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  • top 100 of 08

    29 dec 2008, 21:51

    100. The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride (“Lovecraft in Brooklyn”)
    99. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I-IV & The Slip (“Discipline”)
    98. Islands – Arm’s Way (“In The Rushes”)
    97. The Whigs – Mission Control (“Right Hand on My Heart”)
    96. Times New Viking – Rip It Off (“My Head”)
    95. Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line (“Ghost Under Rocks”)
    94. Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy (“Better”)
    93. Ratatat – LP3 (“Falcon Jab”)
    92. The Black Ghosts – s/t (“Anyway You Choose To Give It”)
    91. The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of the Understatement (“The Age of the Understatement”)

    90. Thao With The Get Down Stay Down – We Brave Bee Stings and All (“Bag of Hammers”)
    89. Les Savy Fav – After The Balls Drop (“The Sweat Descends,” “Debaser”)
    88. The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Open (“You Can Come To Me”)
    87. The Airborne Toxic Event – s/t (“Gasoline”)
    86. Ghostland Observatory – Robotique Majestique (“Heavy Heart”)
    85. The Dirtbombs – We Have You Surrounded (“Indivisible”)
    84. King Khan & The Shrines – The Supreme Genius (“I Wanna Be A Girl”)
    83. The Muslims – s/t (“Right and Wrong”)
    82. Hercules & Love Affair – s/t (“Blind”)
    81. Flight of the Conchords – s/t (“Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenocerous”)

    80. Okkervil River – The Stand-Ins (“Lost Coastlines”)
    79. Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (“The Righteous Path”)
    78. Ladytron – Velocifero (“Ghosts”)
    77. Brendan Canning – Something For All of Us… (“Hit The Wall”)
    76. Blitzen Trapper – Furr (“Furr”)
    75. Portishead – Third (“The Rip”)
    74. White Denim – Workout Holiday (“Let’s Talk About It”)
    73. Tapes ‘N Tapes – Walk It Out (“Hang Them All”)
    72. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – Rapid Response EP (“Paranoia (Never Enough)”)
    71. Clinic – Do It! (“Free Not Free”)

    70. Lupe Fiasco – The Cool (“Go Go Gadget Flow”)
    69. Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul (“The Shock of the Lightning”)
    68. Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (“Strange Victory, Strange Defeat”)
    67. Cansei De Ser Sexy – Donkey (“Left Behind”)
    66. Fujiya & Miyagi – Lightbulbs (“Knickerbocker”)
    65. The Magnetic Fields – Distortion (“California Girls”)
    64. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer (“Kissing The Beehive”)
    63. Santogold – s/t & Top Ranking Santogold (“You’ll Find A Way,” “Get It Up”)
    62. Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping (“Nonpareil of Favor,” “An Eluardian Instance”)
    61. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!! (“Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” “More News From Nowhere”)

    60. Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue (“See Fernando,” “Acid Tongue”)
    59. We Are Scientists – Brain Thrust Mastery (“After Hours”)
    58. The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing (“Great DJ,” “That’s Not My Name”)
    57. The Kills – Midnight Boom (“Cheap and Cheerful,” “Sour Cherry”)
    56. The Very Best – The Very Best Mixtape (“Cape Kod Kwassa Kwassa,” “tengazako”)
    55. Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs (“I Will Possess Your Heart,” “Cath…”)
    54. M83 – Saturdays = Youth (“Kim & Jessie,” “Couleurs”)
    53. Friendly Fires – s/t (“Paris,” “In The Hospital”)
    52. The Dutchess and the Duke – She’s The Dutchess, He’s The Duke (“Reservoir Park,” “Out Of Time”)
    51. These New Puritans – Beat Pyramid (“Numerology AKA Numbers,” “Infinity ytinifni”)

    50. Fleet Foxes – s/t & Sun Giant EP (“White Winter Hymnal,” “Mykonos”)
    Overrated? Definitely. I can ramble on about their targeted Starbucks appeal (and their live show leaves much to be desired), but I can’t deny their harmonies.

    49. Coldplay – Vida La Vida or Death And All His Friends (“Vida La Vida,” “42”)
    I like to make fun of Coldplay as much as the next guy, but I can’t deny that the omnipresent title track was one of the year’s best tunes. Who knew that Rome had calvary choirs? The addition of uberproducer Brian Eno was a great decision.

