Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums of 2008

Esta é a lista do Pitchfork, um dos blogs/sites mais respeitados entre os indies, dos 50 melhores álbuns de 2008. O álbum homônimo de estréia do Fleet Foxes (fazendo uma dobradinha com o EP Sun Giant) ficou no topo da lista. Veja mais detalhes no blog/site Pitchfork.

01: Fleet Foxes - Sun Giant EP/Fleet Foxes [Sub Pop]

Listing Fleet Foxes' debut LP and EP may be awkward, but just feels right. They're like two sides of a coin, and equally express the band's mastery of its music, a catchall Americana that takes a wide slice of our popular music's spectrum and pulls it through a reverse prism to create a gorgeous and focused sound of the band's own. The threads of Brian Wilson's intricate coastal pop, Appalachian folk, modern indie rock, Grateful Dead jams, and other influences are masterfully synthesized in the band's harmonies and simply orchestrated but constantly shifting instrumental arrangements.

The Sun Giant EP introduces the band to the world with a just plain pretty a cappella harmony passage that lays their pastoral tendencies bare, while later on the disc "Mykonos" and "English House" show us their muscle and easy way with loose song structures. The lyrics are non-narrative but vivid nonetheless. See the way the Fleet Foxes refrain "and Michael you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in summertime" plunges you into the stunning guitar-and-voice counterpoint that blows "White Winter Hymnal" wide open. Lead singer Robin Pecknold has a strong, clear voice and knows when to let fly with a drawn-out, impassioned bellow and when to withdraw into the shelter of his bandmates' harmonies. The group shares his sense of dynamics, and Fleet Foxes flows like a river, wild and free but logical, filling what needs to be filled and moving on. --Joe Tangari

MP3: Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal

02: Portishead - Third [Island]

Musically, no dominant trend or theme emerged in 2008, so it makes a perverse kind of sense that one of its best records came from a band left for dead that emerged out of nowhere with a fragmented take on itself. When Third was originally announced, the prevailing consensus seemed to be that folks were: 1) Happy to have Portishead back, and 2) Skeptical about how their formula would translate in 2008. Turns out, Portishead had long ago shed their skin. Instead of anything resembling noirish, sample-heavy trip-hop, the trio returned with a palette of songs that spanned prettified acoustic folk to gnarly industrial to eerie electronic ballads.

Their decade-long attitudinal shift was most dramatically articulated, though, in their production style; where the trio's previous full-lengths were tidy, neatly assembled affairs, the songs on Third-- from the chippy musicianship on opener "Silence" to the Joy Division homage "We Carry On"-- sounded roughshod and bedraggled. Elsewhere, they diversified: The shimmering "Hunter" recalled Broadcast at their ghostliest, "Small"s foggy psychedelia belied a love for early 70s Krautrock, and the ukulele-led "Deep Water" wouldn't have been out of place on a Feist record. Meanwhile, the stuttering cacophony of "Machine Gun" and devastating "The Rip" were two of the tracks of the year. The sound of a band choosing decay over craft, no album leapt out the speakers quite like Third. --Mark Pytlik

03: No Age - Nouns [Sub Pop]

Los Angeles is the least interesting thing about No Age, but it's still the easiest place to start. Harder to put into words is the way Randy Randall and Dean Spunt pack ear-splitting guitar textures, raucous punk energy, and even some memorable little tunes into their first proper album, Nouns. Those same basic ingredients were already present on last year's Weirdo Rippers, a compilation of non-album tracks, but they're more fully integrated this time around, the songs occupying the perfect intersection of grit and accessibility. The first song we heard from the album, "Sleeper Hold", still blends those elements best, with fist-pumping choruses, screeching feedback, and a credo that all punk parvenus should have to get carved on their foreheads from now on: "With passion it's true." No Age have, by all accounts, established a thriving underground community at the Smell, but for the vast majority of human beings who don't live in a Southern California, their legacy will be Nouns. --Marc Hogan

04: Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours [Modular/Interscope]

There was a surprisingly feast-or-famine reaction this year to Cut Copy's In Ghost Colours, an album that on one hand should be a go-to indie dance/pop/rhythm release (see "Hearts on Fire", "Lights and Music") and on the other is actually closer in spirit to a flat-out gorgeous and uplifting pop record ("Out There on the Ice", "So Haunted", and "Unforgettable Season"). Our reviewer Mark Pytlik simply yet accurately called In Ghost "a hard record not to love," yet it also had the sense all year of an LP bubbling just under the surface. A corrective, then, that would improve most year-end lists and give In Ghost Colours the profile it deserves: "Time to Pretend" excepted, replace all appearances of "MGMT" with "Cut Copy."

