I’ll start by saying this: Paste’s Top 50 of 2008 offers surprises. To get a quick glean of what I mean, take a look at number 50, then close your eyes and peer at number one. What happened? Now go back and check out what is or isn’t happening in between. If you recall, last year they awarded the top spot to the National’s fourth album, Boxer. This year it goes to a debut. But not the debut you’re thinking. Give you a hint: You’re not going to guess it. In other news, it’s cool to see Torche in there even if they should be (way) higher. Now see for yourself.

50 TV On The Radio – Dear Science (Interscope)
49 Sandra McCracken – Red Balloon (Towhee)
48 REM – Accelerate (Warner Bros.)
47 Laura Marling – Alas, I Cannot Swim (Astralwerks)
46 Lykke Li – Youth Novels (LL)
45 M83 – Saturdays = Youth (Mute)
44 Kathleen Edwards – Asking For Flowers (Zoë)
43 Amanda Palmer – Who Killed Amanda Palmer (Roadrunner)
42 Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down – We Brave Bee Stings & All (KRS)
41 The Tallest Man On Earth – Shallow Grave (Gravitation)
40 Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords (Sub Pop)
39 The Dodos – Visiter (Frenchkiss)
38 Jamie Lidell – Jim (Warp)
37 Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit – A Larum (Lost Highway)
36 The Bridges – Limits of the Sky (Verve)
35 Colour Revolt – Plunder, Beg and Curse (Fat Possum)
34 Torche – Meanderthal (Hydra Head)
33 Santogold – Santogold (Downtown)
32 Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (Drag City)
31 The Walkmen – You & Me (Gigantic)
30 I’m From Barcelona – Who Killed Harry Houdini? (Mute)
29 Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III (Cash Money/Universal)
28 MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (Columbia)
27 Liam Finn – I’ll Be Lightning (Yep Roc)
26 Lee Ann Womack – Call Me Crazy (MCA Nashville)
25 Mugison – Mugiboogie (Ipecac)
24 Santogold & Diplo – Top Ranking? (Mad Decent)
23 Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us (Barsuk)
22 No Age – Nouns (Sub Pop)
21 The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust (Vice)
20 Hot Chip – Made In The Dark (Astralwerks)
19 Gentleman Jesse and His Men – Introducing Gentleman Jesse and His Men (Douchemaster)
18 Death Cab? for Cutie – Narrow Stairs? (Atlantic)
17 Bonnie ’Prince’ Billy – Lie Down In The Light (Drag City)
16 My Morning Jacket? – Evil Urges (ATO)
15 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! (Mute)
14 Langhorne Slim – Langhorne Slim (Kemado)
13 Ida Maria – Fortress Round My Heart (Waterfall/RCA)
12 of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping (Polyvinyl)
11 The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (Vagrant)
10 Deerhunter – Microcastle (Kranky)
09 Lucinda Williams – Little Honey (Lost Highway)
08 Sun Kil Moon – April (Caldo Verde)
07 Girl Talk – Feed the Animals (Illegal Art)
06 Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop)
05 Okkervil River – The Stand Ins (Jagjaguwar)
04 Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar)
03 Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (XL)
02 Sigur Rós – Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust (XL)
01 She & Him – Volume One (Merge)

The reasoning behind She & Him:

Maybe it’s just a sweet little folk record — a tiny, flawless diamond. Or maybe it’s a pristine distillation of harmony and craft; 50 years of songwriting experience served up on a spinning silver platter. Either way, it’s our album of the year. Produced with touches of girl-group splendor and arranged with a dreamy, old-fashioned vibe, She & Him’s debut couldn’t be more adorable.

Adorable. It’s interesting to note that they’re not so into Brooklyn noise-pop a la Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts. Or fellow Brooklynites High Places. Or, etc. You can read the rest of the write-ups at Paste.

Comments (187)
  1. Alan Knut  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    The She & Him album is really better than all the other great albums listed?

    • Ruben  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

      No. R.E.M.’s “Accelerate” is a thousand times better and it’s #48 on the list. Crazy.

    • Joey B  |   Posted on Nov 26th, 2008 0

      No, it doesn’t. I am a big fan of M. Ward, but I really can’t stand that She & Him album. It is just reused bubble gum pop that has been done so many times before, and it’s not even done well. I get it, “She” wants to be cute, and “Him” must be sleeping with her, otherwise he wouldn’t have compromised his great talent and craftmanship for this derivative rubbish! I’m really just disappointed Paste magazine for rewarding M. Ward for his venture off into lala land.

  2. dafs  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    No Portishead?

  3. Ruben  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    No David Byrne & Brian Eno, “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today”?, That one should be in the top 10, for sure.

