Friday, December 5, 2008

Chris' Favorite Albums of 2008 (and 2007!)

This wasn't easy. My mind changed a lot. If you were to ask me tomorrow, the list may be a little different. I was originally going to wait until January to make it, but I was just too excited about it. Besides, there are no upcoming albums this year that I anticipate making a difference.

Only studio albums in my collection that were first released in 2008 were considered. No live albums, EPs, singles, re-releases or albums originally released overseas in 2007 then released in the US in 2008 were considered. I had a pool of 37 albums to choose from.

I tried to choose albums that won't pale with time - albums I know I'll be listening to for the rest of my life. These are albums that I'll be playing for my children, with hopes that they can appreciate them as much as I have.

Also note, this really isn't informative at all. It's not about the music as much as it's just me telling you how much I like it.

So, starting with #5
If you wanted, you could just call this album "Summer 2008," because it's pretty much what I was listening to the whole time. There's really not much great about it, except that it's ridiculously fun. I almost didn't put them on the list because it felt so shallow, like putting Gobstoppers on a list of favorite foods. I mean, it's trendy stuff and The Ting Tings will likely fade with time, but I can't deny how much I love this album and how much I've listened to it.

Even if you're not sure who these guys are, you've probably at least heard "Shut Up and Let Me Go" or "That's Not My Name." The whole album is just as fun and I recommend checking it out.

A track to check out: "We Walk"

That's right, film score. And it's one of the best I've ever heard, ranking right up there with "Superman: The Movie" and "Back to the Future Part 3."

And a lot like the "Back to the Future" films, Djawadi's score adds to the scale of the film. He makes the fight between Iron Man and Iron Monger sound about as epic as a slow motion fistfight between Hercules and Samson in a dark alley during a thunderstorm. This may be the most exciting score I've ever heard. I don't even own the movie yet, but the themes burned many of it's sequences in my brain. It's unforgettable.

Iron Man's theme is fantastic. Ramin Djawadi, a childhood fan of Iron Man, created the basic theme after just seeing the trailer. It's really the coolest aspect of the score it because it's introduced as a theme for Tony Stark, but it evolves throughout the film, becoming bigger and more fleshed out every time Tony reinvents the suit. It's really neat to follow. It makes the first time Tony puts on the final suit about as epic as you could ever hope for.

A guitar-driven film score may seem like a sketchy idea, but it works here and it works well. This score is everything "Transformers" should have been.

A track to check out: "Driving With The Top Down"

The Vines return, rather quickly, after their last effort with a new bassist and their lead singer/songwriter, Craig Nichols a few months away from an Aspergers-induced meltdown. So what do you get? Typical Vines awesomeness. Seriously, Craig is like my own personal um... John Lennon. Music royalty, in my mind. Everything he writes is gold. He just has one of those minds, and it goes unnoticed in the US, which is a shame. The Vines hold the distinction that they are the only band or artist that's put out 3 albums of which I love every single track. Even though there's a track on this album I'm not crazy about, the rest is amazing.

A track to check out: "She Is Gone"

I first noticed Goldfrapp was heard "Lovely 2 C U." You may remember them from when their track "Strict Machine" was used in a commercial unveiling the LG Chocolate in 2006.

I forgot about "Seventh Tree." I was waiting for it, but the released slipped by me. I saw it in Best Buy and freaked out. I actually ended up liking it more that I expected. It's more mellow than most of what Goldfrapp has put out. It's not "danceable," like their other albums. They really abandoned what had made them popular. I listened to it all the time. It's just that kind of music you can play all the time without getting tired of it. I shoved this album in other people's faces, trying to make them listen, confident that it was the best album on 2008...

A track to check out: "Road to Somewhere"

#1 - My Favorite Album of 2008:
"Seventh Tree" came out in February, and I was crazy about it. I spent the year telling people that it was the best album of the year and that nothing else would top it. "Circus" leaked onto the internet in October, and it has been, by far, my most listened to album over the last 12 months. I record my plays on, and I just checked them, and added, and checked them, and added. In just 3 months I have, literally, listened to "Circus" twice as much as "Seventh Tree," which I've had since February. It's unprecedented. Not since Michael Jackson's "Invincible," in 2001, has one album taken me over like "Circus." Not since then have I listened to an album so much in such a short time. It's all I want to hear. I sit down with another album on my mind, thinking I'll listen to the whole thing. Two tracks in, I just end up listening to "Circus." I can't escape it. It's CRACK!

Britney's returned to the top, where she should be. Her last album (which was only a year ago) was well-received by critics, loved by her diehard fans, but not so much be everyone else. Personally, I think it went unheard, due to a poor choice of singles, but that's not important.

When I say "back on top," I mean it. When it was first leaked, I told my friends that "Womanizer" would make their heads explode. Luckily, that didn't happen. But it did jump from #95 to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in just one week, the biggest jump ever. It also had the highest first-week song download sales by a female artist.

The song is, undeniably, Britney's biggest hit since "Baby One More Time." So what about tracks 2 and after? It's a lot to live up to... but she managed. The album is pure gold.

One year ago, when I made my Top 5 list, I said that Britney's last album, "Blackout," was "easily her best work" and that it "smacks your mother." I stand before you now to tell you that "Circus" is Britney's best work, by far, and that the album not only smacks your mother, it throws her over its lap and spanks her with a paddle. Tell your mom that I'm sorry that had to happen. It's tough in the streets.

I'll tell you what. If you only have "Womanizer," do yourself a favor and breakdance in traffic. When you get out of traction, buy the rest of the album.

I'm not going to jump the gun and call this my favorite album ever, but uh, it's up there...

A track to check out: #$&% that, you need the whole album! Go ahead and get the Deluxe Edition, too. The bonus tracks are great.

Almost made the list:
"Rockferry" - Duffy
"Paper Trail" - T.I.
"Seeing Sounds" - N*E*R*D

"Ghosts I-IV" - Nine Inch Nails

Copy/Paste of last years list, because it was on Facebook:
Note, "Paper Planes" is a track from "Kala." Was I right or was I right?

Posted December 17th

I spent a lot of this weekend trying to think up this list. It wasn't easy. This has been a good year for me and music; there's been a lot that I've really loved. Take this list for with a grain of salt, because it's purely my opinion. I wouldn't mind hearing your thoughts, though.

5. "Kala" - M.I.A.
You may not know M.I.A., but you should. She's a Sri Lankan rapper from the UK with a very unique style of dance music. I know, I know for sure that her music would blow up the club if they played it in the U.S. I would try to describe the sound, but I honestly wouldn't know how to start. I can only suggest you check it out.

Tracks to check out:
World Town

4. "American Gangster" - Jay-Z
Now, I'm a fairly new Jay-Z fan. I didn't really get into his music until "The Black Album." This album is a concept album, meant to complement the recent film of the same name, which I have yet to see... Jay-Z said he wanted to fill in the gaps; to sort of describe the thoughts and feelings of a gangster that couldn't fit into the film. Jay-Z's always been a great lyricist, but it's the samples that do the most for this album. A lot of old school R&B. It just sounds great.

Tracks to check out:
American Dreamin'
Ignorant Shit

3. "The Black and White Album" - The Hives
I love The Hives. I love The Hives. Their last album, "Tyrannosaurus Hives" was one of my favorite rock albums. I listened to it all the time. "The Black and White Album" trumps it, easily. It's just fun. Also, The Hives' sound has evolved quite a bit. They've diversified beyond simple grunge. While "Hey Little World" and "Return the Favour" sound like they could have been released two albums back, "Giddy Up," "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S." and "Puppet On A String" sound so new and different. Funky, even - there's disco influence here. I would even go as far as to say that many Hives fans wouldn't like this album much at all, but I love it.

Tracks to check out:
Try It Again

2. "Blackout" - Britney Spears
Ok, ok. Shut up , shut up, shut up. If you diss this album, you simply haven't heard it. Britney Spears proved, with this album, that an artist's personal life doesn't have to effect their music. I know, that VMA performance really sucked. They say her heel snapped and she was pretty buzzed, but that doesn't really matter. This album smacks your mother. Britney is doing now, exactly what she was doing in '99, and that's making music that you can't get out of your head. You're probably thinking "Gimme More didn't get stuck in my head." And to that I would respond that I could probably pick eight songs that would have made better singles than "Gimme More." The word "pop"doesn't even do this album justice. This is like Madonna meets Timbaland. Don't let Britney's image keep you from hearing this album. This is easily her best work. So even if you've only almost liked Britney in the past, you should check this album out.

Tracks to check out:
Hot As Ice
Toy Soldier

1. "The Reminder" - Feist
If you haven't heard of Feist by now, you must truly be living under a rock. Even if you don't know who she is, you've heard her. Her songs "1 2 3 4" and "My Moon My Man" have been featured in commercials for iPod and Verizon Wireless, respectively. "The Reminder" is a best-selling album on the iTunes store, the number 1 "Editors' Pick" on, and nominated for four Grammy Awards. It's a calm pop album, mostly acoustic, somewhere between Bright Eyes and Regina Spektor. "1 2 3 4" is pretty much as upbeat as the album gets. I'd love for you all to check out this album, but you'd be doing yourself a big favor if you just ran out and bought it...

Tracks to check out:
1 2 3 4
Honey Honey

Honorable mentions:
"Funeral For Yesterday" - Kittie
"Dignity" - Hilary Duff
"Rival Factions" - Project 86

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have u heard of Utada Hikaru if not u shud luk them up shes so awseome!!! :) She can sing really well. u shud luk up UVERworld too(spell it just like that) ther intresting....