Tops of 2008/La Fin de l’Année

Top EPs/Mixtapes:
8: 10 Deep x DJ Benzi “The New Deal”
7: The Hood InternetThe Mixtape Volume Three
6: MetermaidsNightlife in Illinoise
5: Late of the PierThe Bears are Coming EP
4: Past LivesStrange Symmetry EP
3: Rhymefest & Mark Ronson Presents: Man in the Mirror
2: AmpLive Rainydayz Remixes
1: Mumford & SonsChess Club/Self Titled EP

Top 10 (Full Length) Albums of 2008

10: Sigur Rós – Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust

Brighter than an Icelandic winter, Með departed the group from the more atmospheric driftings of previous works to ground itself. It’s light-hearted throughout, lacking many of the epic opuses save for two stunningly gorgeous 9 minute pinnacles.

9: Lykke Li – Youth Novels

Whenever I’m confused, genuinely confused, it’s usually a good thing. Coming off of Peter, Bjorn, and John‘s dominance of 2007, this Swedish artist edged closer towards Bjork territory without coming across otherworldly and bizarre. Breaking It Up easily is in my top 5 songs of the year.

8: Zaho – Dima

The Algerian-born French urban pop singer never left the speakers this entire year, a feat in itself for French music. It’s accessible, yet retains the brushstrokes of her past (the final track being an Arab version). Think Nelly Furtado‘s Whoa Nelly! (2000), today, but sung in French.

7: Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster…

Doubling up the year with two full-lengths, the first was an undeniable indie pop flawless gem. It was tighter than their second, and featured the most clever, sarcastic lyrics of the year. It lasted most of the year, but was easily topped by the indie pop/punk of another UK group.

6: Doomtree – Doomtree

I’ll be honest. I grew up in Minnesota. But you cannot deny the collective creative conscious behind the official debut from these 5 MCs/4 producers. Spanning so many smaller splinters of hip hop, the Doomtree collective came out with something for everyone-even those who don’t like rap.

5: Q-Tip – The Renaissance

“What good’s an ear if a Q-Tip isn’t in it?” Welcome back.

4: Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak

From the MTV Awards debut to its released, I was captivated that he was stretching away from the radio-friendly Stronger and Gold Digger to focus on himself. Thankfully, it’s in a non-narcassistic way on 808s. Kanye takes the spotlight and shines it back at you, unveiling himself as well as what stardom has done to his life without sacrificing one or the other.

3: Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold

Ok, you’re Slug & Ant. You just finished releasing 4 EPs, one for each season, in addition to a free party album, all within a year. That’s over 30 songs. How do you top it? You release a studio album that blows all of them away, ditching the emo-rap that got you where you are today for twisted tale telling coupled with…a children’s book? Oh, and you get Tunde from TV on the Radio for one track and Tom Waits beatboxing on another. Try topping that, hip hop/rap.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEZseJ1Wuq8&hl=en&fs=1]

2: Johnny Foreigner – Waited Up ‘Til It Was Light

Eyes Wide Terrified is my favorite song of the year, never wearing down. The rest of the album does indie pop/punk succinctly and perfectly. There’s no wandering around, no questioning moments of “should we be serious or fun.” The UK three-piece can take off and stop faster than any other band, coupled with unbelievably complex punk drumming and Kelly Southern’s vocals swinging from sweet to screaming on a dime. They’ve managed to even become atmospheric at times, as on Absolute Balance, after stripping down to keys and a (near) drum machine beat on Salt, Pepa and Spinderella. Most exciting sounding band of the year.

1: Why? – Alopecia

I liked Why? a few years ago with Oaklandazulasylum (Anticon, 2003) but was turned off by how awkward it sounded, so naturally I put them aside into that “Take in small doses” drawer. 2008 came and Alopecia put them on the mantel, proudly on display. Jonathan Wolf’s hip hop lyricism, near-spoken word delivery coupled with the best indie rock musicianship behind him made this my top album of the year. I can’t get over the 1960s poppy feel of Fatalist Palmistry, starting off with “I sleep on my back because it’s good for the spine…aaaand coffin rehearsal.” Yes, I didn’t listen to it as much as some of the others, but damn…this is genius.

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