Let me clarify. These are my favorite albums of 2008, but they are probably not the best. I like a lot of them for sentimental reasons, but maybe you'll find something you like too. Click on the links to hear a track on YouTube.
In no particular order...
1. Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim
I discovered Laura Marling's music in London and was fortunate enough to see her perform live twice.
2. Noah and the Whale - Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down
Closely related to Laura Marling is Noah and the Whale. I saw them play at the ICA in London and couldn't wait for their album to finally come out. While I was unhappy with some choices they made with demo tracks that had been floating in the blogosphere for months, I can't help but love it.
3. Jaymay - Autumn Falling
I saw Jaymay perform at Dingwall's in Camden Town, London. It was my first concert I ever went to all by myself. Jaymay's songs are pleasant and sing-along friendly, and the album is solid all the way through.
4. Kaki King - Dreaming of Revenge
Kaki King is a constantly evolving musician. She's expanded her repertoire of mostly acoustic guitar songs to include some catchier rock songs. Her voice takes some getting used to, but I'm a three concert veteran and am hooked for life.
5. The Magnetic Fields - Distortion
I was disappointed with Distortion at first, because I just couldn't get over the distorted sound that weaves through all the tracks. But clever lyrics and catchy melodies shine through. It just needs a few tries to warm up to it.
6. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
"White Winter Hymnal" took the blogosphere by storm. When I saw them at Black Cat this year, their harmonies blew me away. It's impossible to capture their talent on a recording, but their debut album comes close.
7. Lykke Li - Youth Novels
I was absolutely blown away by the first single "I'm Good, I'm Gone." Her album has about four more songs that are worthy hit singles. Even better are Lykke Li's live performances, which you can find on YouTube. This Swede will stare you down, and you won't be able to turn away.
8. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
Feed the Animals makes me want to dance in my underwear. I'm sure that says something. Also, in one album, it's a rapid review session of all the rap music I wasn't listening to all year.
9. Aimee Mann - "@#%&! Smilers
I love Aimee Mann. Literally all of her songs. "@#%&! Smilers is no different. She was amazing at the 9:30 Club this fall and even played 'Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry."
10. Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
I don't know what they're saying, but it doesn't really matter.