Can an album comprised solely of samples really be an artistic achievement?
Honestly, I'm a little bit torn about naming Girl Talk's Feed The Animals the best album of the year. After all, it is a record made up entirely of mashups, so, strictly speaking, there's not a note of new music in this banging 53-minutes club opus. But there is pretty much everything that's great about popular music, all tossed together into something joyously familiar yet excitingly new.
So, while pretty much no one will argue that Gregg Gillis doesn't do this kind of music better than anyone else ever has, and while Girl Talk makes an appearance on many reputable best of 2008 lists, I imagine some people are going to argue that it doesn't warrant such a lofty honor. But, hey, in this crazy post-post-modern world, who's to say what counts as art, and what threshold of originality must be met before something counts as your own creation?
Bottom line: Feed The Animals is the album I most enjoyed listening to in 2008. I know a lot of smart people who'd agree, if they stopped to think about it. That's enough for me. If Rolling Stone can put a damned rarities collection as their number two, surely the music editor of Phoenix New Times can be permitted this small indulgence. So here's my list of the best, what else I loved, what else I liked and, because I keep it real, what I didn't even bother to listen to. --Martin Cizmar
The top 10 albums of 2008:
1. Girl Talk, Feed The Animals
2. Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
3. Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak
4. The Knux, Remind Me in 3 Days...
5. of Montreal, Skeletal Lamping
6. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
7. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
8. Metallica, Death Magnetic
9. Black Kids, Partie Traumatic
10. Lupe Fiasco, The Cool
Other albums I loved:
The Hold Steady, Stay Positive
MGMT, Oracular Spectacular
The Raconteurs, Counselors of the Lonely
Other albums I liked a lot:
TV on the Radio, Dear Science
Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
The Black Keys, Attack & Release
M83, Saturdays = Youth
The Walkmen, You & Me
Guns N' Roses, Chinese Democracy
The Gaslight Anthem, The '59 Sound
Albums I thought were totally overrated:
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Lucinda Williams, Little Honey
Nouns, No Age
Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
Albums I didn't even listen to:
Bob Dylan, Tell Tale Signs:The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
Coldplay, Viva la Vida
John Mellencamp, Life, Death, Love and Freedom
Drive-By Truckers, Brighter Than Creation's Dark