Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best Albums of 2008: #1

1. The Walkmen
You & Me
Gigantic - 08/19/08

Microcastle had been my number one album pretty much from the day it leaked in early August. However, over the course of the past month or so, the one album that I keep returning to over and over again, no matter how I'm feeling, what time of day it is, or what activity I'm sound tracking is The Walkmen's You & Me. My love affair with The Walkmen dates back to the beginning of my love affair with the O.C. The Walkmen were Seth Cohen's favourite band for pretty much the entire first season, the band was even featured in one of the episodes. That type of synergy promotion was probably enough to turn a number of people off the band, and if that wasn't enough, their 2006 dud of an album A Hundred Miles Off, probably alienated their remaining fans. Therefore, You & Me pretty much came out of nowhere with zero expectations. Even I, someone who has a hard time giving up on bands (I'm one of the suckers who is still eagerly anticipating the new CYHSY record), was almost ready to write this band off. Obviously my concern was a little premature because You & Me fires on all cylinders for its entirety. I've heard people complain that this album, which sees The Walkmen return to their early sounds, is the sound of a band out of ideas. If that's the case, I'm looking forward to the time when a number of bands (*cough*, CYHSY, AIH, etc) run out of ideas and make a record that is the pinnacle of their artistic out put.

Seriously, this record is as complete a musical statement that a band can make. Not only is the album downright elegant with its heavy reliance on organs, drowning re verb and strings, but it also finds lead singer Hamilton Leithauser restraining his yelps, and finding a comfortable medium for him to emote all over this album. Nearly every song on this album is a highlight: "Red Moon" finds the band relying on a beautiful brass section to create one of the most gorgeous and sad songs of the year; "Postcards From Tiny Islands" is one of the more straightforward rock songs on this album; "On The Water" contains some of the best lyrics on the entire album; and "In The New Year" is a song that words cannot explain how amazingly well this song articulates the relationship between time and place.

Now that I think about it, I can't believe that I was able to deny this album the number one spot for so long. I was in love with this album when it came out, and I'm still very much in love with it today, probably more so than I was then. To use one of the most annoying indie cliches out there, this album is most definitely a grower.

Finally, I know this whole top 10 album process has been a little long and drawn out, so I thought I would also include a recap of my top 20 albums of 2008. Thanks for your patience, here are the top 20 of 2008:

20. The Dutchess and the Duke - She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke
19. Shearwater - Rook
18. Grouper - Dragging A Dead Dear Up A Hill
17. Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
16. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
15. Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna
14. No Age - Nouns
13. Invincible - Shapeshifters
12. Lil' Wayne - Tha Carter III
11. Beach House - Devotion
10 Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
9.  Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
8.  Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
7.  Black Milk - Tronic
6.  Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
5.  Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
4.  Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire - Lost Wisdom
3.  Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls
2.  Deerhunter - Microcastle
1.  The Walkmen - You & Me

Thanks for reading.


emjay said...

t.i. and jeezy got ousted by weezy eh?

ah, fuck it said...

i wasnt really a big fan of paper trails. way too inconsistent. the tracks where t.i. was able to merge both of this 'personalities' banged, but some of the others came off pretty lame. as for the jeezy album, i liked it a lot, it was actually number 22, but black wouldnt let me include any honourable mentions. i just think the weezy lp represented a monumental achievement in the sense that it broke all traditional hip hop conventions and still sounded ridiculously good. i wouldnt say i liked the recession any less than tha carter III, but i just dont think it does as much for the entire genre of rap.

emjay said...

i suppose you are right ... but I don't think Wayne is very consistent either .. although when he is on he is incredible.