Posted by: Dave on December 23, 2008 at 11:21 am

MMJEvilUrgesLooking at this list of the top albums of 2008, it’s hard to ignore the fact that four of the artists with albums in the Top 21 have the word “death” in their name – perhaps a sign of the dark times we’re living in? And though you might expect these “death” artists to be loud, heavy and aggressive, only one of them – Death Angel – is actually a metal band. Death Vessel are folky. Death Cab for Cutie make pretty and poignant indie rock. And Blue Sky Black Death whip up dark, funky and/or airy hip hop beats.

Glancing at the list, you also can’t help but notice that there is a “Guns N’ Roses” album on here (the quotes suggest that it’s really an Axl Rose solo album). After 14 years, it finally happened in 2008. Despite all the media hype, though, it has been a sales disappointment and critically trashed by many. But there’s also a spirited minority that praise and thoroughly enjoy Axl’s effort. If you ever liked Guns N’ Roses, you owe it to yourself to give Chinese Democracy several good listens before making a judgment.

Moving up to the Top 5, it’s always good to see two newcomers – in this case Adele and Vampire Weekend – make strong debuts. It’s also impressive to see T.I – one of mainstream hip hop’s most dependable artists (from a commercial perspective) release such a quality, consistent album (critically AND commercially). But even more impressive is the output of Conor Oberst. For the fourth time this decade, he’s released an album that landed in my Top 3 (either as Bright Eyes or as a solo artist…not that there’s any real difference between the two). And at the #1 spot is a band that really found its creative groove in ’08. My Morning Jacket’s Evil Urges is a bizarrely eclectic album with no filler whatsoever. Enjoy the list.

1. My Morning Jacket Evil Urges (ATO)
2. Conor Oberst Conor Oberst (Merge)
3. Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend (XL)
4. T.I. Paper Trail (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
5. Adele 19 (XL/Columbia)
6. Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple (Atlantic)
7. Lupe Fiasco The Cool (Atlantic)
8. Hot Chip Made in the Dark (Astralwerks)
9. The Hush Sound Goodbye Blues (Fueled By Ramen/Atlantic)
10. Kardinal Offishall Not 4 Sale (Kon Live/Geffen)
11. Death Vessel Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us (Sub Pop)
12. Wolf Parade At Mount Zoomer (Sub Pop)
13. Death Cab for Cutie Narrow Stairs (Atlantic)
14. Dizzee Rascal Maths & English (Definitive Jux)
15. Death Angel Killing Season (Nuclear Blast America)
16. Shy Child Noise Won’t Stop (Kill Rock Stars)
17. Beck Modern Guilt (Interscope)
18. TV on the Radio Dear Science (Interscope)
19. Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy (Geffen)
20. Disturbed Indestructible (Warner Brothers/Reprise)

Honorable Mentions

21. Blue Sky Black Death Jean Grae: The Evil Genius (Babygrande)
22. Jazmine Sullivan Fearless (J Records)
23. Keane Perfect Symmetry (Interscope)
24. Jaguar Love Take Me To the Sea (Matador)
25. Portishead Third (Mercury/Island)
26. Q-Tip The Renaissance (Universal Motown)
27. The Raconteurs Consolers of the Lonely (Warner Brothers)
28. The Hold Steady Stay Positive (Vagrant)
29. Blitzen Trapper Furr (Sub Pop)
30. MGMT Oracular Spectacular (Red Ink/Columbia)
31. Lykke Li Youth Novels (Atlantic/ADA)
32. Hushpuppies Silence Is Golden (Minty Fresh)
33. Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue (Warner Brothers)
34. The Game LAX (Geffen/Interscope)
35. The Mountain Goats Heretic Pride (4AD)
36. The Baseball Project Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails (Yep Roc)
37. Nas [Untitled] (Def Jam)
38. Laura Marling Alas I Cannot Swim (Astralwerks)
39. Okkervil River The Stand Ins (Jagjaguwar)
40. Metallica Death Magnetic (Warner Brothers)

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