TV On The Radio, MGMT, Portishead, Foals, Los Campesinos - GIITTV's Albums of 2008

GodisintheTV 29/12/2008

We're into the final dying days of 2008, what a year, things will never be the same again that's for sure! So after an exhaustive set of vote counting, and some long nights spent at our keyboards, we present our Readers' top 30 albums of 2008 taken from our shortlist of 50 Writers' albums of 2008 - are you still with me? Good. Unlike some publications that use 'industry' panels or allow one person veto on a list, all of the artists below gained placings through votes cast. So pour yourself a stiff one, sit back relax and enjoy GIITTV's complete long playing highlights from '08!!

GIITTV's Readers top 30 albums of 2008
(Drawn up by a readers' vote).

1. TV On The Radio - Dear Science

"There is a golden age coming round" projects Tunde Adebimpe halfway through TV On The Radio's third album. Seems to be that this golden age has already firmly set foot in Dave Sitek's studios. Sitek himself had an almighty 2008 in terms of production but he clearly set plenty of time aside to focus on his greatest achievement of the year. 'Dear Science' won over the hearts and minds of both elitist critics and innocent festival-goers alike; purely through the sheer scope of sounds, influences ranging from Prince to Arcade Fire, this much evident from the very opening track, the blood-thirsty babe 'Halfway Home'. Then onwards experimental elements from the band's previous two works all came together at once to fluidly form a sexy, stylish wall of noise, willing to impress anyone that stumbled upon its tracks. From the delicate, smartened-up contemporary ballad 'Stork and Owl' to the loose-tied anger-fest 'DLZ'; despite the wide range of ideas and sounds floating around each song, put together the tracks stood united, like a coming of age. There was no messing about, no getting carried away, only the realisation that the band could create one of the 21st century's most accessible and enjoyable alternative rock albums to date. (Jamie Milton)

2. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

You can gauge much about this stunning debut from the cover. Its proprietors stand on a sunset beach awash with psychedelia in their get up of spangly scarves, bright trousers, make-up and wild hair. Indie-by-numbers this ain't. Summer anthem 'Time to Pretend' kicks off proceedings, but as a benchmark is outdone by many of the album's tracks - particularly the unbelievably gorgeous Of Moons Birds and Monsters - which hurl together an American '60s guitar sound with modern woozy synths, snippets of playground chatter with haunting vocals, discofloor beats and progressive song structures with hazy choruses: above all astonishingly melodic and sparkling with ingenuity. A close listen reveals grimmer lyrical matter (“We'll choke on our vomit, and that will be the end”, anyone?) but such a mood is painted over by the cinematic colour of MGMT's music, and supplants everything with an unmatched-in-2008 sense of eclectic beauty. (Tim Miller)

3. Portishead-Third

Portishead are known as much for their silence as they are for their music. They've spent 12 years on and off without any contact with the music world since their world-class debut and Mercury music prize-winning 'Dummy' was released in 1994. They revealed five songs from 'Third' at the first live set for ten years at their curator's stint in All Tomorrow's Parties, Minehead and so again unleashed an incredibly dark, but incredibly original sound once again.

'Third', as the title suggests, is still only their third album after 14 years. This long period is contributed to by the epic times spent in a recording studio perfecting the albums - another three being the number of years spent on 'Third'. Portishead, like many other bands this year, took advantage of the burgeoning switchover of music mainstream to the internet by releasing their album on last.fm as a web stream a week before its release, with a listenership of over 300,000 in just 24 hours.

The album itself is far removed from the mainstream success of 'Dummy'. Intensely digitised but accompanied by deep orchestral realisations, the combination of classical and ultra-modern might seem passé now, but it was Portishead who really started to combine it.

The percussive elements of 'Third' drive the album forward - especially with their trip-hop roots in Bristol (home of another huge 90s act: Massive Attack). The mounting sense of dread synonymous with the album is felt especially in the arduous 'We Carry On' and 'Threads'. The word 'haunting' is used all too often with Beth Gibbons' vocals but with such tracks as 'The Rip' and the darkest, most intense track (and probably the best) of the album 'Machine Gun' it's hard not to think anything but.

