steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

best of 2008
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a selection of great albums from 2008
Stop right there - I'll deal with this before we start. There is no reason to lament the exclusion of certain titles on this edition of the best-of-year festivities. I can make no claims regarding the sweeping comprehensiveness of this list; such efforts are reserved for much larger committees of critics who get paid much more than I do. Instead, what you see here is an unconventional assembly of the finest records that eked their way towards my ears this past year. This includes several titles you're likely not to have even heard about, but that's all for the better, as it is my hope that music fans will consider this list more about discovery than the confirmation of expectations. After all, how much can one gain from endlessly hearing about the "melodic depth" of the Fleet Foxes' debut?

So keep your mind and ears open, and welcome to Indieville's Best of 2008!

Loudspeaker Speaker Meets Clearly Human Like Ten Feet Tall (Broken Twilight)

I hardly consider myself a dub aficionado, but this is by far the best dub record I've heard in a long time. Despite the genre's relatively strict formula, Like Ten Feet Tall manages to be a varied and consistently engaging record destined to be enjoyed by dub newcomers and veterans alike.

Rogue Motel Daylight Breaking (self-released)

Among the most brazenly catchy releases of the year, this glorious country-pop opus will edge its way into your head via its infectious Crowded House influence. The vocalist has a unique croon, but once you've adjusted to it you'll fall in love. Perhaps the best self-released record of the year.

Pumice Quo (Soft Abuse)

Homemade weirdo pop from this New Zealander populates the impeccably strange Quo. I've heard this guy compared to a modern-day Hasil Adkins, and the comparison could not be more appropriate. Whether its a noisy rock shred or a gentle instrumental, Quo is consistently baffling yet unmistakably irresistible.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin Pershing (Polyvinyl)

Pershing got a lot of knocks for not living up to its (admittedly obnoxious) hype, but as far as summer pop albums go, this hit the spot like a shot to the groin. Every song stuck like glue, while the band's carefree demeanor made those sweaty summer nights seem just a little bit sweeter.

Kangding Ray Automne Fold (Raster-Noton)

One of the most accessible releases to drip out of glitch mega-conglomerate Raster-Noton, Automne Fold is a mesmerizing electronic epic. Save this one for good headphones - Kangding Ray works best when he's able to submerge you in his mechanical world.

Pia Fraus After Summer (Clairecords / Seksound)

Some will bemoan the relatively stagnant state of shoegazer these days, but one whiff of After Summer should have you convinced otherwise. This Estonian group has created a memorable album that is almost frustratingly beautiful. Long live dream pop!

Don Caballero Punkgasm (Relapse)

Say what you will about Don Cab's recent incarnations, but Punkgasm is a startling return to form for the heavily abridged band. Damon Che's obscene drums are still front-and-centre, but they are complemented by solid guitar and bass, and even some singing. Three cheers for nineties indie rock!

Tim Lee 3 Good2b3 (Paisley Pop)

Make no mistake, this is nothing more than a straightforward rock/pop album. But it is the infectious, anthemic nature of these songs that makes Good2b3 such a divine treat. Tim Lee's eighth album will leave you wondering why you' never heard about the other seven.

Laura Barrett Victory Garden (Paper Bag)

This whimsical beauty of an album will have you designing movie scenes in your head. Laura Barrett's irresistible voice is empyreal in its sweeping vastness, while her unconventional compositions have a glorious romanticism to them.

Shearwater Rook (Matador)

From side project to main attraction, Shearwater's records have always been consistently impeccable, and Rook is no exception. The Talk Talk references are valid, but these folks are so much more. Years from now, Shearwater will be considered one of our generation's most original and wonderful bands - and Rook will be among their best.

Secret Dakota Ring Cantarell (Serious Business)

The side project of OK Go's Andy Ross yields a satisfying and personal pop record that you'll be singing along to in no time. If you liked Teenage Fanclub's more pop-based material, you'll love Cantarell.

Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid (Fiction / Geffen)

Sterling, mature pop characterizes this Mercury Prize winning album, Elbow's fourth full-length since their debut in 2001. Unjustly overlooked by most North American audiences, these folks have been favourites in the UK for a long time now. The Seldom Seen Kid, an impeccably beautiful offering, is a prime taste of what you've been missing.

Au Verbs (Aagoo)

A whimsical yet melodic trip, Verbs has the ability to get you dancing around your bedroom and crying in the corner all in one album. This one is impossible to describe in 5000 words - let alone 50; as it is, you'd be best off discovering Verbs on your own.

Guillaume Gargaud Le Lieu (Dirty Demos)

Indieville's lone 90% this past year, Le Lieu is a tremendous accomplishment in drone music. Gargaud's epic is a meditative wonder, absolutely absorbing yet certainly not intended for the impatient listener. Released by Dirty Demos in an issue of only 150 copies, those lucky few who managed to snag one ought to feel pretty good about themselves.

Joan of Arc Boo! Human (Polyvinyl)

Listeners may be surprised to learn that Boo! Human is long-standing Chicagoan act Joan of Arc's eleventh full-length album since their 1995 inception following the dissolution of Cap'n Jazz. And while its generic spasticity can make it a bit difficult to wrap your head around, there is no denying this album's unconventionally wonderful nature.

Grampall Jookabox Ropechain (Asthmatic Kitty / Joyful Noise)

Cassette tape choruses and campfire chants adorned their first record, but Ropechain is much more anthemic and better produced. Not a soul release, but all soul nonetheless, this glistening beauty of an album is bizarre and mesmerizing, the sort of thing you won't leave the house without for weeks.

compiled by michael tau

all content copyright 2009