Monday, December 29, 2008

Best Non-Debut Albums of 2008

Yesterday we brought you our list of Best Debut Albums of 2008, so today we thought we'd follow it up with our list of Best Non-Debut Albums of 2008, in no particular order. If you think we left something out, let us know what in the comments section! Or if you just want to add any thoughts on the albums we posted. Oh, but take note - there are still some lists yet to come (so much good music! We may have gone a little crazy with the lists this year...).

Best Non-Debut Albums of 2008

Nada Surf- Lucky
This seems to be the album that grows on people, slowly taking them over. At first listen, it seemed to be a collection of listenable and radio-friendly songs, but pretty soon we found ourselves craving to listen to those tracks again and again. The lyrics are great and each track has its own lovable element to it, whether it be the uplifting pulsing rhythm of Beautiful Beat or the sung narrated truth of "Everyone's right and no one is sorry" with perfect background "oohs" in See These Bones.
Beautiful Beat [mp3] - (iTunes)

Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
Sigur Rós came out with their 5th album this year and it started off on the right orchestrated foot with the now ever-popular Gobbledigook. The band's made-up etheral language of Vonlenska once again proves to be a bewitching characteristic of the group, but they proved that they could create the same emotional experience in English for the first time ever in the track All Alright. While the album lacks the cascading genius that 2005's Takk contained (Festival is simply no Glósóli), the overall feeling of the album is that it is wiser, older and filled with more emotion and drama. More emphasis on keys and guitar progressions, Sigur Rós has learned a thing or two over the years, and this rich, sparkling album is a beautiful example of combining silver with gold.

The Dresden Dolls - No, Virginia
A more pensive, slightly less playful album than the "brechtian punk cabaret" duo from Boston has come out with in the past, "No, Virginia" continues to showcase their talent and versatility, taking subjects as dark as rape or as mundane as teen angst and taking them in musical directions that I'm not sure anyone else would ever think of or could ever get away with. The Dresden Dolls remain truly one of a kind.
Night Reconnaissance [mp3] - (iTunes)

My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
Not traditionally our style, we've gotta give credit to the classic rock sound when it's due. This Americana-alternative rock collection is filled with good tunes that satisfies many an ear, with old-school guitar improvisations, sing-along choruses and that sweet home alabama taste. Some songs sport a different sort of flair, such as the Prince-like vocals on Highly Suspicious or the James Taylor-esque laid-back Librarian or Sec Walkin. Nevertheless, the album is classic rock at its soul, and it the large range and perfection of acheiving the sound intended really makes this album different from the rest.
Librarian [mp3] - (iTunes)

Cloud Cult - Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornados)
We couldn't resist posting one of our favorite Minneapolis bands. While some people have said this album is not as strong as their others, we have to disagree. So many of the songs from this album have remained on our playlists since the album came out in April, which is proof of the band's staying power and we certainly hope that means the rumors of a break up are false. Cloud Cult's music is always emotionally powerful, lovely, and they have developed their own style very well. It would be ashame for it to end now.
No One Said It Should Be Easy [mp3] - (iTunes)

The Dandy Warhols - Earth to the Dandy Warhols
Is there a Dandy Warhols song that we dislike? Not that we can think of... This album is The Dandy Warhols' first self-released album, which is exciting as they have always struggled with the corporate side of the entertainment industry, some would say to their detriment, and they are the types of free spirits that probably work best when they feel uninhibited by "the man." This album is a highly enjoyable mix of their usual sounds - from psychadelic to country, and just about everything in between. One of our favorite things about them is that they can take any musical genre and make it their own.

Ladytron - Velocifero
When we think about this album, we think "Dance, baby, dance." Crunched drums, fast-tempo, synths, catchy club hooks flying every which way, this album is perfect for those nights that you just want to let loose, especially with the dark thumping drums featured on Predict the Day. The swinging rhythm of Ghosts became the hit track of the album and constantly on the rotation list at clubs, clothes stores and radios nation-wide. The whole album is a solid collection of dance hits that are sure to fit the bill for any night out.
Ghosts [mp3] - (iTunes)

Ane Brun - Changing of the Seasons
A positively haunting album, every song will make you shiver with how gorgeous it is. Ane Brun's effortless voice floats over her fluent music in a way that makes music seem as easy as breathing for her. The album also grows on us with each listen more and more, unlike some albums which you get sick of after repeat listening. Honestly, it's hard for us to describe how talented Ane is, so just listen to her music and hear it for yourself.
The Puzzle [mp3] - (iTunes)

