After weeks of blood, sweat, tears, tantrums, toy throwing, (manly) make-up hugs, u-turns, sudden moments of crippling indecision and more than a few chocolate hob nobs, we're proud to finally announce our top 10 records of 2008. Turns out it was a pretty good year...
#1: Friendly Fires - 'Friendly Fires'
"And every night we'll watch the stars, they'll be out for us..."
Somewhere along the line, people seem to have forgotten about good old fashioned fun. Sure, there's the minor issue of a global economic meltdown and yeah, the great British public deemed X Factor's Hallelujah better than old Buckley's effort. Hard times are indeed upon us. So who you gonna call? Straight outta, er, St Albans, enter Friendly Fires! Chin scratching wank fodder for Pitchfork fanatics this ain't, but damn these guys know how to stick a big old grin on your face. Unashamedly poptastic, this is a record packed with 3 - 4 minute gems that practically burst at the seams with wide eyed exuberance. Not liking this is a bit like not liking Nutella, Wall-E or The Wire - it either makes you a cynical shit or just a little bit wrong in the head. To sum up: buy album, put in CD player, turn up to 11, dance about like a twat, feel good. Easy!
Key tracks: 'Jump In The Pool', 'Paris', 'On Board', 'Skeleton Boy'....f*ck it, get them all. Trust us.
#2: Kano - '140 Grime Street'
"If they aint ready, tell 'em to buy Jamie T, cuz I'm heavy / Bassline messy 'n' yeah I go Glastonbury 'n' wear wellies..."
In the space of two records Kano had gone from UK grime's underground king to washed up has-been sans record deal. Harsh, especially given that this is an MC blessed with a flow as smoothe as a freshly poured flagon of Guinness and bars sharper than Bond out on the razz. Back on his own label for '140 Grime Street', Kano delivers an aggressive, focussed set of tracks that establish him back where he belongs - leading the charge for the UK's urban scene. Lyrically it's uncompromising stuff, veering in a notably different direction to the ever more chart friendly offerings from the likes of Wiley and Dizzee Rascal. Guest appearances from the likes of Skepta, Ghetto and the aforementioned Wiley add extra muscle to an already impressive set. Highly recommended.
Key tracks: 'Hustler', 'Paper', 'Hunting We Will Go', 'Anywhere We Go', 'These MCs'********
#3: Metallica - 'Death Magnetic'
"Cause we hunt you down without mercy / Hunt you down all nightmare long"
Well you try finding a Metallica lyric that actually sounds cool written down! Seriously, it's impossible. Metallica must be the least cool band on the planet - 4 grown family men still dressing in black, singing about monsters and moaning on about that 'evil interweb thing'. And yet somehow we just can't get enough of them. They f*cking rule. Maybe we've never got over buying the 'Black Album' on cassette and thinking - nay, knowing - that we were the coolest motherfuck*rs in town. After the massively gash 'St Anger', 'Death Magnetic' is the sound of Metallica back on ominously good form - it's all here people! Face melting solos from Hammett? Check. Enormous chugtastic riffs that compel you to crank the iPod up to 11? Check. Another 'Unforgiven'?! Check. Do the old codgers a favour and pick this up, you'll be dusting down the air axe in no time. Essential.
Key Tracks: 'All Nightmare Long', 'Cyanide', 'Unforgiven III', 'The Judas Kiss'
#4: Foals - 'Antidotes'
"Blow up these play parades, let's go / To an aviary far from home..."
Foals seemed to have been around forever before this debut record even dropped, such was the media buzz surrounding them. Bringing math rock to the masses, 'Antidotes' is an incredibly satisfying listen that just about justifies the ludicrous hype . If you like your 6 minute reverb drenched rock n roll odysseys then this is best avoided; the sound here is clean, compact and ultra-crisp. That's not to say that these Oxford chaps don't know a thing or two about a toe-tapping tune of course, as 'Antidotes' is jam packed with them. Catchy, smart and nower-than-now, you need this in your collection.
Key tracks: 'Cassius', 'Olympic Airways', 'Balloons', 'Two Steps Twice'
5: Death Cab For Cutie - 'Narrow Stairs'
"You gotta spend some time love, you gotta spend some time with me..."
Key tracks: 'Bixby Canyon Bridge', 'I Will Possess Your Heart', 'No Sunlight', 'Your New Twin Sized Bed'
#6: Frightened Rabbit - 'The Midnight Organ Fight'
"It takes more than fucking someone you don't know to keep yourself warm..."
Let's get it out the way early doors - Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchinson sounds a tiny bit like the bloke from Counting Crows. There, we've said it. If you can get past that (and fair play to you), then get ready to embrace one of the most eye poppingly honest, criminally ignored and damn right awesome records you've heard in a good long while. On first listen, you could be forgiven for passing this off as little more than solid indie rock fayre. But, much like fellow ADN favourites The National, these Scots craft tunes that reward repeated listens with moments of real magic. Much of this can be attributed to Hutchinson's brutally honest (and at times, simply brutal) lyrics, delivered throughout with perfect Scottish sincerity. In many ways it's the ultimate break-up record, but there's enough here to keep even the most serial monagamist entertained. In short, one of 2008's most captivating listens.
