musicOMH’s Top 50 Best Albums Of 2008: 40-31

Blood Red Shoes - Box Of Secrets40. Blood Red Shoes – Box Of Secrets (Mercury)

Brighton-based grunge duo Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter’s debut LP didn’t quite reach the Top 40, but our writers reckoned it should have.

Accordingly, here it is in our Top 40 instead.

“It doesn’t matter where or when you listen to them, because it’s always going to feel like pouring Red Stripe into your frontal lobes at 1am. And that always feels nice.” – Jon Bright

Amadou & Mariam - Welcome To Mali39: Amadou & Mariam – Welcome To Mali (Because)

The Malian duo’s Manu Chao produced debut, Dimanche a Bamako, sold half a million copies in France alone. Now came the follow-up.

There were guests aplenty on Welcome To Mali, including Toumani Diabat (whose own album The Mand Sessions was released this year) and Damon Albarn, the latter of whom co-wrote opener Sabali. And this time there were even English lyrics.

“Magosa, Batoman, Djuru and the riot that is Sebeke – featuring Mariam singing through a vocoder a la Cher – are the slow-burning standouts and, alongside the headline grabbing pair of openers, they make at least half a record that’s as indispensible as it is likeable.” – Michael Hubbard

The Matthew Herbert Big Band - There's Me And There's You 38: The Matthew Herbert Big Band – There’s Me And There’s You (Accidental)

A decade ago Matthew Herbert was releasing minimalist dance classics like 100lbs.

Fast forward to 2008 and he’s singlehandedly bringing back big band and making the style relevant with politically charged lyrics and his off-the-wall, samples-based creative approach.

“With Herbert’s music you already know to expect the unexpected. Use all the surround sound you have and revel in the power of free musical speech.” – Ben Hogwood

Spiritualized - Songs In A&E 37: Spiritualized – Songs In A&E (Spaceman)

Jason Pierce’s first Spiritualized album in five years was released to a mostly drooling press core.

With a title referencing his near-death experience in 2005, it again featured elements of Julian Cope’s band and saw a return to his expansive, spacey sound.

“Some may listen to Songs From A&E and dub Jason Pierce a one-trick pony. Which may be true, but what a trick he’s managed to perfect.” – John Murphy

The Kills - Midnight Boom 36: The Kills – Midnight Boom (Domino)

Try to find a mention of The Kills that doesn’t also mention Jamie Hince’s sometime fashion accessory Kate Moss and you’ll struggle.

Reminding us that the scuzzy duo were better known for their music before a supermodel appeared on their scene, Midnight Boom delivered another record to be compared to the sound of The White Stripes.

“There is still this aura, this mystique about their music. This is not the sound of a band standing still.”
– Tim Lee

Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree 35: Goldfrapp – Seventh Tree (Mute)

After the electro flagrant of Supernature Alison Goldfrapp donned a wooly jumper and watched The Wicker Man a lot.

This pastoral, folky album was as near to polar opposite to its predecessor as it’s possible to be, but recalled the atmospherics of debut Felt Mountain for some.

“Seventh Tree is the equivalent of a spring clean. But after a couple of listens it reveals itself as Goldfrapp’s most subtle, affecting and rewarding album to date.”
– John Murphy

White Denim - Workout Holiday 34: White Denim – Workout Holiday (Full Time Hobby)

Surfing in on a wave of hype from SXSW, this Texan blues-rock threesome released two separate debut albums.

Workout Holiday consisted of rerecorded EPs previously available in the US, while their US debut LP Explosion appeared digitally in October.

“It’s almost as if half way through recording this album White Denim started to take Captain Beefheart really, really seriously. There are still hints of garage rock and blues to be found, but they’re drenched in prog and free jazz. There are still thrills to be had in their sheer confidence and bravery.” – Sam Shepherd

Simon Bookish - Everything, Everything 33: Simon Bookish – Everything, Everything (Tomlab)

Leo Chadburn’s third album of “pop music experiments” was his most ambitious yet – and, conversely, his most accessible.

An avant garde cohort of Patrick Wolf, Bookish’s supporting live appearances were enigmatically sparse, ensuring not enough ears heard this excellently realised creative vision. More’s the pity, for this was one of the year’s most impressive records.

“An album of immense variety and ambition, backed up by the talent and creativity to pull off the whole enterprise with aplomb. One of those few experimental artists who truly deserve to make it big.” – Darren Harvey

Hercules And Love Affair - Hercules And Love Affair 32: Hercules And Love Affair – Hercules And Love Affair (DFA/EMI)

Andy Butler’s Ancient Greece meets decadent disco project roped in DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy for a decidedly DFA polish on this debut.

And while vocalists Kim Ann and Nomi did their best at the live shows, it was the name Antony that gathered the column inches early on; the Mercury nominee was reincarnated as a disco diva on several tracks and sounded like he was having a ball.

“Antony as a disco muse sounds here like it’s a part he was born to play. If Andy Butler’s Hercules project doesn’t scare you off, you’re likely to love it and wonder what he’ll come up with next.” – Michael Hubbard

Mystery Jets - Twenty One 31: Mystery Jets – Twenty One (sixsevennine)

These Eel Pie Islanders followed up well-received debut Making Dens with this sequel, featuring Laura Marling.

As with Blood Red Shoes’s effort, Twenty One didn’t quite make the UK Top 40; our writers have seen fit to offer it the solace of a spot just outside our Top 30.

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Goldfrapp: “If we’d just carried on doing Supernatures life would be a lot simpler” – Interview
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