By way of introduction, I present my most carefully considered and powerfully received records of 2008. In years past I have lamented the lack of a unifying artistic theme or musical style linking the exponentially multiplying number of artists the onset of distributed information and cheap personal computer recording has brought to the marketplace of ideas. In years past I have scolded (to very little, er, no effect) the masses, creative or otherwise, for settling into repetitions of pop forms of eras gone by, for shirking the creative and political responsibilities of the day by engaging in playful and harmless anachronistic feats of costume rock.
There is very little unifying my picks this year other than my taste, but the range of amazing recordings that emerged this year differs from years past. In the ever-accelerating slurry of mediocrity abetted by the availability of affordable recording equipment and distribution channels, those just-as-few as ever Shakespeares pushing along the whole project of civilization behind the confused, echolaliac hordes seem to have gotten a lot easier to hear.