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Montage Monties: Music

Viva la Vida, Coldplay
Coldplay’s previous albums have shown an immense amount of musical and songwriting talent, but Viva la Vida really is something else.

After getting used to the band’s new musical direction, it’s easy to see that Coldplay has a grasp on the versatility and beauty of music as it focuses more on creating works of art rather than chart toppers. Viva la Vida shows that the band is not afraid to take chances. Listeners will find that the album’s exploration of music theory and composition is the start of a positive new direction for the band. — Emily Handy

The Carter III, Lil Wayne
If you own a radio or have been in the presence of one within the past year, you have heard one of the songs on this album. Four of the album’s singles — including “Lollipop,” “Mrs. Officer,” “A Milli” and “Got Money” — have been in the top ten on the Billboard Top 100. Do I think The Carter III is the best album of 2008? Maybe not. Do I think it was the most widely distributed and listened to? Without a doubt. — Andrea Gallagher

Neptune, The Duke Spirit
In a year full of retro sounds from Duffy and Amy Winehouse, The Duke Spirit’s Neptune takes listeners back to ’60s rock ‘n’ roll and amps it up to a whole new level. Leila Moss’ vocals have the magnificence and intensity to match fuzzy guitar licks and wild tambourine playing. Neptune has the ability to take hold of listeners’ inhibitions and make them want to roll down the windows and crank up the volume. — Christine Labit

Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend’s self-titled album is not only my favorite of 2008, it is on my all-time favorite list. The songs’ lyrics speak to the condition of this generation, and the instrumentals are worldly, layered and fun. Vampire Weekend’s music is a breath of fresh air in the age of Fergie and Flo Rida. — Matt Ferrara

Weezer (The Red Album), Weezer
Though Weezer chose to release “Pork and Beans” as its first single in 2008, its album as a whole is much more impressive. It is the first Weezer album to feature songs written and sung by all four members, with themes ranging from the most juvenile and frivolous to serious assessments of the band members’ entire careers. “Heart Songs,” a softer track, is a composite list of lead singer Rivers Coumo’s musical influences — with everyone from Gordon Lightfoot to Will Smith. The Red Album is superb from start to finish. — Joe Polito