Friday, December 19

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2008 (#5-#1).



Well, well, well. Here we finally are.

The end of the year is approaching, which means that you're probably currently inundated with thousands of lists and end-of-the-year countdowns concerning all sorts of cultural achievements. Well, here at the CDP, it's no different, as today we wrap up our countdown of the Top 20 Albums Of 2008.

Just a final word on the validity of this list. It's by no means a 'definitive' or 'good' list; merely a list of the 20 best albums purchased by me this year. I'm not Pitchfork, I don't get free albums, and I don't actively seek out things that would boost my indie cred. I'm just a dude, dudes, so get right the hell over it and enjoy.


#5. Pale Young Gentlemen - Black Forest (Tra La La)

The best album by a Wisconsin band I've heard all year, Pale Young Gentlemen will soon taste nationwide appeal and an expanding fanbase after this dark, moody and beautiful full-length. I suppose you could put them into the further and further bloated 'Chamber Pop' categorization, and speak of them in the same breath as The Decemberists, Ra Ra Riot and almost any other indie band with a cellist, but it wouldn't do Black Forest any justice. Their sincerity, downtrodden melodies and elegant lyrics meld into one of the better 'album' albums I've heard in quite some time, and certainly the best one to come out of the Dairy State in 2008.


#4. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

With Stay Positive, The Hold Steady didn't attempt to reinvent their already-perfect formula of Springsteen-influenced Bar Rock about every shady character that you ever partied with in your old hometown; nope, they simply refined and perfected it further, and the result is yet another soundtrack of forgotten towns, shattered dreams, alcohol by the gallon and the optimistic promise of new beginnings right around the corner. I discovered these guys late, shortly after Boys And Girls In America came out, and from that day on, I always try to listen to them on the trips back home to visit the unincorporated villages I grew up in. Superb.


#3. Army Navy - Army Navy

The greatest, catchiest and most lyrical songs ever written by Teenage Fanclub + The greatest, catchiest and most lyrical songs ever written by the Apples In Stereo = Army Navy.

I see no need to even continue after that statement, but I will say that their self-titled debut came absolutely out of nowhere for me about a month ago, and I've been listening to it more or less every day since. If these guys can tour their asses off and keep it together, they're going to be huge come Album #2. Do yourself a favor, head on over to iTunes and drop 99 cents for 'Dark As Days,' the lead-off track to Army Navy, and if you don't like it, I'll refund the cash to you myself.

Maybe.


#2. Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line

Shout-along choruses. Beautifully-swelling melodies. Interwoven stringed instruments. Songs about love and death, heartbreak and loss. Without question, Ra Ra Riot's The Rhumb Line is the closest that any of the Arcade Fire-influenced generation of bands have come to actually unseating the Canadians from their throne. In a year that was chock-full of mediocrity, horrible techno and predictable 80's nostalgia, The Rhumb Line was a more-than-welcome breath of fresh air. In fact, I had placed this triumph atop my Top 20 list for the first week or so that I had begun compiling albums, before I caved in and relegated it to the runner-up position.

So, what is the CDP's choice for Best Album Of 2008? Well, before we get to that, here's a quick look back at the previous years' winners and runners-up.

2003 Winner: The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site
2003 Runner-Up: The Postal Service - Give Up

2004 Winner: Arcade Fire - Funeral
2004 Runner-Up: Communique' - Poison Arrows

2005 Winner: Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins
2005 Runner-Up: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

2006 Winner: The Velvet Teen - Cum Laude!
2006 Runner-Up: P.O.S. - Audition

2007 Winner: Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
2007 Runner-Up: POLYSICS - Karate House

Can I get a drumroll, please?


#1. Girl Talk - Feed The Animals

I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to admit that the most brilliant, captivating and genius musical masterwork of 2008 didn't have so much as a scrap of original material on it. However, after about...oh, I don't know...the ten-thousandth time I ass-shaked my way through Feed The Animals, it became abundantly clear that not only was I listening to the best album of 2008, but that I was listening to the greatest Mash-Up album ever made.

For a guy that makes a living chopping up other artist's material and pasting them back together, Greg Gillis is a Pop Music genius. He has an ear for the hook, an endless knowledge of the last 30 years in popular tunes from all genres, and his assemblage of hundreds of these examples into an album- a real 'album' album from start to finish- can be anything from merely fun to absolutely breathtaking. And the more tracks you can recognize and decipher, the more you'll enjoy it. It's an album that rewards grizzled music smarts, yet somehow finds a way to sample Lil Wayne and Diddy, and make it enjoyable to the very same sorts of people.

This is a masterwork. As fun as it gets, as smart as it gets, as brainless as it gets and as endlessly-playable as it gets for 2008. It's the album that I was waiting for the most, the album that let me down the least and the album I've listened to the most over the last 365 days. Now, if that doesn't make it Album of the Year, then I don't know what could.

Thank you for reading. Sound off in the comments section, start the argument and enjoy your weekend. The CDP Year In Review arrives next week.

NEXT WEEK: CDP YEAR IN REVIEW!


Comments:
"Ed, can you hand me that envelope over there? Thanks."

(places envelope on forehead)

"TV On The Radio, Deerhunter and Animal Collective."

(riiiiip)

"Name three bands that Pitchfork continues to verbally fellate, even though they're all significantly more overrated than even Vampire Weekend."

(cheers and applause)
 
I don't know anything about these bands, but I know this: I like it when people set fire to letters on someone's front lawn. Sold.
 
PYG and the Hold Steady are also two of my top-five favorites, along with the Gaslight Anthem, Two Cow Garage and Drag the River.

I've heard good things about Ra Ra Riot from a lot of people. I think I'll have to be checking them out. Good list!
 
Is Girl Talk - Feed the Animals not on iTunes, really?
 
WALLROCK - Wow, we had pretty similar lists this year. I didn't get enough time to listen to the Gaslight Anthem album, but I did put their title track on my Top 25 Singles of 2008, because it was awesome. And Drag The River? My buddy Ben is obsessed with those guys. In fact, we met the bulk of the band in Chicago during RiotFest. It's that ALL Family Shrub, you know; where one guy is, they all are.

MOE - I doubt it's on iTunes, as the entire album is absolutely, positively, 100% illegal. However, the link goes to a sample of one of the tracks on YouTube, and it can be purchased through eMusic, Illegal Art or maybe even Amazon.
 
You can get the Girl Talk album here: http://74.124.198.47/illegal-art.net/__girl__talk___feed__the__anima.ls___/
 
Right on; thanks man (or woman)!

I should also mention that the album was, and probably still is, available for a free download.
 
Feed The Animals has got to be one of the most awesome things I've heard.

Thank you.
 
Army Navy is okay, but I refuse to go along with their music being comparable to the best Teenage Fanclub songs. In fact, I don't really think they *sound* like Teenage Fanclub.
 
Woo! Thanks for the banner. :)
 
DUFF - It's pretty much as awesome as it gets. And whoever did those compendium videos on YouTube deserves a nearly-equal amount of praise. Terrific job.

EMILY - You got it!
 

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