Best albums of 2008
April 17, 2009 11:26 AM   Subscribe

What were the best albums of 2008?

I just realized that I've only got about a dozen albums from last year. I generally enjoy Metafilter's taste in music, so what were the standouts for you? Any genre, new artists or just new releases.

I've already got (and recommend) Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes, Girl Talk: Feed the Animals, Muse: HAARP, and God is an Astronaut: God is an Astronaut.
posted by Who_Am_I to Media & Arts (49 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Not to snark, but there are probably about ten thousand media outlets who answered this question for you at New Year's. Of course, it's a subjective question, but Ask Mefi is just as likely to be biased as P4K or whatever.

That being said, I really liked Hype Machine's Music Zeitgiest Round-Up; you can stream and fully listen to the top 50 albums, songs, and artists of 2008. Legally. Really.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:30 AM on April 17, 2009 [6 favorites]

The Night Marchers really hit the spot for me last year.
posted by Atom12 at 11:31 AM on April 17, 2009

Deerhunter's Microcastle and Weird Era Cont.
TV on the Radio's Dear Science,
Man Man's Rabbit Habits
M83's Saturdays = Youth
Mogwai's The Hawk is Howling
posted by The Michael The at 11:32 AM on April 17, 2009

Lenka - Lenka

can not get enough of that album
posted by nadawi at 11:37 AM on April 17, 2009

Fleet Foxes were at the top of the list on NPR Listener's Top 25 CDs of 2008. I'll bet you would like many of the other picks.
posted by diogenes at 11:37 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

London Zoo by The Bug
Fed by Plush
Dear Science, by TV On The Radio
Exit by Shugo Tokumaru
For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver
Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Hercules And Love Affair by Hercules And Love Affair
Robyn by Robyn

well he asked
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:37 AM on April 17, 2009

Response by poster: Not to snark, but there are probably about ten thousand media outlets who answered this question for you at New Year's.

True, but I don't have a media outlet that I trust as much as MetaFilter, and I've had good luck with music recommendations from here before. I'll check out the Hype Machine Round-Up, thanks!
posted by Who_Am_I at 11:39 AM on April 17, 2009

Vampire Weekend! The link is to a video of them.
posted by sickinthehead at 11:40 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Delta Spirit's Ode to Sunshine
posted by erikgrande at 11:43 AM on April 17, 2009

An overview.
posted by fire&wings at 11:43 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'll throw my hat into the ring.

Ryan Adams - Cardinology
The Presets - Apocalypso
Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer
Annuals - Such Fun
Ladyhawke - S/T
Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line

Check out a few tracks on or whatever and see what you think!
posted by King Bee at 11:48 AM on April 17, 2009

I really liked Byrne and Eno's Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.
posted by pasici at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath
M83 - Saturdays = Youth
Fennesz - Black Sea
posted by sinfony at 11:53 AM on April 17, 2009

Seconding Deerhunter.
posted by spicynuts at 12:05 PM on April 17, 2009

What, no Shearwater - Rook?
posted by SamuelBowman at 12:18 PM on April 17, 2009

Pretty. Odd.

By Panic At The Disco
posted by markjamesmurphy at 12:25 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

This Gift by Sons and Daughters
Rain by Joe Jackson
Antidotes by Foals
Night Drive by Chromatics
Get Awkward by Be Your Own Pet
Casting Shadows by the Black Hollies
S/T by Jean on Jean
Drippers by Black Moth Super Rainbow
Alpinisms by School of the Seven Bells
Fantasy Black Channel by Late of the Pier
Velocifero by Ladytron

And many of those mentioned above by others (specifically Amanda Palmer, Fennesz, Ra Ra Riot, and Hercules & Love Affair)
posted by activitystory at 12:27 PM on April 17, 2009; go to the "2008 end of year lists".
posted by dfan at 12:56 PM on April 17, 2009

Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
My Brightest Diamond - A Thousand Shark's Teeth
Uh Huh Her - Common Reaction
Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

Avishai Cohen Trio - Gently Disturbed (jazz piano, bass, drums)
Enrico Pieranunzi - album of Scarlatti sonatas mixed with improvisations
Erik Friedlander - Broken Arm Trio (pizzicato cello, bass, drums) (go here and look for 2 free mp3s on the right)

More lists, by friends of mine: boingy boingy, letters home from camp.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:09 PM on April 17, 2009

Not to snark, but...

