Before we compile our super-massive end of year coverage, we want to know what your ears have loved this year. We kick things off with talk of your favourite albums - don't worry, we'll get onto songs, your favourite little known bands, best gigs, biggest let-downs and more in due course. We'll incorporate some of this reader input into our end of year lists, which will be with you next week. And, of course, keep your eyes on the music forum for the annual boarders' end of year voting shenanigans.
My favourite 8 albums from 2008:
Cut Copy In Ghost Colours (Modular)
I've been utterly addicted to this mongoloid-space-monkey-aerobic-disco album all year. With its swirls and thumps, In Ghost Colours sounds not unlike New Order mangled with Daft Punk/Justice, LCD Soundsystem and Talking Heads. I literally can't get enough of this album. (Read my review)
Crystal Castles Crystal Castles (Last Gang)
I've struggled to find a record that has sounded quite so refreshingly inventive, yet still highly infectious, this year. If you've assumed they're just a bunch of hipsters making electro mulch, get over yourself and experience the thrill of their artsy Gameboy-like 8-bit fighting its way through the screams and swathes of gooey melody. I can totally believe that Alice was frustrated being in a hardcore band but I also won't be shocked if they implode before making another album. (Read Kev Kharas' review)
M83 Saturdays = Youth (Mute)
Previous M83 albums were lush slushy shoegaze affairs with moments of poignancy and sheer beauty but were also easily comparable to his/their influences. Unlike its predecessors, Saturdays = Youth may finds itself frolicking in new territories, paddling in puddles of pop and reaching buttons that no other electronica, post-rock or othersuch epicness managed to press (for me at least) in 2008.
The Stills Oceans Will Rise (Arts & Crafts)
I was obsessed with their debut and loved the follow-up so much that I released it. This record is a step above and beyond the previous two. There's something sinister, but perfectly so, about the way the melodies manage to stalk you for days after listening to it. I have been stunned that this album hasn't garnered more critical love, especially when their friends and peers (like Kings of Leon) have finally burst through to mega-stardom (Ah, we didn't review it, that'll be why!).
Friendly Fires Friendly Fires (XL)
The first time I saw Friendly Fires I was instantly obsessed with their punk-funk meets sweeping star-flecked electronica. There's something incredibly refreshing about the way they've mashed together all the best bits from their favourite party bands (The Rapture, LCD, Radio 4, The Field, Ricardo Villalobos, etc) and created something refreshing which also feels like more than the sum of its parts and still has a distinctive British lilt. (Read Reef Younis' review)
These New Puritans Beat Pyramid (Angular)
At first, this album felt like obtuse art-wank but that's part of its joy, as the band overwhelm you as they experiment with song narrative, time signature changes, hip-hop beats and lyrical crescendos. (Read Sam Strang's review)
Nine in Nails Ghosts I-IV (available free from nin.com)
Trent Reznor not only managed to create this manificent instrumental record of Music For Airports-like proportions but also managed to give it away and sell it in a variety of innovative ways, including a really-really expensive deluxe version which sold out within hours. The man is a genius, a pioneer and a personal hero.
Youthmovies Good Nature (Drowned in Sound)
There's no nepotism going on here, I released this album because I've loved the band for a long, long while. Whilst the record many not have achieved notable plaudits, its impact as an amalgam of art-pop and prog-pop with spindles of odd-folk and splinters of soundtrack-textures will be reach far beyond 2008.
So that's my top eight, with the likes of Panic at the Disco, Lykke Li, The Kills, Foals, Santogold, Foals, Deerhunter, The Raveonettes, I Was a Cub Scout, Haushka and many more great albums just missing out on their place.
DiScuss: What were your favourite eight albums of the year and why? Is there anything you think I, and everyone else, really should go back and revisit before the end of year lists are finalized?