The year I graduated from the University of Maine was a whirlwind of a year – and not just musically. However, this is not a time for me to vent and give the major and minor details of my personal (and beginning of my professional) life – rather, it is a moment for us, as a staff, to again recap the year in music. Who won, to be extremely specific. Feel free to tell us your favorites from 2008!
Jarrod Church‘s #1 Album: Illuminate by Lydia
Looking back to my original rankings, Illuminate originally ranked #3 on my list that year. However, thinking about how amazing and spectacular the album was (and still is), and also how it burst onto the scene – the record is second to few. Tracks like “All I See,” “Stay Awake” and “Now The One You Once Loved Is Leaving” will forever be in my database as some of the most groundbreaking, everlasting songs to pass through my speakers. Even to this day, Illuminate is one of those records I can spin from start to finish on any given day. While I look back and reflect on my 2008 #1 (The Final Riot by Paramore) and #2 (When Love Met Destruction by Motionless in White), Lydia’s 2008 release is one that will stick in my top albums of all-time for the rest of my life. Mindy White leaving for States though, that’s an entirely different story – maybe another time.
Jacob Testa‘s #1 Album: Folie à Deux by Fall Out Boy
2008 was the last year before I started compiling personal year-end lists, but I still remember my top choice I made that year, Anberlin‘s New Surrender. While that’s still my Last.fm most-listened-to record of all time, it’s fallen a bit on my list. Perched at the top for 2008 now is Folie à Deux, which has earned a stable position in my personal top ten records and is an easy choice for my favorite among Fall Out Boy’s releases. Fantastically musical and dynamic, this album is full of great lyricism, tremendous performances, and near-flawless sequencing. It’s mature, energetic, deliberate, and exactly the band I want them to be. I never expected it to be a swan song, but had it been, it would’ve been perfect. If Save Rock And Roll is any bit as good as this record is, it’ll be near the top of my 2013 list at the end of the year. I have no doubts.
Jason Gardner‘s #1 Album: Fortress by Protest the Hero
For the first time in a bit, this version of Ranks was as clear cut as they’ve come. Protest the Hero’s Fortress is a pristine piece of prog-metal art – a mark of maturation from the wildly popular sways of Kezia, and a bar aimed at in Scurrilous. But mixing concept and craft at a median of infectious riffs, powerful vocals and awe-striking musicianship, Fortress is the pinnacle of the band’s work to date, making it something that will continually be compared to even as they move forward in their career.
Kaitlin Nichols‘s #1 Album: Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend
In a year when so many unknown artists were being given undue praise via the blogosphere, there was one bright star in the overhyped sky. Vampire Weekend’s self-titled crashed onto the scene with their indie-baroque-pop, causing a splash among
fans and critics alike. Tracks from this album have been featured on many-a soundtrack, including “A-Punk” in Step Brothers and “Oxford Comma” in How I Met Your Mother and I Love You, Man. Though the band valiantly attempted to trump their 2008 masterpiece with 2010’s Contra, the self-titled will forever remain on the highest pedestal. This debut put this band on the map, and for good reason: having seen them last summer, I can attest to the fact that these songs still shine bright as ever, even four years later. With tracks like “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” “Walcott” and “M79,” Vampire Weekend’s spin on indie-pop set the bar high for many bands to come.
Johnny Frazier‘s #1 Album: A(Cross) The Universe by Justice
Back in 2008 I listened to a French duo called Justice for the first time. Their debut album † almost instantly became a favourite album of mine as soon as I heard “Stress.” Soon enough I found myself blasting everything from “Let There Be Lite” to “Waters of Nazareth.” This album not only got me hooked on Justice, but solidified my love of the genre. Just when I thought their music couldn’t get any more intense they released a live album along with a documentary called A(Cross) The Universe. This is unlike any live album I’d heard before – still is. They took every one of their songs and expanded and improved upon them. They took the calm “Genesis” and made it funky, they took the dirty sounds of “Waters of Nazareth” and breathed new life into it, and they took “Phantom Limb Pt. 2” and turned it into one of the most pulse-pounding tracks I’ve ever heard. This album is without a doubt my favourite album of 2008 and one of my top albums of all time.