Key tracks: 'The Twist', 'Keep Yourself Warm', 'Poke', 'The Modern Leper'
#7: Justice - 'A Cross The Universe'
"You were such a P.Y.T catching all the lights, just easy as A.B.C, that's how you make it right..."
You've bought the studio album, paid for your gig tickets and now those pesky suits are trying to rinse you for an extra tenner. Yep, we've got that most divisive of things here - the live dance album. While you can understand people getting cynical about shelling out to hear a couple of blokes press some buttons, this record screams out for you to suspend cynicism. Recorded live in San Franscico and with the crowd noise jacked right up in the mix, it's an adrenaline shot aimed straight at the heart. Far from a cynical re-hashing of their studio work, this set sees Justice taking those original tracks, ripping them to the shreds, sticking their remains through some sinister electro-noise blender and dumping the results on the chemically enhanced masses below. If this doesn't get you moving, then you've got more than a few problems. D.A.N.C.E!
Key tracks: 'Waters Of Nazareth', 'Phantom Part II', 'Genesis', 'One Minute To Midnight'
#8: Bon Iver - 'For Emma, Forever Ago'
"This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization, it's the sound of the unlocking and the lift away..."
You'd be forgiven for wanting to give the swerve to a bloke who voluntarily decided to spend several months in total isolation in a Wisconsin forest. It's a bit weird. But wait! In doing so, Bon Iver - aka Justin Vernon - might just have created the year's most heart stoppingly gorgeous record. From start to finish this is captivating stuff; music stripped down to man, guitar and lots (and lots) of heartache. But depressing this ain't - there's an uplifting quality on display here that really shines through, never more so than on album closer 'Re: Stacks', an all too rare jaw-on-floor moment in the big, bad world of modern music. Truly stunning.
Key tracks: 'Re: Stacks', 'Skinny Love', 'Blindsided', 'The Wolves (Act I and II)'
#9: Cool Kids - 'The Bake Sale'
"What it is what it ain't come check the noise, it's the new black version of the Beastie Boys..."Perhaps (almost certainly) we're just completely out of touch, but decent hip hop records seemed to be a bit thin on the ground in '08 - maybe that's what made this party-rap tour de force all the more satisfying. It won't change many lives, but man it sounds good cranked up in your car. Penetrating social commentary? Er, nope. Cutting edge sonic innovation? Nada. 1o of the finest booty shakin' party jams this side of Run DMC? Abso-fuckin'-lutely.
Key tracks: '88', 'Bassment Party', 'What Up', 'One Two'
********#10: Cut Copy - 'In Ghost Colours'
"There's something burning up inside, I reach out for you and our hearts collide…"
Imagine - if you can / will – Kylie Minogue, LCD Soundsystem and Daft Punk indulging in a gargantuan clusterf*ck. Now picture it taking place on a rainbow. In space. With everyone off their tits. Still with me? Good. You’ve now got a fairly accurate idea of what this – the sophomore outing from Australia’s finest purveyors of guitar infused dancefloor tuneage – sounds like. Marking a huge leap forward from debut effort ‘Bright Like Neon Love’, ‘In Ghost Colours’ is a super-confident, focussed record that should more than satisfy indie fashionistas, dancefloor junkies and good old fashioned pop lovers alike. It’s even got one of those ‘Digital Love’ style robot voice thingies on it. Marvellous.
Key tracks: 'Feel The Love', 'Lights & Music', 'Far Away', 'Hearts On Fire', 'Nobody Lost, Nobody Found'
********Finally, here's 20 more of our favourites from 2008 that just missed out on the top 10...
Late Of The Pier - 'Fantasy Black Channel'
Sigur Ros - "Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust"
Hot Chip - 'Made In The Dark'
Sun Kil Moon - 'April'
Ra Ra Riot - 'The Rhumb Line'
TV On The Radio - 'Dear Science'
Jenny Lewis - 'Acid Tongue'
Kanye West - '808s & Heartbreak'
Elbow - 'The Seldom Seen Kid'
Vampire Weekend - 'Vampire Weekend'
M83 - 'Saturdays = Youth'
Okkervil River - 'The Stand Ins'
Santogold - 'Santogold'
Dodos - 'Visitor'
Laura Marling - 'Alas, I Cannot Swim'
Fleet Foxes - 'Fleet Foxes'
Neon Neon - 'Stainless Style'
Shearwater - 'Rook'
Kings Of Leon - 'Only By The Night'
Lykke Li - 'Youth Novels'
So there you have it, ADN's favourite records of the year. Bring on 2009!