We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.

Aaron Leitko

1. Microcastle, Deerhunter (Kranky)
2. 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West (Roc-a-Fella)
3. Made in the Dark, Hot Chip (EMI)
4. Saint Dymphna, Gang Gang Dance (Social Registry)
5. The Points, The Points (Mud Memory)
6. A Matter of Scale, Secondo (Soul Jazz)
7. Third, Portishead (Island)
8. Rip It Off, Times New Viking (Matador)
9. Alright of Night, Crystal Stilts (Slumberland)
10. Primary Colours, Eddy Current Suppression Ring (Goner)

Michael J. West

1. Early Reflections, Bennie Maupin (Cryptogramophone)
2. Afropeans, Courtney Pine’s Jazz Warriors (Destin-E)
3. Harriet Tubman, Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra (ROIR) A staggering achievement in long-form, mainstream jazz. Bay Area bassist/composer Shelby’s oratorio is complex: a tale of triumph that’s consistently dark, encapsulating multiple facets of Tubman with an overarching theme of family ties. It’s also immediately pleasurable, and gripping for its entire 90-minute duration.
4. Filtros, Guillermo Klein (Sunnyside)
5. Rambling Boy, Charlie Haden Family & Friends (Decca)
6. 9 Levels, Greg Osby (Inner Circle Music)
7. Gently Disturbed,Avishai Cohen (Razdaz)
8. It’s Magic, Ahmad Jamal (Dreyfus)
9. Layers of Chance, Dapp Theory (Contrology/Obliqsound)
10. Broken Arm Trio,Broken Arm Trio (Skipstone)

Steve Kiviat

1. Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne (Cash Money)
2. New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War, Erykah Badu (Universal Motown)
3. Niña de Fuego, Buika (Warner Music Latina)
4. MTV Unplugged, Julieta Venegas (Sony International)
5. Down in New Orleans, Blind Boys of Alabama (Time-Life)
6. Microcastle, Deerhunter (Kranky)
7. I Never Take a Day Off, Ms. Jody (Ecko)
8. The Recession, Young Jeezy (Def Jam)
9. Desert Crossroads, Etran Finatawa (Riverboat)
10. Fearless, Jazmin Sullivan (J)

Ben Westhoff

1. At Mount Zoomer, Wolf Parade (Sub Pop)
2. Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne (Cash Money)
3. 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West (Roc-A-Fella)
4. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend (XL)
5. Europass, Elzhi (self-released)
6. Tronic,Black Milk (Fat Beats)
7. Distortion, Magnetic Fields (Nonesuch)
8. Re-Arrange Us, Mates of State (Barsuk)
9. Friday Night, Friday Night (Breakfast Records)
10. Deuces Wild, Vast Aire (One)

Shannon Zimmerman

1. The Living & the Dead, Jolie Holland (Anti-)
2. Harps and Angels, Randy Newman (Nonesuch)
3. Exposion, White Denim (Transmission)
4. Momfuku, Elvis Costello & the Imposters (Lost Highway)
5. Evil Urges, My Morning Jacket (ATO)
6. Gift of Screws, Lindsey Buckingham (Reprise)
7. Hold on Now, Youngster…, Los Campesinos (Wichita)
8. Just a Little Lovin’, Shelby Lynne (Lost Highway)
9. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (Anti-)
10. April, Sun Kil Moon (Caldo Verde)

Ted Scheinman

1. Attack & Release, The Black Keys (Nonesuch)
2. The Way I See It, Raphael Saadiq (Columbia)
3. The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989–2006, Bob Dylan (Columbia)
4. The Odd Couple, Gnarls Barkley (Atlantic)
5. Consolers of the Lonely, Raconteurs (Warner Bros.)
6. Bandoleros, Society of Orpheus and Bacchus (self-released)
7. Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, David Byrne & Brian Eno (Todo Mundo)
8. Chopteeth, Chopteeth (Grigri Discs)
9. Evil Urges, My Morning Jacket (ATO)
10. Things Are Getting Sinister and Sinisterer, Edie Sedgwick (Dischord)

David Dunlap Jr.

