Writer’s Choice: Albums Of The Year Part 3

Martin Guttridge Hewitt names Cold War Kids and Portishead's LPs among his best of 2008.

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Posted 12th December 2008 in Features & Reviews, Cold War Kids | By Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
Writer’s Choice: Albums Of The Year Part 3

With the year almost over, we're continuing our series of the best albums of 2008, according to our writers.

Today, Martin Guttridge Hewitt gives us his personal top ten albums of the year.

10. Kings Of Leon - 'Only By The Night'
This was potentially disappointing, until it's taken as an album on its own merits. More polished than previous outings, and perhaps lacking that essence that has made the brothers so easily identifiable, it's still by far the best offering from the world's super-bands this year.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

9. The Long Blondes - 'Couples'
Sheffield's finest electro rock femme fatales seem to get darker with age, and this is only a good thing. Whilst 'Round The Hairpin' unnervingly lurches between synths, basslines and guitar hooks, 'Too Clever By Half' confirms to any newcomers the versatility and talent of the leggy lasses.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

8. Cold War Kids - 'Loyalty To Loyalty'
After the first listen many may have been disappointed by this follow up to debut 'Robbers And Cowards', but it's important to remember that their 2007 album is one of the best collections of bluesy rock in years. That dirty drunken vibe may have sobered up somewhat, but this follow up improves with every listen. As smoky as a basement bar before the ban, the joys of 'Every Valley Is Not A Lake' and 'Golden Gate Jumpers' are vastly different, but equally addictive.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

7. British Sea Power - 'Do You Like Rock Music?'
So much more than a tougher, British Arcade Fire, BSP's latest long player is possibly their finest moment to date. Opener 'All In It' grows beautifully from its vocal beginnings into the kind of track that makes you hit repeat, whilst 'No Need To Cry' breaks its promise and should be kept well away from the recently bereaved.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

6. Lou Reed - 'Berlin Live'
Perhaps not an album as such, this special edition DVD of Reed performing his 1973 tale of one girl's woe directed by Julian Schnabel is a sensory feast that is as challenging as it is remarkable. An album thought too bleak to be performed live, it is exhausting to watch. Some say self-indulgent, others genius. Whatever the truth, this should not be missed.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

5. Autechre - 'Quaristice'
Scaring any right-minded individuals shitless, the ninth album from Rochdale's Roland heroes doesn't take any prisoners in its abstract confusion. Difficult to piece together into the tracks that we are assured exist, early rave odes blend with off-beat loops, strange bass lines and breaks to create an ambient journey that drops the frantic snares in favour of opiate noises.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

4. Robert Hood - 'Fabric 39'
Whilst most mix albums are made possible through the extensive use of computers, here is that rare occasion in which it is actually mixed. The beats are sloppy at times, but that's why it sounds so good. Less of an album and more of a club set, when such energy is emitted from a CD it's not hard to remember why techno is really mind, body and soul music. The only problem is you're probably not in a darkened room getting all messy.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

3. Portishead - 'Third'
After managing to be the most credible soundtrack to the clueless merchant banker's dinner party, the melancholic Bristolians as good as vanished, allegedly to find the pain and suffering that would allow them to produce again. Whatever they found, it must have hurt like hell. Beth Gibbons' siren-like vocals sound as fresh as ever whilst the accessibility is lowered, leaving a bleak, cold and intoxicating brew of seductive darkness.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

2. The Notwist - 'The Devil, You And Me'
Moving further away from their eletronica roots, one of Europe's most underappreciated bands made a welcome return after an extended vacation. Full of lullabies and beautiful harmonies, the album as a whole is hard to tire of, and 'Boneless' might just be the nicest track of 2008.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

1. Madvillain - 'Madvillainy 2'
Like remaking a classic film, re-visiting legendary albums is dodgy ground for anyone. When it's done at the hands of one of hip-hop's most intelligent collaborative projects, it feels a little safer. One of the best collections of skits, loops and shorts in recent memory, it will make you look like the Churchill dog on the bus home. Filthy stuff.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital