The 20 New Albums You Need to Own in 2008

The RSL Music Blog annual
Selections for Records of the Year

The 20 Best Records of 2008

It's hard to believe we are at the end of another year and now have the opportunity to look back at all the great artist releases. It is with great pleasure that we unveil our choices for the best 20 records of 2008. This list isn't comprehensive - we realize there's much you can't add to such an exclusive list. And there's no way we can make everyone happy... Ultimately the list is a way to share truly exceptional music along side deserving artists whose work might otherwise go uncelebrated.

The RSL Honorable Mention Album List (our favorites this year who got nipped from the Top 20) and our picks for the year's Top EP album releases (these are little bits of gold!) will appear on the website soon.

Our Criteria for this List
: We set some simple restrictions for the 2008 List... No Cover Albums, No Greatest Hits or Collections, No Soundtracks, No Live Albums. These rules actually helped reduce the mental clutter and allowed us to make some tough choices.

Artist: Mills

Much conversation has gone on between us these recent days in an effort to get this list published. Our one area of emphasis was that special attention should always be paid to under-exposed bands at the top talent level. On behalf of Braggin Billy, Jen, Nick and myself - we thank you for reading and hope you enjoy these selections and the song from each:

The Best of List 2008:
In No Particular Order:

Mason Proper - Olly Oxen Free
A stellar sophomore effort from Michigan indie rockers.
A truly must-have effort from Jonathan Visger and company.
This one hits on all cylinders!

Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

The dynamic Wolf Parade is a force of Nature.
Seeing these songs performed live this year was magical.
At Mount Zoomer is an exercise in creativity.

Langhorne Slim & the War Eages - self titled

It's possible the best live show I saw this year was Langhorne Slim.
These songs and Slim's incredible band were just on fire!
This record is addictive as hell, upbeat and incredible.

The Black Keys - Attack & Release

The Akron, OH duo met up with Danger Mouse and made gold!
Attack & Release is loud, greasy and crunchy - we love the sound.

Tom Thumb - The Taxidermist

It is with great pleasure we tap Boston's Tom Thumb.
The Taxidermist is easily one of the best folk albums in years.

Justice of the Unicorns - Angels with Uzis

Raw, unfettered fun with movie references and odd imagery...
We loved New York's Justice of the Unicorns from the first listen!
JOTU are one of the freshest sounds of 2008.

The Oaks - Songs for Waiting

From Orlando, FL - The Oaks are just magical.
Songs for Waiting is a serious album of the year candidate.
The beauty of these songs is undeniable.

She & Him - Volume One

Zooey Deschanel offers sweet and smooth vocals...
M. Ward's understated and elegant arrangements are a treat for the soul.
Having She & Him perform at Newport Folk this year, we were won over!

The Motion Sick -
The Truth Will Catch You, Just Wait

Boston's own The Motion Sick are one creative band!
Following my interview with the band they went on to have one great year.
Highly Recommended indie Pop. One of our Favorites of '08.

Young Knives - Superabundance

Superabundance is one of the most vibrant, alive albums of 2008
I listened to this record straight through 5 times in a row. Still a favorite.

The Photographic -
Pictures of a Changing World

The Photographic is a completely new group to me this year.
The instrumental duo from Kentucky released one of the year's best!
Pictures of a Changing World is an intricate and powerful record.

Fijuya & Miyagi - Lightbulbs

F&M's Lightbulbs is one wicked, party record.
A really, really fun album to drive to.
Nothing awe-inspiring here, just tons of fun.

Portishead - Third

Taking an unexpected and dark turn...
Portishead's Third was an unexpected treat.
The good bands always challenge - this one is no different.

Ghost of the Russian Empire - the Mammoth

Austin's Ghost of the Russian Empire blew the doors off this one!
The haunting songs on the Mammoth have been a constant all year long.
Very Highly Recommended.

The Kooks - Konk

Not sure if you've noticed, but The Kooks are pretty damn talented.
Konk is an impressive, light-hearted album - sure to become a classic.

Weinland - La Lamentor

Weinland is a hugely talented new band.
Dark, magical and a bit sad, La Lamentor is a definite "Best of" album.
Led by John Adam Weinland Shearer, this band could take on Neil Young's mantle.

Ben Folds - Way to Normal

Way to Normal is Wildly creative while exercising Intellectual Might
Ben Folds has released one of the smartest records of the year!
Any man who fakes his own album leak will win us over to begin with.

The Black and White Years - self titled

This little band from Austin rocks in a serious way!
BAWY are one of the top five or six live bands I have ever seen
Full of frenetic energy, always smart and utterly driven to entertain!
The new record is a fusion of styles and translates perfectly on stage.

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

While still fairly new to us, Elbow stood out immediately. A tip of the hat to Nick!
The Seldom Seen Kid is a practically flawless album which cannot be ignored.
Wrap your arms around this Rich record and be rewarded!

Parlour Steps - Ambiguoso

Vancouver's Parlour Steps are just sensational!
The Ambiguoso record is one of those without a weak point.
Good folks, exceptional songcraft and stage performance!

"Be Guilty of Good Taste."

Artist: Krista Jane


Anonymous said…
My holiday wishlist just increased substantially...
Ray said…
Unordered?? Come on Ryan, give us a #1!
Ryan Spaulding said…
Hey Ray, no order yet - I post that up at the very end of the year along with handing out Music Awards to the best projects in specific catagories. This list is intended to keep your shopping lists up to date. In the meantime, take another look through the RSL Best of 2007 List and the RSL Music Awards!
Anonymous said…
u r blog Is very nice
Anonymous said…
Great list, Ryan! Here are my Top 20 vocal albums of 2008:

Top 10 concerts of 2008:

Top 25 instrumental/jazz albums of 2008 coming up by year's end (I'm still re-listening).

Hotel in Ranchi said…
This is awesome – thank you for curating all this valuable information.

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