Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2008

#1 Sebastien Tellier - Sexuality
Vintage Serge Gainsbourg meets Justin Timberlake. Easily my favorite album of this year and in my top 10 of all-time. A full 360 of an album that is diverse and superb at every moment. The closing track “L’Amour et La Violence” (The Love and The Violence) is haunting and pure genius. I could easily listen to this album on repeat for ages and did so in 2008. The album is immaculately produced by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk and blends all the talents of Sebastien Tellier from his previous work. A great driving album, a wonderful time-piece, and something I won’t stop praising for years to come.

#2 Young Jeezy – The Recession
True Story; I had 30 minutes to kill so I stopped by Second Spin. It was Tuesday (aka new release day) and they were playing a hip-hop record in the store. After walking around for 20 minutes I was like, man, this record sounds good…so I bought it. It was Young Jeezy – The Recession and it’s a great record. Who’d of thunk a southern rapper could have predicted the economic downturn? “Black President” (feat. NaS) should be one of the tracks of the year.

#3 Torche - Meanderthal
This album is a ripper. Heavy enough to scare off the masses, yet melodic enough to warrant some rock radio play. The album is great from start to finish and addictive. I heard this in a listening station and was taken aback by it. I look forward to anything and everything Torche.

#4 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus!!! Dig!!! / The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford OST
Nick Cave at the Hollywood Bowl was everything I could have wanted from a Bowl show. Whereas Dig!!!... is a wonderfully blunt record which has hints of Grinderman (my last year’s #1 album) , his soundtrack work with Warren Ellis is equally as powerful. Nick Cave is superior to most and in the last couple of years he has hit a creative stride that I’m in love with.

#5 Lykke Li – Youth Novels
This is a superb album. Great pop songs, great production, great everything. I give Lykke Li props as this album was released over 2 years ago in her home Sweden yet she continually tours and performs for US audiences despite her obvious tire of repetition. I was extremely impressed with this and look forward to her next output.

#6 Sigur Ros - Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
I picked up this album because I knew when it came out that I would be going to Iceland later on in the year for Airwaves. Although not a typical Sigur Ros album I definitely loved it. At first it didn’t sound like a typical Sigur Ros album but after a few listens the songs stood out enough to make me forget.

#7 Lindstrøm – Where You Go I Go Too
A few years back I got my hands on a live mix of Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas and was floored by the coming of nu-disco. Since then I have been salivating for everything Lindstrøm. At SXSW I saw him “spin” (totally laptop) in a cowboy bar and he was great, but it was not the place for him to be. This album is 3 tracks of perfect desert driving music. Electronic overtures.

#8 Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing
Live at the Reykjavik Art Museum sealed it for me. I was saddened to have to venture into the “experimental” section at Amoeba when this is really just an Electronic record. Sure there are some huge Noise aspects but the album itself is an atmospheric tidal wave of drone fused melodies. Fuck Buttons is up my alley and I’m cool with that.

#9 The Kills – Midnight Boom
I remember when the Kills first started gaining hype and I saw them a few times in NY and bought the introductory EP and then album. I liked it, but wouldn’t consider myself a fan. Then the next album dropped and I happened to see them on that tour by chance, still like it, but eh. Finally it came at this year’s SXSW when I happened to be at a party and they took the stage. I gave the typical, “I’ll give it a song or two” thought and I was very surprised when they blew me away. The new songs they played were superior to the old and the live set-up was great. A very good album from a now matured “shtick-y” band.

#10 Genghis Tron – Board Up The House
Hipster metal. 3 bearded scholar types playing some heavy metal without a drummer. This album has a few things I love mixed with some annoyances, yet it all comes together nicely. Ambient layers along with songs about zombies, but with a fair amount of screaming. Immaculate production (Kurt Ballou, did Torche too).

#11 Abe Vigoda – Skeleton
These guys are my buddies and I’d been eagerly awaiting the release of this bad-boy for ages. Tropical-Punk from Pomona kids is unique and interesting. I expect these guys to move onward and upward for some time into a Talking Head’s like group. Go LA.

#12 Human Highway – Moody Motorcycle
I really like Nick Diamonds, even though I’ve heard from numerous sources he’s a complete a-hole. I loved the first Islands record, the second one was kinda boring, but I was definitely impressed with Human Highway. “The Sound” is a great hit, and the title track is just as good.

#13 Duffy - Rockferry
I buy lots of records; common fact. I didn’t know what to expect from Duffy except I heard she sucked live and was not as pretty as creative camerawork has made her out to be. She can sing though, the songs are good, and this is a good album. Lots of haters out there with so many solo songstresses this year, but Rockferry is a very good album.

#14 Retro Stefson - Montana
The best band nobody has ever heard of….from Iceland. Manu Chao’s Radio Bemba Sound System meets Vampire Weekend. The best live show I’ve seen in ages, especially from a band whose ages range from 16-20.