At the risk of overloading on navel-gazing, Cut Copy's Pitchfork Music Festival appearance was an accidental metaphor then for the group's year. With the band late from the airport, curiosity seekers, casual observers, and the uninitiated slowly peeled away from the crowd, preferring main stage act Spoon or an early end to the weekend; those who stuck around bottled the tension and anticipation and transformed it into ecstasy when the group finally performed an electrifying three-song set. It was clear that, for many (including yours truly), this was the album of 2008; still ready for its close-up, it's possible that for even more people it will be their album of 2009. --Scott Plagenhoef

05: Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. [Kranky]

While iPod ads and Hollywood films based around Bishop Allen shows reinforce the idea that there's little difference between mainstream and indie rock, this year, a tale of two redheads redrew the lines in the sand. When Axl Rose found out GN'R's Chinese Democracy leaked, he tried to get his most over-eager fan thrown in jail. But when Deerhunter's Bradford Cox found out his band's third album, Microcastle, was making the P2P rounds some four months before its October street date, his band went about preparing a completely new bonus album, Weird Era Cont., to reward those who waited for a retail release. (Alas, it too would leak early.) While Microcastle cornerstones like the autobahn-bound "Nothing Ever Happened" and the atomic doo-wop of "Twilight at Carbon Lake" suggest Deerhunter are undergoing a Flaming Lips-like evolution into stately, psych-pop dignitaries, Weird Era Cont. charts a parallel course where Deerhunter break down and mess around with the raw materials-- the lo-fi garage-disco of "Operations", the shoegaze overdrive of "Vox Celeste", the looped-feedback drones of "Weird Era"-- that comprise Microcastle's magnificent whole. And yet with the closing "Cavalry Scars II_Aux Out"-- a 10-minute psych-raga reconstruction of a 90-second Microcastle interlude-- this supplementary album achieves a majesty all its own. --Stuart Berman

06: TV on the Radio - Dear Science [4AD/Interscope]

When much of the critical conversation this year focused on Brooklyn's nü-primitivism coldly capitalizing on globalism, TVOTR proved that the borough can give us so much more than Keffiyeh scarves. TVOTR mixed Princely falsettos and handclaps rooted in African-American churches with dissonant washes of feedback and sounds cribbed from "I Wanna Be Sedated"; hell, "Family Tree" references slavery and lynching while copping its aristocratic aural style from Coldplay. Lest we forget that the group is still a bunch of boho weirdoes, though, there's the unapologetically strange video for "Golden Age": with its brass-aided angelic chorus emerging triumphantly from the robotic funk of the verses, it was the closest thing 2008 pop had to Rapture. On that note, one last sigh of relief that "Golden" in December isn't a sad curio of a nation afraid to embrace difference on November 4, but instead stands as a bona fide fucking anthem going forward. --Eric Harvey

07: Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend [XL]

This record was officially released in January, but at this point it seems like we've had it-- and the hot-fuss backlash that accompanied it-- for years. Sure, VW's songs got a lot of praise quickly-- these things happen in the internet age, usually to far less deserving bands. They dress like the early Talking Heads or Wes Anderson characters, but few people display righteous anger toward the early Talking Heads or Wes Anderson characters. They went to an Ivy League school but is that actually a negative anywhere outside a Sarah Palin rally?

