Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

Staff Picks: The Best Albums Of 2008

I know what you’re thinking: Was 2008 really that long ago? Well, let’s consider what was happening that summer. The way many of us were interacting with music was slowly evolving as the now ubiquitous iPhone just celebrated its first birthday with the launch of its App store, while Spotify was gearing up for its own debut later in the year. The now much-hyped resurgence in vinyl was still finding its feet and Record Store Day had just celebrated its inaugural year.

Speaking of inaugural activities, Barack Obama was probably in the process of crafting first drafts of both an inaugural speech and concession speech as America was deep in the throes of the 2008 presidential election. While The Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire and Mamma Mia! were dominating the box offices around the globe and the Beijing Summer Olympics were heating up, the looming shadow of the Global Financial crisis was getting far too close for comfort.

Whew! And that’s ignoring all of the craziness that’s taken place over the ten years since! So let’s take a moment to #tbt (something else that didn’t exist back then) with some of the Discogs staff’s picks for best albums of 2008.

  • Duffy - Rockferry

    Duffy – Rockferry

    When I was living in Ireland in 2008, a friend sent me a few CDs with music that was popular in The Netherlands at the time. Duffy’s debut Rockferry was one of them. The times I played that album on my way to work, belting along with all the songs! She wasn’t just popular in the Netherlands though, her album ended up being one of the best selling albums of the year all over the world. At the time, I think her music was maybe over played on the radio a bit, but I find that this is one of the albums from 2008 I go back to the most. Thinking she also (co)wrote all the tracks makes me love it even more. I discovered one of my other favorite albums from 2008, “What Grabs Ya” by Triggerfinger, a few years later, after watching their performance at Lowlands Festival. Coincidentally the band and Selah Sue played an incredible cover of Duffy’s Mercy at that gig!

    — Lilian

  • Q-Tip - The Renaissance

    Q-Tip – The Renaissance

    First off, in my humble opinion, chiefly as the architect of A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip is the greatest Hip Hop artist to ever do it. Furthermore, in reviewing the releases in my collection from ’08, it’s very thin on albums I still return to. The Renaissance still gets run several times per year. Soundwise, The Renaissance is firmly in tune with the classic Native Tongues sound, updated for ’08. After many were disappointed with Amplified (including myself upon its release, although it’s definitely grown on me), and after the ahead-of-its-time “Kamaal The Abstract” was unceremoniously dropped from the release schedule (Andre 3000, Cee-Lo, and other every rapper-turnt-singer owes a debt), “The Renaissance” brought it all back home to where it needed to be. Jazzy Boom Bap, assists from Raphael Saadiq, D’Angelo, and Robert Glasper, and zero guest rappers. The only thing “missing” was Phife and Ali, but the Tribe ended up giving us what we needed with their final effort, 2016’s We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service, and The Renaissance feels like the natural precursor to that.

    — Aaron M

  • Empire Of The Sun - Walking On A Dream

    Empire Of The Sun – Walking On A Dream

    First of all, I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that 2008 is considered a “throwback”. Second of all, I graduated college in 2008, so it was a pretty big year for me. My friends and I went to a music festival and noticed this craaazy looking set belonging to a band that none of us had ever heard of. Turns out it was Empire of the Sun, and the second they started playing their music, it was a non stop dance party for the rest of the night. I love listening to this record because it reminds me of that amazing time I spent with my college buddies before we all went our separate ways.

    — Randi

  • Shed - Shedding The Past

    Shed – Shedding The Past

    The aptly titled “Shedding the Past” was the standout of ’08 for me. It was nostalgia tinged but still forward looking, recycling and improving upon the proven building blocks of 90’s techno, idm and rave music. Pulling in strands and influences from Detroit, London and Berlin it went off in the club but had enough detail and intricacy to reward repeat home listens as well.

