Simmy Richman: The Best Rock & Pop albums of 2008

‘For sheer chutzpah, it’s hard to top the LA-based indie gospel group Bodies of Water’

Is the Fleet Foxes record better than Bon Iver's? Who can say? Both have acquired such critical consensus that it surely makes sense to round up less-heralded albums here.

On a mellow note, Sun Kil Moon's 'April' is still revealing its secrets some eight months on.

Released here a year after it had attracted the attention of Rick Rubin in the US, what Brandi Carlile's 'The Story' lacks in consistency it more than makes up for with regular flashes of inspiration; Liam Finn's 'I'll Be Lightning' likewise announces the arrival of a major new talent.

For sheer chutzpah, it's hard to top the indie-gospel of 'A Certain Feeling' by the LA-based Bodies of Water. And 'All Is Well' by Sam Amidon gives its Appalachian folk source material an enchanting modern makeover.

But my album of the year is neither a "real" album nor is it from this year. Released in October, 'Love Is Overtaking Me' by Arthur Russell is a collection of Nick Drake-like demos recorded between 1973 and 1991 by an avant-garde cellist and disco producer who died from Aids-related causes in 1992. In a year particularly prone to hysterical claims for a-bit-better-than-average records, it's a potent reminder of how timelessly beautiful music can be.

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