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

2. Santogold: "Santogold"

Santogold are a ground-breaking duo from Brooklyn. They center around Santi White who has been around for a while and is just getting her own little dose of glory. In 2001, you might remember an album by an R&B singer, Res. White wrote many of the songs on that record. In Santogold, she channels her energy toward an innovative mixture of sounds. Mostly she floats around in a sort of new-wave reggae universe. A song like "Creator" has gotten her many comparisons to M.I.A. But on a song like "Find a Way," she sounds more like a middle-ground between the Slits and Blondie reinterpreting Men At Work. Like recent ground-breaking acts Gorillaz, Beck and the previously mentioned M.IA., the debut by Santogold is an album for people who enjoy pop music but like it with an intelligently eclectic edge. This is an enjoyable party record. It's also cool beyond belief. It will appeal to a wide range of listeners.

Favorite Tracks

""I'm a Lady"


"Find a Way"

"L.E.S. Artistes"

"Lights Out"

"Say Aha"

1. Elvis Costello & The Imposters: "Momofuku"

It's quite possible that my opinion of the album was enhanced by first hearing it on vinyl. Costello released his 24th album this way a few weeks before it arrived on CD. He's one of the few real musical titans who hasn't mellowed with age. He's only expanded his scope and gotten better. This album works in movements, almost changing moods with each of its four record-sides. It's a rough recording but that only adds to its appeal. It feels spontaneous and banged-out. The first three songs recall the angry early part of his career, while, elsewhere, he experiments with cocktail jazz, soul and country. It's a sum of everything Costello does best all packed into one place. With background work by Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice and songs co-written with Roseanne Cash and Loretta Lynn, there's something here to please any kind of Elvis Costello fan. Overall, however, it's a refreshing old-school rock record. By choosing this album as the best album of the year, I am not hyping an undeserving veteran as, for instance, the Grammy Awards do every year. I really feel like he deserves this honor. Thirty-one years into his career he's as relevant and biting as ever. This was the album I went back to the most. He's one of the smartest songwriters around and he's released what I believe to be the best album of 2008. Read my original review.

Favorite Tracks

"No Hiding Place"


"Flutter & Wow"

"American Gangster Time"

"Pardon Me Madam, My Name Is Eve"

"Go Away"

In closing: It was a great year. I wasn't able to include every important album of the year. I wasn't able to include every album I loved. Honorary mentions go out to the new albums by The Breeders, Portishead, Gnarls Barkley, the Black Keys, Ryan Adams and Lykke Li. I'm sure that I missed some of your favorites but feel free to use the comment section below to list your favorite albums of the year. Let's hope 2009 is just as good. if not better.

Also, if you missed it, here's last year's list.

Happy Holidays!

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