Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dr. Kittybrains' Favorite Albums of 2008

I hafta admit I've been taking a backseat lately. I didn't have much to add to the 'Chinese Democracy' debate - I've never cared about G'N'R very much, and although I kind of enjoyed the album, it didn't really convert me to the ranks of the faithful.

My indifference to Axl notwithstanding, I enjoyed a lot of records in 2008, many of which seemed to get overlooked in the year-end wrap-ups I've been seeing. I'm including my favorite albums here, with a separate post to follow covering my favorite singles and album tracks from CDs not listed below.

Flight of the Conchords - s/t
I haven't seen this on a single top 10 list, but this is actually a tuneful, funny, well-produced collection of songs, and it had a tremendous amount of replay value for me.

Adele - 19
Forget Duffy... the REAL young British sensation this year is Adele, who blew me away when I saw her performance of the brilliant "Chasing Pavements" on SNL this fall. The entire album rises to the level of that song - and she was only 19 when she recorded this... she really writes and plays. Plus, I like that she's a little zaftig - I like singers who look like real people, y'know?

Al Green - Lay It Down
Stephen King had this one right... the fact that ?uestlove's production captures the warm 70s vibe of Green's classic records wouldn't matter if the songs weren't fantastic, but they are. Every last one of them.

Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
Maybe it's "Crazy" backlash? I thought that The Odd Couple was stronger start-to-finish than St. Elsewhere and that's saying something. Take a listen to this brilliant song and production that you probably haven't heard:

Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
"What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me." Here's a track that doesn't get any airplay, but it's the sort of lush Kanye production that made Common's Finding Forever my top pick last year:

Passing Strange - Original Broadway Cast Recording
Quinapalus' inclusion of In The Heights reminded me of how much I loved this show, which I saw both off- and on Broadway, with its incredible score by singer/songwriter Stew. Enjoy the track below - if you love it as much as I do, you owe it to yourself to listen to the whole thing end-to-end.

Beck - Modern Guilt
Danger Mouse does it again... brilliant production, brilliant songs from Beck... a brisk listen that gets better with repeated plays.

Patton Oswalt - Werewolves and Lollipops
Funniest comedy CD in years. Get it. Seriously. Everyone.

Randy Newman - Harps and Angels
One of my all-time favorites does it again. Here's the masterpiece/centerpiece, which Tex was quoting:

My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
I don't know what to say about this except I thought this was an example of fantastic songwriting and production throughout, and this is the first (and still only) album of theirs that I've really enjoyed. Go figure, but I love this. My current favorite:

The Hereafter - It Doesn't Matter Why It Is, It Doesn't Matter If It's Wrong
He may be a friend of ours, but almost nothing else released last year touched me as deeply or made me laugh as much as this "audio book of four novellas". Catchy, weird and beautiful.
Stream the entire album HERE.


Eric said...

I'm actually loving these lists because it's helping me focus on what I should come around and pick up now that the year is over (that goes for all of them). A few quick notes--

Good call on Passing Strange. I loved that show and meant to look more into Stew's back catalog but never got around to it.

Love the Patton Oswalt choice. Didn't even think about that album in coming up with my list. That shit had me laughing nonstop when I first got it (esp. KFC Famous Bowls, Birthdays, the one you posted, and the amazing lather he works himself into over the minor heckler in the middle of his story about birth control). Brilliant.

As for Flight of the Conchords, I think the album was really poorly timed from a marketing perspective. Instead of coming out when the show was on and people were starving for fully mastered versions of these songs, they waited for some reason. Meanwhile, enterprising souls ripped the songs from the HBO broadcast (which were basically studio quality) and put them on the internet. Hungry for Conchords I could listen to whenever I wanted, I downloaded that and as a result never ended up bothering with the album. I'll turn myself in to the web sheriff forthwith.

More later on all the picks...

Via Chicago said...

Both Beck and Gnarls Barkley are 2 of the small number of albums I feel bummed to have not heard this year. Both interested me, but for whatever reason I did not get around to them. For the Beck, I like Gamma Ray, but it doesn't hold a candle to the other single (whose name escapes me at the moment). And for Gnarls - well, Run is just the bomb, plain and simple.

Nice to see them get some love - and sorry I did not give thme a shot yet.

texplush said...

Good call on the Beck. His best album in years.

As for the Hereafter, I really should have included "Pissing On Plants In The Suburbs" in my top tracks section. That song is totally brilliant.
Lyrics men: seek it out!

dr. kittybrains said...

Just a quick note - I re-upped the Gnarls Barkley track; it was only streaming a 30-second bit before, now the whole thing is up. Rock.

dr. kittybrains said...

The Conchords CD is mostly all-new recordings, with much better arrangements and productions than the TV show recordings. I definitely recommend checking it out.

Quinapalus said...

Dr. Kittybrains, I just have to ask becuase I can't figure it out: what's the Love Story reference about in your Carter 3 blurb?

dr. kittybrains said...

Well, Lil' Wayne was 25 when the album came out, and that quote popped into my head... I considered re-writing it to be about Wayne, but then I just thought it was funnier to do the quote itself. Also, I was really, really tired.

drischord said...

Love the Hereafter shout-out!

I agree that the new Beck is his best in several years, but I still hold Odelay through Sea Change to be his apex.

Haven't heard the My Morning Jacket record, but opinions seem to be flying here. I really didn't dig Z at all, and I found their live show to be unworthy of its hype, so I wrote this one off. But now I'm going to have to at least listen to this so I can know who's right-- Eric/Dr. Kittybrains or Tex Plush.

texplush said...

To be fair, there are some great songs on the MMJ- it's definately better than Z. But there are also some bad ones, and like I said, sometimes I don't want Kermit singing my rock and roll.