Monday, December 22, 2008

The Alphabetic Order's Best Albums of 2008

2008 was an exciting year for new-comers to the scene; three of our top 10 released debut albums this year (Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Titus Andronicus), with six others following in the list. New trends also emerged, with the invasion of Swedish indie rock from groups such as El Perro Del Mar and Lykke Li, as well as the mashup genre becoming extremely popular (lead by Girl Talk and E-603).

Unfortunately, due to TAO getting started up well into 2008, we had a rather difficult time making our way through all the latest albums released this year. Surely we missed out on many…which is where all of you come in to play. We encourage you to leave comments about where our choices stand in your mind. What totally rad band ruled this year but didn’t get the respect they deserve? Which albums did you think sucked but were featured in our list? Or, leave a “Best of 2008” list of your own.

The TAO staff would like to thank all of our readers for the tremendous support you’ve given us and the new site. We hope everyone has a happy holiday season and a most excellent new year. Enjoy the list!

**You can sample each artist by clicking the link attached to each name.

A great mashup album that will keep all you ADD music fans occupied for hours.

The only comedy album on here, that should say something.

38. EL PERRO DEL MAR – From the Valley to the Stars (Licking Fingers/The Control Group)

Lo-fi twee pop – whatever the hell that means – it’s good though.

Indie crooner from The Moldy Peaches works very, very well solo.

Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) and Miles Kane (The Rascals) – two wildly popular musicians in the UK – collaborate to give us a great taste of how rock still rules in the old country.

A surprising top-40 of the year. Oberst gives us a great acoustic album for any given lazy summer afternoon.

34. Q-TIP – The Renaissance (Universal/Motown)

Q-Tip’s perfectly-timed flow with classic beats continues to work just as well as it did back in the day.

Some more great austere yet quirky indie rock from this Minnesota quartet.

32. COOL KIDS – The Bake Sale EP (Chocolate Industries)

A more than respectable throw back to the days of minimal tick/clap beats and 808s from this Chicago duo.

This London quintet comes out with another stimulating mix of electro-pop.

30. NINE INCH NAILS – The Slip (self-released)

Reznor produced industrial rock. Another freebie for you from a band that still has it.

A fantastic debut album from this newly-wed duo, with songs about all the classic bluegrass themes: broken hearts, the devil, and love. There’s something especially intriguing about two Australians recreating a traditionally American genre so perfectly.

28. BLOC PARTY – Intimacy (Atlantic)

These Brits keep us satisfied with another solid album after critically acclaimed Silent Alarm.

New York angst and strong songwriting make you want to start a band and tour the best dives in America.

This new member of the Swedish invasion is loud, anxiety-ridden, and occasionally simply astounding.

25. SLOW RUNNER – Mermaids (self-released)
This "substitute teacher by day and songwriter by night" somehow created one of the year’s best albums about love and relationships. A soft one, but serves its purpose when you need it most.

Swedish indie folk pop’s debut album makes you want to move to the fjords with nothing but love.

?uestlove produced and much awaited return album gets my pants off, fast.

A great rock/pop (not heavy, but not soft) album with songs about everything across the board.

Holy shit, that power comes from 3 guys? It’s the return of arena rock that will melt your face off. Not kidding…caution advised.

20. BECK – Modern Guilt (Interscope)

Though no longer at his creative peak, Modern Guilt is still standard Beck awesomeness, just way too short.

Girl Talk impressively mashes well over 10 songs on each track. Rap + nostalgia rock = your best friend…for about 2 weeks.

The “Sublime of the ivy leagues” assaults with catchy pretentious radio tunes.

17. THE DODOS – Visiter (Frenchkiss)

A San Francisco-based acoustic/percussion combo that is as calm and catchy as it is maniacal and emotional.

16. SANTOGOLD – Santogold (Downtown/Lizard King)

Insert entire album into your party mix.

Smooth, smart lyrics and fresh beats; another classic from Slug and Ant. They bring their deep poetic flow back on their 6th studio album.

Don’t be intimidated by the name. DIOYY provides one of the most eclectic mixes of sound of the year, ranging from ‘80s pop-punk to electronica.

Indie acoustica revolution.

