Kitsune Noir’s Favorite Albums of 2008

I’ve been compiling this list for god knows how long, and since there is exactly one day left of 2008, I figure I should get my butt in gear and post it. This is a list of my 15 top favorite albums from 2008, a year filled with some really amazing records. This list actually started out as 10, and then 12, and finally ended at 15. I feel satisfied with these 15, and if I had to remember 2008 by only these albums, I certainly wouldn’t be sad.

With that being said, here are my picks, in alphabetical order:

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

Bon Iver | For Emma, Forever Ago

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For Emma by Bon Iver

Bon Iver killed it this year, not only releasing a stellar album made up of a mixture of soft tender moments and loud banging drums, but by also putting on one of, if not the very best, shows of 2008. This was an album that I recommended to a good number of people, all of which seemed to love it. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met a person who doesn’t love this album.

They have a new EP coming out January 19/20th (depending on where you are) called Blood Bank which is stunning, and I highly suggest snagging it when it drops. It’s an immense step in the already incredible musical sound of one of the best bands of 2008.

Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

Cut Copy | In Ghost Colours

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Out There On the Ice by Cut Copy

For me, the danciest album of the year was easily Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colours. Where MGMT’s album definitely started out good in the beginning, it ended pretty weakly, But In Ghost Colours is one long, continuous jam of perfect pop songs, never stopping or stuttering in it’s entire 50 minutes. I also love the quiet, dreamy moments they put into the record as well, something that allows you to catch your breath for a moment.

I think one of the biggest reasons for the albums cohesion was Mr. Tim Goldsworthy’s hand in producing the album, giving the guys the structure they needed to make something really spectacular.

Department of Eagles | In Ear Park

Department of Eagles | In Ear Park

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No One Does It Like You by Department of Eagles

In Ear Park was one of those albums that actually surprised me when I first heard it. I thought the Department of Eagles’ last album, The Cold Nose, was okay, not the best ever. But because of Daniel Rossen’s involvement in Grizzly Bear, I had to hear it, especially if it was anything like the new GB song, While You Wait For the Others.

Thankfully In Ear Park was a major gem, filled with lots of beautiful choruses, dark guitar melodies, and even a Van Dyke Parks tribute. The album also featured No One Does It Like You, which is definitely one of my favorite songs of the year.

Earlimart | Hymn & Her

Earlimart | Hymn & Her

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Face Down in the Right Town by Earlimart

Recorded in less than a year, Earlimart released Hymn & Her, an album that is simpl and beautiful. The band was paired down to only Ariana Murray and Aaron Espinoza, as referenced by the title of the album, and featured songs about love and loss, themes which have always been consistent to the band. But what made this album one of my favorites of the year was how well the album flowed together and how the two of them have such a great connection when it comes to writing music.

I’m hoping they continue suit and release another album out of the blue next year, just so I can be ecstatically surprised yet again.

Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes

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Blue Ridge Mountains by Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes self titled debut album was pretty much an instant hit, so I don’t think there’s a lot to say that hasn’t been said. I know for me personally it was an album that reminded me of older times, somewhere between rock, countryn and folk music, but there really wasn’t anything to compare it to. Robin Pecknold’s vocals sounded a bit like the dude from My Morning Jacket, but the similarities really stopped there. There’s just something really powerful about this album, which I think Bon Iver’s album falls into as well. They have this spirit and energy that their music portrays that hasn’t been seen in a long while.

Before I wrote this I decided to stop by their Myspace blog, and I noticed that they dropped the name of their next album, which is going to be: FORD AUTOMOTIVE PRESENTS FLEET FOXES II: TIDES OF THE UNDERDEMON, SERMON 3:16. That’s genius if I’ve ever seen it.

French Kicks | Swimming

French Kicks | Swimming

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Carried Away by French Kicks

I remember seeing the French Kicks open up for Hot Hot Heat when I was like 20, but I had never listened to them after that. But then I started hearing good things about their album Swimming, and whaddya’ know, it’s on my list of favorite albums. This album pretty much sums up the summer for me, like it is THE perfect summer album. There’s something about it being hot out, driving around with all the windows down and letting this album wash over me.