...this question gets asked every year and never gets deleted, so apparently it's fine.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:11 PM on April 17, 2009

We put together this cool feature where we asked music bloggers around the country to list the best albums from the cities they covered. Tons of good, obscure stuff here:

(Sorry if this is too blatantly self-promoting, but hopefully it answers your question in a unique way.)
posted by martens at 1:23 PM on April 17, 2009

Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
The Dodos - Visiter

Two of my favorites from 2008.
posted by yeti at 1:24 PM on April 17, 2009

My favourite of 2008 was Margot & The Nuclear So and So's - Not Animal.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 1:32 PM on April 17, 2009

Seconding TV on the Radio. Vampire Weekend sucks.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:37 PM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Lykke Li - Youth Novels
posted by Shesthefastest at 1:51 PM on April 17, 2009


MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
TV on the Radio - Dear Science

Others not mentioned:

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's - Animal
Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty
What Made Milwaukee Famous - What Doesn't Kill Us

...oh, i am sure there are more, but you really should check those out.
posted by Black_Umbrella at 1:53 PM on April 17, 2009

Vampire Weekend sucks


Mentioned above but not in my initial suggestions:

Fennesz - Black Sea
Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

Both really good. Not in my "Best of the Year" category, but still really good.
posted by The Michael The at 2:27 PM on April 17, 2009

Haven't read through the other answers, so maybe this is a repeat, but Hype Machine listed the best, according to bloggers. My personal favs off this list are Bon Iver (excellent), Sigur Ros (excellent), and Fleet Foxes (probably my personal #1).

Hype Machine Top 10
posted by crapples at 2:39 PM on April 17, 2009

Volume One by She & Him is wonderful, and Stay Positive by The Hold Steady is quite good as well.
posted by questionsandanchors at 2:53 PM on April 17, 2009

Delta Spirit's Ode to Sunshine

posted by dogwalker at 3:05 PM on April 17, 2009

Nthing Byrne/Eno and MGMT, and also recommending of Montreal's "Skeletal Lamping." I think a lot of critics were overly harsh on it, as it was (IMHO) the most creative and unique thing to come out last year. It's really weird, but in the best way possible.
posted by rebel_rebel at 3:15 PM on April 17, 2009

Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, and Shearwater from above, plus maybe MGMT.

Adding Noah and the Whale 'Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down' and Glasvegas 'Glasvegas'.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:19 PM on April 17, 2009

some not mentioned

women - self titled
walkmen - you & me
the tallest man on earth - shallow graves
squarepusher - just a souvenir
the sight below - glider
parenthetical girls - entanglements
the music tapes - for clouds and tornadoes
mount eerie - lost wisdom
lindstrøm - where you go i go too
lil wayne - tha carter III
james blackshaw - litany of echoes
gregg porter - final final EP
flying lotus - los angeles
the felice brothers - self titled
elbow - the seldom seen kid
earth - the bees made honey in the lion's skull
the dutchess and the duke - she's the dutchess, he's the duke
dungen - 4
the donkeys - living on the other side
department of eagles - in ear park
deerhoof - offend maggie
brightblack morning light - motion to rejoin
bonnie 'prince' billy - lie down in the light
blitzen trapper - furr
black mountain - in the future
beck - modern guilt

seconding deerhunter, hercules and love affair, bon iver, nick cave, and man man.
posted by saul wright at 4:39 PM on April 17, 2009

Definitely seconding Bedlam in Goliath.

Lau - Live
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Old Money

And, god, a whole bunch of others, but I can't work out from my collection what all was last year's releases! Must retag and organise a library...
posted by opsin at 6:13 PM on April 17, 2009

Ill add Starling Electric, especially if you liked Fleet Foxes (which is excellent).
posted by elendil71 at 7:14 PM on April 17, 2009

Dr. Dog - Fate
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
The Dodos - Visiter
Thievery Corporation - Radio Retaliation
Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue
Adele - 19
Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now Youngster
Baby Charles - s/t
posted by wearyaswater at 7:39 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

This has been mentioned briefly, but I think it needs to be said again:

I did somewhat enjoy the Byrne/Eno album - a fun jam - and squarepusher's new one wasn't that bad. But this year was a pretty thin one; it's not the first thin one, either. There hasn't been a really good year in music in a long time.

However, in my mind, there was one ray of light. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' fantastic opus Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! is the best new album I've heard in years. He's been at the height of his powers for ten years now - and he just keeps churning out great albums - but Dig is, to my mind, a sort of return to the form of Nick's epic late-80's era of Your Funeral... My Trial and Tender Prey. It's a thematic record with the same incredible depth of lyricism that Nick's been consistently reaching year after year for thirty years; he chooses Homer's Odyssey as a central motif, and he manages to throw in enough pointers to cool but obscure shit that the whole thing is a hell of a lot of fun.

