Posted by: hankwillenbrink | January 6, 2009

2008 in Review: Top Albums (Hank)

The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride

Shearwater – Rook

Marnie Stern – This Is It…

Sun Kil Moon – April

Grouper – Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill

Jolie Holland – Living and the Dead

Herman Dune – New Year in Zion

The Walkmen – You and Me

Horse Feathers – House with No Home

Starfucker – Starfucker

Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

Mother Mother – O My Heart

French Kicks – Swimming

Tallest Man on Earth – Shallow Grave

Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight

Parc Avenue – Plants and Animals

My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

MGMT – Oracular Spectular

Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Alina Simone – Everyone is Crying out to me Beware

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

It’s worth getting into Trapper’s entire catalog. Their prior albums were experiments, but this one finds the experimental and turns it classic. “Gold for Bread” is my nomination for song of the year. but you can’t beat “God and Suicide” or “Echo/Always On/EZCon.” This is the kind of album to shoot buffalo to. And, like the buffalo, they’re aren’t to many albums as majestic as American asBlitzen Trapper’s “Furr.”


Ladyhawk – Shots

I read somewhere that this album was all about drinking whisky in a cabin during winter. I knew there was a reason I like to drink whisky.

DeerhunterMicrocastle/Weird Era Cont.

Does this album have the standing to enter the cannon of indie rock alongside classics like “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” or “The Soft Bulletin”? I don’t know. But, of all the albums on my list I would give Deerhunter the best chance. After the sonic whirlwind that was “Cryptograms,” Deerhunter went back to basics and proved just how solid of a group they can be. The songwriting is trippyand methodical. The guitar solo on “Nothing Ever Happened” is right up there with Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android.” This album is damn fine work. Paranoid and transcendental. How perfect for 08.

Thao Nguyen with the Get Down Stay Down – We Brave Bee Stings and All

If there were a Yin and Yang to 08, then this would be the Yin or the Yang, whichever one is more joyful. The other side hits my #1 choice. Thao’s album is effervescent and jubilant. It seamlessly morphs and merges song forms without sound deriviate or forced. And if you’re looking for one moment that makes it, that sums up the entire enterprise, go from “Swimming Pools” to the dark jazz chords of the keys on “Geography.” Geography may get the best of Thao, but she got the best of 08.

Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

Zach seemed miffed when I told him this was going to be #1 on my list. I don’t care. I agonized a lot about what I was going to put on last year, mistakenly feeling that I needed to establish some kind of cred. I’m not worried about that anymore. Is this the best album of the year? I don’t know how to define that. I don’t care to. Is this the album I listened to the most? No. But in that, I think, lies why it is so significant and deserves the head of the list. Some things hurt to make you listen to them. This album does that to me. On “Re: Stacks” Vernon sings: “When you’re money’s gone / And your drunk as hell.” If you know what that is, then you understand. If you don’t, then get there and you will. If you don’t care to, I understand. Is this album, for me, what 2008 is about? In some cruel way, yes.



  1. Good list. Thanks for taking the time for putting that up. And don’t apologize for your #1 selection. “Forever Emma” is an excellent album – filled with gorgeous intimate songs. After a year of listening to the album – I still find consider it great listening.

    Good choice.

  2. I just discovered Grouper. Rules so hard!

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