The Music Elitist


Top 10 Albums of 2008

When I made my last 2008 countdown post, I was originally going to do the top 10 worst ALBUMS of 2008. Then I realized that to make a fair assessment of those albums, I would have to listen to them. Now, there’s no way in hell I would ever put myself through the kind of sick, twisted torture that listening to an entire Nickelback album would entail. So I just decided to rip on the popular songs from those albums instead. So without further ado, here are my Top 10 favorite albums from 2008 (in no particular order):

Anberlin – New Surrender

I have been a fan of this band since 2003’s Blueprints for the Black Market. I have enjoyed all 4 of their albums immensely. I actually have a very hard time deciding which one I think is the best. The release of this record was quite a big deal mainly because it was Anberlin‘s first major label album (their first 3 having been released on Tooth & Nail Records). The other reason being that during the recording of the album, front-man Stephen Christian’s car was broken into (not sure if he was living in Orlando at the time, but it wouldn’t surprise me) and his laptop – containing Garage Band files for every song on the record – was stolen. The album was obviously delayed, but it all ended up coming out just fine. All in all its just a good, catchy, melodic rock album.

Standout Tracks: “Breaking” (co-written by Butch Walker), “The Resistance” and “Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)”

Weezer – Weezer (The Red Album)

Now, I don’t expect most of the records I list here to be even considered for a “Top of 2008” list by anyone else but me, but the fact that I did not see it on Spin OR Rolling Stone‘s lists this year is appalling. This was the best record Weezer has put out in 12 years. Yet, somehow Maladroit (widely considered by most Weezer fans to be their worst release to date) made it onto Spin’s Top 40 Albums in 2002. The epic “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” alone makes this album well worth the listen. But if you need other reasons, this was also the first album Rivers Cuomo steps back from the mic on a couple of songs and lets the other guys sing (guitarist Brian Bell on tracks 6 & 7, bassist Scott Shriner on track 8 and drummer Pat Wilson on track 9). Musically it is also one of the more creative albums Weezer has ever put out. If I haven’t given you enough reason to check this album out, then you’re hopeless.

Standout Tracks: “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived”, “Heart Songs”, “Everybody Get Dangerous” and “Cold Dark World”

Kanye West – 808’s and Heartbreaks

I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. This guy is the biggest crybaby/egomaniac/insecure fuck I have ever seen in my life. I have tried so hard to hate this record simply because its Kanye. But, its just so damn catchy you can’t really resist it. Whats absolutely insane is that this record was recorded in all of 3 weeks. Basically this album has everything going against it being good, and it still is. So, I find that to be pretty impressive. Kanye West has made a leap away from hip-hop, but its definitely still there. This is especially true on tracks like “Heartless” and “Paranoid”. But if you have been avoiding this record because you hate Kanye West, I recommend giving it a shot because it’s actually one of the best things I have heard this year. Now if we could only get him to keep his mouth shut when he isn’t singing/rapping, we’d be set.

Standout Tracks: “Amazing” (feat. Young Jeezy), “Paranoid” (feat. Mr. Hudson) and “RoboCop”

Fall Out Boy – Folie a Deux

I know, I know…the album doesn’t come out for another week. However, 4 of the songs have been released as singles on iTunes over the last few months and I managed to get my hands on the full release this week. After listening to it through twice, it was already clear to me that this was definitely one of the top 10 albums I have heard this year. The albums first single “I Don’t Care” doesn’t nearly do it justice. But its clear that they chose that and the album’s second single “America’s Suitehearts” because they sounded the most like the Fall Out Boy everyone is used to. But when you get to songs like “Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet” and “What a Catch, Donnie” (which features guest appearances by Elvis Costello and half of the Decaydance Records roster singing Fall Out Boys older hits) its obvious these guys are tired of just playing plain ol’ pop punk. People like to talk a lot of shit about these guys, but you know what: They worked their asses off to get where they are, they write insanely catchy melodies and Pete Wentz writes some of the wittiest lyrics of our time. Oh, and YOU try singing like Patrick Stump.

Standout Tracks: “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes”, “She’s My Winona”, “The (Shipped) Gold Standard”, “What a Catch, Donnie”

Atmosphere – When Life Hands You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold

This album definitely wins the “Best Titled Album of 2008” award. But on top of that, its probably Atmosphere’s best since Godlovesugly. I actually can’t think of a song on this record that I don’t like. The first time I heard a song from this record was when I was in L.A. this summer and I heard “You” on KROQ. I was, first off, blown away by the fact that there are rock stations in the U.S. that play decent music (cause in Florida…they ALL blow. THANKS CLEAR CHANNEL!) and secondly that they were playing an Atmosphere song on the radio. But the fact that I actually liked the single told me that the album was gonna be good. And I was right. Slug is a little less “emo” and a little more drama-free these days it seems. And while it was the drama that fueled amazing recordings like Lucy Ford: The Atmosphere EPs, I think I like happy Slug a lot more.

