NPR logo My 'Album' Of The Year: A 2008 Mixtape

My 'Album' Of The Year: A 2008 Mixtape

Last year, I proclaimed the album dead, so it didn't feel right to compile a list of the Top 10 CDs of 2008. If only to prove my point, I've selected 10 songs instead, opting to document my year in music with the perfect mixtape playlist.

All of these songs do come from albums that would be in my Top 20, but it's sequenced the way an album should be; the numbers designate a song sequence, not a "best to worst" ranking. (In fact, Track 7 is the best of all.) The segues make it a great listen as a whole set, which has two sides — a nod to vinyl's resurgence.

I couldn't make 10 songs fit the perfect mixtape length (45 minutes), so imagine that this list comes with two hidden tracks: M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" (released last year, but a huge hit this summer) and Moby's "I Love to Move in Here," from a veteran artist who proved that it's still possible to make a real album.

Click here for more entries in the Best CDs of 2008 series.

My 'Album' Of The Year: A 2008 Mixtape

Bon Iver

Skinny Love

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1. Bon Iver

  • Song: Skinny Love
  • from For Emma, Forever Ago

My "Album of the Year" opens in deep mid-winter contemplation. A solitary soul sets the mood, almost frozen, unsure of the future.

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Song
For Emma, Forever Ago
Album
For Emma, Forever Ago
Artist
Bon Iver
Label
4AD/Beggars Group
Released
2007

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Fleet Foxes

Mykonos

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2. Fleet Foxes

  • Song: Mykonos
  • from Sun Giant EP

With spring-like optimism and warmth, this pastoral piece offers a nod to the past that excites the young with promises.

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Song
Sun Giant EP
Album
Sun Giant EP
Artist
Fleet Foxes
Label
Cooperative
Released
2008

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Kimya Dawson

Happy Home

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3. Kimya Dawson

  • Song: Happy Home
  • from Alphabutt

Kimya Dawson's success with the Juno soundtrack was the year's most wonderful musical surprise. She writes great "children's songs" because she simplifies universal themes brilliantly. A role model for all the little punks having babies.

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Song
Alphabutt
Album
Alphabutt
Artist
Kimya Dawson

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Cloud Cult

Everybody Here Is a Cloud

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4. Cloud Cult

  • Song: Everybody Here Is a Cloud
  • from Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)

Many turned green in 2008, but Cloud Cult has been working that way for 10 years. I'm proud they're from Minnesota, and prouder still that they're finding an audience outside our borders.

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Song
Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)
Album
Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)
Artist
Cloud Cult
Label
Rebel Group/Earthology
Released
2008

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Nick Cave

Hold on to Yourself

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6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

  • Song: Hold on to Yourself
  • from Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

Side 2 re-engages the listener with a familiar voice, and starts to build the energy. A lot of veteran artists kept making great records in 2008. And, as Carrie Brownstein wrote on her Monitor Mix blog, he can still do it live, too.

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Song
Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
Album
Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
Artist
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Label
Mute UK Indie
Released
2008

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Sigur Ros

Gobbledigook

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5. Sigur Ros

  • Song: Gobbledigook
  • from Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust

In terms of music, one of the themes of 2008 for me was artists who don't take themselves too seriously. In "Gobbledigook," the previously austere Sigur Ros lets itself go, with wonderful results.

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Song
Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
Album
Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
Artist
Sigur Rós
Label
XL
Released
2008

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Hold Steady

Constructive Summer

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7. The Hold Steady

  • Song: Constructive Summer
  • from Stay Positive

For me, Track 7 is the pinnacle of any great album, and The Hold Steady's perfect "Constructive Summer" is a huge sing-along built on the soul of rock 'n' roll. How many bands have made four great records in a row?

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Song
Stay Positive
Album
Stay Positive
Artist
The Hold Steady
Label
Vagrant
Released
2008

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Ting Tings

Great DJ

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8. The Ting Tings

  • Song: Great DJ
  • from We Started Nothing

At the end of 2007, I predicted that this year would see the decline of the "band" concept. This duo is a good example: We might never see another album from The Ting Tings, but who cares? This was the zeitgeist sound of the summer -- awesome fun.

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Song
We Started Nothing
Album
We Started Nothing
Artist
The Ting Tings
Label
Sony BMG
Released
2008

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The Heavy

Coleen

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9. The Heavy

  • Song: Coleen
  • from Great Vengeance and Furious Fire

The Heavy made one 2008's only debuts that worked as a full-length album. Its brave collision of styles was well-paced and cinematic, leaving me wanting more.

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Song
Great Vengeance and Furious Fire
Album
Great Vengeance and Furious Fire
Artist
The Heavy
Released
2008

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Atmosphere

You

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10. Atmosphere

  • Song: You
  • from When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That S--- Gold

Another Minnesota success story, Atmosphere made its bravest and most intimate work yet in 2008. We leave another great year in music with the words of a song that asks us to look inside ourselves.

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Song
When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That S--- Gold
Album
When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That S--- Gold
Artist
Atmosphere
Label
Rhymesayers
Released
2008

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