Although too dark to really match the success and wide-ranging appeal of their debut, 'Third' is still an incredibly complex and layered album worthy of a high standing in any record collection - just don't have nightmares.
(Ed Townend)

4. Foals - Antidotes

For me Antidotes is the standout album of 2008 and Foals the standout band. Infusing infectious electro melodies, toe-tapping drum beats and stabby, raw guitar riffs, Foals have managed to produce an album full of delicately layered sounds that have kept me listening on a day-to-day basis from the album's release back in March. Intelligent, mysterious lyricism and an ever-present sense of breaking the mould makes Antidotes a continually catchy, exciting musical prospect.

Having experienced the band live twice this year already with plans for a third in 2009, Foals are certainly not just an immensely talented band recorded. They are without question one of the tightest bands around today, fantastically replicating their complex, intricate sounds on stage making for a hugely energetic, enjoyable show every time. With a sophomore effort due in late 2009 Foals, having refreshed 2008's indie scene, will likely return with another outstanding record.
(Paul Cook)

5. Los Campesinos- We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Sporting lyrics with a more emotive edge, the hearty clan of musical whizzes show clear signs of evolving their sound and overall presence. Initially intended as an EP, the work signifies a darker, grittier side to the Campesinos' sound. If we go down the way of musical comparisons, Pavement springs to mind, whereas previous work swayed more towards Architecture in Helsinki.

Ten brand spanking newfangled songs with a rejuvenated sound, leading straight in with 'Ways To Make It Through The Wall' from many an instrument. Serving well as an opening gambit, this shows a forward thinking direction with style that clenches onto a fresh mixture of sounds, generating into the wonderful' Miserabilia'. We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is down the same alley of the first album, but is walking in the other direction. The record (only five months since Hold On Now, Youngster) was emancipated and this latest offering is a release of energy, even if that is pent up emotional aggression. They have had time to grow, and there is clear progression shown, it's a step in the right direction.
(Alex Skinner)

6. M83 Saturdays = Youth

A French electronic act called M83 it's exactly the kind of record you'd find in your local Tescos metro. But M83's leader Anthony Gonzalez has that knack for creating beautiful soundscapes that hint at the work of fellow Frenchmen Air and '80s acts like the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine, but are infused with a tender human fragility lacking in much modern music, that unattainable sound that's familiar yet individual at the same time. Previous albums may have been critically lauded, but this was their most successful, assessable outing to date, sure, Saturdays=Youth delivers M83's trademark pastoral, sonic, shoegazing, electronic motifs, but with a more focused grip on song writing and structures. Standout moments included the mostly instrumental charm of "Couleurs" the gothic flourishes of second single "Graveyard Girl" and the 11-minute finale "Midnight Souls Still Remain". Saturdays=Youth was their purest, most focused album yet, and we got lost in it like an expertly created aural memoir. (Bill Cummings)

7. Indelicates- American Demo

An under-promoted record that has been wrongly omitted from all other end of year lists, The Indelicates' American Demo drew its battle lines across a musical landscape that otherwise resembled the Fens.

'Our Daughters Will Never Be Free', 'Sixteen' and 'We Hate the Kids' nail particular ills of popular culture as eloquently and specifically as any pundit has, all the while underpinned with tunes more infectious than any Number One single of the last five years. The vocal dynamic of Simon Clayton (rasping, accusatory) and Julia Clark-Lowes (clipped, mellifluous, occasionally shrill) recalls that of Black Box Recorder but this record feels more realised than anything that Haines-vehicle has offered.

This record deserves as wide an audience as anything currently masquerading as alternative music and it would be deeply upsetting if the Indelicates' ascent to fame were checked by dint of the absence of a publicity machine to guide them there.
(Ed James)

8. Ravonettes - Lust Lust Lust

Lust Lust Lust brought Raveonettes back into indie consciousness, an album that was one big burst of fuzzy lovely guitars, and Jesus and Mary Chain style rhythmic simplicity. Raveonettes' New York city groove whirled around a heady cocktail of Velvets, Mary Chain and Sonic Youth nuances. But it's the pure pop element and original tunesmith at work that saved them from being purely identikit hero-worshippers or wannabes. The song 'Dead Sound' has a spectral yet pretty beauty to it, whilst 'You Want the Candy' soars elegantly with chorus-pleasure might. There are also surf-pop and rockabilly stylings in this at once throughly modern and retro recipe. All in all, this is one of those rare examples of seamless and addictive bodies of work that has you hanging on its melodic charm. (Fliss Collier)

9. British Sea Power: Do You Like Rock Music?

The question Do you Like Rock Music? was a pertinent one - a plausible dig at the image-influenced ilk; the chancers who grace stages merely to show off their new trainers, peacock-perfect hairdos or Morrissey poses. British Sea Power seemed to be saying: shouldn't we be treating our ears to music for music's sake itself?

With album number three, the Battallion of British Sea Power were in a field of their own, as ever, and we were in more awe than before. The sense of shimmying sheer majesty portrayed in their third album beats off a thousand Arctic Monkeys tribute bands with bayonet-blasting bombast.

Highlights include 'No Lucifer' and its glorious gust of pop prominence, and the ten tonne army strength of 'Down on The Ground', adding up to a band steady and strong on the trail of what they were always about. Some bands falter their way, but BSP proved with this album that they were still the quirky champions of the heady crazy musical brew they pioneered from formation.
(Fliss Collier)

10. Neon Neon - Stainless Style

A collaboration between Super Furry Animals' genius Gruff Rhys and producer Boom Bip was always bound to be a pretty good partnership. Then they recorded a concept album about car maker John DeLorean's life story and the whole thing transcended into a musical project from synth-led pop heaven. Whilst Elbow are worthy winners of this year's Mercury, Neon Neon must have had the judges torn. (Rhian Daly)

11. Deerhunter - Microcastle

2007's 'Cryprtograms' wasn't exactly starved of critical praise but one point noted down was the idea that behind all the atmosphere, feedback and gentle timid melodies that filtered through every now and then, was little to nothing. Thus, Bradford Cox must've taken a sit down to ponder what appropriate step should be taken next.

Shortly after 'Cryptograms'' release came an unfortunate event of the band's equipment being stolen on tour. Once re-acquainted with the amplifiers etc. the main priority was to plug every integral part of the set-up back in and to simply play. Many gadgets that centered around the previous release were to be given a deserved rest, for 'Microcastle' was most likely the most stripped-down affair of the band's career and arguably, the most impressive in terms of giving listeners room to appreciate the potential of one of the world's most important bands today. It defied any critical nonsense aimed towards their farcical original ambient sound. 'Nothing Ever Happened', 'Agoraphobia' and others were dominant in glorious guitar-on-guitar battles. These songs were capable of being played on acoustic guitars. "To get older still.." reflects the highlight on the album, 'Little Kids', quite appropriately.
(Jamie Milton)

12. Nick Cave - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!

Fourteen albums on and with only the occasional misfire, The Bad Seeds have had one of the most consistent discographies to date. So was it any surprise that 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!' would be anything short of excellent? Much more garage rock and roll than previous releases thanks to Cave's Grinderman side project, the album contains some of Cave's best lyrics yet, each song telling an even sleazier, darkly humorous tale than the previous. (Sel Bulut)

