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Best of 2008: Morgan’s Top 30 Albums

best of 08 cover art

Let me start by giving a big thank you to Victor and everyone else at PopTen. I am so super psyched to be able to contribute to such a great blog. As Victor noted in his welcome post, these mixes are usually made and sent out to friends via email, so there is some history I take for granted that would not be apparent were I to simply cut and paste them here. So for my Best of 2008 recap, allow me to digress a little.

This January marks my five year anniversary of making these mixes. This all started when I had some random conversation about how radio stations play the same song over and over till you hate it, and then can’t remember it 6 months later because it’s never on anymore. The mixes were originally intended to track those songs. For the first few years, they always fit on a cd. I have never repeated a song.

There have been many changes to the format and restrictions of the mix, aside from the fact that I almost never listen to the radio ever anymore. My friend Tom is an amazing photographer (see his flickr stream here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/twatson/) and also happens to be a designer. He has been more than generous with his time in helping to design my cover art. I picked out a few lines from songs on the mix, and some photos, and he combined them into awesome mini-artworks.

It took me a while to settle on the format of this list. In the past few years I’ve just picked my favorite tracks from each month and threw them together. This year I was more inclined to do a “top albums” kind of list. It is not definitive in order, but in general the albums with more play-time on my ipod are closer to the top. This way, it could still be a mix, and not just songs smashed together. Plus, all but one of the songs have never appeared on a monthly mix (though in all cases, other tracks from the same album have). And since there are (probably) better songs on these albums that made it into earlier monthly mixes, I’ll be sure to point you to those as well. Enjoy!

(Top 30 after the jump…)

01 – The Dodos – Fools (Visiter)
Kicking off the mix with some crazy percussionists. I saw The Dodos twice this year. They were the only reason I trudged myself down to
Coney Island for Siren Festival in what felt like a record heat-wave. I also saw them in Brooklyn a few weeks back, in the middle of our first snowstorm. It kills me that the title to this album is misspelled, but oh well. See also: Undeclared; Red and Purple; Winter

02 – Frightened Rabbit – Old Old Fashioned (The Midnight Organ Fight)
First caught them at Mercury Lounge with Jonny, and about 25 other people. I stood in awe of their drummer. Awe. That guy is crazy. See also: Modern Leper; The Twist

03 – Okkervil River – Starry Stairs (The Stand-ins)
I pretty much exhausted every other track from this album in mixes over the summer. This was probably my most-listened to album of the year. I heart Will Sheff. See also: Calling and Not Calling My Ex; Lost Coastlines; Singer Songwriter

04 – Bon Iver – Skinny Love (For Emma, Forever Ago)
I put this song on my sxsw08 mix after seeing them there twice. I lost track of this album for a while, but rediscovered it after hearing this song all over television. See also: The Wolves (Act I and II); Re: Stacks

05 – Bowerbirds – My Oldest Memory (Hymns For A Dark Horse)
I only got this full album about a month ago, but it’s moved its way up in the play count really quickly. See also: In Our Talons

06 – Dr. Dog – 100 Years (Fate)
Love love love this album. Plus I liked this song in contrast with Bowerbirds song before it. See also: The Breeze; The Rabbit, The Bat, and the Reindeer

07 – The Weepies – How You Survived The War (Hideaway)
It was hard to decide which song to put on this mix. I used a few during the year, and I rarely ever listened to this not in its entirety. But in the end I was drawn to the sad and stubborn hope in this one. See also: Can’t Go Back Now; Wish I Could Forget; Not Dead Yet

08 – Mates Of State – Blue and Gold Print (Re-Arrange Us)
Their harmonies just kill me. So does their use of imagery in lyrics. See also: My Only Offer; Re-Arrange Us

09 – She & Him – I Thought I Saw Your Face Today (Volume One)
I am always in such a pleasant mood after listening to this album. See also: This Is Not A Test; I Was Made For You

10 – Thao Nguyen & The Get Down Stay Down – Fear and Convenience (We Brave Bee Stings And All)
Chris originally told me about her. One of the best email-reader suggestions. Broke my anti-Terminal 5 rule for the first time ever to see her open for Rilo Kiley. This song was a good contrast to the Mates of State one. See also: Violet; Swimming Pools; Big Kid Table

11 – The Kooks – Shine On (Konk)
I avoided ever using this song in a mix, since it was an Michelob Ultra commercial. See also: Always Where I Need To Be; One Last Time

12 – Headlights – Get Your Head Around It (Some Racing, Some Stopping)
Sometimes this band reminds me of the perfect mix of Magnetic Fields, Mates of State, and the Weepies. You could be a worse amalgam. On a side note, I heard this song in a cnn commercial this morning. See also: Cherry Tulips; School Boys

