Oliver's Top 5 Albums of 2008

I know there are lots of lists out in web-space that are doing the exact thing that I'm doing. That's okay. It was fun to puzzle over this small list. In doing so, I came to the realization that honestly, it wasn't a great year for albums. Mind you, there are some great albums out there, but I found that there are a lot of artists who put out a fantastic single but the rest of the album couldn't hold up.

I didn't consider genre when I came up with this list. It's merely a list of what I've been playing quite frequently. And I acknowledge that some albums came out earlier than others which might unfairly weight my choice. Yes, I took that into consideration.

So, without further delay, here are Oliver's top 5 albums from 2008 based on the play count on my iTunes:

5. Girl Talk Feed the Animals. The link is to Greg Gillis (Mr. Girl Talk himself) demonstrating his mash-up skills using a track by Elvis Costello. This album made the top 5 because I didn't get tired of listening to it. Listening was always a joyous endeavor--there'd be snippets of tracks from Journey, AC/DC, No Doubt, Nirvana . . . on and on. What happens when you throw a party and everyone comes? You get this album.

4. Shearwater Rook. Gorgeously depressing music that reminded me of another fine band, Talk Talk . . . at least Jonathan Meiburg sounds like Mark Hollis.

3. Okkervil River, The Stand-Ins. Funny, but Jonathan Meiburg used to be in Okkervil River. Anyway, I'm a big fan of "literate" rock albums. This one had a narrative arc that kept me listening.

2b. Juana Molina's Un Dia. Okay, so I was a little surprised that she moved to number two, but I checked the frequency of times played and . . . well this was the second highest played albums on my list. Lovely tapestries of sound, is how I describe this. Think Bjork if Bjork were Argentinian. I often listened to this album when commenting on my students work because of the trance-like state I need to be in in order to slog through the paperwork.

2a. TV on the Radio, Dear Science. Mixing harmonies with crunch guitars, these guys made one heck of an album. Dear Science beat out Un Dia by one album spin. I often listen to this album at the gym and I'm at the gym almost every day, it seems. I love the urgency of this album.

1. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes. Call it a Pacific Northwest bias. I was in love with this album before it was even released when "Winter Hymnal" was making the rounds in the Spring. They definitely sound like Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and that's a good thing.

Honorable Mentions in no order:

Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
The Walkmen, You & Me
Brian Eno & David Byrne, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (Thanks for the reminder, JG).
Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
Lyrics Born, Everywhere at Once
The Roots, Rising Down
Thao, We Brave Bee Stings
Blind Pilot, 3 Rounds and a Sound
Sigur Ros, Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust
She & Him, Volume One
Santogold, Santogold
Ra Ra Riot, The Rhumb Line
Madlib, WLIB AM - King of the Wigflip
Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue
Cat Power, Jukebox (WAY back at the start of the year)
Beck, Modern Guilt
The Airborne Toxic Event, The Airborne Toxic Event
Black Keys, Attack & Release
Hot Chip, Made in the Dark
Blitzen Trapper, Furr
R.E.M., Accelerate


It was a lean year for Hip-Hop. I can usually think of more Hip-Hop albums that warrant multiple re-spins, but like I said earlier, there were a lot of good Hip-Hop singles, but then the rest of the album would be full of . . . well, crap.


My grading is done! Yay! I'm freed up to . . . well, to write lists of my favorite albums of 2008.


New To Do list:

1. Finish a pedagogy essay
2. Submit poems to three journals
3. Complete grant application
4. Create syllabus for Asian American Lit. class
5. Organize new manuscript and prepare it for submission
6. Caulk the soffit-gap on the underside of my parents' new house
7. Apply poly-seal to parents' garage
8. Install rubber flashing in parents' attic opening
9. Write poems?

*10. Be a dad (#10 trumps all of the above)


Current Spins: Ha! While I was coming up with that list, I was listening to Neil Young's Chrome Dreams

Current Reads: The new Rolling Stone, Native Speaker, and Kimiko Hahn's Earshot.

Oliver de la Paz