Top 10 Albums 2008

1. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

He played Edinburgh on my birthday but me being me, left it too late and it had sold out by the time I tried to book. What sounds like nothing more than a nice wee album on first listen, given time and repeated listens, blossoms into a complete gem. Hands down my favourite of the year. 

2. Remember Remember – Remember Remember

First discovered him when he opened for Aidan Moffat in the Arches back at the start of the year (and started with a Daniel Johnston cover). Saw him again a few weeks later at the Mogwai Tryptich gig and have been waiting eagerly ever since for the album to finally drop in November. Musically, he fits in well with Mogwai’s gentler side but he’s really worth seeing live. Like Andrew Bird, he plays most of the instruments himself and builds up layers using samplers. He utilises everything from scissors snipping to sellotape ripping to create sound effects which he loops to make percussion and builds up on top of his washing layers of guitar. For reasons I cant quite put my finger on, there are bits of the album that remind me of Penguin Cafe Orchestra. 
3. GlasvegasGlasvegas
Chuffed as I am that I was hyping the band on this blog a full year before they hit the big time, it would serve to be pretty embarrassing if the debut had turned out to be rubbish. Fortunately, there was nothing to worry about. The Mary Chain guitars and Oasis swagger are present and correct throughout the album and the hooks are a mile wide. 
4. Max Richter – 24 Postcards in Full Colour
I had never heard of Max before this album but my interest was piqued by a review on Pitchfork of a German born, Edinburgh based, classically trained but electronic music inclined, musician making an album of short instrumental pieces designed to be used as mobile ring tones. Having gone back a bit further, some of his earlier albums are much better but since this was the first one I discovered and the only one out this year, its on the list. 
5. Mogwai – The Hawk is Howling
If you look at my last.fm charts, I would guess you’ll find that I’ve listened to Mogwai more than anyone else this year. I hadn’t really listened to them in a long time until this album came out and I got back into them big-style. I still don’t think they’ll ever top New Paths to Helicon but this is a fine album. 
6. Ron Sexsmith
– Exit Strategy of the Soul
Sounding quite different to the last album, going more for a horn drenched soulful sound, I found myself listening to this album more than I expected.
7. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Had heard the name bandied about a few times but finally heard some music on the Rough Trade Counter Culture annual. They’ve gone huge since then but it’s about 3/4s of a great album (with the bits that sound like Sting not being so good, obviously). />
 
 

 

 

 

8. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
Fated to pretend was one of the best pop songs of the year with its trademark Dave
Fridman production but it didn’t really prepare me for the eclecticism of the album which ranged from 80’s synth
to Air style ambient ballads.
9. Elbow – Seldom Seen Kid
Another band I had always heard good things about and never quite got round to checking out. A few corking singles off this album finally prompted me to give it a listen. a well deserved Mercury Award winner.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight
Basically just a big, balls out, rock album with HUGE chorus’. First heard them at Mogwai’s Triptych all-dayer shortly after the album came out. Was struck by their resemblance to Idlewild at their most visceral.

Special mention goes to:
Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
Would have been number two in this years top ten since I first heard it around April this year, except for the fact it was released May 2007. Bugger. Have intended to get into this band for years due to the early Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev comparisons but didn’t give the bits and pieces I downloaded enough of a chance so couldn’t get my head around them. Finally found an entry point with Strawberry Jam and have realised that the early stuff I dismissed as noise before are subtly nuanced works of musical genius. If you imagine taking newborn babies and then shutting them off from all music except Priest Driven Ambulance and Yrself is Steam right through until adolescence then asking them to write an album, it would sound like this. Will be seeing them live in January around the time their new album comes out and I cant wait for both.

 

 

 

 

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