    48. The Walkmen – You & Me (“In The New Year”)
    The Walkmen are a band that I’ve followed for a while now, but they never had a “great” album. You & Me changed that, revitalizing their sound (solid indie rock) and even offer a song named after Colbert. You can bet your ass I’ll be blasting “In The New Year” come inauguration time.

    47. Late of the Pier – Fantasy Black Channel (“Space and the Woods,” “Focker”)
    I was burnt out on Nu Rave after listening to Klaxons so much in 2007, so I wrote off Late of the Pier as another of many of British dance-rock bands trying to capitalize on the scene. Later in ’08, I gave this album another whirl and was reminded why I loved this sound in the first place. Try to listen to “Space and the Woods” and not move your butt. Try it.

    46. High Places – 03.07-09.07 & s/t (“Banana Slugs/Cosmonaut,” “From Stardust”)
    I saw High Places earlier this year opening for No Age and Abe Vigoda, and I had no clue what I was hearing. A duo banging on boxes and seashells and whispering about transvestite slugs? I didn’t know what to think. Their unique sound isn’t for everyone, blending ambiance with dance, but when I returned home, I realized that I couldn’t get their melodies stuck out of my head.

    45. R.E.M. – Accelerate (“Supernatural Superserious,” “Living Well Is The Best Revenge”)
    The last few R.E.M. albums have ranged from mediocre to pretty bad, so I was happy to hear Michael Stipe say the band was returning back to basics and delivering their most straightforward rock album to date. He wasn’t kidding, as it kicks off with the rousing “Living Well Is The Best Revenge” and doesn’t stop until “I’m Gonna DJ,” where Stipe sings about being in the rock band in the end times. After 20 years most bands call it a career, but I would put this as one of their best albums.

    44. The Cool Kids – The Bake Sale EP (“What Up Man,” “Black Mags,” “88”)
    My New Year’s Resolution for 2008 was to get into hip-hop, and first I found it hard to jump right into the Wu-Tang and start listening. Thus, the Cool Kids were a bridge, two young emcees from Michigan and Chicago who rap about silly shit (bikes & basketball, rather than guns and bling) reminiscent of 80s rappers like Run DMC and A Tribe Called Quest. Needless to say, I now love hip-hop and eagerly anticipate the release of their full album next year.

    43. The Killers – Day & Age (“Losing Touch,” “Spaceman”)
    “Are we human? Or are we dancer?” The year’s most cringe inducing lyric (I thought that “Vida la Vida” had that locked up) is pardoned because of who it paraphrases, and while this is The Killers’ weakest album, they’re still one of the catchiest mainstream bands today. They still remain predominately a singles band, and I wonder if they will ever put out a truly fantastic album.

    42. Beck – Modern Guilt (“Gamma Ray,” “Chemtrails”)
    Beck’s an artist that I never list as one of my favorite artists, yet I have all of his albums, and he’s slowly crept up as one of my most played artists on last.fm. After two relatively weak albums, he releases his best album in nearly a decade, combining the soberness of Sea Change with the wacked-out Beck we’ve come to expect. Also check out the wonderful cover of “Gamma Ray” by Jay Reatard.

    41. Health – Disco (“Crimewave,” “Triceratops [Acid Girls Remix]”)
    Lo-fi indie punk was the big thing this year, so while LA outfit Health failed to impress me on their debut album, as well as opening for Crystal Castles, this, a remix album of their singles, managed to balance out their droning rhythms with a danceable beat. Check out all 3 remixes of Triceratops and their now famous remix of “Crimewave.”

    40. Smashing Pumpkins – American Gothic EP & G.L.O.W. (“Again Again Again,” “Superchrist”)
    My love for the Smashing Pumpkins is well known, and I was overjoyed to see them thrice this year. I am the first person to admit that Billy Corgan is quite insane and seems to relish destroying is already abysmal reputation, but that doesn’t change the fact that he still puts out some strong music a decade after his twin masterpieces of Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie. Here, he released the acoustic American Gothic EP, as well as a straight-to-Guitar Hero single, featuring “Superchrist,” one of the band’s heaviest songs to date.

    39. The Clash – Live At Shea Stadium (“Police On My Back,” “Train in Vain”)
    It’s The Clash, live, at the apex of their career. Opening for The Who in the early 80s, they prove why they were (and still are) referred to as the only band that matters. The sound quality of the concert is great, the band has a good rapport with the crowd, and it’s nice to see a live album that covers a large span of a band’s career.

    38. The Big Sleep – Sleep Forever (“Bad Blood,” “Slow Race”)
    I’ve seen this Brooklyn-based shoegaze band several times now, and each time I’ve thought they overshadowed the band that they’ve opened for. Not much to knock about a tried-and-true formula of pummeling bass and wild guitars, but I wonder when and if they will ever break through.

    37. Lightspeed Champion – Falling Off The Lavender Bridge (“Galaxy of the Lost,” “Tell Me What It’s Worth”)
    Former British scene brat dissolves his band, moves to Oklahoma, and writes a folk album of sexual frustration and alienation. It’s like if Boy George decided to become Gram Parsons. While I doubt he’ll become the UK’s version of Conor Oberst, “Galaxy of the Lost” is one of 2008’s catchiest (and saddest) ballads.

    36. Conor Oberst – s/t (“NYC Gone, Gone,” “I Don’t Want To Die (In a Hospital)”
    Not released under the Bright Eyes moniker, Oberst continues his quest to become the next Dylan (he won’t, but that’s not a bad thing) with a few Americana influenced stompers such as “I Don’t Want To Die (In a Hospital)” and “Sausalito.” If you like Bright Eyes, you’ll enjoy this album, and if you don’t, it won’t convert any new believers.

    35. No Age – Nouns (“Eraser,” “Things I Did When I Was Dead,” “Sleeper Hold”)
    The reigning kings of the LA lo-fi punk scene finally release their debut album after last year’s wonderful compilation of early singles Weirdo Rippers. While I’ll admit that I enjoyed Rippers more, the guitar-and-drums duo manages to churn out some of the noisiest tracks this year. They aren’t for everyone, but they should be.

    34. Muse – HAARP (“Knights of Cydonia,” “Take a Bow,” “Butterflies & Hurricanes”)
    There is a reason why Muse is currently the world’s best arena band. Monster songs like “Knights of Cydonia” and “Starlight” are designed to be overwhelm and you can practically feel crowd surge and sing along to singer/guitarist Matt Bellamy’s bombastic, paranoid songs. My favorite live album of the year.

    33. The Dodos – Visiter (“Fools,” “Jodi,” “Joe’s Waltz”)
    Best described as a folk version of No Age or a pop-ification of Animal Collective, this Californian drums-and-guitar duo trade out the electric noise for an acoustic sound with frantic drumming. Pay attention to impressive falsetto on “Fools.”

    32. Vivian Girls – s/t (“Where Do You Run To,” “All The Time,” “Wild Eyes”)
    Along with Vampire Weekend and Fleet Foxes, Vivian Girls were one of the year’s most hyped up bands. Luckily, they managed to weather the inevitable backlash well, because, well, the album’s pretty good. Hailing from Brooklyn, the girls combine shoegazing with ‘60s girl group harmonies to create a sound I’ve found to be quite refreshing and highly listenable.

    31. Abe Vigoda – Skeleton (“Bear Face,” “The Garden,” “Dead City/Waste Wilderness”)
    No Age and Vivian Girls got more hype, but Skeleton was my favorite lo-fi punk record of the year. Referring to themselves as Tropicali Punk (tongue-in-cheek, of course), these LA boys manage to upstage their older brothers and sisters by focusing more on bouncing rhythms rather than trying to drown their audience in a sea of noise.

    30. Tobacco – Fucked Up Friends (“Hairy Candy,” “Street Trash,” “Dirt”)
    The year’s most fucked-up record, the singer/producer of Black Moth Super Rainbow released his solo album, but considering the massive amount of psychedelic influence (I’ve heard it referred to as an “electronic stoner-rock” album) on this release, you can consider it a perfect extension of BMSR’s discography. From the start of the looping drums and clipping sound effects of “Street Trash,” you know you’re in for a wild time.

    29. Foals – Antidotes (“Cassius,” “Olympic Airways,” “The French Open”)
    I’ve never been a huge fan of math rock bands (Minus the Bear; Battles until I saw them live ), but Britain’s Foals manage to combine the complex rhythms of that math rock sound with the UK dance-rock sound that’s now pretty much ubiquitous across the pond. “Cassius” is so infectious, it’ll be in your brain for months.

    28. Passion Pit – Chunk of Change EP (“Sleepyhead,” “I’ve Got Your Number”)
    The most anticipated debut record of 2009 will be coming from the Boston-based Passion Pit. Legend has it that the lead singer recorded this album as a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend, taking the twee sounds of Belle & Sebastian and dissolving in into a electronic haze that James Murphy of DFA/LCD Soundsystem would produce. I implore you to listen to “Sleepyhead” right now, one of the best songs of 2008.

    27. Weezer – s/t (Red) (“Pork and Beans,” “Troublemaker,” “Dreamin’”)
    It’s not the blue album. It’s no Pinkerton. But fuck the haters, it’s as strong as a Weezer album that you would expect in 2008. “Pork and Beans” was a certifiable hit, and I feel that the album opener “Troublemaker” is as good a song that Rivers Cuomo has written in years. Is it a flawed album? Yes, but it’s still the best Weezer album in a decade.

    26. Black Kids – Partie Traumatic (“I’m Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You,” “Look At Me (When I Rock Witchoo),” “Hit The Heartbrakes”)
    Everyone was expecting Black Kids, a band hyped throughout ’07, to burst through on their debut album. While that didn’t happen, the band did manage to polish a few of their earlier, raw tracks (“Hit the Heartbreaks”) while adding some great pop songs to their discography (“Look at Me”). They’re still young, and I anticipate good things in their future.

    25. T.I. – Paper Trail (“Whatever You Like,” “Swing Ya Rag,” “Every Chance I Get”)
    If it wasn’t for Weezy, this would have been the year’s best rap album. I’ll give T.I. props for trying to stay away from auto-tune (at least on the singles), but I’m sure that everyone reading this must have heard “Whatever You Like” blaring on the radio or in the club, a rare rap singles that didn’t get old after two listens. My personal favorite is “Every Chance I Get,” a rap so full of machismo you can’t help but laugh as T.I. warns about the many ways he is going to fuck your girlfriend.

    24. Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster & We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (“You! Me! Dancing!” “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed,” “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats”)
    A young band should be commended for having the balls to release two great full-length albums in one year, especially with pop songs as tight as “You! Me! Dancing!” and the title track of their second album. Consisting of seven members, Los Campesinos! (the band’s Welsh, but the name is Spanish for The Peasants) and featuring violins, glockenspiels, and alternating boy-girl verses, I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoyed the heyday of Britpop or just wants a twee album to sing-a-long with.

    23. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges (“Evil Urges,” “Aluminum Park,” “Highly Suspicious,” “I’m Amazed”)
    It’s impressive how far this Louisville jam-band managed to transform into an odd hybrid of American music, combining stereotypical indie rock styling’s with the addition of R&B ballads (“Highly Suspicious,” and their covers of Erykah Badu). The album sounds vastly different than the rest of their discography, trading out extended solos for tighter melodies but after seeing their A four-hour late night set at Bonnaroo (in the freezing rain, btw) it’s safe to say they succeeded as the breakout rock band of 2008.

    22. Hot Chip – Made in the Dark (“Ready For The Floor,” “Out at the Pictures,” “Wrestlers,”)
    What is it about dance music that I enjoy so much? Well whatever it is, Hot Chip’s probably the best dance-rock band hailing from the U.K.. After seeing them live in March and hearing the infectious “Ready for the Floor” and the pulverizing “Wrestlers” (namedropping wrestling moves), I was bruised and battered from all the dancing, yet never once did I find myself tired.

    21. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter 3 (“Phone Home,” “A Milli,” “Lollipop,” “Mr. Carter”)
    2008 was the year of Lil Wayne. After years of appearing on nearly every rapper’s album and releasing a ton of free material via mix tapes, Weezy finally dropped his masterpiece. Featuring contributions with nearly everyone in the industry (Jay-Z, T-Pain, Kanye, even Wyclef fucking Jean), Wayne busts out some of the most memorable rhymes to date, rapping about being an alien “Phone Home,” a half-hearted blowjob in “Lollipop,” and his own fame in “3 Peat” and “Dr. Carter.” Even if you’re not a fan of rap, you have to admire the incredible lyrical talent of the industry’s current G.O.A.T.

