elephant journal presents the Top Ten Albums of 2008.

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 8.0
Shares 2.4
Hearts 0.0
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.


Here are my top ten albums of 2008, hope you enjoy. Leave me a comment below and let me know if you suggest anything else, or disagree with my picks!


Fleet Foxes – Self Titled  
Why is this the best of ’08? It’s new, refreshing, and sounds nothing like the other bands of 2008. As mentioned in my previous blog, it’s more along the lines of the warm harmonious sounds of the 60’s and 70’s.
Favorite Songs? White Winter Hymnal, Ragged Wood, Blue Ridge Mountains
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? When the piano enters “Blue Ridge Mountains” at 2:03 and Robin Pecknold sings: “In the quivering forest, where the shivering dog rests, our good grandfather, built a wooden nest.” Magical!
Interesting Notes? They have many more records in them, they’re from Seattle, and they have wooly beards.


My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
Why is this the best of ’08? Pure unadulterated rock & roll, anchored by funky grooves. No one does it like MMJ. This music is not for everyday, it is for big moments.
What songs rise to the top? Highly Suspicious, Touch Me I’m Going To Scream (Part 1 & 2), I’m Amazed
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? When Jim James explodes in a ball of funk nasty falsetto fury and sings 9 octaves higher than any other rock and roll band and/or Mariah Carey.
Interesting Notes? Full disclosure: I used to work for MMJ’s booking agent… which means I have been rocking out to the Jacket for a long time. In fact, Jim James introduced me to Bookers bourbon. It packs a punch.


Blitzen Trapper – Furr
Why is this the best of ’08? It’s a mix of old school American folk tales with a splash of hard rock. Where else where you hear tales of murder, hard travels, and psychedelic americana?
What songs rise to the top? Furr, Black River Killer, Stolen Shoes and a Rifle.Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? The haunting pedal steel on “Stolen Shoes and a Rifle”.
Interesting Notes? The album cover rocks really really hard.


Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Why is this the best of ’08? You know the story. Dude holes himself up in woods. Dude cuts down trees and builds cabin. Dude hunts wild animals. Dude emerges with musical masterpiece. 
What songs rise to the top? Lump Sun, Blindsided, For Emma
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? In “Skinny Love”, when he sings out “And I told you to be patient…” with SO much emotion.
Interesting Notes? I bet he used a chain saw to build his own cabin. Lame. An axe would make him so much cooler. Seriously though, this album takes some listener focus, but it is great.


Keane – Perfect Symmetry
Why is this the best of ’08? From the get-go, this album makes me want to shake my hips, pump my fist, and conquer the world. 80’s dance influenced well-written hand-clapping brit-rock.
What songs rise to the top? Better Than This, Again & Again, Love Is The End
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? From “Pretend That You’re Alone”, “I wonder what I’d do if I could wake up every morning with a clean slate, I’d burn through the cites, tear through the town cos there’s no deals to make”.
Interesting Notes? in ’06, Coldplay released a blah boring album called X&Y. Keane released “Under The Iron Sea”. Not only did Keane’s album have a better album cover, but it was better overall. But maybe not in ’08…


Coldplay – Viva la Vida
Why is this the best of ’08? It’s just up there with anything. Yes, overplayed. But it’s just too good to omit from the list.
What songs rise to the top? Death And All His Friends, Lovers in Japan (Reign of Love), Lost?
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? “No, I don’t want to battle from beginning to end, I don’t want to cycle or recycle revenge, I don’t want to follow death and all of his friends”. It’s mantra of breaking away from the cycle of death, and living with love. It shakes me into living a more purposeful life. 
Interesting Notes? The acoustic bonus tracks of “Lost?” and “Lovers in Japan”  that are available via iTunes are amazing!


JayMay – Autumn Fallin’
Why is this the best of ’08? It’s clever, funny, quirky, sweet, and catchy. Her voice is so attractive, and she plays on words in the coolest way. Do I have a crush on her?
What songs rise to the top? Gray or Blue, Blue Skies, Sea Green See Blue
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? The xylophone and background vocals in “Gray or Blue”.  And the lyrics, “I can’t keep staring at your mouth without wondering how it tastes”… her wordplay is brilliant.
Interesting Notes? Her debut album is on the biggest jazz label ever, Blue Note Records.


