Top 50 Albums of 2008 [Picks 1-10]

by oz on December 19, 2008

The best part of doing these year end lists is rediscovering every album we loved in 2008. While we chose Blitzen Trapper as the best album of the year, it may as well be a three-way tie. How do you choose between Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes and The Black Keys?

Hopefully y’all liked our choices. I’m always interested in hearing about what we overlooked.‚  So, what were your favorite albums of the year that we missed?

1. Blitzen Trapper – Furr (our review)

Blitzen Trapper

The cover art is made of wood and that’s what the album gives me. I don’t have enough good things to say. It’s my favorite album of 2008 and “Black River Killer” is my favorite song right now.

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

Blitzen Trapper – Bread for Gold

Video: Blitzen Trapper – Furr (Live on Conan)

2. Black Keys – Attack and Release

Black Keys

After Magic Potion, how do the Akron boys take it to the next level? They let Danger Mouse take over production and add in more instruments like banjos and flutes. The results are wondrous.

Video: The Black Keys – I Got Mine (Live on Letterman)

3. Fleet Foxes – Self Titled (our review)

Fleet Foxes

As stunning a debut as you’ll see in years. Woody saw them at SXSW and said “I thought angels were singing to me.” I called him a pussy at the time, but he’s right. So angelic. To say I am looking forward to their 2nd release is as big of an understatement.

Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal

Fleet Foxes – He Doesn’t Know Why

Video: Fleet Foxes – Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Live In London)

4. Dr. Dog – Fate

Dr. Dog

Jeff Tweedy loves Dr. Dog and so do we. Production is getting tighter and the songs are taking on bigger, often biblical themes.‚  See them live to really appreciate the band.

Dr. Dog – The Ark

Dr. Dog – The Old Days

Video: Dr. Dog – Hang On

5. Justin Townes Earle – The Good Life
Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle is what country music needs right now. If you’ve had enough of the mainstream pop garbage, listen to the music as Hank, Townes, Kris, Willie, Waylon and Johnny intended it to be heard. Justin has a voice and bravado that’s a throwback to country music’s legends.

Exclusive: Justin Townes Earle – Lone Pine Hill (from the HearYa Live Session)

Exclusive: Justin Townes Earle – Who Am I To Say (from the HearYa Live Session)

Hear more from our live session with Justin Townes Earle.

Video: Justin Townes Earle – Lone Pine Hill (Live)

6. Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creations Dark

Drive By Truckers cover art

DBT’s first album without Isbell and, although I miss him dearly, Hood and Cooley show that the show will certainly go on. It’s 19 tracks deep and “Ghost To Most,” “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife,” and “Daddy Needs a Drink” have all become favorites.‚  I’m also craving more Shonna Tucker after hearing “I’m Sorry Huston.”

Drive-By Truckers – Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife (Live)

Drive-By Truckers – Opening Act (Live)

Drive-By Truckers – Ghost To Most (Live)

Video: Drive By Truckers – Ghost To Most

7. Calexico – Carried to Dust (our review)


In our review, I compared these guys to the scene in Young Guns when the gang visits the spirit world. Calexico are true musicians that explore new sounds and bend genres. This album comes with some spicy, southwestern flavor.

Calexico – Two Silver Trees

Video: Calexico – Two Silver Trees

8. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

My Morning Jacket

Do I even need to write anything about My Morning Jacket? This would have been higher on the list, but there are one or two tracks on Evil Urges that I can’t even listen to – “Highly Suspicious” is one of them. I still respect the constant experimentation and will remain a captive listener with each release.

My Morning Jacket – I’m Amazed

Video: My Morning Jacket – Librarian (Live)

9. Port O’Brien – All We Could Do Was Sing (our review)

Port O'Brien

Lead singer-songwriter Van Pierszalowski is an Alaska fisherman (think Deadliest Catch) and All I Could Do Was Sing always feels inspired by a bit of cabin fever with soft, sweet, finger-picked tunes like “Fisherman’s Son” offset by extended jams and heavy guitar riffs on “Pigeonhold” and “The Rooftop Song.” Damn good people too.

Port O’Brien – I Woke Up Today

Port O’Brien – Close The Lid

Hear more at our live session with Port O’Brien.

Video: Port O’Brien – I Woke Up Today (recorded exclusively for

Port OBrien I Woke Up Today for – Port OBrien

10. Langhorne Slim – Self Titled (our review)

Langhorne Slim

I’m not sure what the rebel side of heaven looks like, but I hope when I’m bellied up to the bar at The Big Guy in the Sky’s Bar and Lounge, that Langhorne strolls up in his fedora so I can buy him cocktail.