    20. Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna (“Princes,” “House Jam,” “First Communion”)
    Psychadelic tribal dancing isn’t the most accurate description of Gang Gang Dance, but it’s close. Consisting of new-wave synths, chanting & growling, and electric loops, it’s hard to explain to someone what Saint Dymphna sounds like without using buzzwords like “neo-tribal,” but the highlight of this is “Princes” which transforms GGD into a grime act, featuring Tinchy Stryder rapping over strained beats.

    19. Marnie Stern – This Is It… (“Prime,” “Transformers,” “The Package Is Wrapped,” “Ruler”)
    What would you get if you combined the technical guitar majestry of Eddie Van Halen with the little-girl voice of… say… Hannah Montana? Marnie Stern’s vocal and guitar feats are an interesting dichotomy to say the least, seen here on the opening track “Prime” and the glitzy “Ruler.” At first, the experience may seem dizzying, a pulse of guitar tapping, odd lyrics (“Prime” in particular), and propulsive drumming, but as soon as it ends, you’ll want to get right back on.

    18. Bloc Party – Intimacy (“Mercury,” “Signs,” “One Month Off,” “Ares”)
    Kudos to Bloc Party to release and drop an album digitally in a three-day span. Even more kudos for releasing a great album, continuing the legacy of the incredible Silent Alarm and the underrated A Weekend In The City. Production is split between the producers of the past two albums, and its quite prevalent, as the album is split between straight forward rockers (“Ares” and “One Month Off”) with more experimental tracks like the single “Mercury” and the EE Cummings-quoting closer “Ion Square.”

    17. Secret Machines – s/t (“Atomic Heels,” “Last Believer, Drop Dead,” “Underneath the Concrete”)
    Progressive rock is a cheesy genre, especially when you add psychedelic efforts into the equation. Nevertheless, Secret Machines are one of the few bands that manage to pull it off effortlessly, and offer a return to form of their debut album after a disappointing sophomore release. “Atomic Heels” and “Last Believer, Drop Dead” open the album with a fury of feedback and drumming, and the epic, 11 minute closer “The Fire Is Waiting,” shows the prog rock can still flourish in 2008.

    16. Sigur Ros – Meo Suo I Eyrum Vio Spilum Endalaust (“Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur,” “Vio Splilum Endalaust,” “Gobbledigok”)
    After three stunning albums, including one sung entirely in a made-up language, Sigur Ros does something truly remarkable: make a pop album. Opener “Gobbledigook” trades out the band’s signature crescendos for la-la-la’s and harmonizing – clocking in just over three minutes. Meo Suo (which I can’t even begin to pronounce) even features the band’s first song sung in English, but don’t fret—it offers the same 8+ minute epics found on their past three albums. With the exceptions of Radiohead and the White Stripes, no other band has managed to create 4 great albums this decade. Oh, and I was lucky enough to see them live, and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in my life.

    15. Kings of Leon – Only By The Night (“Crawl,” “Sex On Fire,” “Use Somebody,”)
    After years of struggling to make it as an Indie-meets-Southern rock band here in America, the Kings of Leon finally say “fuck it” and release the stadium rocker they were born to create. “Sex on Fire” is as catchy as it fun to sing, but it’s the more experimental tracks such as the opener “Closer” and “Crawl” that I’m drawn to on this album. Some tracks are dampened when listening to on mp3, but songs like “Use Somebody” and “Manhattan” come to life when being sung with thousands of other people.

    14. Girl Talk – Feed The Animals (That one part where he mixes “Jesse’s Girl” with 3 6 Mafia, That one part where he mixes Jay-Z and Radiohead)
    It’s Girl Talk. You know what to expect and he hits it out of the park. I could digress about how Girl Talk’s music is representative of our ADD/iPod age, but it’s been touched on by far better writers than I am. Not as impressive as Night Ripper, but still a perfect party record for those too lazy to make their own mix.