    — Karl

  • Flying Lotus - Los Angeles

    Flying Lotus – Los Angeles

    2008 was when music used to drip through me, resonating with fleeting touches of a world that I dreamt of one day exploring. I was so naive back then though, so engrossed with a singular vein of indie music that I probably couldn’t name a single Miles Davis record even if it was for a few hundred bucks. Lord knows I could’ve used the money back then too. Fast forward a few years and I was playing in a found-object noise band and listening to Merzbow on Sunday mornings. So, what happened between then? For one, I started college in the musically-rich city of Chicago and was turned on to all sorts of different music. An album that was fresh off the presses that year was Flying Lotus’ Los Angeles. I had dabbled in some sample-based music before, but nothing like this. Diving into Ellison’s connection to Alice Coltrane and the exploration henceforth into the world of psychedelic jazz was one of the first true breaks from my sheltered music inclinations. It pushed me to discover new sounds and opened up a world of immersive music. The album holds up, though he’s certainly progressed as a musician and produced progressively better music since. Tracks like Parisian Goldfish, Beginners Falafel and Roberta Flack are alive with this half-awkward, half-fucking-rad current of quick rhythms and cozy melodies. A wonderful early gem from a brilliant musician.

    — Steven

  • Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing

    Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing

    I was 20 back in 2008, and I remember that time as both ecstatic and exhausting. And that’s exactly how the music of this group felt to me. Few bands of this generation created something as unique and era-defining as the Bristol duo did.

    — Javi

  • Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

    Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles

    2008 was the year I finally stopped moaning that there hadn’t been any good music since the 90s (I was enamoured with grunge and alternative) and started paying attention to the music around me. The year before, I started working in a record shop and enrolled in UVic’s writing program with aspirations to become a music journalist, so I guess suddenly I had access to new music (pre-streaming days, remember). I don’t remember who tipped me off on Crystal Castles, and it wasn’t love at first listen, but by the end of 2008 this was the anthem album of me and my friends. Edgy and ridiculous enough to satisfy my grunge ideals, dancy enough to actually make me, well, dance, and with blips and bloops that reminded me of playing NES as a kid! Every Saturday my friends and I would go to Lucky Bar on Yates, and every Saturday we would go up to the DJ booth and shout “Crystal Castles!!” until the DJ would finally acquiesce and play “Courtship Dating”, our favourite track. This entire album reminds me of all my highlight moments with my best friends. Playing it will always make me smile.

    — David

  • True Widow - True Widow

    True Widow – True Widow

    I am fully enamored of this band and have been since the first time I saw them. This album is still in regular rotation for me, and is one of my instinctual go-tos for road trips.

    — Hawk

  • The Mars Volta - The Bedlam In Goliath

    The Mars Volta – The Bedlam In Goliath

    I love this album and the story behind it. I still play it. It’s fun to blast in the Discogs office when everyone least expects it.

    — Tasha

  • Late Of The Pier - Fantasy Black Channel

    Late Of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel

    I really liked the debut records by Bon Iver and Vampire weekend from this year, as well as Elbow’s ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, but this record might actually be one of my favourites for the 21st century (so far)! This band originally hopped on the nu-rave scene (never forget), but with this (their only) album they proved to be so much more. It has glam, prog-rock, electro and Prince in it. This album is still just as exciting as it was when it just came out.

    — Yoram

  • The Kills - Midnight Boom

    The Kills – Midnight Boom

    The Kills were one of my favourite bands in my late teens / early twenties! And although I loved their first album more (Keep On Your Mean Side), Midnight Boom is still excellent with some great songs. It was a hard year to pick for! Hot Chip Made In The Dark was a close second as well as My Morning Jacket ‎with Evil Urges.

    — Claire

  • Thrice - The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV: Air & Earth

    Thrice – The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV: Air & Earth

    I’ve been guilty many times of getting caught up with criticisms of bands for not repeating a sound from an album that I enjoyed. For some reason, Thrice has always been immune to that feeling from me — each iteration I enjoy for what it is and this release definitely opened me up to new genres and artists.

    — Alfred

  • Hercules And Love Affair* - Hercules And Love Affair

    Hercules And Love Affair* – Hercules And Love Affair

    Being a big fan of DFA records and Antony and the Johnsons, I was very excited the first time I heard “Blind.” This song was a collaboration by then Antony from Antony and the Johnsons, now identifying as Anohni, and Andy Butler which eventually led to the full-length self-titled debut for Hercules & Love Affair, this 2008 album was a full-fledged banger.