13. Cats in Paris- Courtcase 2000

Frankly, this came out of nowhere. Back in August someone recommended them and linked to their MySpace and it was love at first listen. A Manchester four-piece, but one with the ideas, enthusiasm, quirks and guts to shame every band that ever stepped out of that city since The Smiths. An abundance of youthful creativity, Courtcase 2000 is a masterclass of micro-prog, songs squeezing a kaleidoscope of sounds and melodies, rhythms and instruments into four or five minute mini-operas, rich in vocals that whisper and shout, time signatures that take on a mind of their own, gorgeous string arrangements framing a tragic story of 'broken kittens', random instrumentals with French monologues over the top, bombastic chords that open 'lovelovelovelove', merry-go-round synths chortling to 'loose tooth tactile', perhaps the song of the year. It's almost twee, but it's so gloriously unhinged in its experimental, freeflowing river of musical creativity that it deserves to remain undefined. Every British debut for the next five years should be measured against the sheer brilliance Courtcase 2000. (Tim Miller)

14. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrsing

Street Horrsing is the result of two men experimenting with their own boundaries, and, once finding them within their sound, tearing them apart with apparent disregard. A combination of dated synths, fisher-price toys and countless cables, the six tracks on Fuck Button's debut are, in essence, mesmerising and inspiring. The progression of the beats which act as core foundations are a journey of their own, while the vocals, although initially obtrusive and at times rather harsh on the ear, are invaluable in context. In nullifying all conventions, this piece has broadened our musical horizons, at a time when it could be argued it is needed most. For this, Street Horrsing has duly earned its place in our pick of 2008. (James Mcdonald)

15. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

A lot has been possible in pop music recently, but almost everyone was taken aback by this quartet's direct fusion of modern African influences (rhythm, percussion) with sparse guitars that consequently stormed the music press. Switched-on nightspots have been plying an ever-increasing spectrum of listeners with singles 'Oxford Comma', 'A Punk' and 'Mansard Roof' for months now, and the universal appeal of this charming if slightly awkward .debut, as well as its knack for upbeat chorus hooks, means it has been strolling into best of lists everywhere. (Tim Miller)

16. Psychedlia Three (compilation)

Psychedlia Three is an Aladdin's box of secrets, and spanning over two and a half hours of music across 33 tracks you really are spoilt for choice. It's like Christmas come early for any true psychedelia fan, and as an added bonus you'll never have to put up with the shitty pop tunes that always end up on the mainstream compilations. (Matt Harrold)

17. Late Of The Pier - Fantasy Black Channel

Kiddy pop? New rave? Silly stage outfits? Although Late Of The Pier faced a lot of criticism early on, 'Fantasy Black Channel' proved to be one of the most exciting pop records this year. Psychotic, unpredictable and completely addictive throughout, it was a rare debut, peppered with enough mini-classics like Focker and Bathroom Gurgle to put green into the eyes of any veterans on their third or fourth albums. (Sel Bulut)

18. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

Dedicated to their late friend (the self styled seldom seen kid) this album saw Elbow move out of the shadows, the award of the Mercury music prize finally gained the Manchester residents some of the rewards their work truly deserves. A sound forged through friendship, passion, emotion, and bloody good songwriting, rather than hype, or style. The Seldom Seen Kid might not actually be their best album but it was perhaps their most rounded work to date. The force of nature, drum and drag of the first single 'Ground for Divorce' the tenderness of 'The Bones of You' and the grand melancholic majesty of 'The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver' and the positive rush of their festival anthem 'One Day Like This' depicted a band at home in their skin, staying on the right side of honest, emotional rock between the empty middle of the road bluster served up by Coldplay and The Verve this year. The perfectly pitched orchestration highlighted their intricate guitar, drums, and vocals: quality songwriting built through years of playing on the road. A triumph for the little man, a triumph for indie like what they used to make, a triumph for bands that, like fine wine, gently flourish over time, rather than burn brightly and fade away. (Bill Cummings)

19. Gregory and the Hawk - Moenie and Kitchi

The 33 or so minutes that make up the album are well coordinated: with songs like 'August Moon' and 'Super Legend' unashamedly baring Meredith's voice with a simple solo guitar arrangement that serves to punctuate like chapters in a book.

