A Slice of Fried Gold

Favorite albums of 2008 (so far)

Monday, June 16, 2008

For our next big list, Sheri and I are churning out a mixtape version of our favorite songs of all time, with a 20 song tracklisting encompassing our musical tastes for all time. However, because that is such an arduous affair and neither of us really had time to work on it, we're taking a break from our list comparison event. Instead, this week I'll do another list I'd been intending to get to: my mid-year favorite albums of 2008.

Once again, these are favorite albums of the year, not necessarily best...whatever exactly that would entail anyways. I also only included seven albums, as these are the only albums that have been released so far that I think can legitimately make my end of year list.

Also, check out my muxtape of my favorites along with assorted other tracks I enjoy here, all for your listening pleasure.

1. Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground - Self Titled

Favorite track: Birds (On a Day Like Today)

Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground is the brainchild of soon-to-be indie rock god Kirk Huffman (former bassist of my favorite band Gatsby's American Dream) and Kyle O'Quin (keyboardist from Gatsby's self titled album), and for a child of the 90's, this album gives me a little piece of what it was like to live in the 60's.

It's psychedelic rock at its finest, at times jammy, dreamy, and grandiose as all get out, it was my most anticipated album of the year coming in and blew me away even after I got my hands on it. Lyrically bizarre but told through gloriously sweet vocals brought to you by Huffman, the true star of the album is the dense soundscapes the band creates with a massive amount of instruments. To say they are original doesn't cut it, they make music like no one else does today.

To seal the deal, I saw them at Sasquatch and they played half the album in stellar fashion, both perfecting and reinventing the sound brought on the album within the same performance.

This band should be in every music aficionados regular musical rotation, and I can't wait for more of the world to bask in their glory. Blow minds baby, indeed.

2. Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell

Favorite track: Tesselate

This is an album I've already raved about within my blog here, but I'd like to emphasize once again how superb this debut is. I was a fan of their A Lesson in Crime EP and I saw them at Bumbershoot last year, but I felt as if they had a chaotic energy that would be better suited if focused in a more structured sound.

With Elephant Shell, they did that to a stunning degree, channeling all of the talent that poured out of them into eleven tracks of sheer rock gold. My most listened to album this year so far.

3. Vampire Weekend - Self Titled

Favorite track: M79

I'm unsure as to whether or not anyone who reads blogs has heard of this band. They've received absolutely no hype whatsoever.

Oh wait, nevermind...they are the most hyped band so far this year by far. I get confused sometimes.

However for once, the hype is worth it as this band's debut is a breath of fresh air. It recalls one of my favorite albums that my mom had me listen to quite often when I was younger (Paul Simon's Graceland) but at the same time, it is its own animal altogether.

It's brilliantly orchestrated and wonderfully simple, and frankly if we had one new artist (alternately forward thinking and respective of the past) like this band ever year the world of music would be a very better place right now.

See what I said about this album before here.

4. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs

Favorite track: You Can Do Better than Me

I know, I know, as recently as this blog post, I said that this was my favorite album of the year. But that was over a month ago. I mean come on, how can you expect me to maintain my opinion for that long?

Truth be told, I still say it's Death Cab's best album yet. Its a very well put together album that reaches new heights for the band while taking them in directions they had yet to go before, while still providing the same thing we'd expect from a Death Cab album. However, it is a very tough year and the three above this album could not be denied.

5. Jamie Lidell - Jim

Favorite track: Wait for Me

This album I'd say is the most unexpected of any on my list. I'd never had any experience with Jamie Lidell, his type of music isn't really my thing, and really, there wasn't a lot of hype behind this album.

But this is the most joyous of any album I've heard so far this year. Lidell brings back the fun and impassioned singing that I love Motown for and layers it upon incredibly catchy piano and drum based beats. This album is designed to get your toes tapping and to get you singing while you drive.

This is the feel good hit of the summer, except it is just me that is treating it like that. Not only that, but it gets better with every spin.

See my original write up about this album here.

6. Styrofoam - A Thousand Words

Favorite track: Bright Red Helmet

I just picked up this album recently after hearing "Bright Red Helmet" on UAA's college radio station KRUA (88.1 = best station in Anchorage), and before then I hadn't even realized this high quality electronic outfit was releasing a new album. I'd been a big fan of their previous album, but I must admit, this one may be even better.

This album has less well known guest stars than 2004's Nothing's Lost (come on, that album featured Ben Gibbard and Andrew Kenny), but makes up for it with songs that are more well put together and instantly catchy. While Styrofoam never reaches the same high they did with Nothing's Lost's standout track "Make It Mine," the new album is more consistently engrossing and the overall performance of vocalists are superior.

For fans of the Postal Service and glitchy electronic indie pop, this one is highly recommended.

7. Islands - Arm's Way

Favorite track: In the Rushes

I went on and on about this album in this post, but I just want to say once again that this band really took a big step in my eyes with this album. Islands were another band that I thought were too chaotic to ever really become a favorite of mine, but they tightened up their sound and really released an exceptional album.

Plus, there is a partial cover of one of my favorite tracks off the Rushmore soundtrack on the album, which earns them major kudos.

There you have it. My favorites to date, and listed below I have albums that need more spins but could get on there, honorable mentions, and releases I'm very interested in that I haven't had a chance to explore yet.

Need more spins: M83 – Saturdays = Youth, Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends

Honorable mentions: My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges, The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely, Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords, The Mars Volta – Bedlam in Goliath

Haven't listened to yet: The Hold Steady – Stay Positive, Portishead – Third, Ghostland Observatory – Robotique Majestique, No Age – Nouns, Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin – Pershing, Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer, Fleet Foxes – Self Titled


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