Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Best Most Listened-To Albums of 2008

Who am I to say what the best music of the year is? I haven't listened to every album that has come out, and I'm no music critic. What I can do is say which albums captured my attention enough to listen to over and over. Luckily, Last.fm keeps track of what I listen to, so it's easy to see which albums those are. Here are the top 10 albums released in 2008.

(and don't miss the honourable mentions from a few days ago)

10. Portishead - Third: They took a decade to make this album, but it was so worth it. Portishead have pulled off something amazing; they've created an album that still sounds like their early work, but has evolved to the point where, even a decade later, following countless imitators, it sounds fresh and unique. I love this album.

9. Ladytron - Velocifero: Like some other albums on this list, a lot of Ladytron's appeal lies in nostalgia. In this case, for new wave Depeche Mode type music. But as with Portishead, it still sounds fresh. I think its dark, cold sound is especially fitting for these winter months.

8. The Killers - Day and Age: This just came out, but I guess I've already listened to it a whole lot. Like The Killers have been saying in interview after interview, Day and Age is little more than a continuation of their two previous full albums, which is not a bad thing since both of those were wonderful as well.

7. The Dears - Missiles: Sad but beautiful music. A rare album that starts off strong and builds as it goes, ending in the epic, powerful masterpiece Saviour. Love it.

6. Sia - Some People Have Real Problems: Even if you haven't heard of Sia, you'd probably recognize her voice from her work with other artists like Zero 7. Or her song from that final scene of Six Feet Under that makes me want to bawl every time I friggin hear it. But anyway, her latest solo album is a nice little collection of sweeping, powerful songs that I apparently listened to a lot. I don't know what the fuck is up with the album art though.

5. Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line: A solid album reminiscent of Vampire Weekend or Arcade Fire. Probably not much better than those, but I guess I listened to it more.

4. Justice - † (Cross): I'm surprised this isn't higher. Justice makes kickass upbeat music that makes you want to D.A.N.C.E. I put this on when I'm doing cardio and feel like I could run forever. Justice masterfully weaves noise and, more importantly, silence, into something beautiful.

3. Katy Perry - One of the Boys: Shit, this is embarrassing. But numbers don't lie. If I managed to sit through this more than most other albums this year, it must be quality music. I guess. Or maybe I just couldn't stop listening to I Kissed a Girl over and over again. Shut up, it's catchy.

2. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs: I was late on the Death Cab bandwagon. Bandcab? When I first heard of them a few years ago, I didn't see the big deal in their generic-sounding indie pop. But they grew on me with every album, culminating in Narrow Stairs this year. I'm even down with the 8.5 minute version of I Will Possess Your Heart; a song that should serve as inspiration for stalkers everywhere.

1. M83 - Saturdays = Youth: Not exactly an original "choice" for album of the year, but damn, what a great collection of songs. It somehow evokes nostalgia for the 80s without directly sounding like anything from that era. It's got upbeat pop songs and rambling chillout songs, all of them great. If you haven't already fallen in love with this album, go do so now.

One reason I'd make a crappy music critic is that I enjoy pretty much any competently created music I hear. But complaining anyway is fun, so...

Worst Album of the Year: Lady GaGa - The Fame: OK I love that Just Dance song. There are a few other catchy songs on there, but the depth of the lyrics can be summed up in one of her song titles: Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say).

There is probably a lot of great music that came out this year that I never even heard. So if you're thinking to yourself "awww, what about [band I like lots]?", you either have shitty taste in music, or I haven't heard it. You can just pretend it's the latter.

Now, what music did you listen to the most this year, and why aren't you blogging about it?


Sean Wraight said...

Inspired list there my friend. Nice to see M83 at the top. The Death Cab and Ra Ra Riot also great selections.

It's interesting all of your choices are influenced by the music of the 80's in some way or another; yet all of the artists truly exert their own imprint on the final product. Great choices.
Nice to see Portishead figure prominently. That is one amazing record! Dark and deeply affecting.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

This year I discovered all kinds of great music... Justice, Sufjan Stevens, The Comas, The Submarines, Earlimart, Northern Room, Rob Crow, (mentioned) Death Cab for Cutie, but most of all -- Pinback. All of the others wouldn't have been possible to find (on Last.fm) if it wasn't for recommends from Pinback. Good stuff. Good post. :)

Phronk said...

Sean: Thanks! Yeah you're right, a lot of these albums (here and the other list) are 80s-inspired. I dunno if it's something about the 80s coming back this year, or if I'm just getting old and nostalgic.

Harry: I love Pinback; I've been listening to Summer in Abaddon a whole bunch lately (partly inspired by seeing them so much on your Last.fm, methinks). I'll have to look up those other bands you mentioned. Thanks!

Dale said...

A nice list even if I know only a couple of the albums (Portishead and Sia). Happy phronkin' holidays!

High Power Rocketry said...

: )

Jenn said...

nice choices... but, if you're looking for add ons:
cut copy
crystal castles
land of talk
fleet foxes
(and i hate to but i have too) lil wayne

all came out with incredible albums this year.

Jenn said...

oh oh oh and chromeo?

Phronk said...

Woo thanks! I love what I've heard of Cut Copy and I've got Fleet Foxes on my big "music to get" bulletin board. Lil Wayne...man, everyone loves that dude, but every time I listen, all I hear is generic hip hop. Maybe you gotta hear the whole album or something.

Oh oh and Chromeo would've totally been on the list, but Fancy Footwork just missed out on 2008.

Teena in Toronto said...

I like the Killers a lot! And Katy Perry is okay too.

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