The unexpected arrangements, off-beat drums and reverb-drenched breakdowns that litter Moeni and Kitchi captivate interest in the album which, in turn, encourages repeat listening. The best example of this can be found on 'Stonewall, Stone Fence' which comes on like a rapturous spell in a prison yard on a rainy day. Clever use of distortion and application of reverb and vocal doubling is Adam Pierce's strength. The ability to exploit space in a song so effectively whilst maintaining a consistent use of instrumentation is to be highly commended.

Overall, this salubrious album is the perfect remedy for a world saturated with, what is essentially, little more than corporate art. You will find no cleverer, no more beautiful album on shelves or in hard-drives this year. An absolute future classic.
(Ash Akhtar)

20. Vessels - White Fields and Open Devices

With a more than impressive build-up to 2008, Vessels returned to the UK after recording their debut in America with 'wall-of-sound' engineer John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You). They performed in two UK tours through the year to support their debut, as well as releasing the single and video for 'A Hundred Times in Every Direction'. The Leeds band impressed indie critics nationwide with their eclectic debut.

Their post-rock sound is originally punctuated with effervescent guitar and smooth unadulterated vocals. Their debut featured previously unheard songs such as the incredible 'Wave Those Arms, Airmen' (so complex and beautiful it has only been performed once) and the fantastic and calm 'Walking Through Walls' and inspiring new versions of 'Two Words & a Gesture' and 'Yuki'.

This is the kind of music that inspires awe in all those patient enough to listen the cataclysmic 10-track hour long odyssey which jumps from cool calm acoustics to full blow hard rock overtures. Epic is not a big enough word to describe it.
(Ed Townend)

21. Santogold - Santogold

From the sunkissed 'Lights Out' to the 80s electro-pop of 'My Superman' via the carnival atmosphere of 'Say Aha', Santogold's eponymous debut is a relentless exhibition of what good pop records should sound like - fresh, vital and, most of all, fun. Santi White's come along way from being an A&R girl and Lily Allen's unknown songwriter, here's hoping she's around for a long time yet. (Rhian Daly)

22. Sigur Ros- Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust (With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly)

Even more than their other albums this record's strength is the way the music flows, no single song can really escape the centripetal force that calls and melts everything together without a chance for any of them to spurt out becoming *the* brightest star. The amniotic fluid that flows through these eleven songs make fills the air space giving you a non-invasive soundtrack to fifty five minutes of your life. This is Sigur Ros presenting their newest soundscape. It's so much more than just another album. (Alisha Ahmed)

23. Johnny foreigner - Waited Up Till It Was Light

Johnny Foreigner are the prophets the alt-indie scene have been craving for some time now, three ghosts from Birmingham who, for me, are one of the most exciting guitar bands of recent years, echoing airs of Pretty Girls Make Graves around the time of being All Medicated Geniuses. Alexi confessed to GIITTV earlier this year that he had only heard one of their tracks, a fact I still find hard to comprehend. The levels of energy and enthusiasm documented in this release are unrelenting and enviable, at times sickeningly good. Gems such as 'Sometimes In The Bullring' and 'The End And Everything After' are distorted blitzes on the listener, allowing us no other response than complete submission to the glorious sound they have harnessed, and how! (James Mcdonald)

24. Travis- Ode to J. Smith

This record knows quiet and knows thunder. But I wouldn't be surprised if most people holding a copy of the 1999 acclaimed album The Man Who would be unpleasantly surprised by this new record. Because Travis' sound has developed in new directions, and this record shows their maturity and courage. But this new sound of theirs requires and expects the same kind of development from their listeners as well. They've grown past the concept of a band being just like a brand, representative of its established sound. With this record, they're spanning on a much larger scale, much beyond the mellow melodies and acoustic sounds that might have been linked to them in the past. Even the voice of Healy has become edgy in a way that cannot be much of a link to their past sound.

