Top Albums of 2008

2008 was a bit underwhelming for music. A number of solid albums were released, but none that really caught my ear. It was a struggle putting together this list because I generally feel indifferent to most of the music I heard from the year. Overall it felt like the albums were either consistently good (not great) or had a few great songs along with a few not-so-great songs. So, with that onward we go…

No. 10
Nine Inch Nails - The Slip Cover
Nine Inch Nails
The Slip
May 5, 2008
The Null Corporation

Maybe it's the freedom of not being on a label, or maybe not, but this is the first Nine Inch Nails album I've enjoyed in quite a while (certainly the best since The Fragile). Nothing ground breaking, but solid throughout.

Highlights: Demon Seed, 1,000,000, Lights In the Sky

No. 9
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular Cover
MGMT
Oracular Spectacular
January 22, 2008
Columbia

It took a while for me to warm up to MGMT, but it was so nice to hear those thick, fuzzy guitars that I kept coming back for more. Some parts sound a bit over-the-top and potentially ridiculous, but as the songs come together everything seems to fit.

Highlights: Time To Pretend, The Youth, Electric Feel

No. 8
Beck - Modern Guilt Cover
Beck
Modern Guilt
July 8, 2008
Interscope

I was pleasantly surprised by Modern Guilt. Nothing on it is ground breaking for Beck, but there's not a bad song in the bunch. What you'll find here is more mature songwriting and more restrained production. The music benefits from both.

Highlights: Chemtrails, Walls, Modern Guilt

No. 7
TV on the Radio - Dear Science Cover
TV on the Radio
Dear Science
September 22, 2008
Interscope

TV on the Radio is such a mish-mash of genres that on paper it doesn't sound like something that should work, but it does...somehow they meld it all together and create something unique.

Highlights: Halfway Home, Love Dog, DLZ

No. 6
Duffy - Rockferry Cover
Duffy
Rockferry
March 3, 2008
Polydor

A 60's soul album with a few really great songs and not a single bad one. The album features strong songwriting, production, and arrangement, but what really makes this album is Duffy's singing.

Highlights: Rockferry, Mercy, Distant Dreamer

No. 5
The Black Keys - Attack & Release
The Black Keys
Attack & Release
April 1, 2008
Nonesuch

Here The Black Keys add a touch of the bayou into their blues/rock formula. Attack & Release lacks some of the consistency found on all of their previous efforts, but it's nice to hear a slight shift in direction.

Highlights: Lies, All You Ever Wanted, Psychotic Girl

No. 4
Deerhunter - Microcastle Cover
Deerhunter
Microcastle
October 28, 2008
Kranky

Deerhunter provides a very lo-fi rock feel that is very reminiscent of Sonic Youth. As such, it's taken a number of listens for the music to grow on me. The layers of guitar often provide a slow build to a climax that'll catch you off guard.

Highlights: Nothing Ever Happened, Agoraphobia, Twilight at Carbon Lake

No. 3
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park Cover
Department of Eagles
In Ear Park
October 7, 2008
4AD

A nice collection of concise songs oozing with subtlety. Many of the songs seem to find their way to an unexpected peak. In Ear Park is a deep album that takes a number of listens before it fully reveals itself.

Highlights: In Ear Park, No One Does It Like You, Floating on the Lehigh

No. 2
Portishead Cover
Portishead
Third
April 28, 2008
Island

After a decade of waiting, Portishead returns with an album that sounds nothing like their previous albums (outside of Beth Gibbons' trademark vocals). They did a great job of making good music that sounds distinctly Portishead while achieving relevance in 2008.

Highlights: The Rip, We Carry On, Silence

No. 1
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago Cover
Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago
February 19, 2008
Jagjaguwar

Simple music. Simple production. Simply beautiful.

Highlights: Flume, re: stacks, Skinny Love