Welcome to LOTD's top 25 of 2008 album countdown! Tonight we unleash the first half on y'all suckers, with 15 - 1 coming on Christmas Day! Merry Christmas!
25) J.Fox – We're Happy To Be Here! (Self Released)
While not a gem from start to finish, the stream-of-conscious surf punk that J. Fox creates on We're Happy To Be Here! yields more catchy songs than one would expect from a low-fi Modest Mouse-inspired rock band. The album's duds will fade from memory while hits like “Brooklyn,” “Oysters,” and “Basement Rock” will hang around for weeks.
24) Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple (Downtown / Atlantic)
While this duo of unlikely hitmakers' second album is not as good as their first, Gnarls Barkley's sophomore release is a dark and mature album full of stormy pop songs about mental illness, isolation and various other off-kilter topics one would not expect to bump in the club. Thank god Cee-lo Green's soulful howls and Danger Mouse's inspired production sound so good together that it doesn't matter what the songs are about.
23) Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs (Atlantic / WEA)
While no means a departure for the soft-spoken emo rockers (Gibbard is still a sad sack after all), the group's focus on making rock music thick with groove-heavy bass lines and upstart guitar licks is a welcome departure from their more sterile major label work. “Long Division” and “No Sunrise” are as close to “rock” as this band has gotten in some time, while their 8 minute long single “I Will Posses Your Heart” still punches as hard as it did this past summer.
22) Algernon Cadwallader – Some Kind of Cadwallader (Be Happy / Sars)
Sure, Algernon Cadwallader sounds exactly like a combination of Cap 'n Jazz and American Football, but more bands should have gone that route. The playful guitars, intelligible vocals that act as the fourth instrument and never-say-die hooks of Some Kind of Cadwallader make this album more refreshing than some “original” bands on the scene. More on Algernon in my top 30 songs post (coming Friday).
21) Nada Surf – Lucky (Barsuk)
Sometimes, in the search for the next big avant-garde art band to blow away the tight-jeans-wearing mind of hipsters everywhere, a man needs to unwind with some simple, straightforward, well written pop rock. Lucky was that album for me. The story of a band that crested on popularity before plunging into obscurity only to rise again as indie darlings isn't to shabby an angle, either.
20) Man Man – Rabbit Habbits (Anti)
If Six Demon Bag was a breakup album, the sound of a man destroyed at the loss of his love, Rabbit Habbits is that same man hitting the town, getting drunk, and sleeping with any woman he can find. Confident, crazy, and masculine while still maintaining their air of manic desperation, Man Man's latest is as fine a victory lap as any band has put out in some time.
19) Ponytail – Ice Cream Spiritual (We*Are*Free)
Imagine a punk band fronted by a teenage Karen-O, more concerned with candy than boys. Imagine that same band with a sever ADD problem and the musical chops of a 70s prog band. Now put that band in a recording studio with nothing but Pixie Stix and Mountain Dew. The resulting album could not be more fun and frantic than Ice Cream Spiritual, an album that is matched only by Spiderman of the Rings in its playfulness.
18) Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (Wichita)
See the second half of the list.
17) The Wombats – The Wombats Proudly Present a Guide to Love, Loss, and Desperation (14th Floor)
Considering the amount of worrying that went into this list, I'm as surprised as anyone to find the Wombats making an appearance in my year-end list. Be that as it may, one would be hard pressed to find a more concise and well-crafted collection of tongue-in-cheek brit pop that the tunes offered on this album.
16) Girl Talk – Feed The Animals (Illegal Art)
The mash-up man is back with another audio experiment that crams pop, soul, hip-hop and rock into a blender and sets it to “Puree.” High notes this time around include the Jay-Z / Radiohead collision and an especially excellent mix of Temple of the Dog and Birdman. A great album for an ADD themed party or an all night coke binge.
Check back tomorrow for 15 - 1