Standout Tracks: “Puppets”, “Dreamer”, “Shoulda Known” and “Yesterday”

Gym Class Heroes – The Quilt

The lyrics may be a bit on the cheesy side sometimes, but as a whole, this record is pretty good. When I heard “Cookie Jar” the first time I was a bit worried about how the rest of the album was going to sound because it was obvious that song was made specifically for mainstream hip hop radio. But after the opening track (“Guilty as Charged”) begins, its clear that this is much more than just a hip hop record. Two of the tracks (“Live a Little” and “No Place to Run”) even border on pop punk. The record was produced by Fall Out Boy front-man Patrick Stump and he even lends his vocals to a couple of the tracks (“Blinded by the Sun” and “Catch Me If You Can”). However, unlike a few of the songs on their last album (including “Cupid’s Chokehold”, the only one you probably know ), Stump’s voice is used primarily as background. I can’t be sure, but I think with this record Gym Class Heroes really want to prove that they are more than just “that hip hop band that has that song with the guy from Fall Out Boy”. As far as I’m concerned, they accomplished that.

Standout Tracks: “Guilty as Charged” (feat. Estelle), “Peace Sign/Index Down” (feat. Busta Rhymes), “Blinded By the Sun” and “Catch Me If You Can”

Alkaline Trio – Agony & Irony

While I don’t feel that this album is quite as good as their previous effort (2005’s Crimson…which didn’t leave my car CD player for an entire summer) this is still better than most of the crap I have heard this year. I was actually pretty addicted to the first single (“Help Me”) for a couple of months. Singer/guitarist Matt Skiba said that during the writing and recording of this record he “was listening to a lot of Pat Benatar, Def Leppard and a lot of 80’s MTV music.” And I can definitely see that being the case because they certainly up-ed the usage of synthesizers on this record. Musically, there isn’t a whole lot that wows me about Alkaline Trio EXCEPT for their drummer Derek Grant. He is probably one of the more creative punk drummers out there and it definitely shows on Agony & Irony.

Thrice – The Alchemy Index, Vols. III & IV: Air & Earth

Thrice never ceases to amaze me. Had I been doing this blog last year, The Alchemy Index, Vols. I & II: Fire & Water would have made my top 10 of 2007. The Air disc is comprised of very ambient post-hardcore/indie rock, while Earth is all stripped down, acoustic and sometimes folk sounding. The first track on this record that really caught my attention was “Broken Lungs” from their Air disc. Despite the fact that this song makes front-man Dustin Kensrue sound like a 9/11 Truth nutjob, its probably my favorite song out of all 4 Alchemy Index EPs. However, while these 4 Eps have been a cool little concept thing for Thrice to do and I love the fact that the have become so experimental with their music, it’d be nice to see them release something similar to The Artist in the Ambulance again. Here’s hopin’.

Standout Tracks: “Broken Lungs”, “Silver Wings”, “Moving Mountains” and “Come All You Weary”

Underoath – Lost in the Sound of Separation

Underoath is the Radiohead of metal. Or at least they are trying to be. If you don’t believe me, just look at the album cover. Feel like you’ve seen it before? But its more than just the album cover. Underoath are taking a very progressive approach to metal (and have been since 2006’s Define the Great Line). The band seems to be writing consistently harder, more complex music and front-man Spencer Chamberlain’s screams seem to be getting lower and more aggressive. But, at the same time, drummer Aaron Gillespie’s vocal parts have become catchier and more melodic. When The Almost first started and I read about Gillespie’s aspirations of being the next Dave Grohl, I have to admit that I chuckled a little. But the more I listen to this guy’s drumming and singing (and especially after seeing him do both at the same time flawlessly live), the more I think his chances of realizing that dream are pretty good.

Standout Tracks: “Breathing In a New Mentality”, “Anyone Can Dig a Hole But It Takes a Real Man to Call It Home”, “The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed” and “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”

Lil’ Wayne – Tha Carter III

I realize how cliche’ this is becoming for “best of” lists this year, but there’s a reason: this record is REALLY GOOD. I wasn’t going to leave this off of the list simply for the sake of being different. I think the reason Lil’ Wayne became such a “household name” in hip hop (and popular music in general) in the last few years is because when you hear Lil’ Wayne, you know its him. And by that I mean his style and voice are so distinctive that it is impossible to mistake him for anyone else. That and the fact that its difficult to hear a song on the radio anymore that he doesn’t appear in for at least 5 seconds. Hell, he even showed up on the Country Music Awards this year playing guitar on-stage with Kid Rock. I’m not saying performing with the king of trailer trash is necessarily the best thing for his career, but my point is that he is EVERYWHERE and (from the looks of it) unstoppable.

Standout Tracks: “3Peat”, “Mr. Carter” (feat. Jay-Z), “Phone Home” and “Let the Beat Build”

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[…] himself out to this thing? I didn’t think it was that bad of a record. In fact, it was on my top 10 of 2008 I did about a month ago. So the only possible explanation for this must be that Jeffree Star wants […]

Pingback by Why, Matt Skiba??? Why??? « The Music Elitist




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