1. Love Is Overtaking Me, Arthur Russell (Audika)
2. The Bake Sale, Cool Kids (Chocolate Industries)
3. Where You Go I Go Too, Lindstrøm (Smalltown Supersound)
4. The Renaissance, Q-Tip (Universal Motown)
5. Harps and Angels, Randy Newman (Nonesuch)
6. Stay Positive, The Hold Steady (Vagrant)
7. Pro Tools, GZA (Babygrande)
8 The Chemistry of Common Life, Fucked Up (Matador)
9. The Evangelist, Robert Forster (Yep Roc) The Evangelist, like another great Australian rock elegy, Back in Black, manages to honor a fallen bandmate without ever being gloomy. Grant McLennan, Forster’s songwriting partner in the Go-Betweens who died prior to this recording, makes his presence known beyond the extent of the three songs for which he contributed lyrics. Forster’s measured delivery, heartfelt lines, and focus on quotidian pleasures are just damn sensible approaches to mourning a great friend.
10. Nouns, No Age (Sub Pop)

Brandon Wu

1. One With Filth, Crowpath (Willowtip)
2. Doombringer, Nasum (Relapse)
3. (duck), Buffalo Collision (Screw Gun)
4. The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, Earth (Southern Lord)
5. Salome, Salome (Vendetta) The D.C. area’s best doom metal band, Salome is a simple guitar-drums-vocal band, but that lone guitarist sounds like three downtuned guitarists and a bassist all combined. The band has just about the biggest sound imaginable from a mere trio, and Kat’s memorable shrieking vocals just add to the stark, evil atmosphere.
6. Keio Line, Richard Pinhas and Merzbow (Cuneiform)
7. Secular Works, Extra Life (Planaria)
8. Oneiromantical War, Wrnlrd (FSS)
9. Belle Ville, Townhouse Orchestra (Clean Feed)
10. Pitom, Yoshie Fruchter (Tzadik)

Alfredo Flores

1. Los de Atras Vienen Conmigo, Calle 13 (Sony International)
2. MTV Unplugged, Julieta Venegas (Sony International)
3. Mediocre, Ximena Sariñana (Warner Music Latina)
4. Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne (Cash Money)
5. Evolver, John Legend (G.O.O.D. Music)
6. Sonidos Gold, Grupo Fantasma (Aire Sol)
7. The Renaissance, Q-Tip (Universal Motown)
8. Río, Aterciopelados (Nacional)
9. Radio Retaliation, Thievery Corporation (ESL Music) The “outernational” movement—a term coined by Jamaican rastas for an appreciation and empathy for all people—has kept Thievery Corporation going strong for the past dozen years, sampling from all sorts of music, both new and decades old. On their latest, the D.C. duo smartly sticks with groovy beats, but with an expanding arsenal of global rhythms.
10. Flight of the Conchords, Flight of the Conchords (Sub Pop)

Casey Rae-Hunter

1. Distortion, Magnetic Fields (Nonesuch)
2. Hello, Voyager, Evangelista (Constellation)
3. Venus on Earth, Dengue Fever (M80)
4. Dolores, Bohren & der Club of Gore, (Ipecac)
5. Stormcock (reissue) , Roy Harper (Science Friction)
1971 masterpiece from the legendary British provocateur/folkie. Some guy named Jimmy Page is on it, too.
6. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (Anti-)
7. Joemus, Momus (American Patchwork)
8. Third, Portishead (Island)
9. 666 (reissue), Aphrodite’s Child (Vertigo)
10. Countach, Cassettes (self-released)

Cole Goins

1. Hairdryer Peace, Hospitals (self-released)
2. Margins Music, Dusk & Blackdown (Keysound)
3. The Recession, Young Jeezy (Def Jam)
4. “All I Have Is Memories/Suburbia,” Martyn (Apple Pips)
5. The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, Earth (Southern Lord)
6. Imaginational Anthem Vols. 1–3 (Tompkins Square) With a title inspired from the track recorded by Annapolis nativeMax Ochs in the late ’60s, the Imaginational Anthem series is an incredible document of American Primitive acoustics past and present, drawing links from Takoma Park’s John Fahey to the new crop of pickers far and wide.
7. The Set Up, Fat Ray & Black Milk (Fat Beats)
8. Guitar Boy Superstar: 1970–1976, Sir Victor Uwaifo (Soundway)
9. Solar Bridge, Emeralds (Hanson)
10. Motion to Rejoin, Brightblack Morning Light (Matador)