In a world of music when the usual thing is to make comparisons with other bands, resulting in styles and sounds going in circles, Travis have proved to be different and they've taken on (and won) the ultimate challenge: with Ode to J. Smith, they've grown and matured past their own selves, which is probably the most difficult thing for a musician to do, in order to really grow. Beware of any comparisons, Travis have set their own goal to be just themselves, uniquely so, and here it is achieved.
(Alisha Ahmed)

25. The Hold Steady- Stay Positive

After the success of their rip roaring 2006 opus Boys and Girls in America, (that like The Replacements before them mined for gold in classic radio station rock) emerging with an all together more impassioned sound. Brooklyn's The Hold Steady returned with a new found muscularity, and maturity. Not maturity that sought to run towards the likes of the Kings of Leon in the middle of the road, but an extra depth, an ability to craft full scale, widescreen rock tracks that throbbed with heart and intellect. Indeed lead vocalist Craig Finn said that he believes the album "captures a band hitting their creative peak, as well as enjoying each other's creativity and company."

Stay Positive saw Finn exploring the aging of his characters, and related them to universal themes of faith, crime, rumour, loss and love - remain. Thrilling up tempo tracks like the title track, 'Constructive Summer' and 'Sequestered in Memphis” were like a final two fingers at a dying Bush presidency, all passionate chest-beating defiance and rallying-cry 'we won't give in' rock n roll. Meanwhile slumped on a bar stool with a bourbon in hand 'Lord I'm Discouraged' ached with the kind of melancholia that Bruce Springsteen would be proud. Stay Positive showed that The Hold Steady were here to stay: and we were bloody thankful that they were.
(Bill Cummings)

26 Wild Beasts - Limbo, Panto

The Kendal four-piece themselves admit to having an inspired yet ultimately unlikeable (for some) sound; one that requires an acquired taste, belonging to some smug fellow who thinks acid dubstep rave should be popular again (if it ever was...). Well, not entirely. Fortunately, 'Limbo, Panto' reached out to plenty a pair of friendly, willing ears that were comfortable enough once having got used to the falsetto-charms of Hayden Thorpe. What won them over? Surely the consonance-fest that was so shamelessly present in the lyrics. Surely the ferociously original pop hooks that stood centre-ground throughout every song. Surely the audacity of it all perhaps, might have actually been the very best thing about 'Limbo, Panto'. Because when someone declares to you that they're not fond of Wild Beasts, you don't go off into a rambled declaration of depression and frustration like you would if someone said they preferred Nickelback to Radiohead. No. You just sympathise with them, assure yourself that they're missing out and hopefully in privacy, go back to joyously screaming your head off in unison to 'Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants'.
(Jamie Milton)

27. Metronomy - Nights Out

A half-arsed concept album about a crap night out is always recipe for excellence. Each track on 'Nights Out' stands out as a colourful pop gem yet has enough technical showiness to give it a lot more substance than your average indie pop song. The discovery of Joseph Mount's vocal talents led Metronomy's sophomore effort to be far more accomplished than their debut - almost everything that isn't instrumental cries out to be a single (and in most cases they were) yet 'Nights Out' remains criminally underrated by the mainstream. (Sel Bulut)

28. Why? - Alopecia

Yoni Wolf is a peculiar fellow. His associated musical projects have always been similarly puzzling, all the more enjoyable for it but strikingly different. This fact hits us pretty quickly with 'Alopecia'; most probably at first during 'Good Friday', when Wolf shamefully tells of "sucking dick for drink", thereafter "jerking off in an art museum john till my dick hurts" and when he finally admits "I'd rather be dead than call this song 'how I lost your respect'", and when you finally read interviews about the process of writing this song, suddenly this and the remaining segments of self-loathing on an album so musically positive-sounding, make perfect sense. Some disgusting, life-changing process must have occurred between 'Elephant Eyelash' and 'Alopecia'. 1) Wolf is properly rapping for the first time and 2) he's sounding ultimately more ambitious and less frightened than ever before. This album could've faltered and fell at the first hurdle had it lived without the Fog production and the stark, honest lyrical wit but with these elements it shimmers and glows. You get carried away in it, thinking it might just be the bravest piece of music you've ever owned. It might well be. (Jamie Milton)

29. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs

Narrow Stairs, Death Cab for Cutie's sixth studio album marked the band's 10th Anniversary as fully-fledged recording artists. Narrow Stairs is also somewhat more experimental and daring than previous releases like 'Plans' and it seems that this has paid off earning the band their first American Billboard Charts Number 1 and bringing them into the UK limelight where for years the band haveremained an arguably under-the-radar act. The band's efforts on Narrow Stairs are beautifully crafted, soaring and, like in the case of 8 minute masterpiece 'I Will Possess Your Heart', fantastically nails the balance between catchy, traditional sounds with innovative approaches to mainstream indie rock.

'Cath' is the album's piece of indie-tainted Americana with a raw, edgy guitar riff and thundering drums. Amidst all the contemplative lyrics, mixture of light and heavy riffs and consistent drum beats, it is the floating, walking and down-right kick-arse bass lines that impress throughout the album.Furthermore, the band's layer of sounds and easy-listening take on it all make for an album to behold again and again.
(Paul Cook)

30. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

2008 has seemingly been a year for beautiful music; Elbow's 'The Seldom Seen Kid', Wild Beast's 'Limbo, Panto', Fleet Foxes' eponymous debut and Bon Iver's quaint, understated acoustic stunner 'For Emma, Forever Ago'. Without underplaying or overplaying any track on the album, Bon Iver gently enraptures the listener with tales of lost love and frustration. Subtlety, lyrical poeticism and thoughtfulness make the simple 'man and his guitar' style of Bon Iver's music something more than that, something timeless and charming.

Each of the nine tracks tell a heartfelt story stemming from Justin Vernon's relationship and band break-up. It is difficult to describe why For Emma, Forever Ago is such a brilliant piece of work, it is self-explanatory in that department, it is simply a record full of passion and grace made the way music should be made.
(Paul Cook)

GIITTV's Writer's top 50 albums of 2008.
(Drawn up by a writers' vote.)

("What we won again!!?")

1. TV On the Radio - Dear Science

What we said: "It's certainly an album of the year, no one with a modicum of taste would deny that, but it's not a classic either in the sense of the word that the Beatles' White Album is a classic. That tag seems to be just out of reach of otherwise one of the most exciting art rock band going.

David Sitek, founding member alongside Tunde Adebimpe, and general super producer, has once again taken a left turn into new territory. This time though the fug and feed back from 'Cookie Mountain' have been replaced with an '80s sheen more akin to David Bowie going disco, but being TVOR it's disco channelling the spirit of Radiohead, blues and soul. Oh yeah it's time to get art rock funky on the dancefloor! 'Crying' could easily steal its way onto a Prince album…"
read more.

2. British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?

What we said: "I could go into detail about the greatness of each song but ultimately you need to hear them to believe just how good they are. British Sea Power may have decided to no longer drape themselves in greenery but they will definitely still be part of the scenery in best album lists of 2008" read more

3. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

What we said: "So, was 'The Seldom Seen Kid' worth the wait? Well, frankly, yes. The album as a whole feels lush, well orchestrated, and as if the band have taken their sweet time about it, giving them the time to get exactly what they want. There's a wide range of influences at play, from jazz to blues, but the sound they have generated is all their own. Each song feels as if it has a story to tell, with moving and evocative lyrics, and the album as a whole has a coherent feel to it: it feels like a complete work, rather than just a collection of songs. Perhaps tellingly, Garvey has recently spoken out against iTunes for allowing music buyers to download individual tracks, a stance which seems appropriate given the album Elbow have created." read more

