’ve already had the opportunity to introduce this band to 40 and 50-year-olds who have enjoyed every second of Parc Avenue. While the last few songs on the record do wear a bit thin, it is more than bolstered by its miraculous first half. If you haven’t done so already....listen to it.

#6: Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend - And the award for best new artist goes too....(sorry, Fleet Foxes). Vampire Weekend’s self-titled debut was one of the most focused, enjoyable, and universally acclaimed albums of 2008, and all of that praise was deserved. It’s not every day that an album comes around that will make seasoned music journalists fein knowledge of genres of which they have no background (in this case African music). I guess that's just another reason why we “lesser people” should look down upon the snooty students at Columbia University. You’re not that much better than us!!

#5: Pop Levi: Never Never Love - I’ll go ahead and stop ranting and raving about the greatness of Pop Levi’s second album as soon as I know that some of you have taken my advice and checked it out. However, judging by the album’s ranking on (one of the few places you can actually find it), few of you have taken the leap yet. Don’t be an idiot. Go get a hold of hit soon! An album this good doesn’t come around often, and you don’t want to be that person who hears it 2 years later than everyone else.

#4: Death Cab for Cutie: Narrow Stairs - For such a shitey album title, Death Cab’s latest surprised most of us. True, the band doesn’t take any huge leaps in any direction, but they stayed true to their classic sound and in the process created what many might call their crowning achievement (though Ben Gibbard getting engaged to Zooey Deschanel is giving it a run for its money). I know it’s my favorite Death Cab album, and with such instant classics as “Cath...” and “Grapevine Fires,” it’s bound to be rocking my iPod for many more months to come.

#3: My Brightest Diamond: A Thousand Shark’s Teeth - I’ll be the first to admit that Shara Worden doesn’t have the sort of universal appeal as, say, Vampire Weekend. What she does have, however, is a depth of talent that rivals any of her peers and an album in A Thousand Shark’s Teeth that put most competitors to shame in 2008. For all the grandeur and theatricalities of her 2006 debut, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth far exceeded any expectations and benchmarks that she may have set. It is a wonderful album and an absolute joy to listen to. I recommend you do it at least once.

#2: Of Montreal: Skeletal Lamping - Poor Of Montreal. For as many years as I’ve been making year-end lists, my favorite band on the planet has only gotten to the #1 spot once (for 2004’s Satanic Panic in the Attic). Every other year that they’ve been eligible have resulted with a fantastic, though still disappointing #2 placement. The sad truth is that were it not for last year’s “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” or this year’s “Gallery Piece” they may have nudged their way into first place every time. But for all the excessiveness that Kevin Barnes has nailed perfectly, there’s always one or two tracks that just seem like a bit much. Skeletal Lamping is the picture of excess, and with the exception of that one track, it was the best album of 2008.

#1: M83: Saturdays=Youth - If you were to tell me in January that my #1 album of the year would be an M83 record, I would’ve probably laughed in your face. M83 has been off my radar since 2005, and for good reason. For as brilliant as Anthony Gonzalez’s past works have been, they were never as enthralling a few weeks after their initial play. Saturdays=Youth, a 1980s, John Hughes tribute album in more ways than one, has been my favorite album of 2008 since it was released way back when. It is easily the most impressive album of the year with its ability to uncannily recreate the sounds, harmonies, feelings, and imagery of what all of us envision a teenage life in the 1980s would have been like. From start to finish, it is a layered vision, a masterpiece of production and performance. In fact, the only thing holding it back from a perfect 10 out of 10 rating (a rarity on Audio Overflow) is the fact that it’s lyrics are full of the cheesy poignancy that one would expect of an 80s teen drama. As such, the listener is taken on a ride, but it’s not an emotional one that they themselves can experience. Besides this minor and oft-overlooked blunder, Saturdays=Youth is a marvel of electronic pop music that will be remembered for years and years to come. Giving the #1 spot on my list to anyone else would not have seemed appropriate, and there’s no one who deserves it more.

No comments: