best music of 2008


 well, 2008 certainly is wrapping up quite quick in’it?  shocking how fast this year has gone by. 

my friend greg challenged me list out my top albums of the year.  this in and of itself is not an unusual task for me, however, i just have not been too impressed with a lot of music this year (or truth be told, I just haven’t paid much attention).  so my list isn’t complete by any stretch of the imagination, but its what I dug in 2008.  (the links will take you to

in no particular order (sorta):

grace jones.  hurricane.  yes, yes, i’ve written ad nauseum about my love of this album.  simply put, a great return to form and a damn fine listen.  her growl is still shiver inducing.

duffy.  rockferry.  wow, what a voice and what a debut.  a modern dusty springfield and a great modern blue-eyed soul record.  in constant rotation for me.

the duke spirit.  neptune.  apparently, i’m on some sort of vintage-tip lately… this one rounds out that groove with a modern twist on velvet undergound + nico mixed with a bit of sonic youth.  great heavy grooves that rock.  great live show too!

the gutter twins.  saturnalia.  dubbed the satanic everly brothers, the gutter twins are greg dulli + mark lanegran.  two leading figures from 90’s grunge (pitchfork called them “two of the alt-rock era’s greatest front men”) join forces on this amazingly dark, raw album. 

big blue ball.  peter gabriel + crew make a world beat album that is truly worldly.  its reflective of the entire globe and beautifully done with melodies that will stay with you for days and days. 

goldfrapp.  seventh tree.  a completely unexpected, radical departure from the band’s previous effort ‘supernature’, seventh tree finds them in a quiet almost reflective space.  songs about overdoses, amnesia and oddly enough ‘happiness’, evoke a warmer, more organic tone.  no doubt this is the morning after to supernature’s disco overload.

nine inch nails.  the slip.  another departure so to speak, the slip finds trent reznor + nin focused in a way that we haven’t seen for some time.  the album is equal parts his tradmarked tecno-metal and industrial noise (with some ambient ballads thrown in for good measure) – but, and here’s the surprise, a there is actual melody here and there.  closer than he’s been in ages to pretty hate machine and the downward spiral, the slip reminds you what a tremendously good song-writer reznor is. 

heloise & the savoir faire.  trash, rats & microphones.  the debut of the year for me.  the sweet sweet pop/punk/electro disco of heloise + crew make me smile and dance about the apartment.   brilliant fun.

coldplay.  viva la vida or death and all his friends.   also known as the album that finds coldplay discovering distorted guitars, chris martin’s lower singing register and brian eno.  until this album, i would be what you would call a casual coldplay fan.  this album however is the shit.  political. meditative.  beautiful.   and ‘violet hill’ kills me. 

atmosphere.  when live gives you lemons, you paint that shit gold.  continuing the “it’s a departure theme”, the 5th disk from the minneapolis based hip-hop duo, features more live instrumentation than sampling and less autobiographical tunes, the album is a supurb effort and the stories will stick with you. 

portishead.  third.  first record in a decade, thrid is darker (who knew that was possible) and grittier.  less turn table scratching and more guitars and vintage electronics.  the standout here is beth gibbons cold, but stunning vocals over geoff barrow and adrian utley’s sparse machine gun arrangements.  a tremendous return, but well worth the almost 11 year wait.

and my vote for most overrated album of the year (and yea, a realize i’m in the minority here) – vampire weekend.  self-titled.  yea, yea, yea – we’ve all read how great vampire weekend is supposed to be, how they’re the next big thing.  but here’s the deal – they’re not that great.  there, i said it.  the haters will be out in force.   is the album ok, yea, but that’s just it.  just ok.  nothing to write home about.  and on top of that, it has absolutely nothing to do with vampires.  they don’t even dress up all goth-y which at least would be fun.   the band is way to intellectual for their own good – yes, we know ya’ll met while at Columbia university & your smart & all, but get over yourselves.  i love smart rock and roll, when it’s done right – nothin’ is better.  rock music is about passion, and heart and sex.  all of which is missing from this album.  ignore the best of lists that trip over themselves talking about how great it is. 

some other thoughts:

best “almost there, but slightly missing the boat-a-bit pop record” of the year:

  • madonna.  hard candy.  a solid, fun album from the queen of pop.  not as great as confessions or ray of light, but good fun just the same.
  • britney.  circus.  good, solid pop princess performance.  a record for the ages?  no, but fun to sing along with in the car.

too soon to tell, but i’m diggin’ what i’m hearing:

  • wendy & lisa.  white flags of winter chimneys

 singles I dug this year:

  • johnette napolitano & will crewdson – beds are burning
  • melody gardot – worrisome heart
  • sam sparro -black & gold
  • estelle & kanye – american boy
  • the killers – spacemen
  • the ting tings – shut up & let me go
  • kevin rudolf feat. lil’ wayne – let it rock.
  • pink – so what


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6 Comments on “best music of 2008”

  1. Love the Atmosphere album! Good call

  2. Kevin Says:

    what a great way to sum up the year! i think i’m going to do this too! thanks for the great idea!

  3. Tony Says:

    I’m so with you on Duffy. She was my favorite find of this past year. And my super awesome niece took me to see her, so I can tell you Duffy sound just as good live and that voice is not the product of studio arts.

    I was surprised though that Ms. Lauper’s new album didn’t make the list! I really love “Bring Ya’ To The Brink” more and more as I listen to it. I also thought Donna Summers “Colors” was incredibly well made and produced.

    I think Coldplay, was the only other album on your list that I have actively listened to.

  4. Christopher Says:

    You have serious good taste in music mister! So similar to mine . Woot!

  5. cb Says:

    I am taking responsibility for estelle and the ting rings

  6. Jason Says:

    Cool List.
    Now I have to rework that cd I made you. A few of your favs are on there, and I’m trying to include songs I enjoy that you may not have heard. I know, a hard feat for a music buff.

    I really loved Goldfrapps new one, Coldplay, and I did enjoy Vampire Weekend quite a bit.

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