Feel free to disagree. That's the beauty of art. One person's Picasso is another person's carbon copy waiting room art, (although I don't think anyone is disputing the genius of Picasso). I can't say I agree with half of Rolling Stone's Top 50, and several picks by Pitchfork, Mojo, and other big name publications made me cringe. Hate it or Love it here it is (in no particular order):
Sidenote: I was going to explain the awesomeness of each, but I wrote eight descriptions and plum tuckered myself out. So just know that every album is purchase worthy. Seriously.
1. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
My Facebook status on September 16, 2008 (the release of Dear Science)? "TV on the Radio just saved this year in music." Light Years ahead of their time, TVOTR has hit a stride many other artists can only aspire to. With music that is politically aware, socially relevant, genre-blending and breaking with satirical ease, these fab five embody the "Brooklyn: We go hard" sentiment. I couldn't have asked for more in a single release.
TV on the Radio - Family Tree
2. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
Anthem after generational anthem, this record refuses to quit. Completely enjoyable and conceptually advanced, MGMT restored the cool factor to synthesizers in 2008. "Time to Pretend" refused to leave my Top Play Count, and it is physically impossible to suppress the urge to dance when "Kids" blares over my speakers. Whether this album was released to psychedelic hippies in the 1970's or new-wave electro/glam rockers in the 1980's, it would have been a success. Lucky for us, the chosen generation, Oracular made 2008 Spectacular.
3. Hot Chip - Made in the Dark
Perhaps I'm biased on this one, because I've loved every minute of Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard's British electro-pop genius since their 2004 debut, Coming on Strong. Something tells me it's not just my obsession with the quirky quintet however, that makes this record a non-stop dancathon. It could be their legendary live performances, fearless beats, or poetic (and often hilarious) lyricism that sets them apart, but for me, it's been watching this hipster band evolve from melodic darlings into full-on party-starting sensations.
4. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Gotta love the Seattle Sub Pop indie superstars who made a HUGE splash with their self-titled release. Despite emerging artist status, Fleet Foxes secured themselves a permanent place on many a record shelf, as evidenced by their #53 placement in KEXP's Top 903 Listener Favorites. That's all-time favorite albums people! They beat out Portishead's Dummy, R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People, and Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, among 800 plus others. Although time will be the true test of sustainability, the melodic arrangements and folksy chords of "White Winter Hymnal" and "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" are sure to remain in my heart.
5. Santogold - Santogold
"Here all the folks ask about me / Band wagon, know they used to doubt me / Blind side tends to hit real hard / You should heed the warning, get a body guard." With lyrics that don't just bite, but rather devour you with wit, cynicism, and brash honesty, Santi White turned more than a few heads last year. Rolling Stone called her "One 'Paper Planes' away from being the new M.I.A." which I found slightly offensive, because despite the similarities in some African beat derivation, the two artists have completely unique styles. For instance, White brings her former punk rock front-woman experience to the table. Not all female hip-hop hipsters are the same RS. Bottom Line: An amazing record from start to finish.
6. The Black Keys - Attack and Release
Everything Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney touches turns to garage R&B classic. I don't what they're drinking in the water over in Akron, OH that allowed two midwest white boys to channel all the soulful pain and heartache of blues masters like James Brown. But won't we all just lose out if they stop drinking the Kool Aid. Attack and Release is yet another example of this band's staying power. It doesn't hurt to have a lil' Danger Mouse production touch either.
7. BB King - One Kind Favor
Chalk full of stunning tracks from a timeless master, One Kind Favor is a clear reminder why 83-year old King is still the unequivocal blues man. BB King fans are treated to more of what we love, and newcomers get a down to earth, gritty introduction to greatness.
BB King - I Get So Weary
8. Diplo / Santogold - Top Ranking (Mixtape)
If you're not excited for Diplo's upcoming release Decent Work for Decent Pay (Collected Works Volume One) then take another look at this masterpiece. Two of the industries most buzzed about acts team up to rework their own genius, as well as classic tracks by The Clash, The Dixie Cups, and The B-52's, among others. Top Ranking seems a most appropriate title for this dance floor blitz.
9. Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It
10. Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
11. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig Lazarus Dig!!!
12. David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
13. The Clash - Live at Shea Stadium
14. The Kills - Midnight Boom
15. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
16. Beach House - Devotion
17. Mr. Oizo - Lamb's Anger
18. Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair
19. Bon Iver - For Emma, Long Ago
20. Portishead - The Third
21. Sons and Daughters - This Gift
22. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
23. Tim Fite - Fair Ain't Fair
24. The Bug - London Zoo
25. Sigur Ros - Med Sud i Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
Runners - Up:
1. Lykke Li - Youth Novels
2. Sam Sparro - Black and Gold
3. French Kicks - Swimming
4. The Knux - Remind Me in Three Days
5. Mavis Staples - Hope at the Hideout: Live
6. Wale - Mixtape About Nothing
7. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
8. Bob Dylan - Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
9. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
10. Bonnie " Prince" Billy - Lie Down in the Light
Fell Short of Expectiations/Didn't Match the Hype (Not saying I didn't still enjoy):
1. Kings of Leon - Only by the Night
2. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
3. Coldplay - Viva La Vida
4. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
5. Brian Wilson - That Lucky Old Sun
Feel free to tell me my picks suck, I'd do the same for you. Just give a reason why. Also, if you're the umpteenth person to be up in arms about Kings of Leon, go ahead, fight me. I've got a black belt in irresolvable conflict. Plus I've been a huge fan since Youth and Young Manhood so I've got plenty of reasoning stockpiled in my arsenal .
Peace, Love, and 2008 Closure,