  4. Where can i go 10,000 short against vampire weekend’s follow up effort? Ian, is that on the pink sheets

  5. She & Him actually was a pretty nice little record, probably a top 25 for me this year. It’s just funny that mood-wise, it’s about as far from “Boxer” as one could get.

    #38 on this list is a pleasant surprise.

  6. i’m glad i paid only $2 for this year-long subscription.

  7. P. Pooper McGee  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    I hate to be the person who writes PASTE SUCKS, but, all opinion and reasoning aside, their writing really is crap. Take this gem from #50 Dear Science: “Dear Science is not the band’s best, but tell that to the glorious beats, funky guitars and epic horns that surround Tunde Adebimpe’s poetry throughout.”

    Umm, ok, I’ll tell those things that, wha? It’s hokey, lazy and trite. I got onboard when they did their Radiohead-pay what you want publicity stunt, and got 12 issues (one year) for a dollar… it was a rip-off.

  8. pez  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    oh, i get it. this list is a joke. it should be followed by:

  9. Gee I love it when the end of the year this site becomes

  10. Mikey  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    Spiritualized’s Songs in A&E is the biggest omission I see.

  11. aa bottom  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0


  12. i would eat the 44 – 42 sandwich, then throw the meat away, then use the following bowel movement to poop on this list… what happened to yr shit list category? use it more liberally, please.

  13. No “Ice Cream Spiritual” (my pick for number one)? No Man Man or Deerhoof or Fuck Buttons (whose releases are all better than the new Sigur Ros album, which is the worst of their career)? And didn’t most everyone hate the new MMJ album? And to think that a friend of mine told me that Paste is better than Pitchfork the other day. LOLWUT!

  14. Michael  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    what about The Black Keys’ “Attack & Release”? Or Blitzen Trapper, Department of Eagles, The Cool Kids, Gang Gang Dance? Hell, Ryan Adams’ “Cardinology” was better than some on that list…

  15. you guys are missing the point.

    sure the list sucks, but you can’t expect to see noise rock on here. that’s not the kind of stuff they cover.

  16. Shoegaze  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    I agree “Songs in A&E” was a real masterpiece this year. Paste has sold out. can’t believe they put those morons from Vampire Weekend on the list at all.

  17. trueaudio  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    this will destroy you: s/t? ….anyone?

  18. Aimee Mann’s Smilers should’ve been in there somewhere. As should Conor Oberst’s.

  19. monster  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    Dear Science has some great moments, but not that great overall…it deserves its 50 spot. I don’t think a comedy record deserves to be on the list. Flight of the Concords should be removed to make room for Gang Gang Dance, I am glad Gentleman Jesse got some love, though. That’s a great record!

  20. Chadams  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    Paste has always tread on the side of those scared to venture beyond their local coffee shop’s musical tastes. It’s a fitting list for them, if one that’s out of touch with anyone younger than 25. (Coming from someone who isn’t and doesn’t agree with much on the list.)

  21. Jared  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    Its not a bad list. All of the albums listed are good. Sure my list and your lists arent going to look the same as theirs but its still an interesting read, and I believe Paste is one of the best music mags out there.
    Now for my useless 2 cents: TVOTR would be WAY higher, and Conor Oberst would get a nod. Gentleman Jesse is the shit!

  22. MATT  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    I’m happy to see some love for Spiritualized’s Songs in A&E. Well, at least in the comments. I think this record was a legitimate top 20 album of the year (Top 5-10 for me), but was looked-over and/or underrated in a lot of circles.

  23. chad  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    Isn’t it still November?

  24. I know year on year comparisons are pretty pointless, but number 5 for the companion album to last year’s number 76?

  25. drew  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0


  26. Wow… I mean, I’m a big Paste fan (and subscriber), and even though they’d fawned over She & Him before, I certainly didn’t see that coming.

    Also, Ida Maria at #13? LOVE IT. One of my five favorite albums of the year… and the fact that it hasn’t come to America is straight-up ridiculous. This is not a good list, but that’s definitely a good pick.

  27. internet gangsta  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    I love For Emma, For Ever Ago as much or more than the next guy, but didn’t it come out in ’07???

  28. Picks that make me really happy:
    Girl Talk, Deerhunter, Hold Steady (underrated), Nick Cave, MMJ (very underrated)
    01, 03, 05, 12, 18 and 50 (really? worse than ALL the rest)

  29. Dani  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    damn, I guess there weren’t many good records this year…

  30. internet gangsta  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    I think it’s safe to say that TVOTR at 50 is a political statement (i.e. backlash). We did the same thing to In Rainbows at my college paper.

