Stuff We’re Loving: The Top 10 Best Albums of 2008
Ah, 2008, the year in which Obama was elected, the Giants won the Super Bowl against incredible odds, the Phillies won the world series (but no one cared), and when about 90% of us realized our majors aren’t going to make us any money in this economy and considered Pharmacy or Law school. But 2008 was also a vintage year in music, which is why I’ve compiled a list of the ten best songs and albums of the year. The list of songs is coming later, but for now, here are the Flashlight’s choices for the best albums of A.D. 2008. Feel free to agree or disagree, but, to paraphrase Mr. Adam Sandler in “The Wedding Singer”, I’ve got access to a blog and you don’t, so you will listen to everything I have to say. Enjoy:
10) Guns N’ Roses- Chinese Democracy
I know, its not as good as we’d hoped. But it’s gonna be on everybody else’s top ten list, so I might as well put it on mine. You know the economy is in bad shape when Axl Rose doesn’t want to sink anymore money into this $14 million ego-trip of an album. Sure, everybody is gonna whine about how Slash is gone and no one can play guitar like him, but if there’s anything that listening to a Velvet Revolver album teaches us, it’s that Slash may have been the talent in the band, but Axl was the visionary. Nonetheless, Slash could sure put together a guitar riff, and without him, Chinese Democracy makes Guns n’ Roses sound like an Avenged Sevenfold cover band. But it’s an Avenged Sevenfold cover band with two decades of hype behind it. What’s better then that?
9) The Teenagers- Reality Check
No, it’s not Serge Gainsbourg, but this band of Parisian misfits do share his one-track mind. The lead single “Homecoming” was nicknamed by DJ’s “the Clap Track”, as it was so sordid, it was believed to have sparked a rise in STD rates in London nightclubs. Most of the album is spoken word, and includes a stalker’s love note to Scarlett Johansson and a song called “F**k Nicole”. 39 minutes of dirty, sexy French goodness.
8 ) MGMT- Oracular Spectacular
Armed with keyboard riffs that are catchier than smallpox, MGMT have astounded pretty much every major festival attendee this summer. Thanks to events like Glastonbury and Coachella, the anthemic “Time To Pretend” and the gorgeous “Kids” were two of the years biggest indie songs, and the rest of their debut album is just as good. Best thing to come out of Brooklyn since the Warriors, Spike Lee and integrated major-league baseball.
7) Lupe Fiasco- The Cool
This one might have come out in 2007, but it was December, and I was to busy basking in the Dominican sun to pay attention to its release, but come January I was convinced that Lupe was the re-incarnation of Rakim (I know he’s not dead, but hey, it’s fun to start rumors). His debut Food and Liquor had some amazing singles, but ran a little on the long side and didn’t really have as much substance, but this follow-up, a concept album involving characters with names such as The Cool, The Game and The Streets, still astounds me with it’s storyline and the dexterity of Señor Fiasco’s rhymes, even a year later.
6) Coldplay- Viva La Vida of Death and All His Friends
I must admit, I was not a Coldplay fan until I heard a few key tracks from this album, then I heard Yellow then I heard the rest of Rush of Blood to the Head and Parachutes, so I must say, they are quite good. I still stand by my claims that X & Y was still a bunch of third-rate wannabe U2 crap, however.
5) T.I.- Paper Trail
Okay, he may not be bringing music back to the days of Ice Cube’s “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” like I had claimed earlier, but T.I., armed with singles “Live Your Life” and “Whatever You Like”, both of which set records for the highest chart position jumps, has proved that it’s possible to produce a blockbuster hip-hop album that’s actually listenable in a year where Kanye West ran around masquerading as T-Pain and Lil’ Wayne disappointed the world with his mediocre “Tha Carter III”.
4) Late of the Pier- Fantasy Black Channel
This one is kinda obscure, but after putting out one of the weirdest and most amazing videos ever, and then releasing an album chock full of infectiously catchy and danceable tracks that sound like what the Super Mario Bros. 3 soundtrack would be if Gary Numan had composed it on mushrooms, these four English blokes from the same town as Iron Maiden created a record of trippy New-Rave music that doesn’t only sound amazing when you’re completely off your face on Ketamine. Pretty good for a band that says they don’t even care if they like their own music.
3) Various Artists- The Juno Soundtrack
Born out of a last-minute decision by Director Jason Reitman to portray the title character as a Moldy Peaches fan, runaway hit “Anyone Else but You” is just one of the many geeky-yet-cool-in-an-indie-sort-of-way tracks in this, the first #1 soundtrack since the High School Musical 2 Sountrack the previous September. Like a good mixtape made by your friend (or maybe the girl who is carrying your surrogate daughter), the Juno Soundtrack is an eclectic mix of Belle and Sebastian, The Kinks and (surprise!) The Moldy Peaches. It pretty much tells us everything we need to know about Juno MacGuff’s music taste and reveals as much about her character as the movie itself does. All-in-all, a perfect soundtrack to one of the year’s best movies.
2) Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend
As my suitemates last semester could tell you, I could not stop playing this album. From the moment I heard lead singer Ezra Koeneg singing about French architecture and the Falklands War in Mansard Roof I was hooked. This quartet of Columbia University alumni draw inspiration for their debut album from Paul Simon’s Graceland, which might sound lame, but actually works out as African-inspired rhythms are married with vague references to the Dalai Lama, reggaeton, and Manhattan’s Sloan-Kettering Cancer Research Center. It’s an album that never bores, and never fails to impress those who haven’t heard it yet.
1) The Last Shadow Puppets- The Age of the Understatement
It’s no secret that I’m probably the biggest Arctic Monkeys fan in the Western Hemisphere, and this Alex Turner side project could put out a recording of him picking out his belly button lint and I would still think it’s on par with Radiohead, but personal bias aside, what sounds like the soundtrack to a Sean Connery-era James Bond movie is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and ambitious albums of the decade. It may not have the lyrical prowess of his other band, but “The Age of the Understatement” will make anyone driving their sedan down any mundane highway feel as if they’re in hot pursuit of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. with Jane Seymour in the passenger seat. Best muthaf**kin’ album of they year. Period.
So theres the list. Pleased? Angry? Miffed that your favorite album isn’t on here? Comment and tell us what you think, And be on the lookout for the top 10 songs of 2008 later this week.
Tags: Albums, Chinese Democracy, Coldplay, Fantasy Black Channel, Guns N' Roses, Juno Soundtrack, Late of the Pier, Lupe Fiasco, Mario Vergara, MGMT, Music, Oracular Spectacular, Paper Trail, Reality Check, T.I., The Age of the Understatement, The Cool, The Last Shadow Puppets, The Teenagers, Top 10 Lists, Vampire Weekend, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends