Best Albums of 2008

Rounding Out The Top 20:

20. The Kills “Midnight Boom”

19. The Black Ghosts “The Black Ghosts”

18. Mates Of State “Re-Arrange Us”

17. Fall Out Boy “Folie A Deux”

16. A Fine Frenzy “One Cell In The Sea”

15. Why? “Alopecia”

14. MGMT “Oracular Spectacular”

13. Yelle “Pop Up”

12. Mother Mother “O My Heart”

11. Santogold “Santogold”

10. The Ting Tings “We Started Nothing”

By far the best party album of the year, The Ting Tings’ debut is an upbeat collection of eclectic indie rock that provides the formula for a night of crazy dancing. The sharply punctuated vocals and thumping bass lines makes it easy to hear this record as the soundtrack to any art house film where the protagonist teenage girl discovers drugs, sex, and nightclubs. It is a feel good album with intelligent pop lyrics and a unique sound that can please both mainstream radio and hipsters alike.

Must have track: “Great DJ”

9. Madita “Too”

One of the most unique artists in today’s music scene, Madita’s sophomore album far surpasses her already groundbreaking self-titled debut. Her originality comes in the form of genre fusing, as “Too” may be the first album to successfully accomplish the morphing of electronica and jazz. Think Imogen Heap meets Fiona Apple, and you have Madita’s sensual, tantalizing, and calming piano and synthesizer duets. With “Too,” Madita has strung together two completely different genres to create a unique, refreshing, and addictive sound that will make this record a constant in your car’s CD changer.

Must have track: “Because”

8. Sia “Some People Have Real Problems”

For her third album, Australian folk singer Sia sticks to her soothing, sensual, and melodic signature, yet incorporates layers of new electronic elements to create a brand new more evolved sound. Hands down her most personal and emotional album to date, “Some People Have Real Problems” explores life’s many tribulations, ranging from heartbreak to frustration to pain to sorrow. Think of this record as a really hurt and pissed off Feist drawing on her best Natalie Walker influences to get things off her chest in an attempt for inner peace. Do not be fooled, however, this album is far from a whiny cry for help. Instead, it proves Sia’s remarkable songwriting talent as it puts us on an emotional rollercoaster navigating us in feeling and understanding the various suffering life provides us along our journeys.

Must have track: “Academia” (featuring Beck)

7. Ida Maria “Fortress Round My Heart”

If Regina Spektor were ever to undergo an identity crisis and decide she was a full blown out rock star then she would be Ida Maria. On her debut album, Maria serves as a fresh dish of sass, honesty, sarcasm, sexuality, and rock and roll. Her singer/songwriter vocals make it seem like she should be playing an acoustic guitar at Lillith Fair opening up for Ani Difranco, however, her heavy percussion and electric guitar instrumentation makes “Fortress Round My Heart” sound like a collaboration record between Nirvana and Liz Phair. With intelligent lyrics that can be both vulnerable and abrasive, Maria has created a truly memorable and edgy debut that will keep her on the music map for years to come.

Must have track: “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked”

6. Jack’s Mannequin “The Glass Passenger”

Andrew McMahon’s return to the music industry after taking a medical hiatus for a few years comes in the form of his second solo album since his days as lead singer of Something Corporate. Incorporating vintage California piano-rock elements that made him a superstar of the Warped Tour generation in the first place, “The Glass Passenger” is arguably Andrew’s finest songwriting to date. Adding a full band behind his trademark god-like piano playing creates an epic musical experience that could fill and inspire stadiums full of people.

Must have track: “Swim”

5. Meiko “Meiko”

The re-issue of Meiko’s self-titled debut serves as a reminder that a pretty voice alongside gorgeous string arrangements can be the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing day. Her voice is both melancholy and soothing, creating an aura of zen that makes it impossible to not want to close your eyes and absorb all the sounds floating out of your speakers. After a successful stint on the Hotel Café Tour and appearing as a guest vocalist on albums by artists such as Joshua Radin and AM, Meiko re-recorded her album as it sought distribution by a major record label (in 2007, she self released it). The end result is a beautiful, floral-like compilation of fantastic songwriting being sung by a phenomenal artist that reinstates how alive and thriving folk music really is.

Must have track: “Under My Bed”

4. Jay Brannan “Goddamned”

Creating a name for himself through his countless YouTube videos and self-released demo EP, Jay Brannan’s debut full length record has made him a household name in the Lower Village art scene of Manhattan. Easily the most raw and personal songwriter around, his lyrics not only give us a lens to his perspective on relationships, but allow us to see all the obsessive, quirky, and sometimes ugly inner demons he faces. Never afraid of exposing too much, Brannan’s in-your-face songs and flawless tenor voice have quickly transformed him into an icon in the gay community as an honest and refreshing performer. He sings truths that you’re too afraid to ever say out loud but secretly relate to. Dealing with everything from love and sex to politics and religion, “Goddamned” is not just any piece of art, but a door to someone’s mind and soul.

Must have track: “Half Boyfriend”

3. The Veronicas “Hook Me Up”

Twenty-three-year-old twins Lisa and Jess Origlassio make up this dynamic pop duo that at home in Australia are as huge as Beyonce is in the United States. For their sophomore release, the girls evolved their sound from simple Kelly Clarkson-esque pop/rock to a more dance floor influenced album with not a single bad track. Heavily inspired by the L.A. electronica scene they immersed themselves in for the past year, the record draws on their previous sound and enhances it by adding disco elements and synthesizers. Although the album serves as nightclub dancing material, the lyrics stay true to their style as they are intelligently written, metaphorically rich songs about heartbreak and moving on with life after a traumatic experience. The album serves its’ purpose by still being rock heavy and pleasing the old fans, while experimenting with new genres to draw in new ones. Already having five successful hits from the record in Australia, their debut American single “Untouched” has finally began garnering Top 40 airplay, and it’ll only be a matter of time before The Veronicas become a global pop phenomenon.

Must have track: “Revenge Is Sweeter (Than You Ever Were)”

2. She & Him “Volume One”

Although released in 2008, the debut collaboration between acclaimed singer/songwriter M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel sounds like it could be your parents’ best kept secret record from the ‘60s. Drawing on various influences, “Volume One” sounds like what Bob Dylan’s early recordings may have sounded like if he were a woman. From original songs to covers of The Beatles and The Miracles, this is more than just a stellar first record but a gate-way to becoming underground superstars. The conclusion of the album has listeners begging for the 2009 release of “Volume Two,” as it may just be the sequel to one of the absolute best indie/folk albums of the decade.

Must have track: “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”

1. Adele “19”

With her sultry, mysterious, seductive and sometimes even haunting vocals, Adele has become the United Kingdom’s best musical import. Paying homage to legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Adele’s debut record is a compilation of the finest quality jazz, with just a hint of pop mixed in. Upon listening to the album it is hard to believe that she is only nineteen and is not in fact a classically trained middle-aged woman who has been performing at upscale blues clubs her entire life. Sometimes accompanied by a full orchestra and sometimes backed by nothing more than an acoustic guitar or a piano, the track listing is entirely unpredictable as each song offers something fresh and new to the mix. Written completely by herself, “19” is the album Amy Winehouse dreams of being able to record, and establishes Adele as a powerful musical force not to be taken lightly.

Must have track: “Hometown Glory”