  31. really'?  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    there’s no way in Hell girl talk deserves that spot- I guess I’m just biased but still! Not before No Age!

  32. I did the packaging for #49

    jus sayin…

  33. internet gangsta  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    And fuck Tha Carter III. Indie orgs stop embarrassing yourselves. That was the best hip-hop album this year? Really?? Do you listen to hip-hop?

    • So true. It’s like indie music sites/magazines feel compelled to add a hip-hop album just so as to seem to be non-biased, diverse, or not racist. The problem is that they clearly don’t do their homework. They choose an album that they think is safe and run with it. But, all that this says about them is that they couldn’t possibly be paying any attention and their listening habits aren’t as diverse as they might portray them to be. I for one would respect the omission of such albums more than I respect adding them just because . . .

    • Good point. GZA’s “Pro Tools” was definitely the best hip-hop album of the year.

  34. James  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    I don’t agree with everything, but I really like this list.

    Great to see Langhorne Slim on there, he should be much bigger than what he is.

    People really need to start listening to Wax Fang and Colourmusic.

  35. herbert Hoover  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    they just have a boner for Zoe and have to justify putting that crappy duo on their cover.

    wack choice

  36. kamaal the abstract  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    she & him is a fine, fine album, nice to see it actually top a list, but where’s The Renaissance? now that should be waaaaay up there

  37. gila  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    no department of eagles? Paste is retarded. They didn’t include Yellow House and now they nix In Ear Park

    and what about Beach House. This sucks!

  38. dct  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    music is too subjective to dumb down to a number, unless its formulated by a number, like record sales top 50, airplay top 50 etc. if the pasters weren’t business minded, itd be top 50 of the year, in no particular order. but alas, their job is to create, document, circulate and sell hype which numbers help to generate…

  39. Kilgore  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    That list was nauseating. Pitchfork’s head isn’t even this far up its own ass. wait yes it is

  40. wait, i dont understand why this should be surprising?

  41. The fact that Spiritualized’s Songs in A&E doesn’t even make the list forces me to call into question the people putting the list together.

  42. Sam  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    It seems ridiculous to not include Beach House – Devotion on a list of the 50 best of the year. Beautiful album. I keep coming back to it throughout the year,
    Other albums that should be in the best of the year discussion:

    Man Man, Department of Eagles, Gang Gang Dance, Little Joy… list goes on

  43. it turns out that i am the only one that thinks okkervil river is terrible…

  44. I hate how everyone puts Lil Waynes The Carter III on their Indie rock lists. Its the only hip hop record on there, and it makes it seem like they pretend to like rap because everyone else does. 2008 was a great year for hip hop, and all they can come up with is The Carter III???

    • orange the tiger king  |   Posted on Dec 2nd, 2008 0

      dude..i need some reassurance…cause as far as i saw this year..or in fact the last maybe 5 years..hip hop has been in a downward spiral into bull shit…commercial artists are retarded…indie hip-hop artists are all babys that complain how rap is poison to the masses..and what do they do..create more bullshit..hip hop is dead!!..nas is a douche..kanye is fucking singing..DOOM is in hiding…i love DOOM by the way…i dont wanna hear it..dont say cool kids, atmosphere, murs..they suck.. who doesnt agree with me?

  45. Rob  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    No Cardinals. Lame.

    No way She & Him should be above that Sigur Ros album. Paste came so close to making a repectable choice for #1.

  46. whathefuck.  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    WHERE THE FUCK IS ALOPECIA—WHY? (see what I did there)

  47. djgoof  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    yes aaron, yes you are

  48. Andrew  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    Cut Copy makes me dance. This list doesn’t dance.

  49. xyz  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    They needed to put a recognizable face on the cover (zooey deschanel) for the newstands hence picking She & Him for #1.

    • I never knew what The National looked like until after they were on the cover of the year end issue in ’07

      • xyz  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

        they learned from their mistake of putting 5 unrecognizable dudes on the there. they probably couldn’t get arcade fire on the cover hence putting them at #2

  50. David Glickman  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

    I think you need to look at the magazine that is making the list. Paste is a magazine that mostly covers mainstream and soft music with an indie twist. Of course their choice of rap music is going to be bad. However this list really represents their type of music and, in all honesty, is not that bad of a list.
    All that being said I think it is criminal that they ignored the Los Campesions! albums. In my mind they were some of the best this year. Anyone else think so?

    • vlad  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2008 0

      Yes. Together, Hold On Now, Youngster and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed comprise some of the most solid indie-pop in years. They’re both just excellent records and they work well together – HONY as the exuberant introduction, and WAB, WAD (ha!) as the darker, more sober follow-up that still retains their frenetic energy. Also, they’re a blast live.

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