There's something wonderful about the ceremony of playing records: dropping the needle, enjoying the gatefold artwork, holding on to something weighty while listening. It's easier to feel connected to music when you have to flip the record halfway through. It also makes proper sequencing that much more important: Which track closes Side 1, or opens Side 2?
Now that the MP3 is king, vinyl has become something of an underground revolution. More and more artists have begun to insist on releasing their new albums on vinyl, and music fans who jettisoned their collections in favor of "clear, perfect digital sound CDs" are raiding garage sales and rediscovering analog music all over again.
Now, moving and storing records isn't fun — MP3s are a whole lot lighter — but vinyl is often worth the schlep. If you haven't listened to an LP in a while, the warm, intimate sound is instantly disarming.
This isn't necessarily about being an audiophile: A $200 investment gets you a decent turntable — even one you can hook up to your computer. You can turn up great records for $1 at a garage sale (or choose the 180-gram vinyl for your favorites, though the costs add up quickly). And new vinyl issues often come with bonus songs and even free digital downloads, so you can still carry the tunes on your iPod.
Here are 10 releases from 2008 that are worth the extra effort of vinyl.
Click here for more entries in the Best CDs of 2008 series.