My one beef is that I got to see them live, and honestly, it was one of the worst concerts I’ve ever been to. I don’t like to broadcast negative things, but I ended up leaving the concert early because it was that sad, like they had no energy to perform or something. It’s too bad I didn’t get to see my favorite summer album performed excellently.

Little Joy | Little Joy

Little Joy | Little Joy

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Don’t Watch Me Dancing by Little Joy

Little Joy was one of those bands that I always meant to write about but I never got around to it. And it’s funny, because I could almost say that this was my hands down favorite album of the year… but I won’t. The band is made up of Fab Moretti from The Strokes, the Devendra-related Rodrigo Amarante, and the amazing Binki Shapiro. Together they started Little Joy, which is named after the dive bar here in Echo Park, and started making timeless music that I have a hard time identifying.

It has moments where it sounds somewhat Strokes-esque, but then there are songs where Binki sings, and you feel like your heart is going to melt in your chest. I honestly listened to nothing but this album for an entire week, it’s an absolutely magical album that everyone should own.

Lykke Li | Youth Novels

Lykke Li | Youth Novels

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Breaking It Up by Lykke Li

This gem of an album was actually suggested to me by my friend Alex, the only other time I had heard of Lykke Li was Josh Spears’ constant tweeting about how in love he was with her, haha… But yeah, Youth Novels is amazing on so many levels. First there’s her voice, which is breathy and almost sensual in a way. Then there’s the music itself, which is soooo well produced, it’s a joke. Every instrument is perfectly mixed together, giving that Swedish sound such a full body.

I also love the album artwork, which is something I haven’t mentioned until now. It’s rad to see someone new on the music scene coming out swinging with something that’s visually interesting. I see a bright future ahead of Ms. Li.

Megapuss | Surfing

Megapuss | Surfing

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To The Love Within by Megapuss

I feel like I lucked into loving Megapuss, even if that doesn’t make much sense. If I hadn’t accidentally seen them perform live at The Hammer Museum, I may never have fallen so deeply in love. Megapuss is one of those odd bird bands that’s definitely not for everyone, but I have a serious boner for Devendra Banhart, so having him make his own fucked up Beach Boys record is like heaven.

I honestly can’t wait for next summer to bust this out again, when it’s all hot and sweaty out and I need something to clear my mind. I just hope they decide to make another record eventually, and that this isn’t the one and only gem by the lovable boys in Megapuss.

Pale Young Gentlemen | Black Forest (Tra La La)

Pale Young Gentlemen | Black Forest

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Our History by Pale Young Gentlemen

My personal style as of lately has been influenced by two concepts, “old-timey” and “masculine.” When I listen to Pale Young Gentlemen’s album Black Forest (tra la la) I totally think of those ideas. I posted about these guys not too long ago, but this was an album that totally stuck with me, mostly because they sound like they’re from another time. I mainly attribute this to the strings and guitar plucking, but having songs named Coal/Ivory and Kettle Drum help as well.

I would love to see them play in concert, hopefully they’ll swing by LA at some point in 2009. I need some epic live string action!

She & Him | Volume One

She & Him | Volume One

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This Is Not A Test by She & Him

My love for She & Him came this summer after I saw The Go-Getter, anxiously awaiting the credits to roll by so I could see who made the music. Technically it was mostly M. Ward, but that led me to She & Him, and my love affair with their album. With such a diverse arrangement of songs, anywhere from folk, to 60’s pop, the album had it all.

I also really love that Zooey Deschanel is not only beautiful, but that she also wrote most of the songs. M. Ward, I’m sure, had his amazingly little crafty fingers in there, producing the record to a genius state, but I feel like they’re both damn talented people. Paste Magazine voted Volume One as their record of the year, and in an interview M. Ward states, “Zooey has about a gazillion brand new awesome songs. All we know about Volume Two is that it’s going to be twice as good as Volume One.” Rock on.