OK, there's a whiff of them being just your little brother's music-- more listenable than capital-I important-- but actually getting pissy over the existence of VW seems about as reasonable as getting out the torches and pitchforks over, say, a (superior version of) Squeeze or Madness or Supergrass. In a time when other populist groups like Spoon, Arcade Fire, and the Hold Steady-- potential radio staples at certain points in rock history-- have commercial ceilings somewhere between "an appearance on 'SNL'" and "gold record," I can't find myself rooting against Vampire Weekend's relative success. At the end of the day, all they've done is craft an album of crisp, endlessly replayable guitar pop songs with expressive, detail-heavy lyrics and charming music that serves as a welcome antidote to today's more overly compressed sounds. How dare they. --Scott Plagenhoef

08: M83 - Saturdays=Youth [Mute]

The cover of Saturdays=Youth features a composite of stock characters from films released in M83's Anthony Gonzalez early childhood-- so there appears to be a disconnect between the album's source image and his liner-note claim that it's a tribute to his wild teenage years. But Saturdays is every bit as much about a time frame as a frame of mind, and what makes Gonzalez' fourth LP his finest is how the former is rendered with honesty instead of irony and the latter with positivity instead of angst. Forget the shoegaze tag M83 is too often pinned with-- the irrepressible hormones of prom years are almost rendered in spectral, skyward tones on twin peaks "Kim & Jessie" and "We Own the Sky". On the whole, Saturdays is a pristine, inhabitable universe whose emotions can match the enormity of its sonics, penetrable any time you wish to see the movies of your dreams with Gonzalez's cast of irrepressible day trippers. --Ian Cohen

09: Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair [DFA/Mute]

You've read it all over: 2008 was a big year for disco. And sure, plenty of decent dance fare over the past year or two copped to an ambivalent glamour and scratched a four-to-the-floor itch. But no one else managed to connect with a greater public than Andrew Butler's Hercules and Love Affair. It didn't hurt that he had Antony Hegarty behind the mic on the record or that the towering Nomi stole the spotlight in shows across the States and Europe. But mainly it was the songs that did it: Co-produced by DFA's Tim Goldsworthy, Butler's tunes laid out a kind of alternate history of pop music, where the marginalized, forgotten talents of the late 1980s and early 90s were still at work on ideas for the decade about to break. Recreating the music you love is never an easy thing; to do it in a way that so viscerally evokes the lost era that inspired it is even harder. Whatever might be said of NYC dance culture in 2008, Hercules and Love Affair dreamed it like no other. --Philip Sherburne

10: DJ/rupture - Uproot [The Agriculture]

When DJ/rupture, aka Jace Clayton, released his brilliant pan-global mix Uproot, he also made available the companion album Uproot: The Ingredients, an unedited collection of the mix's source material. This was a generous move, and a bold one, for it risks allowing the listener backstage to watch the master alchemist at work. Fortunately, Uproot: The Ingredients does more than simply confirm that Clayton owns a well-used passport and an impeccable set of ears; it also provides fresh insight into his distinctive and powerful musical vision.

Clayton recognizes global bass culture to be a complex system of interlocking burrows, and on Uproot he revels in exploring as many hidden passageways as possible. Starting primarily with dubstep and ragga sources, Uproot branches outward to reconcile such far-flung pieces as Filastine's jittery "Hungry Ghost (Instrumental)" and Ekkehard Ehlers' elegiac "Plays John Cassavetes". And, particularly after hearing The Ingredients, it is a marvel to witness how intuitively Clayton allows the mix's various rhythms and displaced vocals to linger and echo back on one another, as if his only role is to expose all those secret links and shared roots that have been buried in plain sight all along. --Matthew Murphy

11 Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
12 Lindstrøm - Where You Go I Go Too
13 Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
14 Air France - No Way Down
15 Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
16 Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls
17 Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life
18 The Mae Shi - HLLLYH
19 The Walkmen - You & Me
20 Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing
21 Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreak
22 Santogold - Santogold
23 Hot Chip - Made in the Dark
24 Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna
25 Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances
26 Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
27 Max Tundra - Parallax Error Beheads You
28 Flying Lotus - Los Angeles
29 The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
30 Los Campesinos! - Hold on Now, Youngster...
31 Fennesz - Black Sea
32 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
33 Frightened Rabbit - Midnight Organ Fight
34 Arthur Russell - Love Is Overtaking Me
35 Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
36 Wale - The Mixtape About Nothing
37 Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
38 The Bug - London Zoo
39 Times New Viking - Rip It Off
40 The Very Best - Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit are the Very Best
41 David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
42 Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Lie Down in the Light
43 Shearwater - Rook
44 Marnie Stern - This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That
45 Lykke Li - Youth Novels
46 Beach House - Devotion
47 The Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Grave
48 High Places - High Places
49 Crystal Stilts - Alight Of Night
50 Ponytail - Ice Cream Spiritual

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