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.