I know, it's early, there's still an entire month left before 2009...but glancing at Amazon's "New Release" list, I can't see anything coming out between now and the end of the month that would change my mind. (Other than a Cat Power vinyl EP...grrrr...)
Unlike movies, (which I hope to actually get done THIS YEAR) the music industry doesn't wait until the last possible second to release the best it has to offer. So without further ado, here's my picks for the Top 10 Albums of 2008:
10. SHE & HIM * VOLUME: 1
I've loved Zooey Deschanel's voice ever since she sang "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Leon Redbone on the ELF soundtrack. M. Ward, I actually passed off as just another singer-songwriter who's friends with Jack Johnson. But together, they created one of the sweetest, most romantic melodies of the year. Try and not get goosebumps while listening to "You Really Gotta Hold On Me." It's impossible.
9. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS * DIG!!! LAZARUS, DIG!!!
Still randy off singing "No Pussy Blues" from his Grinderman days, Nick Cave brought his Bad Seeds along on a wild and adventurous ride following Lazarus's tale of coming back to life. Songs like, "Lie Down Here (And Be My Girl)" and "We Call Upon The Author" demand your full attention, or else there will be consequences.
8. DAVID BYRNE & BRIAN ENO * EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS WILL HAPPEN TODAY
This album would probably be ranked higher if it didn't just come out a couple weeks ago. I've listened to it repeatedly ever since I bought it, and love most of the tracks. A few here and there wander off too far for my taste, but given enough time, I probably would have fallen in love with them all. Give "Life is Long" a spin and see if you dig it as much as I do.
7. FOXBORO HOT TUBS * STOP DROP AND ROLL!!!
I'm a sucker for 50's type sock-hop music. You give me a backbeat, and I'm all yours. Toss in the members of Green Day and a sense of fun and nonsense, and I'm swooning. This record just encompassed the fact that you can sell millions of albums, win plenty of Grammy awards, and still make a silly, pointless album. They are so carefree and loose on here, and songs like "Mother Mary" just echo the call that more bands should try this.
6. RANDY NEWMAN * HARPS & ANGELS
Yes, he's that old guy who sang the Toy Story song. He's also one of the sharpest wits out there and can write a sad love song that can rip your heart out straight from your chest. Oh, and he's damn funny. Basically, he's insanely awesome and you should feel like a total asshole for assuming he's lame. Even Amazon doesn't respect him enough to make his album picture regular size. Go listen to "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" and educate yourself...fool.
5. BOB DYLAN * TELL TALE SIGNS: BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 8
Everyone knows I'm a huge Bob Dylan fan. Especially late Dylan. Sure, "Blood on the Tracks" is a classic, but "Time Out of Mind" is the best for me. Lucky for me, this collection of out-takes and B-sides focus mostly off that album and ones thereafter. It's two discs of bliss, (if you're a Dylan fan, obviously. Molly would define it as "torture.") and songs like "Red River Shore" are so good, you wonder how they ended up on the cutting room floor.
4. VAMPIRE WEEKEND
Much like the David Byrne & Brian Eno album, this one is probably suffering from the time it was released. But in this one's case, it's the fact that it's nearly a year old now. Don't get me wrong, it was one of the few albums to match the humongous hype surrounding it, but it's kind of slid a lil' bit in recent months. I love it like it's the 2nd child I'll never have. The other three albums before it are mighty awesome and wonderful...and Vampire Weekend is good too. Just in a different way.
3. LITTLE JOY
A side project from the drummer of The Strokes and the guitarist from Los Hermanos, Little Joy is probably my biggest surprise of the year. It caught me off-guard and completely stole my heart. A cross between The Velvet Underground (with Nico!) and sipping fruity drinks on the beach, this album will make you smile. Period. It's simple, romantic, and short enough that each listen leaves you longing for more. What more could you ask for from a record? Listen to "Don't Watch Me Dancing" and remember what it feels like to get swept off your feet.
2. RA RA RIOT * THE RHUMB LINE
The circumstances surrounding the recording of this album are tragic and weigh heavy on the sound they were able to achieve. Their drummer drown in the ocean following a concert in Massachusetts, and as a band, they had to make the difficult decision of continuing on without him. With only an EP under their belt, The Rhumb Line is actually their debut, and it's simply remarkable. They create a rich sound with stings, dual vocals, and just incredibly catchy pop melodies. This album is top notch and all around a treat for your senses. It took me to the East Coast, even though I've never been to New England. See where songs like, "St. Peter's Day Festival" take you.
1. ELBOW * THE SELDOM SEEN KID
Easily the best album of the year. I made that statement when I bought it, and throughout the entire year, nothing was able to beat it. It's glorious, it's epic, it's outstanding in scope and purpose. Elbow set out to make a masterpiece and they delivered. Each and every song sets the bar higher. This is truly the reason people come up with "Albums of the Year." To showcase something that slides in under the radar. Something that captures the essence of why we all adore music so much. Songs like "One Day Like This" prove that this band is no fluke, and that this record deserves all the praise it can get.