The 50 Best Albums of 2008: Nos. 25 to 1

23. The Walkmen: "You & Me"

Hamilton Leithauser of the Walkmen is the best caterwauler this side of Tom Waits. Somehow, each song by his band sounds spooky and old, as if ghosts were being harbored beneath every sonic crevice. Their albums are produced so that they sound live and spontaneous. They have a very natural yet uneasy sound full of clanging guitars and dust-caked organs. All the while, the drums clatter along like a half-drunk marching band. "You & Me" is among their best work and "In The New Year" should be mandatory listening for all of you on New Year's Eve. It would probably be better suited, though, for after the party is over and you are sitting in a room by yourself contemplating your hopes for the future.

Favorite Tracks

"In the New Year"

"Dónde Está La Playa"

"Canadian Girl"

"I Lost You"

"On The Water"

22. Leona Naess: "Thirteens"

It's named after an unlucky number but Leona Naess' "Thirteens" is quite exceptional. It's an occasionally haunting and captivating batch of songs. She has never been stronger, more alluring on record than she is here. There's a gentle, beautiful sadness spread throughout the album. Read my original review.

Favorite Tracks

"Swing Swing Gently"

"Heavy Like Sunday"

"Shiny on the Inside"

"Ghost in the Attic"

21. Mike Doughty: "Golden Delicious"

"Wednesday (No Se Apoye)" is among the most beautiful songs of the year. It's the kind of song that stops you in your tracks and the most obvious highlight of Mike Doughty's fourth solo collection. The former Soul Coughing leader has ditched most of his old band's hip-hop influences to become a wonderfully quirky singer-songwriter. If you were a fan of Soul Coughing, you probably won't be disappointed by this set, even if he is sporting a different vibe these days. Read my original review.

Favorite Tracks

"Wednesday (No Se Apoye)"

"I Just Want the Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep on Dancing"

"Like a Luminous Girl"

"27 Jennifers"

"Navigating the Stars at Night"

20. The Caesars: "Strawberry Weed" (Expanded version)

You know the Caesars from their song "Jerk It Out." The song was used in an Ipod ad a couple of years ago and, in turn, became a small hit. In their native Sweden, their latest album, "Strawberry Weed," was released as a 24-track, double album. In the United States, someone made the unfortunate decision to cut the album down to a 12-track single disc. If you want to get the album in hard-copy, this seems to be the only domestic version available. But the "real" version is available here as a download from places like iTunes or Amazon. And if you are a fan, this is the version you should get. Strangely, the album in its entirety only clocks in at 74 minutes, thus fitting on a single disc, after all. It's a wonderfully retro-filled collection of slightly electro-infused, '60s-style garage rock. Think of it as a modern equivalent of one the "Nuggets" boxed-sets. The Caesars prove to be likable pop-smiths. You'll be go-go dancing and humming these tunes to yourself in no time.

Favorite Tracks

"Waking Up"

"Turn it Off"

"Easy Star"

"Crystal"

"Stuck With You"

"In Orbit"

"Watching the Moon"

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