2008 was truly the year British rock music died down. That phase of 'indie rock' was slowly coming to an end, and it shows with the lackluster albums of the year. In the USA, new projects emerged and artists debuted material which we now know as household names, but at the time were just starting out. It was the year of Crystal Castles, MGMT's mediocre live performances and Lil Wayne's simplistic and well received Lollipop. 2008 is a biggie, and the list of 'almosts', needed to be extended.
Late of The Pier - Fantasy Black Channel
Deerhunter - Weird Era Cont.
Glasvegas - Glasvegas
Flying Lotus - Los Angeles
Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair
Portishead - Third
Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Deerhoof: Offend Maggie
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War
Clark - Turning Dragon
Clark - Turning Dragon
10. WHY? - Alopecia
Straight in at number 10 is American alternative hip-hop/indie folk group WHY? It's a no brainer, Alopecia is the ideal teenage album for the Beck listeners. Beck may have the folk side of his music easily covered, but the hip-hop aspects are close to minimal. WHY? are completely out there in terms of vocals. Ex cLOUDEAD rapper Yoni Wolf fronts WHY? with help from his brother Josiah Wolf, Doug McDiarmid and Liz Wolf. The album is filled with these teenage thoughts of pervertion and several incidents that have occurred to Yoni Wolf. The music is special because although the hip-hop is there, it never fails to leave the indie/folk side untouched, with guest contributors Mark Erickson and Andrew Broder of Fog delivering the instrumentals.
9. M83 - Saturdays=Youth
Taking off further from his post-rock roots, Anthony Gonzalez sways towards the synthpop electro music of the 1980's. The hooks are fantastic and work with the vocals given by Anthony and Morgan Kibby. The music is submerged in tonal shoegaze drones mixed with the lightly spoken vocal which create a vivid atmosphere which can be described as a warm space rock feel. The album never fails to disappoint as the synths ring high and the compact sounds brings a new light onto M83's recordings.
8. Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life
Canadian rockers Fucked Up are gradually becoming Canada's biggest export. They had a very abrasive debut album and this time round they have a more melodic edge to their sound. Sure, it's still classed as hardcore, but it's downright outstanding material. The chord progressions are slightly repetitive, but that's what you re to expect. Some of the melancholy tracks are essentially the best instrumentals of the year by a country mile.
7. Women - Women
Women were the new kids on the block. This outstanding debut album saw them take on a louder, abrasive version of surf rock with many lo-fi segments of total and utter chaos. The melodic tracks stand out as golden material, such as the master track 'Black Rice'. it's all about the lo-fo aesthetics and the treble driven ambient tracks. Everything is in place, it's eerie, it's dark and it's under 30 minutes long. it showed a great level of musical skill which the average post-punk/lo-fi fan would be able to appreciate.
6. No Age - Nouns
No Age banged their way into the top six with their heavy drumming, punk style and pop hooks. This album is a loud, fast paced piece of music for the noise, post-punk and lo-fi fanbase. This music is extremely thick, with a surge if happiness heading your way. It's the ideal summer album for the noise freaks that love a bit of intelligence in their music. No Age are constantly on the up and this album is the highlight of their discography so far.
5. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Bon Iver entered my world in 2008 with great effect. Justin Vernon has the basic chords laid down with one of the most calming voices you'll hear in modern folk music. The drumming was restricted to a few bears and a snare every few tracks, but this made the album even more appetising for the listener. The lyrics were encouraging and focused on some touchy subjects with Vernon delivering his personality with each and every lyric. It's one to remember in coming years, and it's one you return to at night and remember.
4. Deerhunter - Microcastle
Not having Deerhunter on this list would be a sin. It's fair to position them at fourth place because of how powerful Microcastle is, with the backing of Weird Era Cont. as support (Separate album, this is just Microcastle). The music here is much more refined and smooth than the shoegaze haziness of Cryptograms. I prefer Cryptograms, but Microcastle has the 'hit' singles. 'Never Stops' has a lovely vibe whilst 'Nothing Ever Happened' smashed Deerhunter onto the circuit in full force. The albums was a a huge step away from their punk days, and towards the melodic indie rock, alternative rock days. It's a brilliant album and one everyone should own in some form.
3. Beach House - Devotion
Devotion is a deep down personal album which reflects many negative moods. The music is clearly meant for sadness and 'winter'. What grabs my attention is the album cover which is meant to reflect the mood, which it does instantly. The harmonies are present are in full swing with many layers of reverb among the looped guitar and simplistic electronic drum beat. It's a clear indication of good things to come from the duo and they never fail to surprise the listener. They have an addicting sound which rings around your ears for hours.
2. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Two EP's were released in the build up to Fleet Foxes debut album, the later featuring one of the bands great early tracks 'Mykonos'. I remember purchasing this album when it came out, to find Mykonos wasn't on the album. I was distraught, but then I noticed, it just wouldn't fit in. This album has 11 tracks of folk goodness, all warm and hearty with the effect of cooling your soul. It generally is a peaceful album with melody, harmonies and skill. 'White Winter Hymnal' had everything you need for a lead single, and above all it had the whole generation of folk music riding on it's shoulders. That's something you cannot take away from Fleet Foxes. They've stripped away the 'indie' aspects, focused on the music, layed down their influences and gone out to record a folk album. It's one of the best debut albums I've ever had the pleasure of purchasing.
1. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
The Midnight Organ Fight was recorded at their local studio in Glasgow, Scotland. With some parts recorded at Tarquin Studios, Bridgeport, Connecticut (home of the Frisbee)... Frightened Rabbit deliver one of the most authentic and fanciful albums of the decade. Scott Hutchison has one of those voices which can be understood if you re paying attention, but if you're not.. Then you haven't got a clue what he's singing about. It's criminal if you haven't read the lyrics to these songs because they're expressionistic. It's the best written album of 2008 by a long way, and what makes this album even more fantastic is it's instrumental backing. Amongst all the heartbreak and devastation is a right sided acoustic drone and a standout bass riff which obscures the stylistic vocal. This album flows as it should from beginning to end. The Midnight Organ Fight was also produced by arguably one of the best producers out there, Peter Katis, the man behind The National albums and Interpol's critically acclaimed albums. Peter knows how to record Scottish artists and Frightened Rabbit are no exception. The folk aesthetics standout with the indie textures also coming through. It's the louder and deeper tracks such as 'Fast Blood' that get the ball rolling on this album. The later harmonies and dynamics are spectacular. This is an all round solid album, which is why it stands tall above all these albums, topping 2008.
~Music Review Database