#15 The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement
Another “shot in the dark” when I picked up this album yet I was taken aback by it. A lot more mature than the Arctic Monkey’s and a great theme along with the perfect use of strings.

#16 Yeasayer – All Hour Cymbals
Soggy Brooklyn-ites who ooze hipness, yet I can’t get over the style, sound, and songs on this album. A great mood record that trails off a bit at the end but is still strong and memorable.

#17 Bun B – II Trill
RIP Pimp C. This year I decided that hip-hop should be incorporated more into my lifestyle and Bun B was big on that. A good banger of a record, perfect for the treadmill and my new-used Honda Accord.

#18 Booka Shade – The Sun And The Neon Light
I am a fan of electronic music and was happy to be impressed with the new Booka Shade. They killed it live at Coachella and was the first electro group to land the whole “adding my own vocals” to tracks. A good rhythmic piece with some great house aspects.

#19 Tricky – Knowles West Boy
I am on a few mailing lists in which I get advances of some weird records. Upon getting the Tricky album I didn’t know what to expect but it’s my duty to listen to everything. This is a phenomenal record that isn’t all over the place like some of his recent outings. Lots of mellow gems on this bad boy.

#20 Glasvegas - Glasvegas
“Geraldine” is a hit, a true single. The rest of the album takes a while to grow but is still solid. Lyrically there are some problems and I don’t like some of the borrowed classical music, but it’s nice to see a new Scottish band coming up with a solid debut. I smell sophomore slump like a mofo though.


Flops/Total Bummers

Why did the Killers have to go with Jacques Lu Cont (aka Stuart Pierce) for their new album? Do 2 good remixes and a Madonna album warrant such a move? Result: Another bad record by the Killers. Whoopee. Lyrically a tadpole compared to 90% of what is out there and just misguided. Great photos too, you all look dumb.

Wal-Mart Exclusives: Seriously, not cool. First the Eagles, then Bryan Adams…why force me into the retail version of Lucifer? I can’t handle going to Wal-Mart, I just feel as if I’m killing puppies by giving them my hard earned dollar. Is music retail so bad that Wal-Mart takes over? Why let that happen?

More Hate ’08 coming soon…

Best Live

The Warehouse Project (October - Manchester, UK): Under a train station, a maze of post-industrial northern England brick walls. The line-up was Tricky, The Whip, Late Of The Pier, Rev and the Makers, and a ton more, but the vibe was pure party and the atmosphere is what any good show should be.

Yelle (Coachella): I give Yelle props because she was headlining a small ten t at Coachella up against some huge headliners and she delivered an amazing show that was filled with kids. Her album had barely surfaced in the US but there were all these kids going nuts for her. Kids are the future right? The best live act I saw at Coachella that year, seriously…that must say something.

Bryan Adams (Acoustic at The Roxy): Okay, most people know my love of Bryan Adams is superior to few. I had the chance to go with Los to see him play almost 3 hours acoustic 5 feet in front of me at the Roxy and it was pure class. He did it because he wanted too, he was having fun and playing as long as he wanted, and I love him. Icon.

Ricky Hatton TKO-ing Paulie Malignaggi (MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV): Okay, not music but watching Ricky Hatton pummel Paulie Malignaggi live in Vegas in November was one of the best experiences of my wee life. Liam and Noel of Oasis walked his belts into the ring and Ricky delivered by beating Paulie into submission. Forever “…walking in a Hatton wonderland.”

Conclusion: Final Thoughts

This year was a great year for new music, far better than others. Lots of “Best of Lists” were filled with debut albums and I think that is a great sign. Sure, industry changes, blah blah blah, but this is art, so we must all embrace creativity. I like nothing more than hearing a debut album that is amazing and gets me giddy. This year, I have to give props to one thing that made my life so much easier. Zune, the Zune Marketplace, and the Zune Pass. I don’t work for Microsoft, but my friend Megan does and she gave me a Zune player and I decided to drop the $14.99 a month (the cost of a CD) to “lease” all the music from the Zune Marketplace. Um, amazing. I highly recommend it to everybody I know. Sure, you don’t own MP3’s but you have the ability to “download” anything you want and put it on your Zune player. Every Tuesday I get newsletters that let me know what records are coming out and to the Marketplace I go downloading anything that sounds interesting. If I don’t like it, then I delete it. ‘Brick and Mortar’ record stores are few and far between and I can think of 10 that closed in 2008 that I was familiar with. Entertainment is all around us and I don’t expect people to buy lots of CD’s when they are hard to find and money is far from plentiful these days. Yet the Zune Pass gave me the chance to embrace all types of music, not just the new stuff. Having the ability to download a catalog is pretty sweet and lots of records you can’t even find in stores (like Rod Stewart’s “Tonight I’m Yours” (1981)). Enough of my Zune sales pitch that a few of you may have become accustomed too. Embrace the future already, listen to new music and do whatever it takes to find it.