My Top 40 Albums of 2008: Numbers 24 Through 17

Welcome back. It’s the third installment of the countdown of my top 40 albums of 2008, and by the end of this one, we’re over halfways there. Here’s a quick reminder of what got to our ears in May and June of this year. May was dominated by releases from Death Cab For Cutie, Spiritualized, No Age, and Alex Turner’s latest project, The Last Shadow Puppets; outside of indie-blogland, Amy Winehouse replacement number two, Duffy, made her debut and thus Mercy became the bane of my existence. There were also releases from The Daysleepers, Zombie Zombie, The Very Sexuals, Titus Andronicus, The Delays, The Dandy Warhols, Jeremy Jay, The Futureheads and Booka Shade while The Charlatans rather anti-climactically released You Cross My Path after they had anti-climactically come up with the idea to give it away for free earlier in the year. The old guard was duly represented in May by Elvis Costello and the Imposters, The Wedding Present and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Even Scarlett Johansson dropped an album.

June had the hipsters slobbering over releases by Fleet Foxes, Sigur Ros and the increasingly annoying and overrated The Ting Tings (to think I thought one of their songs was all right a year and a half ago). Swedish popster Lykke Li also became a bloghold name while albums from The Zutons, Paul Weller, Weezer, The Fratellis, Ladytron, Martha Wainwright, The Virgins, People Noise, Wolf Parade, Allegories, The Kid, Wild Beasts, Don Juan Dracula, Jim Noir associates The Beep Seals, White Denim, Infadels, Stereolab, Volente, Andrea Liuzza, The Subways, and yes, even Sparks, released. There were also albums from artists that have already graced this countdown, including The Notwist and The Presets. Also, in the outside world of music popularity, faux lesbian Katy Perry released her debut album, and so one of the least attractive homages to pin-up girls became a star and a new song became the bane of my existence as it sneaked about malls and episodes of So, You Think You Can Dance. And of course June saw the release of 2008’s bestselling album (yes, it’s sadly official): Coldplay’s Viva La Vida.

Onwards and upwards…

24. Life After Ridge – Twig

I have a feeling this isn’t a typical top album of 2008 choice. Maybe because most people haven’t heard of the Swedish band Twig, especially because it can be difficult to search and find them when there are other bands with the same name. Or you may just end up with sites on actual twigs. To me, they manage to mash together the feel of The Smiths and New Order behind a flamboyant, Edwin Collinsesque voice. The album ranges from the unbridled jubilance of Ciao Ciao Bomb to the melodical moodiness of Indigo, and they manage to work within a cataclysm of the New Romantic and jangle pop. This is their first official release apart from several singles for Cloudberry Records, where their honest and quirky pop fits perfectly. There is something stubbornly C86/post-punk about them and I am completely disarmed.

Ciao Ciao Bomb – Twig

Constance and Her Cousin – Twig

23. V – Van She

Here’s another group from the Modular roster. This debut LP (Van She has previously released an EP) was long awaited and it delivered beyond what I had expected based on the previous work by this Australian foursome. V is full of atmospheric, mind-bending psychedelia in addition to some of the expected 80s-influenced electropop and a gentle hipness reminiscent of retro hipsters Phoenix. The hissing mind explosion of Cat & the Eye, the pumping sophistication of Changes, the pouting slinkiness of Strangers, and the revamped anthemic exhilaration of Kelly push this album into the playlists for cool kid parties all over the world. Refreshing as a turquoise swimming pool.

Strangers – Van She

Kelly – Van She

22. Cut the World – Moscow Olympics

Like Twig’s Life After the Ridge, this album by Phillippines-based band Moscow Olympics may seem an odd choice and probably won’t appear on anybody else’s lists. That’s hugely unfortunate because this album is a twinkling gem of a shoegaze album. It’s as if the whole album is made of spun sugar, fragile but glittering with grains of sweet luminosity. With a dreaminess reminiscent of The Radio Dept. and New Order’s Ceremony, this record hangs in the air like the fragnance of lilacs on a summer day. A truly staggering debut.

