Saturday, December 27, 2008

Best Debut Albums of 2008

It's that time of year again - you know, the time of year we all get nostalgic and think how quickly time has passed. The time of year we look back at all the things we've done and, more importantly, all the great music we've heard. All the new artists we've discovered. All the wonderful shows we've attended. So for the next few days, we here at Guilt Free Pleasures (Lise and Em) will be doing our "best of 2008" lists, in no particular order, starting today with debuts...

Best Debut Albums of 2008

The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
With unforgettably catchy dance hits that have been the staple of every club and party we've been to this year, this album is definitely one of our favorites and it's hard to believe that anyone ever held a dance party before The Ting Tings existed. Great to shout along with and even the worst dancers can throw their bodies around to these rockin' dance beats.
Shut Up and Let Me Go [mp3] - (iTunes)

Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
While you can tell that Ra Ra Riot has a variety of influences, they also don't sound exactly the same as anything. We haven't heard a single person that we've introduced to Ra Ra Riot say they don't like them because Ra Ra Riot has an expansive talent and diverse repertoire that makes them universally appealing, as well as the distinctiveness and character that makes everyone who listens to them feel like they've stumbled upon something special.
Suspended In Gaffa [mp3] - (iTunes)

Lady GaGa - The Fame
Another great dance album, and does anybody else feel like maybe it's a little nostalgic for the '90s? (one of our favorite musical decades over here at Guilt Free Pleasures by the way). But Beautiful, Dirty, Rich is a good enough track on its own to make this album a "best of 2008" contender, and there were a few other fabulous tracks like the hit Just Dance and the title track, The Fame that pushed it into the winners' circle.
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich [mp3] - (iTunes)

Fredrik - Na Na Ni
Swedish band Fredrik brings us a unique and calming debut album. I'm pretty sure this album may actually lower your blood pressure... They're a little more experimental than most of the stuff on our Best Of lists, but the unconventional beauty of their music is part of what we love about them. Though there is also a simplicity to much of their music. Leave it to the Scandinavians to be innovative and captivating, taking the basics that seem so ordinary and common and experimenting with them until they are shiny, new and pleasing to the ears.
Black Fur [mp3] - (iTunes)

Adele- 19
Already basking in the glow of 4 Grammy nominations this year, 19 was certainly an impressive debut album from the young (she's 20 now) and soulful Adele Adkins. The comparisons ranged from Amy Winehouse to Etta James to "Joss Stone without the cigarettes," and slowly but surely over the year Adele became her own entity and her music has infiltrated the 2008 music scene. With another album planned to record early next year, we'll be seeing much more of this inspiring belting songstress.
Chasing Pavements [mp3] - (iTunes)

Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes
This Seattle-based group wowed us all with a stellar performance on their self-titled debut album, and they filled our ears and hearts with harmonious melodies plucked from the psychedelic folk-rock atmosphere. Google "Fleet Foxes review" and we promise you that all you'll find is a gushfest of praise for this album. Fresh and rustic, Fleet Foxes is among plenty of "Best of 2008" lists in the blogosphere, and for good reason. If you haven't picked up this album, we suggest you use one of those giftcards you got for the holidays and get it.

Priscilla Ahn - A Good Day
After producing a promising self-entitled demo in 2007, this velvety-smooth singer finally released her official debut album in 2008 and was met with much rejoicing from female singer-songwriter fans all over the world. Her singing is sweetly soft and crystal clear, and her songs are wonderous pop-folk reflections that ease the soul. A short stint on the infamous Hotel Cafe Tour and being featured on major network shows like Grey's Anatomy, we consider A Good Day to be one of those best still relatively-unknown concrete works that are slowly trickling down into mainstream simply because the talent is there and the quality is high.
Dream [mp3] - (iTunes)

