Jeph's Top 10 Records of 2008!

10. Diskjokke- Staying In

Yep, it's techno. It's good techno! And I refuse to ever, EVER use the term "blog house."

9. El Guincho- Alegranza

I have no idea what El Guincho is singing about and I don't care. Simple yet cunningly arranged, delightfully loose in a way that most sample-based music isn't, and catchy as all hell. It's what Animal Collective would sound like if they were interested in having a good time at shows.

8. This Will Destroy You- s/t

This Will Destroy You's earlier records, while pretty, always struck me as a little derivative, a little too close to their sonic cousins Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. But on their self-titled album they've not only found their own voice, they're using it to put out their best material yet. It's a lovely union of post-rocky guitar lines and glitchy electronics that never gets overly bombastic and features plenty of timbral variation (two things Explosions in the Sky could really stand to learn). TWDY have proven that there's still life in instrumental post-rock.

7. Gojira- The Way Of All Flesh

I gotta admit, I miss the harsh, trash-can reverb they put on the guitars for From Mars to Sirius. And "A Sight To Behold" is, to put it kindly, rather incongruous. But on the whole this is another Gojira record- vicious, pummeling, and epic. "The Art of Dying" has the best guitar riff I've heard all year, and that one track is worth the price of the entire album. Did I mention they have the best vocalist in metal right now? Dude's voice SLAYS.

6. Hercules & Love Affair- s/t

Antony Hegarty's voice is liquid gold. Put him in front of a classically-minded (I'm talking Detroit and Chicago here, not Bach and Wagner) techno producer and you have a really, REALLY sexy vocal house album that should appeal to indie rock fans and dance music enthusiasts alike. Album opener "Time Will" is the entire record in a nutshell. If that track doesn't kill you, I don't know what will.

5. Marnie Stern- This Is It (etc etc)

Credit to Marnie Stern for getting me interested in indie rock again. I like to think of this record as the spiritual successor to Don Caballero- Don Cab's technical fireworks and prickly melodies are still there, but Stern's sing-song, motivational-speaker lyrics add a warmth and personality that Don Cab never had. It's math-rock for the Deerhoof kids, or Deerhoof for the math-rock kids, or indie-rock for people like me who are sick of skinny white dudes playing Telecasters badly.

4. M83- Saturdays = Youth

A sincerely loving homage to the 1980s, the newest M83 album finds the band fine-tuning their synths-meets-guitars sound to bring a new level of personality and texture to each track. Where previous efforts sometimes fell flat, every track on this record evokes its own distinct personality- chilly, inviting, reflective, anthemic, they're all unique. Although the fake toms on "Skin of the Night" still weird me out a little.

3. Lindstrom- Where You Go I Go Too

A true techno long-player in the same vein as LCD Soundsystem's 45:33, Where You Go I Go Too is perhaps the ultimate expression of the Lindstrom headspace- gorgeous, cavernous ambient passages intertwining between heady space-techno anthems that on their own would be wonderful tracks, but work even better woven into the whole of this album. There's a lot more melody to be found here than in your average click-clack minimal techno track or bleepy-bloopy space-disco wankfest- the delay-ridden marimba line that forms the background of track 1 would be the centerpiece of a lesser song. Here it's just another section of the gorgeous, immersive whole.

2. Krallice- s/t

Holy GOD what a metal record. I hardly even know where to begin describing this one. It's cut from a black metal template, sure, but it goes so far beyond that. The arrangements are huge, complex, and refreshingly inventive. I haven't ever heard the bass play such a key role in the harmonic movement of a metal song, and the twin guitars create cascading sheets of sheets that most black metal bands only aspire to. The drumming's fantastic, too- intense, technically impressive, and always tasteful. And I don't have enough praise for the recording quality- like my OTHER favorite black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room, Krallice prove that a well-recorded black metal band is infinitely more enjoyable than some dude trying to be "authentic" by using a broken four-track in his bathroom. Tracks "Wretched Wisdom" and "Cnestorial" seem to get most of the press, but for my money "Energy Chasms" is the best metal song I've heard all year and an album standout. I can only imagine how hard these guys slay live.

1. Cut Copy- In Ghost Colours

Easily the most accessible, instantly enjoyable album of 2008, In Ghost Colors sounds like an 80s synth-pop record dragged and dropped (notice I avoided the obvious pun on the band's name there) into the new millenium. Standout tracks "Hearts on Fire" and "Lights and Music" have yet to get old for me (the breakdown and subsequent buildup on the latter track kills me every time). In Ghost Colours is strong from start to finish and reflects a band supremely comfortable and confident in the songs and the sound they're putting forth. Dunno if they'll ever top this one.

Honorable mentions, in no particular order:

  • fenin- been through (sexy dubstep-techno)
  • grails- doomsayer's holiday (crazed Godspeed You! Black Emperor style apocalypse rock)
  • luomo- convivial (delicious European techno all-star guest album)
  • notwist- the devil, you, and me (it's the Postal Service only not all emo)
  • osbourne- osbourne (yep, more techno)
  • sebastian tellier- sexuality (the perviest record by the perviest dude)
  • tony tobias- space shuffle (thoomp thoomp thoomp thoomp)
  • air france- no way down EP (The Avalanches 2.0)