01. Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances - "Titus Andron"...mp3
The energy on the debut from this New Jersey band matches nothing I've heard yet this year. It's youthful, raw and lo-fi in all the right ways. Bright Eyes comparisons are obvious, but in this record I see the recklessness and passion I loved the first time I listened to Lifted...
02. Drive by Truckers - Brighter than Creation's Dark - After a lack-luster release in 2006, my favorite band returned with a huge record this year. Although a few songs could've been cut (sorry Shonna, but hang it up) most of these tunes sound like a mature band aging gracefully.
03. No Age - Nouns - "Eraser" mp3
Similarly doing well to capture a vibrant, lo-fi, rawness, No Age are also able to master the art of melody and actual songwriting. Two things many "noise rock" bands seem to tragically overlook all too often these days.
04. Thao with the Get Down Stay Down - We Brave Bee Stings and All
It was hard to put this album at #4, and it could very well see itself in a higher position at year's end. This album has proved the most consistently rewarding listen of the year. I've also seen her live about 30 times this year, and each time has been great. "Beat (Health, Life & Fire)" mp3
05. Sun Kil Moon - April
For whatever my opinion matters, earlier in the year, I called Mark Kozelek one of the best living American songwriters. April is yet another installment in his fantastic catalog. Gentle, sad and occasionally hopeful, this album is filled with rambling gems touched with folk, rock, and a classic wistful Americana.
06. Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Graves
After stumbling into an accidental meeting with his manager and eventually the "Tallest Man" himself - this has been one of the most surprising winners of 2008. Somehow the Sweedish born Kristian Mattson manages to capture the spirit of Appalachia, the melody of Nick Drake, and textures of early Dylan all in one extremely well written album.
07. Lykke Li - Youth Novels - "Dance Dance Dance" mp3
One of the most buzzed about albums of 2007 and 2008, Youth Novels holds up under all of the expectation. At once poppy and very European, Lykke Li manages to deliver catchy tunes in a girlish voice without ever sounding twee or precious. Inara George take note.
08. Beach House - Devotion - "Gila" mp3
This was strangely a slow grower. Whereas their first record was crisp, autumnal, and colorful, I thought Devotion felt too muted and rounded off. Yet, I grew to love its warmness and its closeness in the headphones - hence here it lies at number 8.
09. Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair
Thank goodness DFA records was part of EMI at the same time I was (earlier this year). That allowed me to send a few emails and obtain this gem of a record. It seemingly came out of nowhere with its amazing grooves, and soaring vocals from Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons). Great party record. Pick it up in July.
10. Dodos "Visiter" - "Ashley" mp3
One of the first good albums of '08, I just recently revisited this record and remembered why I liked it. It's ragged, and stripped down, yet each song manages to hold its structure. And drummer Logan Kroeber's rattling, propulsive beats are just amazing.
11. Dan Friel - Ghost Town - "In Ghost Town pt1"
Just added this one to my top selections here, but it's well worth it. At times reminiscent of fellow noise maker Dan Deacon, Friel's melodies are more infectious and stay with you longer. I'm looking forward to this getting even better over time.
The rest after the jump + more mp3s.
12.Quiet Village - Silent Movie
13. Caitlin Rose - Dead Flowers EP "Dead Flowers" mp3
14. Vetiver - Thing of the Past - "Blue Driver" mp3
15. Al Green - Lay it Down - "Lay it Down" - mp3
16. Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds, and Nigerian Blues
17. Samamidon - All is Well
18. Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Lie Down in the Light
19. Old 97s - Blame it on Gravity
20. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours