We continue our albums review of 2008, with letters J to Y.

Junior Achiever - ‘All The Little Letdowns’
“It may sound a little bit sappy, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Indie label Engineer Records and with Junior Achiever they have a great band that pulls together everything that I like. This has a Pop/Punk feel of bouncy catchy Pop/Rock songs, with big riffs and intellectually amusing lyrics giving the proverbial cherry on top.” Jim Ody

The Kills - ‘Midnight Boom’
“Sexy, slick, shimmering ear candy, tunes that could shimmy shake the dead back to life with booming basslines and effervescent electro beats. 'Midnight Boom' is a more consistent album than 2005's 'No Wow' with a constant stream of classy and gritty new tunes that beckon the listener to their feet. It's great to have our favourite earthy electro duo back.” Jo Vallance

Kings of Leon - ‘Only By The Night’
“From the youthful aggression of ‘Youth And Manhood’ to the pounding thump of ‘Because Of The Times’ complete with its edgy euphoria, Kings Of Leon have evolved before our eyes and with ‘Only By The Night’, the Tennessee family have reached anthem seeking status. This is an album that is begging to fill arenas whilst smugly anticipating the inevitable progression to stadiums, and whilst the crisp, leaner and cleaner look of KOL may not suit all, it is perhaps simply the next logical step.” Jodie Woodgate

The Last Shadow Puppets - ‘The Age Of The Understatement’
“The Last Shadow Puppets could be the best thing to come from an Arctic Monkey with Turner's penchant for realistic, gritty lyrics matched with gorgeous orchestral glamour and sweeping sounds that are clearly also influenced by Kane's 60's pop writing.” Jo Vallance

Late of The Pier - ‘Fantasy Black Channel’
“’Fantasy black channel’ does what it says on the tin, creating an adventurous new ideal; pumping from the very word go and continuing throughout. A dark, inventive and ingenious debut, daring to pass barriers to extremities, Late of the pier prove their originality will not go unnoticed.” Mel Lewis

Jenny Lewis - ‘Acid Tongue’
“Jenny Lewis is still breaking hearts but she does more than most to put them back together and fill them full of hope. It has the feeling of an album that will mature and strengthen over time but even at this early stage, it has to be said that ‘Acid Tongue’ is a tremendous piece of work from an artist with a lengthy run of success already behind her.” Andy Reilly

Mae Shi - ‘Hillyh’
“This is The Mae Shi's first proper album release in the UK, something that is fully deserved too. This is a pro-active, boundary-pushing (or should that be punishing?) band that excite, astound, beguile, terrify and impress. They may sound a bit like attention-seeking toddlers let loose in a music shop, but boy, are they worthy of that attention.” Stuart Anderson

Metallica - ‘Death Magnetic’
“Its great to hear the band move away from the half-baked rock of the nineties without it sounding a complete mess (St Anger). There are two areas where Metallica stand out on this album. The first is James Hetfield who's sounding better than he has for many years, he shouts like he means it, which is all we can ask of the man. The second is the sheer plethora of riffs, so much so that I think the album should be renamed to 'Riff Magnetic'.” Pete Worrall

MGMT - ‘Oracular Spectacular’
“The second half of this album shows band’s more psycadelic side, a sound that is more reminiscent of Arcade Fire than the disco-feel of their signature tracks. Live this summer MGMT were a band who lived up to the hype and expectation.” Simon Webb

Mogwai - ‘The Hawk is Howling’
“This is a totally instrumental record, something that really allows you to lose yourself in the tracks, no distractions, just the music which is slightly melancholy in tone for the most part but full of lovely little touches and can also sometimes be very joyous and uplifting, sweet but chunky riffs, tunes that weave in and out, textures that build in layers to become something very intricate and intense and all the time those soaring waves. There are no bad tracks to be found here, this is without doubt one of the records of the year.” Emma Gould

My Morning Jacket - ‘Evil Urges’
“If you know all about My Morning Jacket then firstly, well done, they’re an excellent band but secondly; don’t be too tied in with what has gone down before. ‘Evil Urges’ sees the band pushing the boundaries a bit more than their previous albums and the first half may have a few long-term fans scratching their head at what is going on. The middle delivers more of the traditional treats offered up by the band before the end races away again but it’s a strong mix of old and new on this record.” Andy Reilly

Nell Bryden - ‘Second Time Around’
“’Second Time Around’ oozes class in so many places with its mix of Jazz, Country and Blue Grass to which you could easily imagine couples dancing at legendary venues like the Broken Spoke in Texas. Nell Bryden’s vocal talents show great depth throughout the eleven tracks, the variety and at times great power on the recordings really does make it a pleasurable 41 minutes. Her writing talents deserve a lot of praise too, very easy to relate your personal experiences to each of the songs.” Neil Richardson

Of Montreal - ‘Skeletal Lamping’
“This album is a bit of a challenge. An x-rated challenge, at that, and definitely not for those who like easily digestible disposable pop. As a document to a time of life, a way of life and the underlying fears, desires and issues of those documenting it, it is deeply absorbing and manages to combine brave and original admissions and words with an upbeat, heartening and always immensely listenable musical setting - no mean feat.” Jude Clarke