    13. Black Mountain – In The Future (“Angels,” “Stormy High,” “Evil Ways,” “Bright Lights”)
    The year’s winner of best “Black” band offers heavy, stoner-rock from the bright city of Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s easy to point to Black Mountain’s influences – Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, a little bit of Queens of the Stone Age – but the addition of a female vocalist and a dastardly organ player separate Black Mountain from the rest of their contemporaries. “Evil Ways” name checks Santana’s classic while “Bright Lights” offers a 17 minute journey through feedback, bass, and organ solos.

    12. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (“The Wolves (Act I and II),” “Skinny Love,” “Flume”)
    Who doesn’t enjoy a sad record in the wintertime? Recorded in a Wisconsin cabin, Bon Iver conjures up memory of Elliot Smith with nothing more than his acoustic guitar and sparse accompaniment throughout. It’s odd seeing a guy go from playing for 100 people here in D.C. to selling out massive venues in New York City. My favorite song, “The Wolves (Act I and II),” lets Bon Iver ask the audience directly, “What might have been loss?”

    11. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours (“So Haunted,” “Lights and Music,” “Hearts on Fire”)
    Who knew that Australia could make such good dance music? Songs such as “Lights and Music and So Haunted,” which are impossible to not love, bolster the year’s second best dance-rock record. Also advised to see them live if you are able.

    10. Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell (“Graves,” “Tesselate,” “In A Cave,” “Your English is Good,” “Juno”)
    I’m a sucker for well-produced, well-written pop rock music, and while I’ve been following Tokyo Police Club for a few years now, I was glad to see they could manage to pull it all together for their debut album after several successful EPs. “Graves” and “Tesselate” twist with post-punk energy and will have you humming and perhaps even clapping along with the song, if that’s your thing.

    09. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound (“The ’59 Sound,” “Great Expectations,” “Old White Lincoln”)
    2008 was the year where I started to listen to Bruce Springsteen, and considering I’m already a fan of The Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers, it makes sense that these Jersey bar rockers (with just a tinge of Against Me! thrown in) would be right up my alley. “Great Expectations” is one of my favorite openers of the year, and the titular track pop-punk-bar rock at its finest, singing of lost loves, ennui, and being left behind by friends long gone.

    08. She & Him – Volume One (“Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” “I Was Made For You,” “Sentimental Heart,” “Black Hole”)
    Zooey Daschanel may be the hottest woman on the planet (although Kristen Bell is certainly a contender), but her voice rivals her beauty. Combined with guitarist M. Ward (who’s new solo record I’m anticipating in ’09), the duo conjures up lovely ballads that would have been played on AM radio in the early 1970s. “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” has She lamenting about the difficulties of a troubled relationship, and opener “Sentimental Habits” points out that “old habits die hard.” It’s a shame their day jobs prevent them from touring them more often, but the album’s title ensures that more music will be coming (hopefully soon) from M. and Zooey.

    07. Titus Andronicus – s/t (“Titus Andronicus,” “My Time Outside the Womb,” “Josef of Nazareth’s Blues,” “Upon Viewing Brughel’s…”)
    Loud, fast, angry, and featuring three guitars, Titus Andronicus manage to subvert the dangerous emo label and instead release one of the year’s best straightforward rock albums. A sense of nihilism creeps through the album, featured on “My Time Outside the Womb” and the opening “Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ.” My absolute favorite song of the year is the titular track “Titus Andronicus,” where lead singer Patrick Stickles shouts “fuck everything, fuck me” and the difficulties of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll… followed by a chant of “Your life is over!” If you are lucky enough to have Titus come near you (which you probably will, as they are always on tour) be sure to go see them and let them know your appreciation of their fine musical talents.

    06. Deerhunter – Microcastle & Weird Era Cont. (“Nothing Ever Happened,” “Never Stops,” “Cover Me (Slowly),” “Operation”)
    I was dumb for leaving off 2007 album Cryptograms off my best-of list last year, but after getting into it in early ’08, I knew that their follow up record was going to be monstrous. Leaked several months before its release, singer/guitarist Bradford Cox urged fans to wait as it was an “Autumn” record. He was right, as the album didn’t “click” until the leaves started to change. Microcastle is all over the place (in a good way), featuring rockers such as “Nothing Ever Happened,” haunting acoustic ballads such as the title song, and the fantastic “Never Stops.” As a gift to fans who waited the extra few months, Deerhunter recorded a second album to go along with Microcastle, and while Weird Era Cont. is not as strong, I will never turn down some free tunes.

