The 50 Best Albums of 2008: Nos. 50 to 26

44. The Whigs: "Mission Control"

Athens, Ga.'s the Whigs are a hard-charging trio who specialize in frantic, pounding numbers. "Mission Control" is the band's second album. Much like Bloc Party, Radio 4, the Futureheads and Franz Ferdinand, they have obviously listened carefully to their Gang of Four records, but there are also other influences at work. The album's title track sounds a little like Spoon, until it decides to freak out, and "I Never Want to Go Home" sounds like a lost Foo Fighters cut. At the same time, "Right Hand on My Heart" hints at a harder-edged My Morning Jacket. All together, this is one of the most appealing and promising rock records of 2008.

Favorite Tracks

"Mission Control"

"Hot Bed"

"Right Hand on My Heart"

"I Never Want to Go Home"

"Like a Vibration"

"Need You Need You"

43. Bloc Party: "Intimacy"

Bloc Party's third album originally appeared as a download in August. In October, it appeared in hard-copy with three added tracks. Musically, it sounds like a combination of their stellar debut and last year's slightly softer "A Weekend in the City." It sea-saws back and forth from harsh, abrasive tracks to quietly lush, atmospheric numbers. It's an acquired taste. You'll either find opening track "Ares" unbelievably cool or tremendously annoying. That being said, it sounds like nothing you've ever heard before. Singer Kele Okereke has a distinctive yell and the track serves as a battle cry for what's to come. The band members have added more electronic elements to their sound. There are now drum machines working beside Matt Tong's jaw-dropping beat-work. This is the third stellar album from a ground-breaking band. Something tells me that this is just the beginning.

Favorite Tracks

"Signs"

"Talons"

"Trojan Horse"

"Ares"

"Halo"

42. Sloan: "Parallel Play"

Bloc Party made this list last year. So did Sloan. If you haven't heard of Sloan, you should have. They are a power-pop combo from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and "Parallel Play" is their ninth studio album. Signed to DGC in the early '90s by the same person who signed Weezer, they failed to become big names in the United States, but they have consistently released solid records. "Parallel Play" continues in the vein of last year's expansive "Never Hear the End of It," but it's a tighter, shorter set. All four band members still write and alternate singing duties, giving the band a kind of Beatle-esque eclecticism. The most obvious highlight on the set is Andrew Scott's "Emergency 911," a rousing punk anthem questioning safety and authority. Scott also gives us, "The Dogs," a slow-burning, woozy, meditative, effective, psychedelic rocker. Chris Murphy fronts "I'm Not a Kid Anymore," while Patrick Pentland delivers the '70s-pop inspired, "Witches Wand." Jay Ferguson hands in the similarly sunny, "If I Could Change Your Mind." All of these tracks make "Parallel Play" a solid collection of classic-minded, pop-driven rock and roll.

Favorite Tracks
: "Emergency 911"

"All I Am Is All You're Not"

"The Dogs"

"I'm Not a Kid Anymore"

"Living the Dream"

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