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James’ Top 10 Albums of 2008

December 22, 2008

So, my list finally makes an appearance! Sorry it’s so much later than the others, but I got distracted, and even found a few new albums that deserved a good listen. I’m not completely sure about the order, except for the top three, because, well, how can you compare albums like that, really? Also, there’s a couple of newish ones in there, which possibly would’ve scored higher if I’d found them earlier. Anyway, enjoy!

10. Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs

I’m not as into this as Transatlanticism and Plans, but I’m not sure if it’s because I still love those two so much that I don’t give Narrow Stairs enough of a chance, or if it’s because it’s just not as good. If the latter, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good album. It really is. Just gets me pondering.

9. Belle and Sebastian – The BBC Sessions

I feel kind of bad putting this here, given that it’s mostly made up of live recordings of previously-released tracks. That said, it does contain a fair amount of unreleased material – most of it excellent – and Nick said it was okay to put here, so, well, here it is. As I mentioned when I reviewed it, it’s nice to hear live versions of songs, especially the ones from If You’re Feeling Sinister, as they sound a lot better. Highlight is probably Stuart singing a cover of Here Comes the Sun.

8. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

I pretty much only listened to this album because of the amount of hype it was getting, but it was well worth it. I first thought it was a nice summer album, but then it’s really a nice winter album, too. Seems to defy seasonal classification, something which not many albums manage to do (not that I suppose it’s a major rating point anyway, but still…). The layering upon layering blends together to create something almost out of this world, the whole thing is pretty amazing to listen to.

7. The Cure – 4:13 Dream

You can blame The Cure for being one of the reasons this list is so much later than the others – I only heard this album after I’d pretty much finished the list, and simply had to find a place for it. I don’t know much of The Cure’s stuff besides a few hit singles, so can’t really make much of a worthy comparison, but from what I’ve heard, it holds up well against their older stuff – much more than some of their other later releases. It sounds the case, too, as the album itself is pretty brilliant. Perfect for yelling your heart out to. Current favourite is The Only One.

6. Ben Folds – Way to Normal

On first listen, this album made absolutely no sense whatsoever. It’s pretty all over the place. But as much as I can get annoyed by Folds Fanatics saying that he’s a genius and can do things nobody else can, in this case I think I have to agree. I can’t think of anybody else who could make this album work. It keeps growing on me, with songs like Bitch Went Nuts and You Don’t Know Me frequently stuck in my head.

5. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns

I was only introduced to this band fairly recently, but they’ve made a fairly big impact, and I simply adore this album. It reminds me a fair bit of Neutral Milk Hotel, but at the same time… Not. Would almost certainly be higher on the list if I’d listened to it more.

4. Little Red – Listen to Little Red

Despite being a bit disappointed with their last couple of gigs, there’s no denying that this Melbourne band is one of the best live acts around at the moment, something which carries over to their debut album. Basically a throwback to sixties pop music, it’s a pleasure to listen to.

3. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

There were a lot of excellent summer albums this year – Pershing and Listen to Little Red, to name a few – and this is one of the best. Campus is probably the highlight, andWalcott brings back memories of Ezra pointing (‘Mystic seaboard is that way!’), glowing in the beautiful light, as well as being a fun song to drive to.

2. Emiliana Torrini – Me and Armini

It took me a while to get into some parts of this album, and there are still a few songs I’m not all that keen on, but Emiliana makes up for it with sublime tracks like Big Jumps, Fireheads, and Jungle Drums. Mmm.

1. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Pershing

This is not only my album of the year, but easily one of my favourite albums ever. I’ve been thinking about playlists a lot lately, and I’m pretty convinced that an excellent one would be called Belle & Boris, made up solely of songs by Belle and Sebastian and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. The perfect summer album. Bliss!

So there you go. None of us seemed to cross over in favourite albums all that much, so good luck to Nick trying to figure some sort of ranking system out.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Philippe permalink
    December 26, 2008 8:42 pm

    I used to be a huge Ben Folds fan in the day. It was awesome in his Five days. For some reason I never get into his old stuff…

  2. Anonymous permalink
    December 30, 2008 8:06 pm

    I adore Someone Still Loves you Boris Yeltsin. They’re so talented and have awesome taste too – ive been checking out frontman Philip Dickey’s featured top 10 playlist on so far so good.

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