Top 10 Albums of 2008 (Editor's Pick)
What was the best music of 2008?
There are numerous opinions currently being circulated across the blogosphere — and plenty of folks are posting their uniformly indie rock-inspired Top 10s.
Although I enjoyed TV on the Radio's "Dear Science", The Dodos' "Visiter", Portishead's "Third", Deerhunter's "Microcastle", and parts of No Age's "Nouns" — this year was all about beats, rhymes, and instrumental minimalism for me.
With that in mind, I'd like to honour a relatively hip-hop and electronic-infused assortment of albums & mixtapes that inspired me throughout this two thousand and eighth calendar year.
In no particular order of real preference (yet requiring the appearance of order in order to create the allure of a year-end list) — here is an admittedly limited selection of my favourite music of 2008:
Top 10 Albums of 2008
10. El-P - "We Are All Going to Burn in Hell Meggamixxx2" (download at DefJux)
A one-off tour CD turned digital mixtape, Def Jux head-honcho El-P cooks up a stormy brew of rhythms and hip-hop cacophony that is claustrophic but incredible.
9. Woodhands - "Heart Attack" (listen to mp3s | rcrdlbl)
Toronto's thrashing, crashing, powerhouse electro-pop duo's full-on full-length is full of fire, angst, squelching synths and beats to break hearts and dancefloors simultaneously.
8. Icy Demons - "Miami Ice" (Amazon)
Hailing from both Chicago & Philadelphia (by way of Man Man), this freaky collection of bizarro pop noisemakers crafted a highly catchy and impassioned if erratic record of strange gems — the brightest and shiniest of which is the fabulous title track "Miami Ice".
7. Black Milk - "Tronic" (FatBeats)
Mixing equal parts off-beat bump and swagger, with skittish electric flourishes, and Black Milk's rap braggadocio, this album is both bangin' boom-bap and laid-back, head-noddingly effortless.
6. Megasoid - "Remix Runners" (Listen to the mixtape)
Montreal's kings of 'turbo crunk' deliver an onslaught of speakerbox-breaking beats, devastating analog synth melodies, and live-diced rap/R&B acapellas that is unstoppably infectious.
5. Fennesz - "Black Sea" (Amazon)
Following from 2004's dreamy 'Venice', Christian Fennesz returns with an album awash in dark, moody, swirling ambience that reveals itself layer by layer with each listen. Subtle, but remarkable.
4. Flying Lotus - "Los Angeles" (official site)
The great nephew of Alice Coltrane also absorbs the lineage of Dilla and the glitchy, free-form electronica of the entire Warp roster to deliver a supremely dope album of, ostensibly, hip-hop that is light years ahead of its contemporaries.
3. Max Richter - "Waltz With Bashir" (OST)
Hauntingly melancholic, yet hopeful, Max Richter's electronic-instrumental soundtrack to Ari Folman's film (one of my favourites of the year) is elegant, beautiful, and profoundly moving.
2. Wale - "The Mixtape About Nothing" (download mixtape)
Washington, D.C.'s rising rap star (and uber-producer Mark Ronson protegé) drops a Seinfeld-inspired mixtape about...well...nothing. Despite his seemingly casual demeanor, Wale has amazing flow. Check the duelling personas in "The Manipulation" or "The Star" for its 4 1/2 minutes of continuously brilliant cadences.
1. Erykah Badu - "New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)" (Amazon)
Badu's latest is astounding for its musical complexity, layered sonics, and political provocations — but it is undeniably fresh. And the moody, Madlib-produced track "The Healer" is, quite simply, the joint of the year.
What were your favourite albums this year? Post your comments below.
[ For more year-end lists and 'best of' picks check out NowPublic's Best of 2008 channel.]