4. Late of the Pier - Fantasy Black Channel

What we said: “It's rare that something can sound so new and innovative, yet old and revived, and so bonkers yet entirely aware of what is going on, but Fantasy Black Channel hits this nail on the head. As overhype and unimagination veer indie music ever closer to the edge, a band that can really show themselves to be miles ahead of the game whilst making it seem so effortless is more than welcome.” read more

5. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

What we said: ”Their debut album Oracular Spectacular is the result: a swirling collage of ideas born on instruments and computers in their Brooklyn homes. MGMT's oft unique sound is built upon a bed of multicoloured electronic pop structures, imagine a Hi-Fi version Of Montreal broken apart by the industrial minimalism of Suicide, then, layered above, are astoundingly beautiful kaleidoscopic melodies reminiscent of the cracked psychedelia of Mercury Rev and the invention of the Flaming Lips (not surprising given producer David Fridmann's previous work with the Lips.)” read more

6. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

What we said about him live: "...his set was charming, he seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the reaction he was getting, and really gave a lot back to the audience; engaging them and coaxing an excellent bit of sing-a-long during the two part 'Wolves'. The sun was shining, it was an almost picture-postcard-perfect festival moment…"

7. Foals - Antidotes

What we said: "Make no mistake, this is a great album but what could potentially be a great band- standout tracks pepper the album- the french open, balloons (which welsh readers will recognise how much this sounds like Jarcrew) and Olympic Airwaves. The only qualification is that sometimes the vocals offer very similar fayre, and sometimes Foals myopic insistence on being intellectual squeezes any human touch from certain tracks. I haven't heard a better debut for a long time, this album will appeal to those too cool to read NME and those stupid enough to only read NME.” read more

8. Cats in Paris - Courtcase 2000

What we said: “Just when you thought pop music had lost its ability to throw you off guard, British bands bogged down in tired scenes' worn out formulas long since consigned to the dirty washing basket. Along come the purring Cats In Paris with quite the most delightful, surprising, eclectic, unhinged debut album I've heard this year. It's cool for cats.”read more

9. Vampire Weekend - S/T

What we said: ”Vampire Weekend succeed in creating a compact and concise work with enough hooks to sell records and feed a Congolese rural family (no pun intended, please!).” read more

10. Frightened Rabbit - Midnight Organ Fight

What we said: "It sees the band step up to embrace a more luscious sound showcasing their unique ability (unlike many bands) to make personal experience connect on an almost anthemic, universal level." read more

11. Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath
12. The Walkmen - You & Me
13. Youthmovies - Good Nature
14. Nic Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
15. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrsing
16. Fleet Foxes - S/T
17. The Indelicates - American Demo
18. Metronomy - Nights Out
19. Vessels - White Fields and Open Devices
20. Johnny Foreigner - Waited Up Til It Was Light
21. Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
22. These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid
23. Coldplay - Viva la Vida
24. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
25. M83 - Saturdays = Youth
26. Frank Turner - Love Ire & Song
27. We are the Physics - Are OK at Music
28. Gregory & the Hawk - Moenie & Kitchi
29. Mercury Rev - Snowflake Midnight
30. Sigur Ros - Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
31. Why? - Alopecia
32. Wild Beasts - Limbo, Panto
33. Bloc Party - Intimacy
34. Neon Neon - Stainless Style
35. Brightblack Morning Light - Motion to Rejoin
36. The Bug - London Zoo
37. Matt Elliot - Howling Songs
38. Travis - Ode to J. Smith
39. Chase & Status - More Than a Lot
40. Nine Inch Nails - The Slip
41. Shearwater - Rook
42. Angil & the hiddentracks - Ouliposaliva
43. Flaming Lips - Christmas on Mars
44. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
45. Portishead - Third
46. Psychedelia 3
47. The Raveonettes - Lust Lust Lust
48. Santogold - Santogold
49. Deerhunter - Microcastle
50. Flying Lotus - Los Angeles

What do you make of the final results? Who have we missed out? Who shouldn't appear at all? How has 2008 the year in music been for you?