2008: Top 5 Albums

Hello to the fleshiest of the fleshiest. Here is my official recap of 2008--High Fidelity style. Check back for my thoughts on the 5 worst albums of 2008.

1. The Fashion - The Fashion. This band is single-handedly responsible for making my friends hate me. For, their ridiculously catchy, rough-edged indie rock has kept me addicted to songs "Like Knives" and "Take the Money and Run." I can't help but involuntarily shout, "You're so outta control, gotta be more in control" at random points of the day. My love for this record isn't really describable and can only be justified by the fact that iTunes has knighted this group of Denmark's songs as the most played tracks among my libary. I'm sure even iTunes hates me now.

2. Dr. Manhattan - Dr. Manhattan. This band may seem new, but they've been around since 2005 playing Warped Tour, Bamboozle and other big music festivals. This Vagrant signed band, which took their name from the Watchmen comic books, has produced a record that will make you cringe with satisfaction and revel in the days of the crunchy, rough power of Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends. Their sound is so unique that the "similar artists" Last.fm links to Dr. Manhattan are as similar as Flava Flav is to Mariah Carey.

3. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular. Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden have set the bar high for themselves. They've made Rolling Stone's Top 50 Albums of '08 and the synth-pop single, "Time to Pretend," which made it in the Movie 21, is #3 on their list of the year's best singles. But the stature Rolling Stone has given them is not reason enough to name this Brooklyn based band as the third best album of 2008. Other than "Time to Pretend," "Kids," "Pieces of What," and "Electric Eel," carry the weight of the record. Even though their voices are't up to par with Beyonce, their retro melodies over standard beats provide a fresh look at synth indie rock.

4. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst. There's one thing wrong with this record: Conor Oberst is trying too hard to sound like Bob Dylan. However, he does a pretty good job at it and, for that reason, he makes it to number four with his self-titled solo record. The Bob Dylan remnance comes out in "Souled Out" and "I Don't Wanna Die (In the Hospital)," and reminders of Bright Eyes' I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning come out in "Milk Thistle" and "Lenders In the Temple." He does everything that Bright Eyes does to pull you in, but in a slightly more stripped down, mature way. Is the difference big enough for him to make it a solo album, though? Why not just make it another Bright Eyes record?

5. The Academy Is... - Fast Times at Barrington High. This record might not be the best work of this indie band out of Chicago. However, it was certainly one of the best of 2008 and most definitely a step forward from their 2007 sophomore album Santi which let a lot of followers down. Fans of Cobra Starship found comfort in the Fast Times track "Crowded Room" (especially because of Gabe Saporta's guest vocals) and lead singer William Beckett once again proves his ability to be both upbeat and stylish as well as sentimental and smooth in "After the Last Midtown Show." It's hard to find something wrong with this record. I'll admit, it doesn't offer quite the satisfaction that their 2005 debut Almost Here did, but it does prove that The Academy Is... have a knack for catching everyone's ears (and not just those of teenage girls and Fall Out Boy fans).

Honorable Mentions
Ben Folds - Way To Normal
Kings of Leon - Only By the Light
Jeremy Messersmith - The Silver City
Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane