Looking over the numbers, this kinda jumped out at me: in 2007, I added 122 albums to my inventory, 58 of which were released that year. In 2008, I added 124 albums to my inventory, but only 37 came out this year.
Biggest Disappointment of 2008
- Del The Funky Homosapien, "Eleventh Hour"
- Portishead, "Third"
- TV on the Radio, "Dear Science"
- Black Keys, "Attack and Release"
- Beach House, "Devotion"
- M83, "Saturdays=Youth"
- Elbow, "The Seldom Seen Kid"
- The Field, "From Here We Go Sublime"
- The Kinks (Something Else, Muswell Hillbillies, Arthur, Village Green, Lola v. Powerman)
- Sly & The Family Stone (Fresh, Stand, There's a Riot Goin' On)
- The early U2 albums
- The complete R.E.M. (thanks Kath)
- Wu-Tang, "Enter the Wu-Tang"
- Notorious B.I.G., "Ready to Die"
- Nas, "Illmatic"
- Miles Davis, Complete In A Silent Way Sessions
- John Coltrane, Complete Africa/Brass Sessions
- Arvo Part
- The Final Solution ("Brotherman" OST)
- The Books
- Jimmy Giuffure 3
- The National
- Wolf Parade, "At Mount Zoomer"
- James Blackshaw, "Litany of Echoes"
- Department of Eagles, "In Ear Park"
- Fireman, "Electric Arguments"
- Maximo, "Girls Who Play Guitar"
- Silversun Pickups, "Lazy Eye"
- R.E.M., "Living Well is the Best Revenge"
- Black Keys, "Strange Times"
- Tokyo Police Club, "Your English Is Good"
- Death Cab, "Cath..."
- Bon Iver, "Re: Stacks"
- Blitzen Trapper, "God & Suicide"
- Sigur Ros, "Gobbledigook"
- The Big Sleep, "Pinkies"
- French Kicks, "Abandon"
- David Holmes, "I Heard Wonders"
- Dosh, "Wolves"
- The Dodos, "Walking"
- Vampire Weekend, "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
Best Albums of 2008
9. Beck, "Modern Guilt"
Speaking of favorite artists who haven't made a great album in a while, here's Beck at #9. I actually liked this record quite a lot and was quite surprised to see nobody talk about it. Danger Mouse is an interesting choice of collaborator for someone like Beck, and there's something about his production that gives this album an edgy, almost claustrophobic feel; see a track like "Replica" for what I mean.
8. Flight of the Conchords, s/t
What I like about FotC as opposed to Tenacious D is that these guys are actually pretty good songwriters; they kinda remind me of Ween, actually. Anyway, I liked this record far more than I thought I would, although maybe it's a little too high at #8. But again, as I said, it was kind of a down year.
7. The Sea and Cake, "Car Alarm"
Without a doubt the strongest album they've made in quite some time, which is a funny thing to say since at first glance it doesn't appear to be any different than their last few albums. This record doesn't meander, though, the way the last few did; there's something confident in their songwriting this time around; it has a sense of purpose.
6. The Police, "Certifiable (Live)"
I bought this on a whim over Thanksgiving, and boy am I glad I did; I missed their reunion tour and I'm still kinda kicking myself about it. This double album sounds fucking fantastic, and the new arrangements give the songs some surprising vitality. It's nice to hear Sting with some balls, again, and it's entirely because of Stewart Copeland.
5. Girl Talk, "Feed The Animals"
One of you had been talking about "Night Ripper" for a long time, and I could never track it down, and so I never understood that he was the ultimate mash-up DJ. I recently got my hands on both Night Ripper and Unstoppable, and they're both pretty terrific, but Feed The Animals has been my go-to party record for most of 2008. I first listened to it during a break at a recording session I was in, and we were all astonished at how musical it was, when we weren't bursting out laughing as we figured out what samples he was using. Busta Rhymes + The Police = win.
4. Fleet Foxes, s/t
I love it when a heavily hyped record actually turns out to be as good as advertised; it stops me from being too cynical. The vocals on this record are as astonishing as you've heard, and the songs are just absolutely gorgeous.
3. Deerhoof, "Offend Maggie"
These guys are just ridiculous. I don't know how to talk about Deerhoof without sounding like a raving lunatic; they're one of my favorite bands and they are absurdly prolific and I have absolutely no idea how to describe what it is they do or how they do it, and this is probably their best and most accessible album yet.
My choices for 1 and 2 have been flip-flopping in my head for about a month; might as well make it a coin toss. (flips coin, best of
2. Tokyo Police Club, "Elephant Shell"
I seem to perceive a bit of a backlash in the blogosphere against these guys, presumably because their first full-length could never pack as compact a punch as their ass-kickingly good EP, "A Lesson in Crime." I disagree - a full-length means there's more to love. I spent a few months this summer trying to write Tokyo Police Club songs; I never came close. There's some fantastic songs on this album, and while I currently feel too old to ever write and play with this much excitement, it somehow makes me feel like it's not a totally impossible dream.
1. Blitzen Trapper, "Furr"
I was totally caught off guard by this one; I kinda liked their last one but was already well on my way towards forgetting them entirely until I heard a few advance tracks at the beginning of the year; I was immediately taken aback by their maturity and depth. The album itself is stunning; top-notch songwriting from top to bottom. Kinda reminds me of a Southern Supergrass, if that makes any sense.