Album of the Year?

My venerable iPod had a bad run-in with an open sunroof and some precipitation, and my other one is still packed, along with my music drive. After a couple months of tinkering with Pandora and Last.fm, I needed to go out and find some good music the old fashioned way. That means without the benefit of a recommendation engine that thinks my affinities for various flavors of hip-hop and bands from France (Daft Punk, Air) mean I will like French hip-hop. Which I don’t. Because it’s horrible. French is well suited for poetry and indignation, but rapping … non.

So, I trawled the Amazon mp3 store for a while and ended up with a basket of albums:

1. Lily Allen’s “It’s Not Me, It’s You” – Decent but disposable pop, previous album was far more interesting.
2. Franz Ferdinand’s “Tonight” – Low expectations were met, I don’t even know if I’ve listened to it twice.
3. Andrew Bird’s “Noble Beast” – I haven’t really give this one a chance yet, it’s kind of wimpy and I haven’t really found the right situation to listen to it yet.

Then things started to get interesting.

4. Passion Pit’s “Manners” – As long as you skip the first song, this is a great, fun album. There’s hints of Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, some 70s and 80s pop, but it’s fresh, not retro. I was hooked on it for a week or so.

One of my favorite albums from 2008, though it was released in 2007, was Panda Bear’s “Person Pitch”, which might best be described as listening to a Beach Boys cover band playing at Arlington station while you’re at Symphony. I never realized that Panda Bear was a part of the Animal Collective, but when I found out, I bought:

5. Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion” – This is a complicated album, that I just couldn’t really get into at first, but after a while, I came back to it and enjoyed it much more.

Serendipity struck when I bought the final album in the list, thinking it was another Animal Collective member, which it’s not, but given the name you can understand my confusion.

6. Grizzly Bear’s “Veckatimest” – The first time I listened to this album I was picking on some Radiohead wannabe vibes, but then I tried again and picked up a couple things and liked it more. Then again, and again, and again, for my entire commute to and from work each day. Each day I have a different favorite song. I haven’t enjoyed an album this much in years, probably since Atmosphere’s “Sevens Travels”. If you want something interesting, a little outside of the box but not as weird as Panda Bear or as over the top as Passion Pit, you should definitely check it out.