Kaiser Cartel -March Fourth
Possibly Lise's most obsessed-about album of the entire year, KaiserCartel brought the world a gorgeous debut album of acoustic guitar-and-drum numbers to lift the musical spirit. Delicately intricate and perfectly genuine, this humble album compliments and completes any music collection. The pairing of Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel talent's brings forth a musical genre we'd like to call "simply magical." The album has a life of its own, breeding good feelings and chill toe-tapping melodies, especially in songs like Season Song, Okay, Oh No and Dog Stars.
Okay [mp3] - (iTunes)

Lykke Li- Youth Novels
Straight from Sweden, this sweet songbird gave us *the* electronica-synth-pop album of the year with her debut Youth Novels. It's almost as if a robot and an already fantastic album had a baby, the songs are so electro-fied. Strong and ready to take on the world, Lykke Li pumps out the 80's-inspired beats that make you wanna groove while containing a billion catchy hooks to get stuck in your head. The buzz for this one is well deserved and the album brilliant enough to make our list this year.
I'm Good, I'm Gone [mp3] - (iTunes)

She & Him - Volume One
You're guaranteed the audiences that intrigue will bring when a celebrity turns to music and puts out their first album. After hearing Zooey Deschanel's crooning voice on Elf, M. Ward contacted her and found that she had already created a couple demos. He listened, fell in love with what he heard, and She & Him was born. Consisting of joyful pseudo-pop songs with a vintage flair, this album is perfect for those summer drives about the coast with the windows down and hair flyin the in wind. The album is a bit of a grab-bag, with each song reminiscent of a slightly different era and genre, but with a overall cohesive purpose, the album succeeds.
Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? [mp3] - (iTunes)

Jukebox The Ghost - Let Live and Let Ghosts
This zany piano-powered rock is somewhere between Queen and Ben Folds. A very theatrical, playful, fun album overall, piano-based music also earns albums a lot of bonus points from us here at GFP and classically trained pianist Ben Thornewill has the kind of skills that make us swoon.
Hold It In [mp3] - (iTunes)

Frances - All The While
Hailing from Em's hometown of Brooklyn, Frances is one of her favorite new discoveries this year. The unique 6-piece band is actually rather difficult to describe... They're a little playful, a little melancholy, a little catchy, etc. They have a lovely, full sound and a knack for interesting rhythms. And while our feelings about them are a little too guttural to really describe, we can definitely say that their music is both beautiful and unique. Some of it is downright spell-binding.
Locket [mp3] - (iTunes)

Best Solo Debut of 2008

Ben Sollee - Learning How To Bend
Formally part of the Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet, Ben Sollee finally decided to take his beautiful cello and homespun voice and make an album of his own. In 2007 he was named one of NPR's "Top Ten Unknown Artist of the Year." In this remarkable debut, the man beatboxes his cello, performs a beautiful musical dance betwixt jazz and folk-pop, and brings forth one of the most played songs since Obama was elected (i.e.
A Change Is Gonna Come). Soulful and honest, this albums hits an absolute perfectly-pitched note.
A Change Is Gonna Come [mp3] - (iTunes)

Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer?
One half of The Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer came out with her first solo album this year. Produced by Ben Folds and with awesome guest spots by him and St. Vincent, among others, this album is a strong solo debut, though I will admit not that much of a departure from The Dresden Dolls. A little bit darker perhaps, and at times so dark and raw with emotion that it's hard to listen to without getting a little emotional yourself.
Astronaut: A Short History Of Nearly Nothing [mp3] - (iTunes)


Marilyn Roxie said...

...and I'd like to add thenewno2's 'You Are Here'! ;)

Hanan said...

I love Ben Sollee.

Anonymous said...

Very cool that KaiserCartel made this list. An album that my ipod confirmed as my most played this year. Love the She & He record too. Happy New Year and let's hope we get new music from both duos in 2009!

Diana S. said...

I have to admit, when i was given Ra Ra Riot's record to review for 3 Imaginary Girls I really really didn't liike it and didn't see the fuss....but I revisited it a couple weeks ago and it is growing on me for sure. I think I just didn't "get it," and some of it just seemed really out there to me, and just plain bad. But I'm starting to warm up to it a lot more now, strangely.

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?