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Monday, June 09, 2008

2008 Mid-Year Report:
The 10 Albums You Must Own!

It’s that time of year again where I try my best to summarize the past six months in music. Unlike last year, and Laakso’s still brilliant release, I don’t think we’ve seen 2008’s album of the year quite yet. There have been quite a few great releases, but nothing that totally owns that title. In fact, so far I’d say 2008 has been more of a year of fantastic singles than albums. Also, I’ve got to acknowledge two albums that are not eligible for my list, but quality-wise would be right at the top if they were. Following Robyn’s success last year, both Alphabeat and September have had massive breakthroughs internationally. I’ve followed both artists for a long time now and I’m over the moon at their success, but barring a few tracks I’ve already heard their albums before 2008. Scandinavian crossover success is definitely a 2008 trend that I hope to see continue on into the future. The Ark and Melody Club… when are people going to notice you?? Another welcome (and unexpected) trend is actually happening right here in the States. Some of those r&b singers that I despise so much (they have all but hijacked radio here for the past decade) are starting to release really good, more pop-oriented summer tracks (see Ne-Yo’s Closer and Chris Brown’s Forever). Who would have thought? We’ll see when Ne-Yo’s new album comes out this summer if it’s just a one-off or if pop is actually going to get interesting again on this side of the Atlantic. Anyways, on to the list!

Top Tier

Delays - Everything’s The Rush
Switching it up ever-so-slightly on their third release, my favorite UK band continue to impress with another album of pop stunners. (UK)
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
An unexpected masterpiece of off-kilter pop and rock that has proven to have the most longevity so far this year. (USA)

Next Tier

Juvelen - 1
The long-awaited debut from this Swedish wonder child… chock full of amazing singles and singles-to-be. (Sweden)
Kaka - Kaka
Another greatest-hits worthy debut from ex The Mo keyboardist. Surprisingly self-assured and unique. (Sweden)
Eskobar - Death In Athens
The best release of this band’s career by a mile… shows what a little tempo can do for a band who was always on the verge of brilliance. (Sweden)

Next Tier

Bryan Scary & The Shredding Tears - Flight Of The Knife
Terminally fun rock opera concept album that sounds like it’s straight from the 70’s… in the best possible way. (USA)
Surferosa - The Beat On The Street
These guys just keep getting better and better. Lead single The Future was a red herring… the rest of the album is far more brilliant. (Norway)
Walter Meego - Voyager
Probably the best dance album of the year so far… eternally indebted to the 80’s with a strong glam edge. (USA)

Next Tier

Janet Jackson - Discipline
Despite the fact that people seem to be done with her, this was the diva comeback album of the year... And her best in years. (USA)
Neon Neon - Stainless Style
Fantastic 80‘s inspired release… would have been much higher if not for those stupid rap tracks. (UK/USA)
Runners-up: Jean - Jean, Royworld - Man In The Machine, Guillemots - Red, Pacific! - Reveries, Your Vegas - A Town & Two Cities

And the tracks:

1. Delays - Keep It Simple
Apparently some folks think this song is somewhat “blah.” I find nothing blah-worthy about the gorgeous verses.
2. MGMT - Of Moons, Birds & Monsters
A throwback, nearly psychedelic sound mixed with the poppy melodies of 70’s Fleetwood Mac.
3. Juvelen - Money Don’t Talk
An 80’s electro freakout with some seriously catchy hooks… may sound like a mess at first but give it time.
4. Kaka - Ball & Chain, Darling
Delightfully quirky electro pop song with his unique trademark sound.
5. Eskobar - You Can’t Hear Me
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous chorus.
6. Bryan Scary & The Shredding Tears - The Purple Rocket
From glam to psychedelic to Beach Boys in four minutes… it’s one hell of a ride.
7. Surferosa - Get Up! Get Up! Get Up!
No Doubt would have killed for this track, but Surferosa wrote it first. Insanely catchy from the get-go.
8. Walter Meego - Baby Please
Swirling, summertime retro dance music with enough bass to shake the house.
9. Janet Jackson - 2nite
Since apparently we’re getting no more singles, I might as well post this should-have-been-number-one.
10. Neon Neon - Belfast
Beautiful 80’s styled synth track that probably wouldn’t have been out of place on Superfamily’s brilliant 2007 album.

Download each individually, or if you want the perfect soundtrack to kick off your summer, download the whole CD in a rar file!

Also, I’ve got to take a second to highlight the three best EP’s of 2008 (so far). I’ve got my eye on full-length releases from the Galvatrons, Kite and Hotel Motel because each artist could easily end up creating my number one album of this year!

And lastly, don’t forget to get ahold of the two best reissues of 2008, which if they were eligible would easily make my top 5.

View 2007's Mid-Year Report here!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do agree with most of your list. I haven't listened to Delays or Kaka albums yet but Neon Neon, Janet, MGMT, Walter Meego and sepcially Juvelen would be on my list too.

And I would add Hot Chip, Cut Copy, Pacific! and The Presets.


5:01 AM  
Blogger Gumby said...

I found your blog a year ago from posting 2007's best of the year so far and I've been hooked ever since. So thanks for providing so many awesome recommendations! I still have no idea how you find them all.

My picks for favorites of the year so far (in no order):
The Feeling - Join With Us
Bryan Scary... - Flight of the Knife
Josh Fix - Free At Last
Roger Joseph Manning Jr - Catnip Dynamite
Sparks - Exotic Creatures of the Deep
Guillemots - Red
Delays - Everything's The Rush
Panic At The Disco - Pretty Odd
Royworld - Man in the Machine

And there's dozens more that I'm still letting sink in, or that are pre-2008 that I'm just finding now. All-in-all it's been a pretty good year for music.

7:53 AM  
Blogger River Phoenix said...

While MGMT at first were on my list, now they moved way down (they kind of irritate me after a while instead on grow on me)

Los campesinos, no age, Lykke Li, Foals, Shearwater, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Fleet Foxes are amongst the top releases..

7:59 AM  
Blogger Chrille said...

Wow. I re-read your midyear report from 2007 and I love every album on there (except King Midas who I haven't given a true listen yet). On this list I've however only heard two ("Oracular Spectacular" and "1"). That really shows how lazy I've been looking after my interest in music this year. It's embarrasing! I've only listened to the usual hipster-approved albums this year. Like Crystal Castles - "Crystal Castles", Hot Chip - "Made In The Dark", Cut Copy - "In Ghost Colours", The Presets - "Apocalypso", Goldfrapp - "Seventh Tree", Hercules & Love Affair - "Hercules & Love Affair", Hadouken! - "Music For An Accelerated Culture", Ladytron - "Velocifero", Lykke Li - "Youth Novels", M83 - "Saturdays = Youth", Scarlett Johansson - "Anywhere I Lay My Head", The Cool Kids - "Bake Sale", The Kills - "Midnight Boom", The Teenagers - "Reality Check", The Ting Tings - "We Started Nothing", Vampire Weekend - "Vampire Weekend" and Zeigeist - "The Jade Hotel". Shame on me! I'll track down these albums right away. Thanks!

7:59 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

So cool to hear everyone's lists. As you all know, my tastes tend to be more pop-oriented, and I generally try to stay away from what everyone else is listening to (aka: "hipster" music) unless it really speaks to me. It always annoys me in music magazines at the end of the year how all the lists are always pretty much the same.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Derek said...

I'm loving that Juvelen track!

1:52 AM  

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