Alexandra Brueckner‘s #1 Album: The Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow
For me, 2008 will always be the year of Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid. It was like a gateway drug for me into an entirely new genre of music, and I was all too willing to let Elbow suck me in. The Seldom Seen Kid taught me that an album didn’t need crazy guitar solos and crunching power chords to be sonically complex. Guy Garvey is, in my opinion, one of the finest lyricists of any genre, and while Elbow’s other albums are no slouches in that category, The Seldom Seen Kid is a fantastic amalgamation of Garvey’s emotional extremes. Frankly sentimental lines like “When your hand slipped through mine, now I live off the mirrors and smoke,” from “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver” break your heart; others, like “we kissed like we invented it” from “Mirrorball,” make you want to go out and fall in love just so you can relate to them. Picking my favorite song off of Kid is pretty much impossible. At first I easily go with the melancholic “The Bones of You”…until I remember the groovy angst of “Grounds for Divorce”…and then I get pulled in by the thudding, sexy rhythms of “The Fix”…and then I remember how purely uplifting “One Day Like This” is..and then I realize that the entire album is lyrically, instrumentally, and emotionally perfect from start to finish.
Tim Dodderidge‘s #1 Album: The Sound Of Madness by Shinedown
The Sound of Madness is the epitome of modern rock. Upon its release in 2008, my musical taste hovered over the rock genre, and I found myself listening to a lot of hard rock and alternative metal. The very first time I heard this album, I knew it was something special – if not for music, at least for me. Not only did Shinedown’s third record spawn multiple radio hits in “Second Chance” and “The Crow & the Butterfly,” surging the band into widespread appeal at last, but a solid mix of heavy songs like “Devour” and “Sin With a Grin” demonstrated the grit and edge that this band came up short with on their first two albums. To this day, I still consider this album to be one of my favorites, and that really shows The Sound of Madness’ worth. Every song is a hit, and even the three bonus tracks are killer material. I mean, who wrote these songs? The Beatles? My goodness.
Zac Lomas‘s #1 Album: Hail Destroyer by Cancer Bats
Of all the gritty hardcore bands out there, Toronto’s Cancer Bats stand out as one of the best to meld pounding hardcore rhythms with that sinister southern fried metal crunch and 2008’s Hail Destroyer stands up as their seminal album. From top to bottom Hail Destroyer easily out-shreds the competition and features some of vocalist Liam Cormier’s most poignant work, especially on the title track, where his guttural scream forcefully expels the line “Children of nothing, this is our song; hail destroyer!” As if these points weren’t enough, the album features a punk-rock chorus-line of guest vocals, with Tim McIlrith of Rise Against, Wade MacNeil of Alexisonfire, and Ben Kowalewicz of Billy Talent all contributing vocals to the album. Hail Destroyer’s true appeal lies in its simplicity, with the band perfecting their own brand of no-nonsense, face melting, southern metal-infused hardcore.
Megan Ammer‘s #1 Album: The Glass Passenger by Jack’s Mannequin
Picking an album for 2008 seemed slightly difficult at first. I was surprised to find a lot more familiar albums on the list, and hadn’t quite made up my mind on which one I preferred the most. But then, the holy light of music shone down on the greatest album created that year, and I thought, “how silly of me to forget.” I was led to the promised album, or what I like to refer to as The Glass Passenger by Jack’s Mannequin. I’ll admit, however, that I’m a little biased when it comes to this band. They have stolen my heart, and the number one spot on my “favorite bands” list. However, my appreciation for this album is not solely based off of my love for Jack’s. It’s based off of the maturity and raw emotions, which for the first time, the band allowed. The Glass Passenger is a first hand account of what it’s like to grow up and the confusion linked with sorrowful situations. It’s an exploration and tales of shared emotion. It’s powerful and honest. It’s a look inside a man with an unfathomable condition, and his accomplishments over said obstacles.
It’s also really fucking beautiful. But, most of all, I find my hardcore appreciation comes from the ability of this band to throw something like this album together. It’s catchy, it’s sexy, and, when necessary, it seeks your attention, and demands your tear ducts call in some overtime. It’s bossy.
Landon Defever‘s #1 Album: You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into by Does It Offend You, Yeah?
Does It Offend You, Yeah?, though famous for having one of the most peculiar monikers of all-time, quickly became well-known over the second half of the ’00s for producing some of the wildest riff-driven electronica out there. Their freshman LP You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into should suffice as more than enough to prove this. “With a Heavy Heart (I Regret to Inform You)” showcases an excellent build around the 2:30 mark that should hype anyone who’s on or off the dance floor. Meanwhile, “Let’s Make Out” is an addicting, appropriately ridiculous number that screeches and crunches to the point of exhaustion…in all the right ways. YHNIWYGYI is wildly exciting, obnoxiously entertaining and a hell of a listening experience, which is more than enough reason to call it my favorite record of 2008.