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

19. Elbow: "The Seldom Seen Kid"

Do you like Peter Gabriel? Do you like Coldplay? Elbow are cooler than Coldplay but they mine similar territory. And with his Gabriel-esque voice, lead-singer Guy Garvey is a strong presence. "The Seldom Seen Kid" won this year's "Mercury Prize," an award given each year honoring excellence in British music. Tracks like "Mirrorball" and One Day Like This" are examples of intricate sonic beauty. This is a beautifully produced album that is meant to be listened to at a high volume so that each one of its layers can be thoroughly enjoyed and digested.

Favorite Tracks

"One Day Like This"

"Mirrorball"

"Weather to Fly"

"Grounds for Divorce"

"The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver"

18. R.E.M.: "Accelerate"

R.E.M.'s past few records were somewhat sleepy, so with "Accelerate" the band decided to thoroughly wake up again and rock out. In some places, they rock harder than ever before. It's a quick, action-packed ride and a welcome return to form. Read my original review.

Favorite Tracks

"Supernatural Superserious"

"Horse to Water"

"Hollow Man"

"Living Well Is the Best Revenge"

"Mr. Richards"

17. Andy Yorke: "Simple"

As the younger brother of Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Andy Yorke has an uphill battle ahead of him. In the '90s, he led the band "The Unbelievable Truth" and here on his solo debut he shows himself to be a stellar songwriter in his own right. He sounds like a less experimental, more folk-tinged answer to his brother. Even if his brother weren't one of the biggest and most brilliant rock stars in the world, "Simple" would be worth your time and attention. Read my original review.

Favorite Tracks

"Found the Road"

"Rise and Fall"

"Twist of the Knife"

"One in a Million"

16. The Stills: "Oceans Will Rise"

Back in 2003, Montreal's The Stills released their fantastic, moody, new-wave-soaked debut "Logic Will Break Your Heart." Three years later, they returned with the rootsier "Without Feathers," this time taking inspiration from the more acoustic, laid-back, expansive music of the '70s. "Oceans Will Rise" is closer to the sound of the band's debut but the sound has evolved as if informed by the experiments of their previous outing. Having yet to release a bad album, the Stills stand as one of the strongest bands of the new-wave revival. Unlike the Killers, who are aiming to cover half-baked ideas and idiotic lyrics with slick, overdone production, the Stills deliver real songs here. The quiet majesty of "Everything I Build" is one of the highlights of the year. The Stills also aren't as stuck in the past as some of their peers. "Eastern Europe" should be a modern rock hit considering it sounds like one of the best songs Dave Grohl never wrote. "Snow in California" sort of sounds like a slightly brighter answer to Interpol. I am making these comparisons but the truth is that the Stills have their own sound. They are a modern band able to effectively build off influences from the past. If this sounds interesting to you, please pick up "Oceans Will Rise." You probably won't be disappointed.

Favorite Tracks

"Everything I Build"

"Eastern Europe"

"Snow in California"

"Panic"

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