Top 5 Albums of 2008: The Contenders

The contenders in Cover FlowOne of the few traditions around here (predating this even being a “blog,” or at least me acknowledging that’s what it is) is my annual “Top 5 Albums” list. I’ve been doing it every year since 2004. I’m still pondering the choices for this year, but I thought I’d give you a little advance insight by listing all of the possible contenders, i.e. all of the albums released in 2008 that I own so far. (I’m hoping for a couple more for Christmas that may end up making the amended list.) A very haphazard restriction on “the best,” but: a) these lists are always subjective anyway, b) I’m not going to bother buying albums I wouldn’t like, and that’s about the only way I’d end up hearing them, and c) I don’t care what you think. Write your own damn blog. (There, that showed you! Wait, come back!)

Here, then, are the contenders. I am resisting the temtation to “monetize” this list by linking all of the titles to the download pages on Amazon or iTunes with my affiliate links. (OK, I’m just too lazy to do it right now.) Some are in more serious contention than others. The five that are the current favorites (in the polling I’ve conducted inside my brain) are in bold.

  • R.E.M.: Accelerate
  • The Decemberists: Always the Bridesmaid: Vols. 1-3
  • The Mars Volta: The Bedlam in Goliath
  • The Killers: Day & Age
  • Metallica: Death Magnetic
  • My Morning Jacket: Evil Urges
  • John Legend: Evolver
  • Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
  • Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears: Flight of the Knife
  • Nine Inch Nails: Ghosts I-IV
  • Snow Patrol: A Hundred Million Suns
  • Steven Wilson: Insurgentes
  • Fujiya & Miyagi: Lightbulbs
  • Beck: Modern Guilt
  • Death Cab for Cutie: Narrow Stairs
  • Keane: Perfect Symmetry
  • Joe Satriani: Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock
  • Ani DiFranco: Red Letter Year
  • Ra Ra Riot: The Rhumb Line
  • M83: Saturdays = Youth
  • Elbow: The Seldom Seen Kid
  • of Montreal: Skeletal Lamping
  • Nine Inch Nails: The Slip
  • Rush: Snakes & Arrows Live
  • Foxboro Hottubs: Stop Drop and Roll!!!
  • Coldplay: Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
  • Ben Folds: Way to Normal
  • Weezer: Weezer (Red Album)

Whew, that’s quite a list. And it doesn’t even include the large number of independent recordings I acquired via the RPM Challenge, the Very Us Artists, Sidedown Audio, and various other places. Special acknowledgment goes out in particular to Revolution Void for what probably is my favorite album of the year overall. But ultimately I decided to suckle at the corporate teat for at least one more year with this list and only consider signed artists. I’ll probably produce another parallel list of the best unsigned/independent recordings I heard this year. And of course I’ll stack the list with my own music.

A few fun numbers from this year’s contenders list:

28: albums in the list

18: artists I had heard of before 2008

13: artists I already owned music from before 2008

14: purchased on CD

3 2/3: purchased on iTunes*

10 1/3: purchased on Amazon MP3*

2: downloaded directly from artist

2: downloaded directly from artist, artist being Nine Inch Nails

* I bought volumes 1 and 3 of Always the Bridesmaid on iTunes and volume 2 on Amazon, only because Amazon didn’t yet have volumes 1 and 3 on the days I tried to buy them. Booo!