A Year End Top 10 List with an International Flavour

It's that time of year, the time when people trot out their list of what they see to be the top 10 albums of the year. I always enjoy this time of year, it's a great way to catch up on any albums I may have overlooked, a good way to check my own favorite albums against the multitude of lists and a fun way to totally disagree with the lists provided by some more respected music institutions. This particular list will provide the best 10 international (non-American) albums of 2008. Since the internet and iTunes makes finding music from all over the world quite an easy task, I will include albums that were first released in any country in 2008. These albums may or may not be available Stateside, but they are at least available somewhere.

The top honor for international album of the year goes to Falling Off The Lavender Bridge by England's Lightspeed Champion. For all intents and purposes, this is my number one album of the year, international or not. It is impossible to beat Devonte Hynes' heartfelt lyrics set to the album's indie-country, folk-rock twangs. Hynes absolutely captivates listeners with the album's opening lyrics, "I feel better now I've seen you / But deep inside my bones feel like timber," setting the tone for an album that is only outdone in its masterful lyrics by Hynes' stellar guitar playing. I never thought that the breakup of seminal British alt-punk band Test Icicles, a band in which Devonte Hynes played bass, would bring me such an amazing album from a divinely gifted lyricist and musician. It's saying something when an album that is released in late January can still remain in my conscience in late December. Lavender Bridge, however, is an accomplished piece of work, beautifully arranged by a musician who demonstrates, through his 12 songs, how to make an album that defines any genre and appeals to listeners of all kinds. If you haven't heard Lavender Bridge or any of the albums on my list, go and do your best to track them down and enjoy them in their entire splendor. Now follows my list in its totality, including the country which each band calls home. -- Michael Lopez

Top Ten International Albums of 2008:

1) Lightspeed Champion - Falling Off the Lavender Bridge (England)
2) Late of the Pier - Fantasy Black Channel (England)
3) Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (Australia)
4) Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke (New Zealand)
5) Lykke Li - Youth Novels (Sweden)
6) Sam Sparro - Sam Sparro (Australia)
7) Mystery Jets - Twenty One (England)
8) The Presets - Apocalypto (Australia)
9) Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires (England)
10) Empire of the Sun - Empire of the Sun (Australia)

Other Contenders:

M83 - Saturdays = Youth (Sweden)
Sigur Ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (Iceland)
Islands - Arm's Way (Canada)
The Stills - Oceans Will Rise (Canada)
Guillemots - Red (England)
Young Knives - Superabundance (England)

One Album I Wish I Could Put on This List (But Can't Because It's American):

Hercules & Love Affair - Hercules & Love Affair

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Lopez