The Hard Lessons - The Complete B & G Sides
Ok so technically it's not one album. But throughout the year, Detroit rock band The Hard Lessons has been coming out with 3-song EPs that they call "B & G Sides" (as in Boy & Girl - Ko Ko Louise writes one, Augie writes one and they write one together I believe). They released volumes 1-4, which is definitely a full LP's worth of songs, so we are still going to count it. Ko Ko and Augie have perfect rock voices and the rockstar attitudes to accompany them (in a good way). And their songs are catchy to boot. They put on a great live show, so if you have the chance to see them, do it.
See and Be Scene [mp3] - (iTunes)

Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ
Wonderous, wonderous Scottish indie music, how we love thee, espeically Frightened Rabbit. You're honest, you're life is imperfect, you've felt tough pain - and you create smart indie lo-fi rock songs about it. Its hard to choose favorite lyrics of yours, whether it be the imagery of the hole in Keep Yourself Warm or the understandable "I'm not ready to see you this happy" in Good Arms vs. Bad Arms, but we know that any song of yours is practically perfect. Stellar sophmore album from this amazing group.
Backwards Walk [mp3] - (iTunes)

Best Re-releases
These albums are albums that were self-released by the artist before 2008 but re-released by a label in 2008. Or in a few cases, EPs were released before 2008 and the companion LP released in 2008 has most/all of the songs from the EP.

Meiko - Meiko
It seems like every time we posted Meiko here at GFP, fans would crawl out of the blogosphere woodwork and shout their praise for this artist. Indeed, when Lise first posted Meiko, she couldn't decide which mp3 to post because she loved them all and ended up posting an unprescedented 4 mp3s, so its no wonder that Meiko is on our list now. Technically, Meiko released her album in 2007 and met with tons of success - she landed at #35 for top 100 iTunes albums that year. In June 2008 she signed with a label and her album was re-released in August where it jumped to #14 on the list. Meiko is everything Lise loves- a folk/pop female singer-songwriter that has immense talent. This girl has just begun to outshine many, and we can't wait for her next album.
Boys With Girlfriends [mp3] - (iTunes)

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
This album was originally self-released in 2007 and re-released by the indie label 4AD in 2008. There's something about this album that is reminescent of the experience of listening to early Coldplay or Radiohead for the first time, and there is no other way to explain or describe it. There is something organic and natural about this music - something terribly sad and at peace all at the same time. Its a simply balanced work of art that easily creeps into the soul, and once it does, it circles around once or twice before hunkering down.
Flume [mp3] - (iTunes)

Locksley - Don't Make Me Wait
Locksley is shooting to stardom, opening for acts like The Bravery, Rooney and Ray Davies (of the Kinks). Now that they have a shiny new label behind them and a shiny new bass player (lead singer Jesse Laz-Hirsch's younger brother, Jordan), they've remastered the old tracks, added a few bonus tracks, changed the album cover and rereleased a shiny new version of their old album. Locksley is kind of like The Beatles reincarnate - screaming teenage girls and all. Or well, The Beatles before they went all psychedelic. You can't help but bounce up and down to they're obscenely catchy retro pop sound. And bonus points for the fact that they're all well-dressed, charming and handsome too.
Don't Make Me Wait [mp3] - (iTunes)

Frontier Ruckus - The Orion Songbook
Michigan folk band Frontier Ruckus self-released a six-song EP last year and it was quite a DIY affair in an 8.5 x 11" paper packet (no jewel case), with hand-written lyrics and hand-drawn album art. While that was actually rather charming and gave it a personal touch, they now have a label behind them and can afford jewel cases, which I think is a good thing. They re-released newly recorded versions of 5 of the 6 songs from the EP on an LP this year with a bunch of new songs too. Even though they now have a label, they're still the same old wonderful folk band, with their banjo, saw, harmonica and the arresting vocal harmonies that are some of the most natural I've heard of any band.
The Blood [mp3] - (iTunes)


mmrules said...

Meiko listed as,BoysWith - Girlfriends,At
She has a cool voice..Thanks..

Anonymous said...

I adore Someone Still Loves you Boris Yeltsin. They're so talented and have awesome taste too - ive been checking out frontman Philip Dickey's featured top 10 playlist on so far so good.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE that Meiko album - and I'm a dude. Whooda thunk it?

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