Langhorne Slim – Rebel Side of Heaven

Exclusive: Langhorne Slim – Collette (from the HearYa Live Session)

Exclusive: Langhorne Slim – Restless (from the HearYa Live Session)

Hear more tracks at our live session with Langhorne Slim and The War Eagles.

Video: Langhorne Slim – Restless (Live on Letterman)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Twain Fame December 19, 2008 at 10:11 am

You gusy did a good job, it def had to be hard to pick between BT, TBK, and FF.

but I would say my top 5 are:

1. Fleet Foxes
2. Attack & Release,
3. Bring Your Ass To The Table
4. Brighter Than Creations Dark
5. With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt
6. All We Could Do Was Sing
7. Furr
8. Carried to Dust
9. The Places We Lived
10. Wrecking Ball

Mark Twain Fame December 19, 2008 at 10:11 am

sorry I meant Top 10

DBT Chicago December 19, 2008 at 2:53 pm

i looked back to what i had as my top 5, and it was blitzen trapper’s furr.
aside from great sounds, what i like in my music is storytelling. all my favorites can take you away to another place.
i was surprised not to see the dodos in the top 50. curious if was this an oversight or intentional?
thanks for the hard work.

my top 5
1. blitzen trapper
2. dodos
3. dead confederate — ep
4. drive-by truckers
5. okkervil river — stand ins

Woody December 19, 2008 at 3:09 pm

DBT, I have tried to get into Visiter a number of times as alot people who’s opinion I respect really dig it. For whatever reason, it just never left a memorable impression on me. Not that I didn’t like it, it just never bowled me over. I actually liked their first effort better. I can’t speak for Oz but that’s my two cents.

oddbodkins December 19, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Didn’t you cats get your Official MP3 Blogger’s Guide to Top Ten Lists? You’re supposed to put your picks in DESCENDING order, not ascending. Seriously, i expect more out of my favorite music blog.

And Black Keys definitely was the best CD of the year.

My tops this year, though:

1. Black Keys, Attack & Release
2. Sia, Some People Have Real Problems
3. Lykke Li, Youth Novels
4. Pack A.D., Funeral Mixtape
5. Alan Wilkis, Babies Dream Big
6. Andy Mullen, The Toenail Jar
7. A.K.A.C.O.D., Happiness
8. Girl Talk, Feed the Animals
9. Left Lane Cruiser, Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table
10. Nine Inch Nails, The Slip
11. Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele, The Good Feeling Music Of…
12. TVotR, Dear Science,
13. Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning, Something for All of Us…
14. Ravonettes, Lust Lust Lust
15. Her Space Holiday, XOXO Panda : The New Kid Revival
16. Ida Maria, Fortress Around My Heart

DBT Chicago December 19, 2008 at 4:21 pm

well put. the reason why these year-end listings are fun is because they express the opinions of the operators, not some sort of consensus-building effort. it’s far more interesting this way.

oz December 19, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Community list building would be fun too, if we were sophisticated with thumbs up and thumbs down voting systems. For us, we kind of just group the albums in the right general areas and don’t get caught up arguing about one position, plus or minus.

And oddbodkins – you haven’t noticed the genius in my list building technique? If you now scroll down the page, its in perfect order from 1-50, even though each list of 10 was posted separately as a countdown.

I am effing sweet.

Starkey December 19, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Solid effort on going through a long list and coming up with 50. Whether one agrees with the list or not, it encourages discussion and helps in identifying great music. So, with that said, let’s talk about the great albums that should’ve made the list: Deerhunter, TVotR, Frightened Rabbit, The Walkmen and Spiritualized. One other thing, Fleet Foxes was the clear album of the year, in my humble opinion!

oz December 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Starkey – I regret to say I’ve only listened to Frightened Rabbit off your list. I saw Spiritualized at a festival and wasn’t impressed. That experience kept me away from the album.

My biggest regret is leaving off Will Quinlan and The Diviners. That is a phenomenal album that I completely overlooked. Other albums I like this year include Gringo Star, Frontier Ruckus, Wolf Parade, and I’m just now digging into Little Joy.

Woody could have added another 50 to the list if given the chance.

Starkey December 20, 2008 at 2:52 pm

Oz, the Spiritualized album is worth revisiting, however the Deerhunter is a tremendous collection of psych-pop. Actually, Bradford Cox’s side project, Atlas Sound, released a wonderful album in 08 as well. Great work by you and Woody compiling the list.

nittanyroar December 20, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Did you guys get to hear Justin Townes Earle EP/bonus disc thing that was released alongside of The Good Life? The last track hits really hard, do yourselves a favor and track it down if you haven’t already heard it.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: