Time once again for us at R13 to join with every music publication under the sun in creating a list of what in our humble opinion are the albums which stand out from the crowd from the past twelve months.

As with previous years, unlike the majority, we’re not ranking them in an actual chart type affair, since we really can’t claim extreme metal is better or worse than acoustic folk or electronica, so as is our want, here’s the first half of our staff suggestions, presented in handy alphabetical form.

It’s worth saying that, as ever, compiling a list which best represents a group of people with such diverse music tastes is a nightmare, however we hope this collection will remind you of some of 2008’s big releases, plus point you in the direction of a few things which you won’t have heard of, never mind heard.

A Place to Bury Strangers - ‘A Place to Bury Strangers’
“A Place To Bury Strangers have been highly touted for being loud, which may be true but what people fail to mention is the sheer brilliance. There is not one weak track on this ten song album which sees an array of rock, psychedelic, experimental and shoegaze music with plenty of distortion and killer tunes to blow your mind!” Neil Richardson

AC/DC - ‘Black Ice’
“AC/DC arguably wrote all their best tunes in the first five years of their career. Since 'Back In Black' each album seems to have five quality tunes and five decidedly average ones, so from a new album you'd expect another 50/50 split. However, AC/DC have excelled themselves on 'Black Ice' by writing some of their best and most consistent material since 1983's 'Flick Of The Switch’.” Pete Worrall

Amon Amarth - ‘Twilight Of The Thunder God’
“Amon Amarth has managed to create that rare thing which is an album that is heavy as fuck to please their die-hard fans but extremely accessible to appeal to a new audience. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. If you're a pop rock fan or loathe the growling and if songs about battles and Norsemen makes you wet your pants with laughter then you probably won't find much to like. This is metal under the guise of Viking, battle, death or whatever genres are thrown at it. If you're a fan of thrash or heavier then this has to be in your collection. I've yet to hear a better example of this genre, ever!” Pete Worrall

Attic Lights - ‘Friday Night Lights’
“’Friday Night Lights’ is a competent, coherent album which sounds so incongruent to the current indie stock; it is like a holiday for the ears. Expectations, very much fulfilled.” Kate Sharp

Ayreon - ‘01011001’
“If you’ve never wallowed in the delights of this musical enigma, never bathed in its far reaching and epic creations then you’re in for a treat, if you have a single prog rock bone in your body. Ayreon is actually beyond prog rock and into rock opera such is the scale of its compositions. I’ve never reviewed an album and had to be careful I didn’t spoil the plot.” Paul Chesworth

Black Keys - ‘Attack and Release’
“The opening riff of ‘I Got Mine’ is spookily reminiscent of Zeppelin or Free’s bluesier moments. The gorgeously overdriven guitar gives the impression that I’m listening to a wonderful old vinyl record, not a brand new CD. Now, I’m used to listening to a million Zep-wannabes, and it’s fairly obvious when you get one. But here’s a song that bypassed the seventies bands and went straight back to the roots of blues. And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing for a rock record.” Avril Simister

British Sea Power - ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’
The album has a strong mix of quiet moments followed by rollocking numbers designed to lift your spirits. The overall feeling is of an album that is going to stand up well as a collected piece of work. There are enough short and sparkling moments to be plundered for singles and to become live favourites at festivals but ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ impresses as a single body of work and was a great way to start the New Year off with a bang.” Andy Reilly

The Bronx - ‘The Bronx’
“With every record The Bronx may have become more accessible, but they’ve done this without compromising what makes them so damn cool in the first place. It’s that lethal dose of punk rock attitude and a fearless approach to song writing. They’re loved by punks, hardcore kids and the NME.” Emma Dalby

Cancer Bats - ‘Hail Destroyer’
“One of the best things about Cancer Bats is their ability to slay you with noise but still turn out a danceable, catchy tune to go with the riffs. ‘Hail Destroyer’ continues this tradition. This time round though the record is even more well rounded and cohesive, the riffs are less obviously metal, they've mixed things up with more complex and inventive hooks and chords, and they rely less on the straight forward chugga noise and string bends that were spattered at regular intervals throughout the last record.” Emma Gould

City and Colour - ‘Bring me Your Love’
“As an acoustic-driven, singer-songwriter album, City and Colour's ‘Bring Me Your Love’ sticks pretty closely to the acoustic singer-songwriter formula: girls are pretty, life is tough, and you gotta, like, live out your dreams, man. But taken in the context of his other job as one of the frontmen for Alexisonfire, this latest effort by Dallas (city) Green (colour) borders on shocking.” Andrew M. Reilly

The Damned - ‘So Who’s Paranoid?’
“This is exactly the album I wanted to hear from The Damned, it’s reaffirmed my faith in them as a relevant band and displays the kind of variety and song writing ability that was long their trademark. The days of widespread commercial appeal are long gone and it’s the die-hard fans that keep the Damned in business. There is enough on this album to please them all and to bring a few old skeptics like me back into the fold, excellent stuff.” Andy Latham

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - ‘Angles’
“There is no doubt that ‘Angles’ is an album of lyrical genius that repeated listens will have you coming back week after week but without the backing music, it would be a spoken word album of much less interest. This is an album that has an infectious flow that will have any listener jerking and moving in time to the beats and bleeps throughout. This is an excellent album; it combines charm and wit with a spirited and tremendous music backing and doesn’t easily fit in with any genre apart from their own.” Andy Reilly

Demians - ‘Building an Empire’
“If your idea of prog music is wonderfully layered music, with many textures that reward the listener with something new on each listen then prog heaven
awaits you with this wonderfully superb debut from our friends across the Channel, Demians. Brainchild of one Nicolas Chapel, who has committed the proverbial blood, sweat, tears, and now musical genius to acetate in the form of ‘Building An Empire’.” Paul Chesworth

Dusty Rhodes And The River Band - ‘First You Live’
“Whilst there is the contemporary feel of well played instruments, clean smooth production and lyrics that are in the here and now, you could also be forgiven for being lost in the world of Mark Twain, whereby adventures are around every corner in a more simple time, where river boats chug along happily; wood is used to build everything, you may have a friend called Tom, or Huckleberry and life is more earthy.” Jim Ody

Edens Curse - ‘the second coming’
“Eden’s Curse produce songs in the true vein of modern melodic AOR fused with (technical) metal, with a great clean, very polished sound. All the songs are very solid indeed with a killer production level and deserve to be listened to by a larger audience. Catchy songs, killer riffs, great melodic vocals, its another high standard being set in a year of some excellent releases.” Paul Chesworth

Elbow - ‘Seldom Seen Kid’
“For ‘Grounds For Divorce’ alone, Elbow should have half the awards being dished out in 2008 in the bag but they’ve only gone and produced a full album of genius tunes. Compared to some other bands that have had a lot more success with poorer songs, Elbow have never quite made it over the top, hopefully winning the Mercury Prize will launch them onto a wider audience.” Andy Reilly

Fuck Buttons - ‘Street Horrsing’
“Fuck Buttons are one of the best undiscovered noise merchants out there. Their gritty, trance-worthy electro meanderings will never grace the commercial radiowaves, but for the initiated, their stunning atmospheric creations will both soothe and evoke new passions. 'Street Horrrsing' is a fabulous sonic headacheful of shimmering, vibrant synth sounds, clattering beats and tribal trips that's simply off the everyday spectrum.” Jo Vallance

Fucked Up - ‘The Chemistry of Common Life’
“It’s hard not to love Fucked Up for their playful approach to and manipulation of information regarding themselves; no myspace, no official band website, just a blog and an often tampered with Wikipedia page giving misleading information, not to mention their odd aliases and quirky press releases on which not all the information is imagined. All this gives an even greater level of fun to their heavy duty yet melodic punk. But not even they can avoid the hype and there’s been plenty of that around, luckily though it’s all good and all deserved.” Emma Gould

Gaslight Anthem - ‘59 Sound’
“Never has a nostalgia trip sounded so fresh and original. With more than a touch of their New Jersey roots shining throughout each track, ‘The 59 Sound’ manages to mesh the storytelling lyricist of Bruce Springsteen with the punk ethos of The Clash whilst simultaneously wielding a hint of Killers melodic charm as they tenderly embrace you into their world and take you on a journey full of torrid tales bathed in heartbreaking raw emotion.” Jodie Woodgate

Guillemots - ‘Red’
“At times you could be forgiven for thinking you were listening to music created decades ago. The other main thought this album provokes is what a bloody good record collection Guillemots must have. There’s a lot of eighties pop and disco flashbacks on this album, plus a nod or two to Motown and more recent dance trends. ‘Red’ may have been a surprising listen for some, but is ultimately an impressive one.” Simon Webb

Paul Hawkins and Thee Awkward Silences - ‘We Are Not Other People’
“A quirky album full of savage pop and vivacious stories from the street. Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences deserve a place on the stage in any British town with tunes that have real substance and import and should silence the blathering indie kids within seconds. There are few bands in the country right now doing anything as interesting in the caustic cabaret vein, which is why this band deserves to be saluted.” Jo Vallance

Hear, O Israel - ‘A Prayer Ceremony In Jazz’
“'A Prayer Ceremony in Jazz' is just that...er...a prayer ceremony in jazz. To be more specific, it's a Jewish prayer ceremony in jazz...which means it's in Hebrew. This album is all about the jazz legends that play on it; Herbie Hancock, Jerome Richardson, Thad Jones, Ron Carter and Grady Tate plus seventeen year old composer Jonathan Klein. With such talent on board, the fact that the music is uniformly excellent comes as no surprise at all.” Stuart Anderson

Hercules and Love Affair - ‘Hercules and Love Affair’
“It would appear that 4 disco maniacs have attacked our stereos, reminiscing with the Bee Gee’s days and opening a new can of worms for genre hoppers everywhere. The album bursts at the seams with disco beats and excitement, you can’t help but think this is something special. The 1970’s flashed before my unborn eyes and took me back to afro hair and dazzling, glamorous shades of purple.” Mel Lewis

Micah P Hinson - ‘Micah P Hinson’
“If a more traditional Country artist is to break into the mainstream then Micah P Hinson is the person to do it. It’s timeless music, and whilst we have a handful of female singers bringing back the Jazz/Blues into contemporary music, there is no reason why Acoustic Country can’t go the same way. Good honest acoustic music can’t ever fail in my book.” Jim Ody

The Hold Steady - ‘Stay Positive’
“The Hold Steady are back on fine form with a triumphant fourth LP that takes their rocking, party and religion-fuelled confessional songs to new heights. While 'Boys and Girls In America' felt a little more disconnected than the band's previous albums, which were full of themes and recurring characters, 'Stay Positive' regains this smart cohesion again with glimpses of the same kinds of characters messed up by religion or alcohol, looking for their salvation.” Jo Vallance

Part 2 coming soon.