Daniel Lanois –  Here Is What Is
Why is this the best of ’08? Daniel Lanois is a true original. Known for producing albums like U2’s Joshua Tree, Lanois is a sound guru… creating the lushest tones mixed with deeply spiritual music… it’s really a work of beauty.
What songs rise to the top? Where Will I Be, I’m Not Fighting Anymore, Here Is What Is
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric?  “I’m not fighting anymore, gonna let it all go, the mountain of a man, like the sun on the snow, I’m not fighting anymore, not keeping score, gonna let it all fade…”
Interesting Notes? The pedal steel sounds amazing throughout the album, and Garth Hudson (The Band) plays keys. Oh, and you can buy this direct from his website.                


Mason Jennings – In The Ever
Why is this the best of ’08? Mason satisfies my appetite for melody, humor, and spirituality. I get bored easily with singer-songwriters, but I can’t get enough of Mason!
What songs rise to the top? I Love You and Buddha Too, Your New Man, How Deep Is That River
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? The combo of a simple tambourine, playful piano, and the funny yet sincere lyrics saying “I love you Jesus… and Buddha too”.
Interesting Notes? His publishing company is called Mystical Pony of The Stars Music…. hilarious!


The New Frontiers – Mending
Why is this the best of ’08? How can a little known Indie rock band sneak into my top ten? Because this album is absolutely brilliant. The melodies are gorgeous and catchy, the guitar tones rich, the lyrics inspiring…  my favorite album of the year!
What songs rise to the top? Mirrors, Strangers, Passing On, This Is My Home… they’re all great!
Favorite Musical Moment or Lyric? “Life is what it makes of you, so don’t be afraid to walk alone. Babies scream when they are born, so I’m not afraid of passing on”, from the song “Passing On”.
Interesting Notes? OH Sh*T!! They broke up last month!! Bummer bummer bummer. I hate it when that happens!!

Also, be sure to check out my recent blog on the Fleet Foxes! For more music we here at elephant like, check out Mr. Boulder Theater Kirk Peterson’s write ups.

Blog by Rusty Ralston


The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 8.0
Shares 2.4
Hearts 0.0
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.

Read The Best Articles of November
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.

Rusty Ralston

Rusty Ralston is a professional photographer specializing in music, fashion, lifestyle, and travel photography. He is available for shoots anywhere, preferably sunny islands.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

anonymous May 10, 2011 11:44am

Hello People! Just wanted to tell you that I found tickets to Maroon 5 concert onJun 30th. In this place you can find tickets for other dates too. It’s amazing their performance on stage, this is my third time and I’m still so excited about listening them live! On this page you can see the section where you’re buying the ticket, so it’s very recommended! Good luck!!

anonymous Aug 5, 2009 12:35am

All but one men….how disappointing. There are so many fabulous female artists out there.

anonymous Apr 8, 2009 2:25pm

[…]   I would like to introduce you to Charlie Mars and his latest album “Like A Bird, Like A Plane”.  This album is addictive and an all-around solid release. In fact, I usually toss aside singer-songwriter albums with ease, because frankly I get really bored with them and I get sick of hearing artists whine about relationships. However with this Charlie Mars record, there’s something special going on. It’s more of a band record, cohesive and comes across as a whole rather than a collection of singles. Maybe it’s the yearning to bust through his previous record label associations with an independent record or maybe just new creative energy flowing, but either way, Charlie Mars has released one of my favorite records of the year. […]

anonymous Jan 8, 2009 12:33am

[…] music photographer and resident gentleman Mr. Rusty Ralston recently posted a popular Top 10 elephant journal albums of 2008. And now here’s ele’s longtime columnist, Kirk Peterson’s list…and he knows […]

anonymous Dec 26, 2008 1:28pm

I’m a big fan of MIA, though I’m not sure if her new album came out this year or in 2007. Great list!

Rusty Ralston Dec 25, 2008 10:00pm

Hey Fael, yes, you are technically correct about Bon Iver… you’re on top of it! It was independently self released in ’07, but only got released and distributed by a record label starting in February 2008… hence, the inclusion in the list.

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment… I’m glad music aficionados like yourself have been checking it out. Happy Holidays!

anonymous Dec 25, 2008 5:15pm

bon iver – for ema is a disc made in 07.not 08. =)

anonymous Dec 24, 2008 1:56pm

I have to say that outside of Cold Play and MMJ I have never heard of any of these folks. Puts me behind the times and motivates me to check into some new stuff. I will definitely have to check out Mason Jennings. Time to put those I-Tunes gift cards to use. Thanks Rusty. Travel safe and good luck down south. Stay in touch.

