As we went back into the process of selecting the year's best albums, some of the panelists expressed initial concern that there weren't enough great releases in 2008. They quickly changed their tune after the nominations came pouring in and we whittled our way down from 40 albums to a top 12. Once again, it proved an interesting year as the final list includes a mix of relatively unknown independent releases and new bands making their national debut, as well as some more familiar names. Even our top choices are intriguing in that one of them released gradually over several months time, while another album released a couple years ago (and is still eligible for our consideration). Read on to learn more about our favorites from 2008.

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