In an effort to gather the opinions of truly important people, we decided this year to ask some of our famous or semi-famous acquaintances to tell us their favorite record of 2008. (And, if they had time, to tell us briefly why.) Here are the responses from those who answered a hastily assembled e-mail.
Eric Wareheim(of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!)
TV On The Radio's Dear Science
"Finally, a record that makes you want to tear down the government and tear off your ladies' clothes."
Tim Heidecker(of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!)
David Byrne and Brian Eno's Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
"This is such a happy record, with lots of pretty melodies and great-sounding guitars. Byrne is so optimistic, and Eno is strumming acoustic guitars, but there's still lots of funky weirdness. Maybe I'm getting old myself, but these two old-timers made the most interesting and listenable pop record of the year, in my book."
Bob Odenkirk(of Mr. Show, among other things)
Basia Bulat's Oh, My Darling
"This is an album from '07, but I loved it in '08. My favorite album of next year is Comedy By The Numbers Book On CD. (Coming in January, and I promise it's going to be great!)"
David Cross(of Mr. Show, among other things)
Lupe Fiasco's The Cool
Daniel Handler(of Adverbs and Lemony Snicket fame)
Matmos' Supreme Balloon
Lee "Scratch" Perry's Repentance
"This year I had the opportunity to work with Grammy-winning reggae pioneer Lee 'Scratch' Perry, and co-produce this new album. I've never liked picking favorites, but this is definitely the album I've listened to the most this year. Is that fair? Even though I was involved? I guess this is kind of like voting for yourself, but it's really Lee's album."
Patton Oswalt(of too many awesome things to list)
MGMT's Oracular Spectacular
"My ears spent the early part of 2008 being happier than me."
ZODIAC MOTHERFUCKER(of the A.V. Club comments section)
The Berzerker's The Reawakening
"FAVORITE ALBUM OF 2008 SHIT THATS EASY SON ITS THE REAWAKENING BY THE BERZERKER BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I SHOULDNT EVEN RECCOMMEND THIS SHIT BECAUSE THIS SHIT WILL JUST STEAMROLL YOUR ASS AND LEAVE YOU WONDERING WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED YOUR GONNA THINK THE FUCKING APOCOLYPSE IS GOING DOWN AND COMING RIGHT OUT OF YOUR SPEAKERS AND RIGHT THE FUCK DOWN YOUR THROAT OR LIKE SOMEBODY SPRAYING NAPALM IN YOUR EARS AND INCINIRATING YOUR FUCKING BRAIN SERIOUSLY THIS SHIT SHOULD COME WITH A FUCKING SURGEON GENERAL WARNING OR MAKE YOU SIGN WAIVERS OR SOME SHIT SAYING YOU WONT HOLD THE BERZERKER RESPONSIBLE FOR OWNING YOUR FUCKING ASS"
"Weird" Al Yankovic(of UHF and the world's finest song parodies)
Randy Newman's Harps And Angels
"His biting wit and formidable musicianship never fail to amaze and delight me—especially in light of the fact that his new studio albums appear only slightly more regularly than Halley's comet."
Stephen Thompson(former A.V. Club editor, and current editor at NPR Music)
Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago
"The story has been told countless times: Justin Vernon goes through a bad breakup, holes himself up in a Wisconsin cabin, and writes a collection of agonizing, cathartic songs. It's impossible to quantify authenticity, but his songs all feel earned; maybe it's the backstory, but nothing about Bon Iver's breathtaking debut feels forced or fake. There's grandiosity to it, but it's nuanced, touching, and uniformly beautiful. For those not nursing fresh emotional wounds, For Emma will create a tiny and devastating breakup in your soul for you to mourn."
Bradford Cox(of Deerhunter and The Atlas Sound)
Stereolab's Chemical Chords
"Because their music is a natural anti-anxiety agent."
Aziz Ansari(of Human Giant and the upcoming Office non-spin-off)
TV On The Radio's Dear Science
"This album is fantastic, and I've also been told statistically that this choice will lead to the least amount of threats on my life in blog-post comment threads."
Britt Daniel(of Spoon)
Crooked Fingers' Forfeit/Fortune
"It's only the weirdest, best-written, most uniquely recorded, most heartfelt, best-played album to be released this year. And it sounds like nothing Eric Bachmann has ever done before."
Eugene Mirman(of comedy)
Conor Oberst's Conor Oberst
"It is always great to see the singer and sole composer of a band break off and try something on his own. This is no exception. Conor Oberst's solo album was fantastic and my favorite of 2008, if that's the year we're talking about."
Gary Lightbody(of Snow Patrol) submitted a top 10 instead of a single favorite:
1. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
2. Elbow, The Seldom Seen Kid
3. Camille, Music Hole
4. Death Cab For Cutie, Narrow Stairs
5. Friendly Fires, Friendly Fires
6. Port O'Brien, All We Could Do Was Sing
7. The Week That Was, The Week That Was
8. Kings of Leon, Only By The Night
9. People Under the Stairs, Fun DMC
10. SixStarHotel, A Kind Of Crusade
Ed Droste(of Grizzly Bear) outdid everyone with this top 10 list with commentary:
1. Beach House, Devotion (Carpark Records)
"I just seriously can't stop playing this album. It's great to sing along to. I love them as people (a theme in my top 10), and if you look at my iTunes, nothing comes even remotely close to Devotion in terms of plays."
2. Department Of Eagles, In Ear Park (4AD Records)
"Even if this wasn't my bandmate, I would still pick it. There's a reason we work together—we like each other's music!"
3. Portishead, Third (Mercury)
"'The Rip' is so flawless. In fact, I'm gonna put this on right now."
4. Nico Muhly, Mothertongue (Brassland Records)
"Another friend and brilliant guy, not exactly radio pop, but extremely rewarding."
5. Final Fantasy, EPs (Tomlab)
"UNDERRATED IN THE US OF A. People here need to wake up and smell the Final Fantasy."
6. Hercules And Love Affair, Hercules And Love Affair (Mute U.S.)
"I dream of doing a side project along these lines with Chris Bear one day. So good."
7. M83, Saturdays=Youth (Mute U.S.)
"I wasn't a big fan of M83 before, but I really love this '80s-inspired album."
8. Ssion, Fools Gold (Sleazetone)
"How can you not love a band with a song called 'Street Jizz'?"
9. The Chap, Mega Breakfast (Ghostly Int'l)
"Nobody seems to know this band, but I've been into them for a few years. They are from London, and I'd like to see them play. I like it a lot."
10. John Maus, Love Is Real (Upset! The Rhythm)
"This is a really epic and dark and weird album that I can't recommend enough. 'Rights For Gays' is a classic tune."