13 – The Magnetic Fields – The Nun’s Litany (Distortion)
I wasn’t sold at first on the distortion concept. But I warmed to the songs a little more after seeing them stripped down in concert. At both of their shows I saw this year, Stephin Merritt took lead vocals. Snarky and clever. See also: Too Drunk To Dream; Drive on Driver; Please Stop Dancing

14 – Death Cab for Cutie – No Sunlight (Narrow Stairs)
Wasn’t sure till the very end of list making whether or not I wanted to keep this one in, but they got the sentimental vote. (It could just have easily have gone to Snow Patrol.) Saw them at Mccarren with Ellie, where we almost died in a severe wind and thunderstorm. See also: Bixby Canyon Bridge; You Can Do Better Than Me

15 – Lenka – We Will Not Grow Old (Lenka)
This is the only song that also appeared on a monthly mix. It’s also technically from an EP, but it’s not the only EP on here so we’ll let it slide. The title is also the first line to appear on one of the covers. See also: Knock, Knock; The Show

16 – Frontier Ruckus – Adirondack Amish Holler (The Orion Songbook)
The first band I saw at sxsw08 when they opened for Cotton Jones. The lyrics to this one are beautiful. I usually don’t love songs that have too many different pieces, but they make it work. See also:
Bethlehem

17 – Stars – Going, Going, Gone [Live] (Sad Robots EP)
Random lines from this song get stuck in my head for days at a time. See also: 14 Forever; Undertow

18 – These United States – Sun Is Below & Above (A Picture of the Three of Us At The Gate To The Garden of Eden)
Note to Ryan Adams: If you were wondering how to properly release full-length albums in close succession, look no further than this band. Their two albums were on constant rotation. See also: Remember Dear

19 – Drive-By Truckers – Checkout Time in Vegas (Brighter Than Creation’s Dark)
The album title is the second cover made for this mix. Patterson Hood’s songs off this album mostly tend to be commentary on the war, so it’s refreshing to have it mixed up a little with the leads. See also: That Man I Shot

20 – The Ting Tings – Be The One (We Started Nothing)
I like this album in short bursts, but could never really listen to it over and over like some of the others. See also: That’s Not My Name; Shut Up And Let Me Go

21 – TV On The Radio – Crying (Dear Science,)
Listened to this a bunch the first week I had and then forgot about it until I started this mix. Otherwise it would probably be higher up. See also: Dancing Choose

22 – David Byrne & Brian Eno – Home (Everything That Happens Will Happen Today)
I feel like this song belongs on a cheesy movie trailer. Like they could maybe just stop using Solsbury Hill and use this instead. See also: The River

23 – These United States – Pleasure and Pain and Pride and Me (Crimes)
See Track 19. See also: Get Yourself Home (In Search of the Mistress Whose Kisses Are Famous); West Won; Honor Amongst Thieves

24 – Fleet Foxes – Ragged Wood (Fleet Foxes)
The third album cover takes a line from the end of this song- “any old lie will do”. I loved that picture of
Alcatraz and loved that line, and Tom geniously put them together. Otherwise I was leaning towards putting the song Meadowlarks on instead. See also: Oliver James; White Winter Hymnal

25 – Destroyer – Dark Leaves From A Thread (Trouble in Dreams)
I have to be in the exact right mood to listen to the album the whole way through, but when I am, man… it’s great. See also: Blue Flower/Blue Flame; Libby’s First
Sunrise

26 – The Walkmen – Seven Years of Holidays (for Stretch) (You & Me)
Fun. I love the tone of
Hamilton‘s voice. See also: In The New Year; Four Provinces

27 – MGMT – The Youth (Oracular Spectacular)
Love the hippie vibe to this song. Kind of opposite of what I would expect. See also: Time To Pretend; Electric Feel

28 – The New Year – The Company I Can Get (The New Year)
This is the most recently added album to make the list, so I don’t have all that much insight into it. Except that it should be on here. See also: Seven Days and Seven Nights; Body and Soul

29 – Girl Talk – Here’s The Thing (Feed The Animals)
This album never made it on a monthly mix, because it is awkward when put with anything other itself. So I stuck it at the end. But it was one of my favorite albums, so I couldn’t leave it off.

30 – Restaurants – Mitch Hedberg (Do You Believe In Gosh?)
Again, kind of an odd thing to put in a monthly mix, so it never made it. But this album made me laugh so hard, kind of depressing it’s posthumous.

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