Phantom Limb - ‘Phantom Limb’
“There’s enough here to keep almost everyone entranced, from indie kids to the one album-a-year mums. You can listen intently and soak up every note, but it’s not so taxing that you can’t drift in and out as you please. And even the most idle listener will still find themselves belting out 'I’ll Never Be The Same Again'.” Avril Simister

Port O'Brien - ‘All We Could Do Was Sing’
“Port O’Brien are a bunch of bonkers, strange but highly talented folk, who give us songs that mix traditional Folk with Acoustic Rock throwing in tight, complex arrangements and a whole bunch of harmonies, dazzling us whilst leaving us slightly dazed and confused. The band are the brainchild of Cambria Goodwin and Van Pierszalowski who came together to make (and succeeded) beautiful music!” Jim Ody

Ra Ra Riot - ‘The Rhumb Line’
“A Rhumb Line, in navigation, is a line crossing all meridians at the same angle, not an easy feat. Ra Ra Riot have had more than their fair share of troubled waters in recent time with the tragic loss of drummer, lyricist and inspiration John Pike in June 2007. Fast forward to 2008 and the six piece from Syracuse, NY have made what can only be described as the perfect tribute.” Neil Richardson

The Raconteurs - ‘Consolers of The Lonely’
“Its hard to overlook the sense of fun that exists within The Raconteurs as though it’s a chance for the musicians to relax and play with a smile on their face and really pay homage to their influences as opposed to playing to the constraints of the fans of their more general everyday bands. Okay, Mr. Benson has a slightly different feel to the other three players but the Greenhornes, who provide the drum and bass driving force on the album, were as raucous and as tied to the Detroit sound as Jack White so this band still represents a reaction away from what may have been expected.” Andy Reilly

T-Bone Burnett - ‘Tooth in Crime’
“Burnett himself has likened the assemblage of 'Tooth of Crime' to a broken mirror: "you get lots of shards and start putting them together and create a lot of different angles.” However schizophrenic the recording process might have been, 'Tooth of Crime' sounds, nay, feels like an organic, complete, and undeniably emotive work; it's effortless in its persuasion. Whatever your feelings are towards Shepard's source material (sheer bloody bunkum or surrealist science fiction genius), Burnett's music has undeniably got a true heart and soul all of its own and, to my mind triumphantly transcends its dramatic base. Put simply, this is truly wonderful stuff.” Stuart Anderson

Testament - ‘The Formation Of Damnation’
“This album delivers everything you expect and want from a Testament album and more. It’s heavy, fast, dynamic and performed with sublime precision. It’s as if Eric’s been purposefully saving up his best ideas over the past 9 years for this release. The return of thrash has seen the return of one of its masters and raised the bar for all the other bands to follow.” Pete Worrall

Thomas Tantrum - ‘Thomas Tantrum’
“This is a collection of art-tinged, credible, yet also very accessible ‘pop’ songs. This kind of creative, endearing, catchy and downright likeable pop merits a place high in the nation’s affections, record collections and charts.” Jude Clarke

Frank Turner - ‘Love, Ire and Song’
“Frank Turner has certainly achieved the goal of writing some better songs. We get his heaviest moment since Million Dead, a healthy dose of folk and country and even the debut appearance of a piano. The music press don’t talk about the difficult second album for nothing and Frank has definitely passed that test.” Simon Webb

Wave Pictures - ‘Instant Coffee Baby’
“The Wave Pictures combine a variety of sounds, from the jazzy ‘Avocado Baby’ with images of walking through the park floating through your head, the semi-acoustic ‘Kiss Me’ which gathers momentum to an electric rhythm, but still sounds rather experimental and rough around the edges, and the gentle jumpy beat of the record’s title track.” Michelle Moore

William Control - ‘Hate Control’
“William Control is nothing if not brutally frank and cringingly honest. From the instant ‘Hate Culture’ rips you by the wrists and drags you into the dark disturbing world of our guide, Control, or Aiden’s wiL Francis as he is better known, makes it blatantly clear that he does not want you to like him, that he will not sugar coat the slightest detail and that he will not apologise for anything; facts that should have you fleeing for your life but instead usher you further into the depths of despair alongside Control as you struggle to suppress the ever growing smile across your face. Yes, William Control does not want you to like him but, as the last spoken refrains of ‘Prologue’ utter their final threat drenched slur, its clear that Control is not going to get his wish.” Jodie Woodgate

Yeti - ‘The Legend of Yeti Gonzales’
“There may not be a great amount of startling originality on show but that’s never been the most important thing when it comes to music. There is a lot of 60s influence on show here and the influence ranges from pop to folk and psychedelia with tinges of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash coming through. If this came from one of the likely lads it would be hailed as one of the albums of the year. The truth of the matter is that neither have made a full album as good as this. Whatever happened to them? You know something, it doesn’t matter, Yeti are the act to look out for. Its been a few years but they never lost that sense of wonder, make sure you don’t either.” Andy Reilly

James Yuill - ‘Turning Down Water for Air’
“Although usually compared to folk artists such as Nick Drake and Tim Buckley, and dance/electronic artists such as Chemical Brothers and Aphex Twin, Yuill actually makes a noise more like Elliott Smith kicking an Amstrad CPC to death. It's folk, pop, electro and dance all rolled into one; or shoved into one quite big guitar case if you prefer. And, put simply, it's wonderful.” Stuart Anderson