elbow, "the seldom seen kid"
while people fawn over crappy indie music like the weepies and los campesinos, elbow quietly (at least in the US) delivered one of the most beautiful, compelling albums of the year. while vampire weekend is fun, elbow is fun, poignant, and lush. imo, the most complete works of the year from first to last track; there's only 2 songs on the album skip past in my ipod.
vampire weekend, "vampire weekend"
i found myself going back to this album again and again. there's something undeniably catchy about the brainy fluff punk of vw, the album expertly captured how i felt on my best days at university of michigan. it can be a little over the top and cheesy at times but it's fun enough to where you hardly notice. best tracks: m79, a-punk, oxford comma, blake's got a new face, mansard roof, bryn.
yoav, "charmed and strange"
never left my 4GB ipod through the year after receiving it from kcrw's cd club in the spring. big hit for everyone i gifted it to, and for good reason: the songs are passionate, unique with sparing production focused on masterfully employed guitar and percussion. if only he was touring in the US... best tracks: club thing, beautiful lie, there is nobody, live.
emilianna torrini, "me & armini"
i wish this had only been an EP: 1/2 of the songs are superb and the other 1/2 sound like she swallowed a handful of oxycotin and then alternated picking her her guitar and her teeth. this is why album sales can suffer but online music sales can soar. nonetheless, try listening to jungle drum and not singing along, or feeling a little boost afer big jumps. she's clearly having a good time. best tracks: me & armini, birds, big jumps, jungle drum.
jack johnson, "sleep through the static"
while i originally dismissed jack johnson as surf-folk music for hip department stores, '08 was the year i gave in and became a full-fledged fan. sleep through the static cemented this for me,a very nice album that is the natural continuation of his previous albums. best tracks: enemy, hope, if i had eyes, what you thought you need, adrift.
coldplay, "viva la vida" + "prospekt's march"
after a miserable 3rd album (xy), coldplay returns with a diverse, striking 4th album. the only real shame is that they clearly kowtowed to the label by not including the "bonus" EP of prospekt's march in the original album (artists typically only get paid for the 1st 12 tracks, guess how many viva la vida has?). anyways, the album feels cohesive yet manages to cover a lot of ground from anthems like viva la vida to the sharp opening instrumental (life in technicolor) and the bluegrass tinged strawberry swing (this track was my favorite and became the ringtone on my old nokia).
- adele, 19
- gnarls barkely, the odd couple
- santogold, santogold
- rodrigo + gabriela, live in tokyo
- top ranking, santogold + diplo (compilation)
- tricky, knowle west boy
- juana molina, un dia
- thievery corporation, radio retaliation
- pacifika, asuncion
hmmmm... not quite but...
- ac/dc, black ice
- evil nine, they live!
- q-tip, the renaissance
- j-boogie's dubtronic science, soul vibrations
- aterciopelados, rio
- beck, whatever the hell his album with danger mouse was called
- monkey by damon albarn & some other guy
- MIA, kala (middle eastern techno & grade school aussie rappers? really?)
- cold war kids, against privacy (title track is great, what happened to the rest?)
- lyrics born, everywhere at once (nowhere i wanted it to be)