I don't know how people compile their top 50 albums of a year. I'm only compiling a top eight here and even that was a bit of an extended effort. Just hours and hours and hours of listening to albums, most of which were largely forgettable. And my list is only eight albums long. I can't imagine doing so much work for such little reward. I imagine there isn't always a lot of job satisfication being a critic.
Nevertheless, I do pay attention to some of these lists and it's always interesting to see which albums keep cropping up. This year's consensus seems to be along the lines of Frightened Rabbit, Cut Copy, Bon Iver and M83. Seeing as I haven't even listened to the latter three yet, my list is going to be a wee bit different. But that's the joy in lists; I'm going to seek out those albums now and maybe you'll pick up something new from my list.
EIGHT ALBUMS FOR 2008
8. Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - Angles
I'm very pleased to see this album appear on a few blogger best-ofs at least, although I still feel it's a bit underrated. The juxtaposition of Dan Le Sac's electronica and Scroobius Pip's spoken word created an intriguing pop album, both lyrically and musically. Sure, there's a fair bit of filler but it's far from the one-hit wonder exhibition that I expected.
Download: 'Thou Shalt Always Kill', 'Angles', 'Fixed'
7. Hot Club de Paris - Live At Dead Lake
Not a live album as the title deceives but a competent studio follow up to one of my favourite albums of any year, 'Drop It Till It Pops'. Showing their influences on their sleeves by including a Minutemen cover, their general jitter-pop sound remained. However, I felt it was a bit too understated. More a grower than a shower. And if you get confused with that line, I don't mean the apparatus for washing yourself. Mind you, the statement would still apply.
Download: 'Hey Housebrick', 'My Little Haunting', 'Sparrow Flew With Swallows Wings'
6. Thomas Tantrum - Thomas Tantrum
In the year of "wonky pop", I just don't understand how Thomas Tantrum have barely made a blip into the mainstream. A fantastically off-kilter twee-post-punk-pop band with killer singles, an attractive frontwoman, and Lily Allen bigging them up on MySpace. Remind me again why they're not massive?
Download: 'Work It', 'Swan Lake', 'Shake It Shake It'/[DOWNLOAD LIVE READING FESTIVAL 2008 VERSION]
5. Johnny Foreigner - Waited Up Til It Was Light
After leaving me waiting for about two years, Johnny Foreigner came up with the goods on their lively debut album, with almost all the classics on there. Strong proponents of Kinsella-core but not scared of melodies, something they exploit to wonderful effect.
Download: 'Yes! You Talk Too Fast', 'Salt, Peppa And Spinderella', 'Yr All Just Jealous'
4. These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid
A remarkably ambitious and refreshing album, especially considering this is a debut. For such an inventive and atmospheric album, there is a striking immediacy to 'Beat Pyramid'. There is so much more to them than being a new age version of The Fall.
Download: 'Navigate-Colours', 'Swords Of Truth', 'Elvis'
3. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
I've only been listening to this album for the last week or so but wow. I can see why it's topped so many polls, the album flows effortlessly. In years to come, I could well look back at this and consider it my favourite from 2008. Although it would take a lot to depose my top two. I'm sure you've read about this album in countless places by now.
Download: 'Family Tree', 'Halfway Home', 'Dancing Choose', (recent radio session [here])
2. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
Probably the 2008 album I was most looking forward to prior to its release. It didn't disappoint. A touching, emotive album with plenty of lyrical gems ("While I'm alive I'll make tiny changes to the Earth", "Jesus is just a Spanish boy's name" etc), its anthemic folk vibe has produced tremendous critical acclaim.
Download: 'The Twist', 'Head Rolls Off', 'The Modern Leper' (opening track on Keep Hope Inside podcast #7, listenable [here])
1. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
At the start of the year, I would never have guessed that this would be my favourite album of 2008. I didn't really get caught up in their hype and came to the album only in the second half of the year. I wish I could pinpoint the day when I first listened to the album. The African influences breathed fresh air into indie-pop and the album is so strong that almost any track could have feasibly been a hit single. An absolute pleasure to listen to.
Download: 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa', 'Campus', 'A-Punk'/[DOWNLOAD READING FESTIVAL 2008 VERSION]
So there's my somewhat unconventional list. I wasn't a big fan of some of the albums I've seen feature highly in other lists - things like Bloc Party and Mystery Jets, which were especially disappointing considering how much I've enjoyed their past material. Los Campesinos! would have snuck in at #9 but I'm still not sure which one of their two albums of 2008 I prefer more. I am gravitating towards their latter release after my dislike of the debut's abrasive production.
Next year I suggest you look out for debut offerings from Grammatics, Sky Larkin, Fanfarlo, Fight Like Apes and The Joy Formidable's Japanese LP. And then there'll be welcome returns for the likes of The National and Patrick Wolf hopefully. Although to be honest, I still have to work through this year's missed albums, like The Acorn, Cats In Paris, Why? etc....any other recommendations? Have a happy new year!