2008: A Year To Remember

If you have been living in a hole, you have missed on a pretty eventful year. One of the greatest Super Bowls in recent memory, the last minute comeback by Kansas to win the NCAA Finals, the 2008 Euro Cup, the epic Olympic Games in Beijing, a Joker, Radiohead tours again, an economic collapse and an African-American Senator from Illinois became the President of the United States of America.

Needless to say, it was a great year. I would also say the same for the year of music; much variety, ups and downs, epic albums and great sound. I'm not one for listing anything that is so very different into an order which ranks them in order of superiority; basically, I'm going to make a list of 'best' albums but not rank each album 'better' than the others.

So here goes:

Microcastle by Deerhunter
-So basically I listened to this album after my cousin recommended the band to me. After one listen, I could see why he liked the band so much. I had listened to Bradford Cox's solo project, Atlas Sound, but found this album much more enjoyable. I'm not exactly sure what I like most about this album but it's ambient sound is so easy to listen to and the lyrics are much more in depth than many other bands of today. This may be the best effort of an alternative band of creating a pop sound while not losing the meaning of their songs. It is such a fantastic album and I wish I would have listened to them a long time before this album. I was definitely missing out.

Dear Science, by TV on the Radio
-Another album in which you can get lost in listening to. TV on the Radio has been known for their unique alternative sound but they made an album that is as enjoyable to listen to as it was for the band to make. I think on this album, it was the variety and the quality it was presented that made this one of my favorite albums of the year. The album includes perhaps my favorite track from an album released this year in "Family Tree"; a melodic track infused with piano and string elements that builds around Tunde Adebimpe's distinct, fluctuating voice. Simply a great track. Too bad they canceled their show in OKC on Halloween.

Oracular Spectacular by MGMT
-Psychedelic pop made mainstream. This album was made up of so many great singles that it was nearly impossible for anybody to not hear a song by MGMT this year. The tracks on this album were so well produced that I don't think they could have been made any better. Each track has its own distinct sound, coupled with memorable and everyday lyrics. It's not rocket science. Not only were the studio tracks catchy but the release of several fantastic remixes by the likes of Justice and Soulwax kept the online music world on their knees until the release of those tracks, "Electric Feel" and "Kids" respectively. Easily one of the best indie pop albums of the year.

Fantasy Black Channel by Late of the Pier
-Late of the Pier's sound was a departure from the typical rock sound heard from many of the releases this year. Comparisons to Klaxons was easy to make since both contained elements of the nu-rave genre; definitely not a knock since Klaxons' debut album was a fantastic one at that. Many of the tracks contained bouncy dance beats along with guitars and synths, making for an album enjoyed by many. "Focker" was my favorite track from the album; it was also a prime target for mixing as it was edited by many, mainly for its bursting electronic outro. The fact that Erol Alkan produced the album can only increase the album's credibility.

Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust by Sigur Rós
-I'm gonna be honest, I had never listened to Sigur Rós before this year. I know, I know. I'm sure I have missed out on some quality albums and songs but before 2008, I had not heard enough about the band to spark my interest. Even this year, I still didn't hear enough to spark my interest but sat down and listened to a few of their tracks from Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust. I was floored by the emotion and overall sound given by the Icelandic band. But not only is the sound of the songs very melodic and well orchestrated but Jónsi Birgisson sings unbelievably well, in a very distinguishable falsetto voice.

Skeletal Lamping by of Montreal
-The Athens, GA based band has done it again. They created an album that is as fun as it is weird. Kevin Barnes's brainchild leaves nothing to the imagination and is nothing short of Disney-esque in its lyrical imagery. As with albums before, the album is so poppy and fun, it's hard not to like; it actually took me a few times to actually listen to all of the songs as I got stuck listening to tracks over and over, concentrating on the random and ridiculous lyrics of Kevin Barnes. The dance driven songs are so great, this band never ceases to amaze me.

Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends by Coldplay
-You know how I know you made a record? Your name is Coldplay. Though as commercial as this release was, it was actually a pretty solid album. Led by the singles "Violet Hill" and "Viva La Vida", this album was a definite departure from the band's previous three releases. They finally decided to take a chance and experiment with their sound to which made a better, more diverse album; increasing their fan base beyond the reaches of their preceding efforts. Excluding the handful of claims that they plagiarized songs for this album, there was very little that Coldplay could do wrong this year including a wildly successful world tour.

Little Joy by Little Joy
-I know I have been on the Little Joy high horse for the past few weeks, but how can I not? This album is not groundbreaking by any means and is simplicity at its best. Led by the lyrics of Rodrigo Amarante and Binki Shapiro and the guitar offerings by Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti, the album is not Strokes-ish in overall sound by contains that playful yet serious nature which makes for a pleasant feel. The album is also diverse, providing slower tracks such as "Unattainable" and "Evaporator" but also more uptempo, and my personal favorite, tracks in "Brand New Start", "The Next Time Around" and the most Strokes-esque song in "Keep Me In Mind".

Street Horrrsing by Fuck Buttons
-Probably the one album on this list with the most unique sound; experimental would sum it up best. The tracks of the album have no clear boundaries, mixing heavy synths and distortion with precise yelling and tribal percussion. For the most part, the duo seems to maintain a close variation of their sound for the entirety of the album; the exception would be "Ribs Out", a horror film score made of continuous percussion and random yelling. I would say that this album is best listened to in its entirety, as the tracks crossfade into each other and would make for a better listen as a whole.

The Evening Descends by Evangelicals
-I almost forgot that this album was released in 2008. This album is alternative, it's pop, it's soundtrack, it's great. There's no one genre that can describe this Norman, OK band; the best that I can come up with is a 50's horror flick soundtrack infused with pop-rock. Makes no sense, right? All I can say that the album is a great listen. I fell in love with "Skeleton Man" the first time I listened to it, which gave me high hopes for the album as a whole. I had the words "...someone loves you very much" stuck in my head for nearly a month. The album also includes the very catchy songs "Midnight Vignette", "Party Crashin'" and "Paperback Suicide".

2008: A Year To Remember 2008: A Year To Remember Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on December 12, 2008 Rating: 5
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