These are the top 10 albums of 2008 according to NY Magazine. I’m sure a lot of people won’t like the choice of C3 as number one, but this list makes me a lot less angry than most of the other lists I’ve seen so far. I’d switch around the order and replace a couple, but not bad at all. Thanks to TheMusicSlut for bringing it to my attention.
1. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
Lil Wayne may be a visionary, delivering his unhinged but subtly patterned rhymes in a wry croak. But this disc was a throwback to the time when pop stars commanded huge CD sales. The legendarily prolific rapper focused everyone’s attention on one uncompromising set of songs and quite possibly closed out an era.
2. TV on the Radio, Dear Science
The band’s melodic gifts have never been in doubt, but they sometimes got mired in noisy, self-indulgent dirges. Not on this album. The fresh, funky horn players from Antibalas give TVOTR just the kick in the ass they needed to make their finest record.
3. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
Brokenhearted dude heads up to a remote cabin in Wisconsin with an acoustic guitar to cry his heart out—and somehow defies all stereotypes to make an incredibly meticulous and powerful body of songs that, for all their pain, manage to feel uplifting.
4. Portishead, Third
After ten years away, the seminal British trip-hoppers managed to reinvent themselves while still sounding exactly like Portishead. The emotional despair and gorgeously grainy ambience remain the same, but now they’re underpinned by blasts of grungy Krautrock.
5.Hercules and Love Affair
Antony Hegarty (a.k.a. Antony of Antony and the Johnsons) should be a full-time disco singer. His doleful euphoria is perfect for dance music, and the rest of the vocalists on this loving re-creation of classic house and disco rhythms work just as nicely in your living room.
The comparison to the sui generis British–Sri Lankan artist M.I.A. is misleading. Yes, this Brooklyn adoptee makes supremely catchy Technicolor future-pop. But aside from “Creator” and “L.E.S. Artistes,” her debut was packed with solid songs inspired by the mashed-up post-punk era.
7. Fleet Foxes
Seattle’s Fleet Foxes especially value traditional craft, owing more to Crosby, Stills & Nash than any indie-rock band; Robin Pecknold leads ecstatic four-part harmonies over the group’s mostly acoustic instrumentation.
8. Erykah Badu, New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War
Badu’s first album in five years is as massively entertaining as it is unfailingly weird. Cooked up in her Fort Greene laboratory, it bubbles with hip-hop beats, Funkadelic-style jams, free-jazz excursions, slinky soul singing, and even a cappella scat, a kitchen-sink mix that ought to be unworkable but through Badu’s madness-as-method somehow works.
9. Beck, Modern Guilt
Maybe expectations were just too high for this album, a collaboration with the amazing Danger Mouse, because it barely made a dent. But this collection of rueful, melancholic songs—just a bit peppier than Sea Change— is one of Beck’s strongest.
10. Vampire Weekend
Four white Columbia grads singing about Cape Cod over appropriated Afro-pop to the acclaim of (white) bloggers invites a certain amount of cynicism. Vampire Weekend risked sounding entitled or worse. But their winning little songs, bubbling with good-natured stabs at literary lyrics and West African sounds, made their debut a model for indie rockers in need of a little loosening up.