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Favorite Music of 2008

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Into the Hill has posted the various top ten albums of the year lists selected by our contributors and staff members.

Be sure to check out the site, but the following is my list, including my selections for #’s 20-10 (not included at ITH).

*PLEASE NOTE: These are simply my favorite albums of the year. I make no claims that these are the 20 best albums of 2009. For honestly, how could I know that. There are thousands of albums I missed, most of which I will never hear, many of which are probably stupendous. But this is true of every music critic, to some degree or another. Anyway, its an almost impossible thing to determine exactly which album is the single best piece of music in any given year, especially as the genre’s crossbreed and give birth to new genres altogether and as standards change and morph. Such is art. In the end though, who cares? Really. If you love something, if something moves you, I say celebrate it. If your discerning soul wants to rejoice in a piece of quality artistry, I saw shout it out from the nearest mountaintop, in the nearest street or… on the nearest blog….

These are the albums and artists from 2008 who remarkable work I’m celebrating, loving and shouting about – that I think you should listen to and that I hope will inspire, delight and amaze you, as they have me.

Happy Listening and Happy Shouting!

20 FROM 2008:

20. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
Not as good as the hype, but a great collection of stripped down lo-fi all the same.

19. Q-Tip, The Renaissance
Old School hip hop from an old school hip-hop artist. Yet. There’s a new energy, another re-invention from one of the greats.

18. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
“The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” is one of the coolest songs of the year.

17. Katie Herzig, Apple Tree
I finally took a close look at this delightful and often moving collection of pop infused folkie numbers a little late in the year, but it was on constant repeate during my holiday travels and I highly recommend it.

16. The Submarines, Honeysuckle Weeks
I dare you. Try to not enjoy this album.

15. Shearwater, Rook
Coolest album art anywhere. Good music too, by the way.

14. Johnny Flynn, Alarum
On Alarum, Shakespearean performer Flynn takes on a uniquely Dickension persona and delivers some of the purest ballads of the year. Oliver Twist with a guitar.

13. Pale Young Gentleman, Black Forest (Tra La La)
Beautiful, haunting, abundantly creative and threatening to overtake the artists on my top ten. This little known band is a must-listen. Now.

12. Okkervil River, The Stand-Ins
Its easy to make the argument that this album is a top five album. And for many people it is.

11. Matthew Perryman Jones, Swallow the Sea
Sorely underappreciated. “Motherless Child” rivals any great song of 2008.

10. Ezra Furman, Inside the Human Body
Furman and his band, The Harpoons, may not have lived up to their ‘07 debut but they surely have whipped up another mess of energetic quality folk rock songs.

9. Tallest Man on Earth, Shallow Grave
America, meet Bob Dylan. Kristian Matsson, meet America. Give this man a proper release in the U.S.!

8. Son Lux, At War with Walls and Mazes
Classically trained Ryan Lott (aka Son Lux) has created the most haunting electronica album to come out in a long time. Equally influenced by hip-hop, Radiohead and classical music, Walls and Mazes is another remarkable debut in a year of remarkable debuts.

7. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
Sounds like driving through the Appalachian/Blue Ridge mountains in a cloud of morning fog (trust me, I do this often). Drink coffee while you listen. Delicious.

6. Jolie Holland, The Living and the Dead
Jazzy, bluesy, Waits-ian folk at its best.

5. Coldplay, Viva la Vida
This album flat out rocks. Chris Martin’s vastly improved lyrics and vocal performance boosts epic soundscapes and hauntingly beautiful melodies.

4. Anathallo, Canopy Glow
I’ve been preaching the merits of this band for years; finally people are giving them the credit they deserve. As good as anything Sufjan has done.

3. Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet, Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet
This Appalachian folk album boasts one of the strongest vocal performances of the year.

2. Sigur Ros, með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
Ok, so maybe it’s not as groundbreaking as their earlier albums, but that doesn’t keep this album from being stunning all the same. “Ara Batur” is one of the best songs of the year.

1. Bob Dylan, Tell Tale Signs
As good, if not better than, anything Dylan has done in recent years, Signs is a masterpiece. Its better than Dylan’s fantastic 2005 release Modern Times. The old man’s still got the magic touch.

ALSO WORTH A LISTEN OR SEVERAL: Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound, Brave Saint Saturn, Anti-Meridian, Kanye West, 808s and Heartbreak (it’s true), John Mark McMillan, The Medicine, Ra Ra Riot, The Rhumb Line, Welcome Wagon, Welcome to the Welcome Wagon, Sandra McCracken, Red Balloon, Horse Feathers, House With No Name, Peter Broderick, Home, Breathe Owl Breathe, Ghost Glacier EP, M83, Saturdays=Youth.

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