Brent Burton

1. Meanderthal,Torche (Hydra Head)
2. Black Sea,Fennesz(Touch)
3. Krallice, Krallice (Profound Lore)
4. The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull,Earth (Southern Lord)
5. Litany of Echoes,James Blackshaw (Tompkins Square)
6. January,Marcin Wasilewski Trio (ECM)
7. The Ruiner,Made Out of Babies (The End)
8. Pyramids, Pyramids (Hydra Head)
9. Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1, Nachtmystium (Century Media)
10. Magnificent Fiend, Howlin Rain (American)

Mike Riggs

1. The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV, Thrice (Vagrant)
2. Lost in the Sound of Separation, Underoath (Solid State)
3. Life Is Not a Waiting Room, Senses Fail (Vagrant)
4. Blessed Be Our Ever After, Burden of a Day (Rise)
5. Dear Science, TV on the Radio (Interscope)
6. Heart Is Long EP, Idiot Pilot (Reprise)
7. Dance Gavin Dance, Dance Gavin Dance (Rise)
8. The Tide, Oceana (Rise)
9. Get Damaged EP, Be Your Own Pet (XL)
10. Secrets are Sinister, Longwave (Original Signal)

Sarah Godfrey

1. The Renaissance, Q-Tip (Universal Motown)
2. Smoke Sessions, Vol. 1, Devin the Dude (BCD Music Group)
3. Lay It Down, Al Green (Blue Note)
4. The Bake Sale, Cool Kids (Chocolate Industries)
5. The Recession, Young Jeezy (Def Jam)
6. Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne (Cash Money)
7. New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War, Erykah Badu (Universal Motown)
8. 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West (Roc-a-Fella)
9. Tronic, Black Milk (Fat Beats)
10. Paper Trail, T.I. (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)

Bobby Allyn

1. O My Heart, Mother Mother (Last Gang)
2. In Ear Park, Department of Eagles (4AD)
3. This Is It and I Am It And You Are It And So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That, Marnie Stern (Kill Rock Stars)
4. Nouns, No Age (Sub Pop)
5. Native Canadians, Fiasco (Impose)
6. Ice Cream Spiritual, Ponytail (We Are Free)
7. Fucked Up Friends, Tobacco (Anticon)
8. Parc Avenue, Plants and Animals (Secret City)
9. The Renaissance, Q-Tip (Universal Motown)
10. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend (XL)

Jason Cherkis

1. Sea Lion, Ruby Suns (Sub Pop)
2. Some Shame, the Woods (tour-only cassette)
3. Yoro Sidibe, Yoro Sidibe (Yaala Yaala)
4. Alright of Night, Crystal Stilts (Slumberland) The debate of the year for nerds seemed to come down to how you felt about your Brooklyn-based C86 tributes: Crystal Stilts vs. Vivian Girls. Both revived indie pop, both had a lot of hype, and both released some super-rare vinyl that had to be reissued before the year was out. I pick the Crystal Stilts. The band’s songs just have so much more range—all of them go down bittersweet, nailing the early-morning-VU-comedown as well as the 2 a.m. walk home treated as girl-group tribute. Buried under reverb, Brad Hargett’s deep wallow is just twee enough. “The City in the Sea” may be the most beautiful indie-pop song I heard in 2008. Any band that could revive the beloved Slumberland label has to be all right.
5. Love Is Overtaking Me, Arthur Russell (Audika)
6. Los Angeles, Flying Lotus (Warp)
7. Woods Family Creeps, Woods Family Creeps (Time-Lag)
8. Wavves, Wavves (Woodsist)
9. Volume One, She & Him (Merge)
10. The Fields, Blank Dogs (Woodsist)

Don Carr

1. Dear Science, TV on the Radio (Interscope)
2. Miss Understood, Carolyn Wonderland (Bismeaux Productions)
3. Real Emotional Trash, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks (Matador)
4. Attack & Release, Black Keys (Nonesuch)
5. Visiter, Dodos (Frenchkiss)
6. Mingle, Saturday Knights (Light in the Attic)
7. Fair Ain’t Fair, Tim Fite (Anti-)
8. Mass Appeal, AutoRock (self-released) ¶ Like Girl Talk, D.C.’s Autorock continues the heroic push for the music biz to embrace recycling. Downloadable at myspace.com/autorockdc.
9. Walk It Off, Tapes ‘n Tapes (XL)
10. Orange Blossoms, JJ Grey and Mofro (Alligator)