It always concerns me when compiling a list of favourite albums as I’m perpetually concerned that there is something out there I would include, if only I had heard it. And what about an album that slips my mind or that I listen to again and it sounds much better or worse than when I last heard it?
These dilemmas are no different to compiling a list of my favourite albums of the year. To narrow it down I have only considered new studio albums. No re-releases, compilations or DJ mix albums, however good!
So in no particular order, here goes…
1. Threatmantics – Upbeat Love
A great album full of energy, disparate noise and the odd slice of chaos; especially in the exceptional single Big Man.
2. Minilogue – Animals
Another great debut album. Two discs, one for ambient ketamine intoxicated chill out, the other more uptempo minimal techno. The latter works best for me and includes some perfect tracks such as We All, 33,000 Honeybees and Jamaica. I have also noticed Hitchhiker’s Choice is now being used for a Carphone Warehouse TV advert in the UK.
3. D_rradio – d_rradio & Remixed
Following the 2007 release of Underscore, a so-called “mini” album, 2008 saw d_rradio release their debut self-titled album. A beautiful album full of electronica bleeps and chilled calmness. Perfect for a lazy Sunday morning.
In September Distraction Records released a limited edition Remixed album, whereby each track from the debut album had been remixed by a fellow Distraction Records artist. The result was a wonderful album that stretch and built on the original d_rradio sound.
4. The Miserable Rich – Twelve Ways To Count
Yet another great debut album, and one that for the time being I see as becoming a classic. This album really struck a chord with me. Perfect timing I guess. Its melancholy is so reminiscent of Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley. I love this album.
5. Mogwai – The Hawk Is Howling
Another wonderful release from the brilliant Mogwai. The album starts off with a traditional Mogwai format. Slow, soft introductory track – the humourously titled I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead before launching into the progressive rock headspin of Batcat. Mogwai are still on the money.
6. Film Noir – I Had A very Hapy Childhud
Over the course of 2008 we received hundreds of emails from unsigned artists asking us to help promote their music. In most cases, as with signed artists, they are crap. But after listening to tracks on their MySpace page I agreed to review Film Noir’s album, I Had A Very Hapy Childhud; and it turned out to be one of the best albums of the year!
Film Noir are French but their music reminds me of the indie pop tracks of The Killers first album. Catchy indie pop songs that stick in your head, which isn’t bad for an unsigned group.
7. Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid – NYC
This is Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid’s third album. But after being disappointed with their debut I must have missed the second release altogether. I’m not sure this album is much different in format ( Hebden plays around with guitars and electronics while jazz drummer Steve Reid plays percussion) but it works for me.
This could possibly be one of those albums I referred to in my introduction as something that I might listen to again and not be in the right frame of mind. But for now it’s good to go.
8. Wild Beasts – Limbo, Panto
The wonderfully high-pitched singing style and some of the music arrangements reminds me of the late Billy Mackenzie & The Associates. But Wild Beasts are yet another example of a contemporary group making different waves in 2008; and there’s nothing better than hearing something original and unique in an ocean of blandness.
Furthermore, how can anyone not consider The Devil’s Crayon as the Single of the Year?
9. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
After enjoying their live appearance on Later With Jools Holland I eventually got round to listening to this only recently. But like many love the alt country/folk sound of this album. Like Wild Beasts and The Miserable Rich, Fleet Foxes stand out from their contemporaries. This album reminds me of the sixties harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
10. Cage The Elephant – Cage The Elephant
I was introduced to Cage The Elephant during BBC’s coverage of the Glastonbury Festival this summer. They looked as good as they sounded. Cage The Elephant are brilliant. Young wild youth displaying manic anarchist traits, full of youth, energy and spunk.
Try listening to Cage The Elephant’s Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked without nodding like one of those annoying car dogs.
More best albums of the year 2008
Caribou – Andorra
TV On The Radio – Dear Science
Yo! Majesty – Futuristically Speaking…Never Be Afraid
Modey Lemon – Season of Sweets
Laurel Collective – Feel Good Hits of a Nuclear Winter
Susumu Yokota – Love or Die
The Kills – Midnight Boom
Juliana Hatfield – How To Walk Away
Verve – Forth
The Black Angels – Directions to See a Ghost
Seasick Steve – I Started with Nothing & I Still Have Most of it Left
Animals by Minilogue wins Best CD Packaging of the Year award.