Sigur Rós | Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Sigur Rós | Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

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Við Spilum Endalaust by Sigur Rós

Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, which means ‘With Buzzing in Our Ears We Play Endlessly’, was an album that really surprised me with it’s freshness. With previous albums, Sigur Rós has often been quite morose, and sometimes downright depressing, no matter how beautiful the strings have have been. But with this album they took a decidedly cheerier outlook on things, and made an almost happy album filled with more guitars than strings.

The overall effect is brilliant, especially the first song Gobbledigook, which always brings such a huge smile to my face, like much of the album does. I also think it’s cool that the last song, All Alright, is the first song Jónsi has ever sung entirely in English. Definitely something everyone should own, especially if you’ve been turned off by Sigur Rós in the past.

These New Puritans | Beat Pyramid

These New Puritans | Beat Pyramid

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Navigate-Colours by These New Puritans

I came across These New Puritans after reading about how Hedi Slimane discovered them and had them create music for his Dior show a year or so ago. Now typically, this is not my kind of music. I’m really not a fan of Brit rock anymore, like Razorlight or Kaiser Chiefs, but for some reason TNP album Beat Pyramid totally stood out for me. I listen to this album a lot when I’m designing, there’s something about the frantic drum beats and off kilter electronic music, as well as Jack Barnett’s screechy, almost preachy voice.

I’m not sure this one is for everyone, but it definitely stood out in my mind as something I enjoyed a whole lot, so hopefully some people will be turned on to them. I’m curious to see what their next album might sound like, hopefully it’s just as frantically creative as this one is.

Vampire Weekend | Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend | Vampire Weekend

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The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance by Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend is another one of those duh albums, which is universally accepted as one of the best albums of 2008. I was lucky enough to see Vampire Weekend perform at Amoeba Records in February, and they were really, really great. I suppose they’re “played out” at this point, but when this first came out it blew my mind.

By mixing pieces of Paul Simon and a kind of Afro sound, these 4 white guys from the Massachusetts upped the creative bar with what was needed to make an album really stand out. I think another big part of their success is the songwriting abilities of Ezra Koenig, who made the songs so damn fun to sing along to, indie kids and drunk frat dudes alike. They’re also snappy dressers as well, which obviously didn’t hurt either!

The Walkmen | You & Me

The Walkmen | You & Me

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Canadian Girl by The Walkmen

This last album is actually kind of new to me, but made such an impact that I had to put it on the list. The Walkmen were never really one of my favorite bands, The Rat was the one song I knew, but I kept hearing good things about their newest album You & Me, so I gave it a listen, and sure enough I loved it. There’s something about the way the instruments are layered with Hamilton Leithauser vocals. A lot of the songs remind me of an old 70’s sound, almost like something The Doors might have done. That’s not the best description, but it’s as close as I can get to it.

It’s a very retro feeling album for sure, but also kind of timeless as well, like many of the albums on this list. I feel like that was something that was prevalent this year, making music that wasn’t necessarily of the hear and now, but making music that sounds like it could be from many different eras. I think The Walkmen totally nailed it on this one, and hopefully they’ll get it right again on their next release.

I hope you all enjoyed my epic list! It was fun to put together, and I think it really accurately reflects the music I enjoyed the most this year. I’d say overall this year was really amazing, definitely just as good as last years… though this list is a bit more complete then the one I made last year. Here’s to another year of amazing music!

Bobby

24 Comments Kitsune Noir’s Favorite Albums of 2008

  1. Thomas December 31, 2008 at 2:13 AM

    I own around half of the albums you posted, and I’m thinking of buying a good deal of the other half, so year, great list :).
    In Ghost Colours by Cut Copy is my personal favourite this year, so I’m glad to see you included it as well.
    Another favourite of mine this year was M83s Saturdays=Youth. Did you hear it? If so, what did you think of it? And if not, I highly recommend it!

  2. BobbyBobby December 31, 2008 at 2:18 AM

    @Thomas: I love that album, but sadly it didn’t make the top 15. If it had been a top 20, you definitely would have seen it on there!

    There were a handful more albums that I wanted on there, but I decided to keep it concise.

  3. dr727 December 31, 2008 at 2:27 AM

    Nicely played. It was enjoyable seeing these bubble up from tweets to mix tapes to blog posts to the year-end list.

  4. r0udy December 31, 2008 at 4:07 AM

    Like Thomas, i agree with half the list, probably only because i didn’t hear the other part. I also wrote a list of my 20 favorite albums of the year, which is unfortunately in french (the list), so i’ll sum it up here.

    My favorite one is definitely Q-Tip – The Renaissance. Yup, an hip-hop album on the top of the list ! It’s so well-written, the production is so stellar (if you liked the feeling of A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and these kind of groups that emerged in the early 90s, you’ll absolutely love this record). Some awesome guests there : Norah Jones, D’Angelo — which is definitely the Marvin Gaye of our times — … Really, give it a try, there’s no swearing, no misogynistic stuff, only good music.
    Bon Iver came second, Erykah Badu came third. Her New Amerykah (4th World War) was pure awesomeness. The most well-produced unconventional soul album i heard in ages. Fourth, Fleet Foxes.
    Fifth, Third from Portishead. How come this one isn’t on your list ?! Incredible stuff, between trip-hop and art-rock. It came out in April and i still listen to it every week. Sixth, The Roots – Rising Down, incredible rock hip-hop as always from the Philadelphia collective. It’s dark and powerful, probably the best straight rock production of the year in my opinion. Seventh, Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak : i was impressed by the production, as always by Mr. West. Maybe the lyrics are a little bit too much egocentric, but sonically the album remains flawless. Height, MGMT – Oracular Spectacular. Incredible psychedelic revival. Funny, complex, exhilarating. Ninth, Duffy – Rockferry. I’m into classic soul, i can’t lie :)
    Tenth – Shearwater – Rook : Gorgeous indie rock album. Sad but wonderful.
    Eleventh – Fennesz – Black Sea : Best ambiant album since Burial – Untrue. And it’s even better.
    Twelfth – Beck – Modern Guilt : love Beck. Love this. Impressive record.
    13. The Do – A Mouthful : a french-swedish (sung in english though) indie rock gem. Very innovative in some ways. Each track depicts a different mood, plus the production is absolutely mind-blowing in a minimalistic way and the fragile voice of the singer gives me chills every time.
    14th – Jazz Liberatorz – Clin d’Oeil : if you’re into black music you’ll love this one. A mixture of live jazz, conscious hip-hop and nu-soul.
    15th – TV On The Radio – Dear Science : The TRUE danciest album of the year. Eleven tracks, eleven potential hits.
    16. Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It : R&B like it was done in the late sixties. The Supremes, Al Green, these kinds of vibes.
    17. The Music Tapes – Music Tapes For Clouds & Tornadoes : Strange and haunting. You HAVE to hear this one, being the writer of a design/art blog.
    18. Lykke Li – Youth Novels : Same opinion as yours.
    19. Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple : Damn, i love Gnarls Barkley. These guys have the potential to be the today’s iconic artists, just like The Beatles were. If you didn’t listen to this one, i highly suggest you to check it on Deezer.com.
    20. Blue Sky Black Death – Late Night Cinema : sorrowful and pictural, gotta love it :D Exclusively instrumental. Play it at night, i guarantee side effects.

    I’m done, i hope you won’t mind my comment was lo(ooo)ng, and that you’ll read it. I’ll be checking the new Sigur Ros as soon as possible.

  5. Kirk December 31, 2008 at 6:21 AM

    Since there are still a few hours before we see the back-end of 2008, might I suggest you also consider the following as a top 2008 pick: Fur by Blitzen Trapper. It’s certainly one of my top finds this year.

  6. Jodum December 31, 2008 at 11:46 AM

    Glad you mentioned The Walkmen. I saw them live here in DC a few months ago and became hooked. I have been listening to You & Me and some of their other albums [almost] non stop since then.