Jayson Gaddis Dec 24, 2008 4:50am

fleet fox ad my morning jacket. yup!

anonymous Dec 24, 2008 12:04am

Thus, I have finally achieved ‘old age’.
The proof? I do not know, have not heard or heard of, any, not one, of these albums.
I don’t even know what category they would be in. Pop? Hip hop? Rock? Do you have other lists in other categories? Jazz? Classical? etc.

Rusty Ralston Dec 23, 2008 8:48pm

Cam, thanks for the lyrical correction! I had a hard time making out that one from the album… but I just love that moment in the song. Glad you liked the list!

anonymous Dec 23, 2008 5:43pm

Bon Iver is even more amazing in concert. He plays with three other guys who just add so much emotion and depth to his music.
Also, his new EP Blood Bank is out and definitely a great second to his musical career.

anonymous Dec 23, 2008 2:26pm

I got me self some surfing to do – thanks man!

anonymous Dec 23, 2008 10:31am

Kudos on the Fleet Foxes! I am equally moved by this band and their lyrics. Except in Blue Ridge Mountains, the lyrics are….”“In the quivering forest, where the shivering dog rests, Our good Grandfather, built a wooden nest.”

anonymous Dec 23, 2008 1:07am

The fleet!!!!!! The Jacket!!!!!

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 10:36pm

I definitely agree with Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver. I have been listening to both of them on repeat for the last few months. Great picks!

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 9:55pm

I just realized I am still in 2007. Actually probably in 2000 except from couple good new things here and there. Thanks for new ideas for my holiday break!

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 9:43pm

I agree with a lot of your tops but have to say that Fleet Foxes is too derivative; they sound so much like My Morning Jacket that I was convinced it was a Jim James project. Southern rock from the West Coast? Please, FF, stay true to your area code. More of a Top Ten Poseur Breakthru, ask me.

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 9:34pm

Enjoyed reading your opinions. The detail of your appreciation for the music is enjoyable.

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 9:30pm

Great post. Insightful list. Love the new Coldplay album.

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 9:19pm

Saw the latest Coldplay concert and agree it should be in your top 10. Also great video on HDnet.

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 9:14pm

Great picks and love the way you describe why these are the best. Love the diversity of the list and will be looking into this for my updated playlist! Thanks for your hard work and research!

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 4:58pm

Oh people always get cranky when mainstream artists are added to “best of” lists! I’m lovin’ it Rusty, I really liked how you broke down why each of these albums made your personal list. Again I’m with you on MMJ, except I’d add that “Librarian” is one of my favs and “Remnants” was my summer anthem. And thanks for the tips on new artists!

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 3:26pm

I can’t agree with half of the albums here. Coldplay and Keane especially. You should title this “My Top Ten Albums of 2008” instead of “the…” as I doubt this list is anywhere near the same for anyone who enjoys music. There is better music outside of Singer/Songwriter.

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 2:35pm

Wow, great writeup, plenty here to explore.

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 1:44pm

I was reading this list with interest until I bumped into Keane followed by Coldplay…

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 1:18pm

I have to agree to the Bon Iver write up.. and I like your other picks.. interested in this JayMay character. Shall I Pandora her.. yes, yes i will. And, side note.. will I see you again, dear Rusty roo?! I must give you an embrace before you head South… til then, Merry Christmas

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 11:22am


Good list, I can’t agree more about Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper and Bon Iver. I’m revisiting all those records this week and they are treating me well in this cold weather.

Happy Christmas!!!

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 11:00am

I was prepared to throw quite the fit if you didn’t include Bon Iver on this list, so obviously I was relieved that you recognized his brilliance.

My only addition: Ray LaMontagne’s Gossip in the Grain. The man has kept the good stuff coming, and this time, he even broke free from his serious, self-deprecating lyrics to provide a glimpse into his humorous side with one of my favorite tracks, “Meg White.”

Other than that, the albums that I know, especially Jay May, MMJ, and Bon Iver, would definitely be on my list as well. And I’m excited to listen to the rest!

anonymous Dec 22, 2008 7:55am

now my official road-trip playlist for today’s 10 hours (or at least as much of this list that i have, plus i used it to warrant a couple new treats to add to the list…)