    — Sepie

  • Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak

    Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak

    Say what you want about present-day Kanye, but his 808s & Heartbreak release was a departure from his first three full-length albums. With collaborations from the likes of Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi, Young Jeezy and others, this was a rather stacked track listing. Death to Auto-Tune shortly followed after this album cemented its place in Rap, R&B and Pop but it was hard to deny who brilliantly Kanye used it in almost every track. It’s hard to pick favorites here but “Heartless,” “Paranoid” and “Coldest Winter” are standouts for me on this LP.

    — Sepie

  • M83 - Saturdays = Youth

    M83 – Saturdays = Youth

    It’s hard for me to talk about 2008 without mentioning Saturdays=Youth. I must have played this album over a hundred times and each time, I felt like another layer of Anthony Gonzalez’s sonic geniusness was exposed. Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts was a great album but I feel like M83 really established itself with staying power with this release. With songs like “Kim & Jessie,” “Graveyard Girl” and the heavily remixed “Couleurs,” it was hard to deny M83 as a force in the mid-2000s. Their 2011 follow up, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, would prove to justify this point.

    — Sepie

  • Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

    Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

    A vibrant smorgasbord of dance and psychedelia, layered with shoegazey guitars and rich, pop harmonies. As a rockist youngster in highschool, this (along with a copy of New Order’s greatest hits) had just the right amount of familiar guitar-isms to open me up to the worlds of electronica and dance. My only request for Cut Copy is to please reissue this album (and the rest of your back catalog)! Also shoutout to Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. by Deerhunter!

    — Stevie


What about you? What was your favorite album of 2008? Let us know in the comments section or in any of our social media channels!

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  • Sep 19,2018 at 22:27

    Exciter – Thrash Speed Burn
    Stone Gods – Burn the Witch
    The Black Crowes – Warpaint
    Jon Oliva’s Pain – Global Warning
    The Sword – Gods of the Earth
    Michael Schenker Group – In the Midst of Beauty
    Uriah Heep – Wake the Sleeper

  • Sep 1,2018 at 13:23

    In my humble opinion ’07 was one of the best ever with monumental releases from Radiohead, Animal Collective, LCD Soundsystem, Burial, Caribou, Menomena, Of Montreal, QOTSA, Panda Bear, Spoon and even my childhood faves Rush. What a mix, that’s just me. So now that I snuck all those in, it is nice to see some of my faves from ’08 mentioned here. However, it was not a strong year generally speaking IMO. But oh how I am so glad I decided to buy the Late of the Pier vinyl at their show for $18 or whatever it was. Now worth about 10x the price. Same with Starfu**er’s first. Here are a couple others.

    Portisheaed ‘Third’ – and the fact that it came out of nowhere was an added bonus. Almost nobody knew this was happening. Maybe they will surprise again some day.

    Fu**ed Up ‘Chemistry…’- lot of bands with naughty names here. I know later albums received greater praise, but to me this is by far their best.

    Plants & Animals ‘Parc Avenue’ – they never got popular, too bad. So good live also. Still sounds great.

    Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – anything Pavement/Malkmus is genius to me. But this is the Jicks last epic album IMO. Any of their albums up to and including this are amazing. The copy of vinyl I bought at their show was signed by the band also, bonus.

    The Walkmen ‘You and Me’ – just about any album they did is great. This band is so sorely missed in my world. Hamilton’s work since just not quite as good.

    I would also agree on Q-Tip, Of Montreal, Beck and Deerhunter. Also worth mentioning Gang Gang Dance, NIN, Parts & Labor, Women, Chad vanGaalen (so amazing live, slashing it out on one of those wacky kind of rectangular little Rickenbackers?? The kind Geddy Lee would play in the early 80’s, but his was a bass of course). Icy Demons anyone? I guess not. And sorry, TVOTR was a disappointment to me after the first two LPs, except the first song.

    Definitely in the midst of the hey day of indie rock. To me ’07 was way better. But hey, more hey in ’11 and ’16 and more great years to come please.

  • Aug 28,2018 at 14:33

    Looks like I was living in a completely different 2008…

    Santogold – Santogold
    Foals – Antidotes
    Beck – Modern Guilt
    MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
    Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping
    The Roots – Rising Down

  • Aug 27,2018 at 21:10

    some great picks there

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