Monday, December 15, 2008

The Actual Top 30 Albums Of 2008

The music industry is, as ever, known to be in a state of tension and barely concealed panic in the run-up to the annual Stay At Home Indie-Pop nominations for the year's best music. This year, due to the linguistic recession that has resulted in the chronic global shortage of adjectives, and bearing in mind that there are now approximately 700 blogs to every internet reader, reviews have been curtailed to a succinct and time-saving single sentence.

30. Her Space Holiday - XOXO, Panda And The New Kid Revival
After several wonderful albums of bedroom electro-pop for depressives, HSH makes a quirky guitar album full of hooks and funny, strange lyrics.

29. Sonya Kitchell - This Storm
19, gifted and beautiful, still feeling her way down different avenues -- her record company probably wants her to be Alanis Morissette, while she'd rather be Sonny Girl Williamson.

28. Lucinda Williams - Little Honey
Rocking, growling Lucinda got lucky in love at last, but she hasn't let that tame her style.

27. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Weird but brilliant modern medieval music.

26. Tift Merritt - Another Country
C&W prodigy moves to Paris with a piano and gets all grown up on us.

25. Dawn Landes - Fireproof
This year's statutory emerging, sensitive New York songbird.

24. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
We all know - written in an isolated shed for instant indie cred, but while it has its moments, it's too ponderous and maudlin to be as good as the critics wanted it to be.

23. Robert Forster - The Evangelist
Back solo from the Go-Betweens after Grant McLennan's death, a sombre, poetic effort built on Forster's unmistakable melodies.

22. She & Him - Volume One
Paste magazine made this its album of the year, an overly high accolade for what is a middling-to-good 60s pop revival record.

21. Toumani Diabate - The Mande Variations
Classical African music for meditative moments.

20. Yoav - Charmed And Strange
Accessible and at times exceptional electronica.

19. Paul Weller - 22 Dreams
Like a style-by-style career retrospective, but with entirely new and mostly fresh-sounding songs.

18. Portishead - Third
Closely related to First and Second, mixing brash with mellow deep inside the musical twilight zone.

17. Spiritualized - Songs In A & E
A record that only occasionally suffers from the scope of its ambition, with surprise largely accompanied by scarred sonic delight.

16. Tindersticks - The Hungry Saw
Oblivious to musical fads, still crafting the same quivering compositions of fragile beauty.

15. Giant Sand - proVISIONS
Low key, bass-driven soundtrack to the imminent greater depression - same formula, possibly better than ever.

14. Horse Feathers - House With No Home
Folk music scratched from the cold, raw earth with love and a battered fiddle.

13. Lie Down In The Light - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Upbeat enough compared with previous works that it should be subtitled: Will Oldham Finally Got Laid

12. M83 - Saturdays = Youth
Brimming with warm, vibrant synths - a record you can dig into like a bag of colorful, comforting sweets.

11. Old 97's - Blame It On Gravity
Plenty old, borrowed and blue, but you can't help but love a record full of lively, extremely singable songs.

10. Musee Mecanique - Hold This Ghost
Occasionally cloying, but mostly like coming in from the cold to hot chocolate and cake, all fuzzy synths wrapped in a soothing voice that envelops you in a blissful zone you may not want to leave.

9. Buika - Nina Del Fuego
You can almost smell the smoking danger in Buika's passionate, irresistible delivery.

8. Orchestra Baobab - Made In Dakar
Phenomenal musicians of unrelenting tempo and talent revelling in the usual maelstrom of joyous, soul-shaking styles.

7. Basia Bulat - Oh, My Darling
Delicate but lovely vocals underpin an album that slowly grows into a work of variety and finesse.

6. Kathleen Edwards - Asking For Flowers
Strong songs, tough themes and impeccable delivery from hugely gifted Canadian.

5. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
Much easier to like and listen to than any previous releases, this is an impressive series of rhythmic rides into the realm of the unexpected -- the result is a set of uniquely lifting songs.

4. Ane Brun - Changing Of The Seasons
Outstanding Norwegian singer-songwriter delivers fractured, emotional compositions never less than utterly beautiful.

3. The Weepies - Hideaway
The name and deceptively twee arrangements can't hide the fact that this is a collection of consistently excellent songs.

2. Damien Jurado - Caught In The Trees
Our greatest living songwriter works the magic of his misery once more using an acoustic guitar and the soul in his throat, backed by a band who, playing live, gives you a reassuring smile that sadly eludes the burdened genius at the front.

1. Sun Kil Moon - April
Hazy, sprawling songs of unfathomable gorgeousness.