One of my favorite things about this time of year is sifting through everybody’s top 5, 10, 25, and etcetera lists. A particular favorite category is that of the years top albums. This year has produced an excessive amount of great music -so much that I’ve been having a hard time making a list of my own. But while sifting through everyone else’s lists, I’ve found several albums missing that deserve a lot more credit then what they got this year. Most of my picks are mentioned on some lists, if you dig enough, but their merit is somehow forgotten. So, without any further wait, here is my top 5 albums that aren’t getting the attention they deserve in other people’s best of 2008 lists:
#5 REM – Accelerate. When this one was released, I held my breathe. Would it be another “Up?” Or would REM return to being the musical geniuses they were in the 80s and 90s? Well, I am quite happy to say that this is the best album they’ve released since “Monster.” Here’s hoping they either stay on this track, or retire. Well, maybe that’s a little too harsh.
#4 Ladytron – Velocifero. Ok, let’s be honest about two things: a) Ladytron is one of my favorite bands (so I might be bias with their inclusion on this list), and b) Velocifero was not their best work – in fact, I might even say it was their worst album to date. But still, this album has had its moments. The song “verses” alone, with its clever phrase turns and the fact that its the first Ladytron song to date with a male vocalist! “Kletva,” is quite a catchy tune as well – one is tempted to learn Bulgarian just so they can sing along.
#3 Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping. To be fair, I did see this mentioned in several of the KEXP staff top ten lists, but hardly anywhere else. This album is not family friendly, far from it! So if you’re easily offended, veer away from this album. However, the sensual nature of the lyrics with the trademark “all over the place” feel of the music that really make this album worth more than a few listens. And bonus points for being an actual album with a natural flow and intertwining pieces, as opposed to a playlist of ten random songs.
#2 Black Kids – Partie Traumatic. This album is just pure fun. It feels almost like a guilty pleasure, but then one hears the lyrics and realizes the depth of the music. How many people had “I’m not gonna teach your Boyfriend how to dance with you” orbiting their head for the better part of the summer? I’m actually surprised the song is not blasting from the speakers of every American Eagle store in the country (give it a year).
#1 The 1900s – Cold & Kind. I stumbled upon this band at Musicfest NW, and was severely disappointed to find out they’re not from Portland, but rather Chicago. I have not found an album this listenable in a couple years, and while I can’t pick a list of ten albums this year, I can say without a doubt this was indeed my favorite album of 2008.
Honorable Mention: The B52s – Funplex. About half of you just decided I don’t know a damned thing about music, didn’t you? I was indeed skeptical of this album, I mean the B52s haven’t done anything worthwhile since “Cosmic Thing!” Well, maybe there’s something in the Athens, GA water supply (which would also explain REM and Of Montreal), but Funplex is perhaps the best B52s album ever. From the insightful “Juliet of Spirits,” and even the erotic “Ultraviolet,” perhaps “the ultimate party band” has finally grown up.