    05. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (“Time To Pretend,” “The Youth,” “Kids,” “Electric Feel,” “The Handshake”)
    Wherever Lil Wayne wasn’t, there was MGMT. Exploding onto radio with “Time To Pretend” and “Kids, ” the synth-pop duo showed that Americans could do electro-rock as well as their Brits and the French. Sounding like a pop-friendly Flaming Lips, I had heard that their live show was abysmal, but my fears were quelled at Bonnaroo, putting on one of the best shows of the entire festival.

    04. TV On the Radio – Dear Science (“Halfway Home,” “Golden Age,” “Family Tree,” “Dancing Choose,” “Red Dress,” “DLZ,” “Shout Me Out”)
    What happens when an already great band gets even better? I didn’t think they would be able to top their last album, Return to Cookie Mountain, but TVOTR outdid themselves this time. “Halfway Home” opens the album on a series of ba-ba-ba-ba-dah’s and “Golden Age” trumps up the falsettos and question what’s it is like to “live in the age of miracles.” If I had to recommend one album for anyone to listen to from 2008, I’ll point them to this one, as they continue to live up to the insinuation that they are the American Radiohead.

    03. The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely (“Salute Your Solution,” “Old Enough,” “Consoler of the Lonely,” “The Switch and the Spur,” “Carolina Drama,” “Attention”)
    Jack White can do absolutely no wrong in my eyes, and when you give him a full band, watch out. “Salute Your Solution” is a swaggering call-and-response track that he would never be able to perform with his “sister,” and “The Switch and The Spur” adds in keyboards and brass instruments to compliment his already insane guitar work. If I had to choose between them and the Stripes, I’ll stick with Meg & Jack, but releasing an album like this makes it a tough decision.

    02. Crystal Castles – s/t (“Alice Practice,” “Vanished,” “Crimewave,” “Courtship Dating,” “Untrust Us,” “Tell Me what To Swallow’”)
    Crystal Castles are a hard band to like. Featuring glitchy, 8-bit electronic sound effects, and howling yawps from singer/vampress Alice Glass, they can be off-putting on first. Still, the futuristic vibes of the sounds are unyielding and highly impressionable, as they keyboard intro of “Crimewave” and electronic blips of “Alice Practice” will explode through your soul and get your ass into the middle of the dance floor. I was lucky enough to see Crystal Castles live twice this year, and I can’t stress this enough what an experience it is to see them live. It’s loud, it’s packed, it’s drunken, it’s glorious.

    01. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (“Constructive Summer,” “Yeah Sapphire,” “Sequestered in Memphis,” “Stay Positive,” “One For the Cutters,” “Slapped Actress,” “Lord, I’m Discouraged")
    Boys and Girls in America was my favorite album of 2006, so I’ve been anticipating The Hold Steady’s new album since then. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve heard that because I managed to get a leaked copy early and post an early review on my now defunct blog, the record label got upset and moved the release date up. It’s a good thing that review was a glowing one, because here THS produce a masterpiece on par with B&GIA. Lead singer Craig Finn still talk-sings about the difficulty of being a rocker in his 30s (“Constructive Summer,” “Stay Positive”) as well as continuing the tradition of retelling homespun American tragedies a’la Bruce (“One for the Cutters,” “Magazines”). The Hold Steady are, along with fellow Brooklyn band TV On The Radio, are two of the best bands in America, so it’s only fair that they release two of the finest albums of 2008.

    00. Vampire Weekend – s/t (Every song)
    This would definitely be in the top 3 of 2008, except I already reviewed it last year. You either love Vampire Weekend or you hate them. Considering I saw them thrice this year, it’s safe to say that I’m a big fan, but after listening to the same 12 or so songs for more than a year and a half, I’m intrigued as to where they will go next. Will they keep their afro-pop sound? And will they just be the biggest band of 2008, or will they manage to have a successful career? Only time will tell…