Carolyn – Moscow Olympics

Cut the World – Moscow Olympics

21. O My Heart – Mother Mother

This sophomore album from Canadian band Mother Mother is a genre-smashing effort full of offbeat lyrics and phrasing. The band’s taut energy alternately bangs its head, croons passionately over folk textures, and spikes holes through pop bubbles – sometimes all in the same song. They’ve developed that organic several-working-as-one-body aesthetic that they came out with on their debut album; now they are flawlessly combining elements that likely shouldn’t belong together, and they do it with an insouciant aplomb. The relatively simple track Ghosting still gives me goosebumps when I listen to it. This album is the sound of a band that doesn’t take itself seriously, but who have some serious talent.

O My Heart – Mother Mother

Hayloft – Mother Mother

20. Hold On Now Youngster – Los Campesinos!

As with MGMT, I attempted to resist Los Campesinos! for as long as I could because of their hype, but in the end, I had to admit the Welsh band made a cracking debut album. Their music is as exclamatory as their name and song titles (many of which wordy emo bands would kill to have written), and they feel like a younger, wittier Broken Social Social Scene. Melodies blast forth from within the punky cacophony and their shouty vocals are infectious. Though Los Campesinos! ambitiously released their sophomore album We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed later this year, their debut is the one that has had the most effect on me. They’ve made an art form of cantering about like verbose children, playfully splashing about in their own stream of consciousness.

Death to Los Campesinos! – Los Campesinos!

Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks – Los Campesinos!

19. Dear Science – TV on the Radio

When TV on the Radio first started getting buzz, including some from David Bowie, years ago, I took note and definitely appreciated their work on EPs and their debut album. However, Dear Science has made this significant band more accessible and memorable for me, and thus connected with me at a deeper level than before. The musical styles have fused beyond gospel, beyond electro, beyond funk, beyond hip hop – Tunde Adebimpe’s raspy, soulful falsetto has reached inside me and nestled in my solar plexus. The dexterity in this record’s lyrical phrasing is so complex and brilliant, you have to acknowledge the musicality of language itself. Through this lyrical, rhythmic quality, I have also come to realize just how intelligent and poetic TV on the Radio’s lyrics are; for example, on Family Tree, the lyrics run, “We’re laying in the shadow of your family tree/Your haunted heart and me/Brought down by an old idea whose time has come/And in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree/There’s a hundred hearts soar free/Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep it young.” That is art.

Dancing Choose – TV on the Radio

Family Tree – TV on the Radio

18. Saturdays = Youth – M83

Now that Anthony Gonzalez has taken complete control over French musical entity M83, he has managed to produce an airy album in tribute to all those 80s American teen movies, and more importantly, what those movies signify – that belief that the underdog can fight back against the unfairness of the high school pecking order, that belief that impossible romance can culminate at prom, that belief that being a teenager is one of the most tragic and sweet times of one’s life. Gonzalez melds all these emotions into a swirling, expansive soundscape of emotional intensity, and with the aid of Morgan Kibby’s ethereal vocals, he creates a record of breathy anticipation and latent hopes. One of the songs of the year should surely be Kim & Jessie, a soaring anthem that sounds like how an evening summer breeze would feel against bare legs under a cotton skirt – the pumping synths take you back to unironic, youthful fantasy, prompting memories you wish you had.

Kim & Jessie – M83

Couleurs – M83

17. Aurora – The Deer Tracks

This Swedish duo has created the musical equivalent of lying on your back on a hill and picking out shapes in the clouds. Their shimmering musical palette keeps subtly shifting before you until it creates an entirely new formation of imagination and wispy curliques of curiosity. You can feel the strength of damp, living earth behind your spine as the misty images conjured by synths and keyboards drift dizzyingly above your head, and for a moment, you can tell the Earth is rotating. I also encourage you to watch their breathtaking video for the song Slow Collision. Named for the ephemeral displays of light in the night sky, this album is humming with an unseen magnetism from a parallel dimension where thoughts manifest themselves in the static-filled sky.

Yes, This is My Broken Shield – The Deer Tracks

127 Sex Fyra – The Deer Tracks

The honourable mention for this part of the countdown is Transient Blood by The Kid. It’s not a very typical choice – hey, even I was caught a little off-guard. But I can’t deny that I love this album’s effervescent electropop aesthetic. It is unapologetically catchy, and yes, the track Transient Dance does feel a lot like New Order’s Krafty, but they take it somewhere else that I find absolutely blissful. Plus they have a song that goes “Sometimes I scare children and I like it.”

Transient Dance – The Kid

Next Friday’s installment will crack the top 10 when I cover numbers 16 through 9. And this weekend the Year-End Round-Up for weekly mixes begins.


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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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