Ohio’s own Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney continuing to do what they do best – crunchy blues riff-rock – though now featuring the distinctive touch of mastermind DJ Danger Mouse.

Good ol’ rock ‘n roll with somewhat of an indie twist. This Austin trio breaks loose with thick catchy riffs and straight-talkin’ vox.…we dig it.

10. FOALS – Antidotes (Transgressive/Sub Pop)

The best prog-rock/jam-band/UK indie music ever made...if there’s any of that to compare them to. The virtuosic guitar/percussion combo is fascinating enough in itself.

No, not the Shakespeare tragedy, think rather if Conor Oberst snapped and started playing dirty garage rock. Ah, much better. (thanks for that one Cody)

Bowie cameos – need we say more?

Jack White's genius alongside four formidable musicians make for one of the best hook-laden rock albums of the year.

The Followill family come back again with a fantastic album full of playfully layered guitars and the trademark howling of Caleb at lead vocals. These guys never cease to amaze.

5. RADIOHEAD – In Rainbows (self-released)

Radiohead continuing to do what they do best with this one; somehow pushing their sound a little bit further while staying true to the Radiohead style that we all know and love. And did we mention, for free.

Zappa of the new millennium; discordant, different and beautiful.

Misery loves company, and Bon Iver will be there for you whenever you need. The best solo acoustic album since Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker.

This catchy synth-pop is the new voice of our generation. A few hit tracks and some more than solid filler make for a unique adventure that somehow doesn't get old.

This album should speak for itself. Listen and you'll know cleanses your soul with its purity.


  1. looking good nasty nate. i must say that m83's Saturdays=Youth should have cracked the top 40.

    hats off to you guys for all the work you put into this thing. i know linking 40 songs is not easy especially during this time of the year. i wish you all the best in 2009.

  2. Hey guys. Nice work. For the most part I would have to agree with your placements. The top 10 is looking especially solid. There are a few albums I would have liked to have seen on there, but I can't really recommend any to take off because I'm not familiar with some of them (a problem I plan to rememdy in the near future).

    I would have liked to have seen:
    1. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs. They just consistently impress me with their melodies, creative and honest songwriting, and catchy riffs.

    2. TV on the Radio - Dear Science. It's gritty and funky, but at the same time listenable (is that a word?)

    3. Noah and the Whale - Peaceful the World Lays me Down. It's poppy, folksy, funny, depressing all wrapped in one album.

    Peace and Happy Holidays!

  3. neither me nor the count could really get into m83. I know it got hyped in the trades, but never hooked us.

    Jared, TVOTR is #8! fantastic album. Also, I just got the new Death Cab a little too late...too much music to handle!

  4. Haha, I hear ya man. Sorry I missed TVOTR. Late night last night and I'm blogging when I should be working.

  5. Have you heard The Odd Couple - Gnarls Barkley? March 08... This will def be on my best of 08 list.

  6. Respect for Gnarls, but that album is a bunch of clapping. I'll give it up for Who's Gonna Save My Soul for an amazing music video and great subject matter, but so annoyed with vocoders.

  7. Woo! I love hand-clapping. What, you don't like clapping! What a shame.

  8. dear tao,

    this is a pretty cool list, great selection of indie. i have some problems with your pop-hip hop selections (but i'm glad t.i. and lilweezy or whoever the fuck he is aren't on here) - although i know q-tip's album is good... these are worth checking out if you like hip hop - excellent production:

    eMC (masta ace + wordsworth, among others) - the show
    black milk - tronic (look out for this detroit-based j dilla-esque beatmaker)
    j live - then what happened
    elzhi - the preface (produced by black milk)
    gza - protools

    and although technically released in 2009, madlib put out vol. 5&6 of his beat konducta series, this time a tribute to the late j dilla. amazing layered soul samples woven over complex chops and harmonies... i love madlib.

    some last suggestions, not hip hop, are the samuel jackson five - amazing prog rock, their album goodbye melody mountain dropped in '08, but i would recommend easily misunderstood (2005). and don't forget don cab's new album punkgasm (fun math rock).

  9. great list.

    still, i'd swap los campesinos, laura marling, death cab(and maybe noah and the whale or erykah badu) for any of the bands in the 20-40 range.