Friday, December 26, 2008

Best Music of 2008: Part 4 (20-16)

20. Death Cab for CutieNarrow Stairs

Narrow StairsI'm not sure if this is the first album to make my year-end list that topped the Billboard charts, but an album by an "indie" band debuting at #1 is quite the long shot coming in. That's what happened in May of this year, when this album was released, completing the band's ascension from indie darlings to commercial success, a feat accomplished while receiving surprisingly few accusations of selling out.

19. The Rural Alberta AdvantageHometowns

HometownsCracking the list at #19, The RAA's Hometowns is actually only the third highest ranked debut album on my list. That, folks, means there are two more to come. Despite being eMusic's featured artist of the month in November, this excellent band from Toronto is, unbelievably, as yet unsigned.

18. Wild Sweet OrangeWe Have Cause to Be Uneasy

We Have Cause to Be UneasyEarlier this year, The Boston Phoenix did a feature article profiling their picks for the all-time best band and solo artist, and the best new band from each of the 50 states. Wild Sweet Orange was their pick for the "band you need to hear, like, now" from Alabama. For some reason, this was the only one of their recommendations that stuck with me. When I learned of the release of their debut album, I had to check it out, and was not disappointed.

17. Say HiThe Wishes and the Glitch

The Wishes and the GlitchOne of the reviews I read of this album describes Say Hi leader Eric Elbogen's voice as "mumbly". I think that's the first time I've ever heard a singer's voice referred to in such a way, and I find it quite amusing--even somewhat endearing. I also love the hooky synth-pop of this record, as well as Elbogen's mumbly voice, particularly when he sings lines such as "...oboes will bleat and the triangles tink, but we can't stop this thing from what it's gonna be".

16. Of MontrealSkeletal Lamping

Skeletal LampingIn an interview, Of Montreal front-man Kevin Barnes discusses this album by saying, "This record is my attempt to bring all of my puzzling, contradicting, disturbing, humorous... fantasies, ruminations and observations to the surface, so that I can better dissect and understand their reason for being in my head. Hence the title Skeletal Lamping. ‘Lamping’ is the name of a rather dreadful hunting technique where hunters go into the forest at night, flood an area in light, then shoot or capture the animals as they panic and run from their hiding places. This album is my attempt at doing this to my proverbial skeletons. I haven’t yet decided if I should shoot or just capture them though."

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