It's not only a fantastic record; it also goes beyond what he's been able to do before. I feel this way because the record's pervaded by a kind of confidence and humor that I've never heard in him before. Really, he's more able to laugh at himself and stay light on this record than I think he's ever been; the new shit-eating moustache only seals the deal. Hearing him muse gently about the weird journey he's on as he rides into the sunset of "More News From Nowhere" is pretty fucking cool, after the raging crescendo of Murder Ballads and the aching brokenness that came with The Boatman's Call and No More Shall We Part and even lingered through The Lyre Of Orpheus. It's like the guy's come home. And that would be enough... the fact that he's still capable of rage and dramatic explications of the truth like "We Call Upon The Author To Explain" is just an added proof that he's the best songwriter of the punk generation.
posted by koeselitz at 9:29 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Aimee Mann album (@#%&*! Smilers - the word "Fucking" is replaced by those "cussin'" comic-book symbols, in a move that really irritated me for some reason) was the only thing I really loved in '08. I don't know how broad her audience is anymore -I don't think this was even reviewed in Pitchfork; I think she generally bores the indie crowd, which I don't understand- but she's one of the best.

YouTube link to "It's Over."
posted by thesmallmachine at 12:30 AM on April 18, 2009

Flying Lotus - Los Angeles
DJ /rupture - Uproot
Santogold - Santogold
Ragga Twins - Ragga Twins Step Out Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
The Bug - London Zoo
& the Eno/Byrne one.
posted by ageispolis at 1:20 AM on April 18, 2009

Cut Copy In Ghost Colours. Also seconding Lindstrom and M83.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 4:23 AM on April 18, 2009

Not to toot my own horn, but I write a music blog, and here was my Top 11 of 2008:

Laura Marling-"Alas I Cannot Swim"
Builders and the Butchers-"S/T"
British Sea Power-"Do You Like Rock Music?"
Horse Feathers-"House with No Name"
Anathallo-"Canopy Glow"
Bonnie "Prince" Billy-"Lie Down in the Light"
Emmylou Harris-"All I Intended to Be"
Elbow-"The Seldom Seen Kid"
The Duke Spirit-"Neptune"
The Lovely Sparrows-"Bury the Cynics"
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 9:25 PM on April 18, 2009

It's unfathomable to me that nobody here mentioned Kanye West's "808s and Heartbreak".
posted by anildash at 10:28 PM on April 18, 2009

About Of Montreal's Skeletal Lamping -- could someone who listed this suggest a song or two I should listen to to get into it? I'm a fan of theirs based on some of their earlier albums (The Sunlandic Twins, which I used to listen to constantly, Satanic Panic in the Attic, and Aldhils Arboretum), but I listened to the first few songs of their latest and thought it was pretty consistently bad.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:06 PM on April 20, 2009

Jaltcoh: It's hard to suggest tracks off of Skeletal Lamping because it's really intended to all flow together. Even within a single track, there are a lot of fragments that are drastically different and transition from one to another quickly. I guess the most accessible tracks on the album would be the singles, "Id Engager" and "An Eluardian Instance," as well as "For Our Elegant Caste" (that's the one that starts out "We can do it softcore if you want..."). But really, try listening to it straight through a few times and let it grow on you. I think that part of what makes it so cool is its emphasis on the "album" format, as opposed to the single-serve, songs-sold-individually mindset that is more prevalent these days.

Sorry to geek out there. I loves me some of Montreal, and I think that it's easy to dismiss them as gimmicky or too out-there, when really they are doing some super-creative stuff.
posted by rebel_rebel at 4:17 PM on April 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

This seems to be a thread mostly about white guys singing softly, for better or worse.
posted by talldean at 5:45 AM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Meh, I'm being an idiot.

Anyways, Mochipet, Bassnectar, and Andrew Bird would make my list.
Hip hop/glitch, dubstep/upbeat glitchy breaks, and a whistling violinist.

Nine Inch Nails "Ghosts" was interesting, if only because it was released nearly as an open source album, and wasn't bad to boot. MGMT was good, hell, Coldplay was good this year.

Atmosphere's "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold" wins for being good hip hop *and* having the best album name of the year. Murs "Murs For President" was something I picked up on a whim, after hearing Z-Trip's "Breakfast of Champions", and that was worth it too. Upbeat hip hop? Who knew? Flying Lotus' Los Angeles is also a winner, with, well, just music and no MC, but still hip hop.
posted by talldean at 3:35 PM on April 21, 2009

Builders and the Butchers-"S/T"

Oh man, that album is awesome. Forgot it was a 2008 release, feels like it's been around for years. Great live band too.
posted by dogwalker at 6:23 PM on April 21, 2009

I'd like to second the Dodos - Visiter.

rebel_rebel: Thanks, I'll give it a try.

This seems to be a thread mostly about white guys singing softly

Is there anything wrong with that? So what if they're white?
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:57 AM on April 23, 2009

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