  7. Rawbean December 31, 2008 at 12:36 PM

    Great List! A lot of these are on my favourites as well, and the ones I haven’t checked out, I will be doing very soon!

  8. Ross December 31, 2008 at 1:21 PM

    I’ve fallen in love with Lykke Li, and Fleet Foxes lately. Good list. I cant wait to see what ’09 holds.

  9. Kaitie December 31, 2008 at 3:29 PM

    I LOVE the list! You have amazing taste in music. One album that could be added is Soft Airplane by Chad Vangaalen. It’s my all time favorite this year anyways. Hopefully you’ve experienced it, if not check it out. ;)

  10. Alan December 31, 2008 at 3:30 PM

    First off, been checking out the blog for a while and it’s great stuff. Keep it up.

    Glad to see Bon Iver on the list and to see For Emma as the track you chose to put up… It’s my favorite track off the album, actually.

    Cut Copy was a good choice too and I agree with your point about MGMT.

    Check out Thao Nguyen’s We Brave Bee Stings And All, if you haven’t already. I think it’ll be up your alley.

    Enjoy your new years!

  11. KM December 31, 2008 at 8:34 PM

    hey bobby, just realised ive been lurking around for nearly a year and havent said anything! So let me be the first to post from the new year. Nice to see a few surprises, a few unknowns (which i will be hunting down shortly) and a few good unpretentious choices in your list!
    will try to lurk less until lent. Happy new year!

  12. Fran January 1, 2009 at 4:48 AM

    Wow, most of what’s in your list are in my top 10 :) I really love French Kicks and She & Him.

  13. Al aka El Negro Magnifico January 1, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    Imagine my surprise to see the Walkmen on your list! I’m a fan of that one, too.
    Truthfully, I only have four albums on my “best of” list this year: Q-Tip, Roots, Opio, and The Walkmen.

  14. BassMastaMike January 1, 2009 at 4:39 PM

    Wow, I always love to be opened up to new artists! thanks for the treat!

  15. Peter January 1, 2009 at 6:17 PM

    Great choices, some I’ve never listened to but have heard of. I felt like my number 1 pick for this year got overlooked. If you haven’t listened to Sea Lion by the Ruby Suns I’d highly suggest it.

  16. Peter January 1, 2009 at 7:12 PM

    in no order whatsoever would be my 15 favorites from this year:

    Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
    Born Ruffians – Red Yellow and Blue
    Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
    Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
    Delta Spirit – Ode to Sunshine
    Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
    Foals – Antidotes
    Hot Chip – Made In the Dark
    Man Man – Rabbit Habits
    MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
    Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping
    Peter Bjorn and John – Seaside Rock
    Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
    Shugo Tokumaru – Exit
    The Ruby Suns – Sea Lion

  17. katie January 2, 2009 at 8:20 AM

    thanks for the cool list, you hit most of my favourites and i’m going to check out the ones i haven’t heard!

  18. Joao January 2, 2009 at 2:49 PM

    Great list, as always!

  19. KM January 4, 2009 at 1:41 PM

    Wow yes I almost forgot- Foals’ Antidotes! What an album!

  20. reckoner71 January 4, 2009 at 2:10 PM

    Quite a few I hadn’t heard. Thanks.

  21. Tadeu January 5, 2009 at 6:41 AM

    I love your blog and now I am even more into it, after seeing your 15 favorite albums of 2008. I share a very common taste for music and for sure I think Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colours is my number 1 for last year. I need to thank you also for showing me Department of Eagles and Earlimart. And isn’t Fleet Foxes just amazing?

    I wish you all the best in 2009! Have a good one :)

    Tadeu

  22. miriam January 9, 2009 at 10:04 PM

    great list! most of the time on itunes when I discover a new band i go straight to the “most popular” to see if i like the music, this list offers up some great songs that may not be the bands #1 or #2 most downloaded. Thanks for sharing

  23. Pingback: KN | Kitsune Noir » ‘The Stand Ins’ by Okkervil River

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