One of the best things about the end of the year is being able to make lists for all sorts of things that happened in the past year. Best movies, worst phrases used by politicians, most tragic fashion ensembles... you get the point. But my favorite thing to make lists for is music. I love delving into the past year of music and coming up with lists of my favorite albums, favorite songs, most beautiful lyrics, biggest disappointments. Most of these lists are mental lists, but I thought I'd at least share one of them with the Internets. So here are my 10 albums from 2008:
1) Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend
I almost didn't give this band a chance to show me how good they really are. I had heard a few things about how they were overrated and it wasn't until my sister brought this CD home that I actually gave it a listen. And I loved it! Great, catchy melodies infused with weird African-ish rhythms. The lead singer's voice is perfect and the simple, innovative instrumentation lets it shine through. I could listen to this CD over and over for months.
Must have tracks: Mansard Roof, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, and M79
2) Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes
This CD takes a very close second to Vampire Weekend. Their music is gorgeous, lush, folk rock. All of the songs manage to sound dense and wide open at the same time. When I listen to this CD I feel happy, empowered, nostalgic, and invigorated all at the same time, and their lyrics contain some seriously beautiful phrases.
Must have tracks: White Winter Hymnal, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Ragged Wood
3) Volume 1 by She & Him
I sincerely hope the title of this album implies a Volume 2 somewhere in the future. This CD is a collaboration between M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, the actress in Elf and The Happening. Usually when movie stars try to cross over into music it's a disaster, but Zooey Deschanel is the exception. Her voice is hypnotically rich and the songs are perfectly written.
Must have tracks: Sentimental Heart and You Really Got a Hold on Me
4) Re-arrange Us by Mates of State
This CD is one gigantic love letter. My heart swells and I get a little euphoric while listening to it. I've never been a fan of this husband/wife duo until this CD, but I cannot stop listening to them. It'll make you want to dance, I promise.
Must have tracks: The ReArranger and Get Better
5) The Stand Ins by Okkervil River
I've been a fan of this band for a while and was excited to hear this album after their fantastic record, The Stage Names, came out last year. It did not disappoint. The lyrics are smart and poetic like usual and Will Sheff's vocals keep me coming back for more.
Must have tracks: Lost Coastlines and Pop Lie
6) Furr by Blitzen Trapper
This cd contains my absolute favorite song from the last year. Furr (the song not the album) is all about a boy who turns into a wolf, then a man, then a wolf again. It sounds silly when describing it, but it's a beautiful folk tale put to a fantastic melody. If you can stop listening to Furr on repeat, the rest of the album is good too :)
Must have track: Furr
7) For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver
All of these songs were written during a secluded winter in Wisconsin and when you listen to their songs, you can really feel the coldness of winter coming through. But in a good way. Every song is very quiet, very intense, and very good.
Must have track: Skinny Love
8) Rockferry by Duffy
She has an old school Billie Holiday sound to her voice just like fellow Brit Amy Winehouse. I listened to this CD on constant repeat after buying it because I loved it so much. It's one of those CDs you can blare in your car and sing at the top of your lungs to.
Must have tracks: Mercy, Rockferry, and Stepping Stone
9) Sleep Through the Static by Jack Johnson
A lot of Jack Johnson fans didn't like this record; I disagree with them, I think it's his best one yet. It's more melancholy than his last three records, but just as soothing and more heartfelt. And don't get me started about the song Angel. It's one of the sweetest love songs I've ever heard. I know I'll keep coming back to this CD because it's like comfort food in musical form.
Must have tracks: All at Once and Angel
10) Gossip in the Grain by Ray LaMontagne
I don't know if anything he puts out can ever top his previous album, Till the Sun Turns Black, but this is definitely a valiant effort. Ray has one of those voices that is both raspy and lush at the same time. I was lucky enough to see him live a couple of months ago and I was blown away by his voice all over again. It slays me. And while I'm talking about this record, I'm wondering why I didn't put him at a higher number on my list. It's so lovely.
Must have tracks: Let It Be Me, A Falling Through, You Are the Best Thing, Roses and Cigarettes.
These albums were also great and totally worth checking out:
Acid Tongue by Jenny Lewis
Tell Tale Signs by Bob Dylan
Feel Good Ghosts by Cloud Cult
Simple Times by Joshua Radin
Carried to Dust by Calexico