Top 10 albums of 2008

December 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

I love this time of year.  One of the things I enjoy most about it is sharing music that I loved during the year and digging up records that other people enjoyed.  I would love to hear what other people listened to this year, so please let me know.

P.S. all these below have links where you can listen and\or read more about the musics.


#1 – Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing

I’ve already written a bit about this record here so I won’t say too much more.  Layers and layers of fuzz like blankets over your ears.  Beautiful melodies and textures assemble themselves as it feels like the ether around you is resonating and crackling.  This may not be for everybody, but I would recommend at least checking out one track.


#2 – Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna

A complete journey from one point to another while rarely re-treading over its own path.  The song forms on this record are free of traditional verse\chorus\verse structure.  Its pieces together music from the Middle East, Asia and various corners of the world into one meandering voice.


#3 – DJ /rupture – Uproot

Weaving together disparate musics from around the world, dj /rupture has created one of the most thoughtful and carefully created re-combinings of music I have ever heard.  From Moroccan hip hop to classical music to dubstep, they are all weaved back together with a very deliberate and cohesive alchemy.


#4 – Portishead – Third

Beyond the disbelief that this record finally came out is the disbelief that it’s actually good.  It’s more than good.  It’s one of the best records I have ever heard.  After 11 years they are back with a record which is a completely new exploration and a very enjoyable one.  Their commitment to reaching out to new musical space is nothing less than inspirational to me.


#5 – MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

Hands down among this list, this record is the one that I would recommend to almost anyone I know.  Maybe even my mom.  She would probably love “Electric Feel”.  Some of the spaciest, danciest pop I have ever heard and I still can’t get enough of it.  It’s sweet and catchy and still it lasts.  I’m looking forward to more from these guys.  Especially if they continue working with Dave Fridmann since they seem to be like a younger and catchier Flaming Lips.


#6 – Buraka Som Sistema – Black Diamond

If you want rhythm, then check out some of this music called by some “kuduro” (“hard ass” in Portugese).  Full of fresh rhythms that I had not previously imagined, it’s hard to describe without playing it.  So click.  Pull down shades.  Shake your hard ass around your living room.


#7 – Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I – IV

Far and away this is the record I do not agree with music critics on this year.  Admittedly it is a collection of song ideas.  Fragments.  Nothing produced.  Nothing seen to completion.  However, there are moments in these recordings that I find to be extremely valuable.  Moments that made me feel something more than anything else I have listened to this year.  I didn’t expect Trent Reznor to remind me that I have a heart.  For examples of these, please see “Track 13” and “Track 22”.  The rest is left as an exercise to the listener.


#8 – The Kills – Midnight Boom

Pure guilty pleasure.  A great blend for tastes like mine since it combines atonal complicated musical ideas with instantly enjoyable pop.  Their most accessible record so far, it is sensual and well produced while still retaining its quality of being raw, and almost animal.  Those of you who were with me at the Monolith Festival at Red Rocks know that I was a bit impressed with Ms. Alison Mosshart as well.


#9 – Torche – Meanderthal

Is this really my only heavy guitar album on the list?  I’m afraid so.  Beyond being heavy, Torche are melodic and epic.  Some of these songs are so huge I think they could become anthems of small nations if they were to fall into the wrong hands.  Despite being “heavy” guitar driven rock, the music feels positive, almost uplifting at times.  I think I will go ahead and give this record the distinguished and highly sought after award of  “Kelly’s pump up record of the year”.


#10 – School Of Seven Bells – Alpinisms

Fell completely backwards into this record.  I had forgotten that the Secret Machines had changed their roster and I read that they had a new record.  I listened to it but it didn’t really sound like them.  Turns out that previous vocalist\guitarist Ben Curtis left and created this wonderfully ethereal record with a couple of young ladies.  Filled with lush, psychedelic layers, African rhythms and beautiful vocals, I would recommend this to anyone who loves My Bloody Valentine, M83, or Cocteau Twins.

Honorable Mentions


Marnie Stern – This Is It […] That Is That
Who would have known that such technical guitar playing could be so enjoyable?  If 2009-Kelly came to visit 2008-Kelly to tell him that one of his favorite records was full of two-handed guitar weedlemanship (weedlewomanship???) would he have believed 2009-Kelly?  Most likely not.


This Will Destroy You – This Will Destroy You

An album I was not expecting.   I was not expecting it to destroy me.  But it did.  A great record of “post-rock” which employs a bit of noise and glitch elements along with more guitar-driven instrumentals a la MONO, Explosions in the Sky, and Mogwai.  It turns out that good things can come out of Texas.


The Flaming Lips – Christmas on Mars (soundtrack)

One more to file away in the “I can’t believe this finally happened” category.  Along with new recordings from Portishead and Guns n Roses, I started to wonder if this movie and its soundtrack would ever see the light of day.  I love the Flaming Lips but was not too impressed with their last album.  It had a few moments, but overall I felt it was lacking.  This does not disappoint.  It is a soundtrack, so there’s nothing here to tap your foot to.  However, the compositions and soundscapes here are masterful.  It feels like there were some deliberate efforts on the behalf of Stephen Drozd to try new thematic methods in creating the score.  On the interviews on the DVD he talks about how we would write a melody and then re-write it so that the melody and rhythm changed places to invert back and forth on one another.  The sound\music of this film are definitely the highlight and after years of waiting and receiving Christmas cards from Wayne saying that the movie was “finally coming out that year” I’m glad that they took their time to do it right.



  1. taranaki said,

    Just listened to “Ribs Out” by the Fuck Buttons. Awesome!

  2. Matt Kimball said,

    Thanks for the list — I’ve checked out Gang Gang Dance and Torche, and had already heard the MGMT album, but I’ll be working my way through the rest. (Most of the albums are available through the Zune Pass, but not Fuck Buttons, unfortunately.)

    I don’t have a top ten, but my top one is Opeth’s Watershed. You’ll need a tolerance for cookie-monster vocals and prog. rock gradiosity to enjoy it, though.

  3. concert pictures said,

    I saw The Kills and took pictures and not long ago I saw Buraka Som Sistema and they were cool on stage. Have a look at the link to see the concert photos of Buraka in Munich if you have a minute

  4. spursewept said,

    Автор выйди к напроду, вопросы есть!

  5. Top albums of 2008 (that I learned about during 2009) « Burgersmoke said,

    […] 6, 2009 at 6:45 pm (Uncategorized) (music, lists, 2008) As I mentioned in my previous top 10 list of 2008, I love end of year lists to help me expand and also filter through my experience of the limitless […]

  6. Top 10 records of 2010 « Burgersmoke said,

    […] written about them before in my list for 2008, and this record continues in new an exciting territory.  The soundscape is a churning sea of […]

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