Adventures In 2008: Top 40 Albums (#19-11)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We're almost there folks! I know, I've got you in serious knots over what are my top 10 picks for songs and albums of 2008. Well, you just have to wait one more day because this Audio Diva has to get her party on for the New Year...or rather sit in front of the TV, sipping champagne with the parentals...fun. That's what my New Year's usually consists of any ways...I think I'm saving up all my New Years partying from when I'm a high flying society journalist girl...because after you do a mountain full of articles and writings a year, a good old stiff drink sounds pretty darn tasty! For right now, I'll drink to what's left of 2008 and what I'm looking forward to for 2009...so without further ado here is the last haul before the Top Ten albums are announced!

19. Only By The Night-Kings Of Leon: BFF Lindsay has advised me to know that Only By The Night isn’t the Kings best album by a longshot, as it is their most "commercial" sounding effort…so this is strictly coming from a new fan whom got curious by a couple of reviews and raves for this Nashville bred band. What I'm starting to like about Kings Of Leon is that they just play music. Sometimes bands get a little too technical and try hard to be flashy and "mind-blowing", not the case with the Kings. Everything comes so natural on this that it sounds so fluid and on point. Aside from me loving the life out of "Sex On Fire", I favored the nighttime highway stretch of "Closer" and a sparse Blues number in "Revelry".

18. Seventh Tree-Goldfrapp: Goldfrapp are on album number four and still they continue to enchant. Fans got fussy that Seventh Tree is a little on the light butter side…but sometimes we can’t have Black Cherry or Supernature for a second time around. Seventh Tree is in short, one of the most gorgeous albums you will hear this year. It has a real Kate Bush whimsy about it. There are lots of strings, lots of pretty and swelling arrangements and Alison Goldfrapp coos in your ears. Each song kind of envelopes you in this warm glow, like the impressive "A&E", perky "Happiness" and the sweeping jolt of "Cologne Cerrone Houdini" (whatta title). Music that will no doubt soothe the soul.

17. Bring Ya To The Brink-Cyndi Lauper: I admit. I wasn't expecting much from this, even though I do adore me some Cyndi. I just remember reading that Cyndi had gotten hip to some techno sounds and well...after hearing Madonna trying the hip-hop hand with Hard Candy, I was skeptical. But my foot is in my mouth as Cyndi goes back to her 80's hey-day and just frolics in it. I can't think of a more perfect comeback for Cyndi than this album right here. Fun is had all around with tracks like the punchy, "Echo" and disco floor ready "Give It Up".

16. Pot of Gold-Alice Russell: My first introduction to this sassy British vocalist was when I heard her do a riveting version of Teena Marie's "Portuguese Love". I mean, anyone who tackles a classic Lady T joint, and actually does a better job (sorry, Tee), receives my utmost attention. Alice Russell is on album #3 and she still punches you square in the jaw with her soulful struts and powerhouse vocals..and boy does she have a voice. Pot Of Gold dips into retro Stax territory ("Turn & Run") and then into skittish modern soul ("Living The Life Of A Dreamer"). Even her take on Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" turns it into a simmering Gospel number.

15. Rare Child-Danielia Cotton: Now this was a “Hmm...I’m bored, let me randomly download this because it looks good” moment that turned into something quite enthralling. Danielia is a musician that isn't well known, but she should be for it's not every day that we hear a sista with a guitar who resembles the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Tracey Chapman all in one go. Bold comparisons but Danielia is indeed someone who rocks so heavy that it's impossible not to take notice. On her second album, Danielia is louder, prouder and grittier than on her debut and it's a breath of fresh air.

14. Viva La Vida-Coldplay: A pure no brainer that this would end up here, right? The British pop-rock quartet is an interesting band because they have a strange sort of “Rihanna syndrome” to them. You either love them or hate their ever loving guts. Then there is that 3% that likes them but will be brutally honest when the time arises. When Coldplay is bad, they are bad (see X&Y) but when they are good…well they are stunning. Viva La Vida is an epic album in every sense of the word. Produced by David Bowie producer wiz, Brian Eno, Viva has all the right elements that make it the big showpiece it is. Yeah, it's a little U2, but Coldplay have every right to sound like it since they achieve it so well here.

13. Rockferry-Duffy: While Amy Winehouse was shooting up white lines, a Wales born vocalist who looked like a mini-Bridget Bardot decided to take advantage of her absence by releasing a stunning collection of 60’s inspired soul-pop. Rockferry does of course rise to the occasion that was first single, "Mercy". Duffy's soulful whine will no doubt remind listeners of a young Dusty Springfield (even I'm tired of typing that comparison) but personally, Duffy is on her own plane. Rockferry consists more so of haunting ballads that are pretty much top-notch in delivery. The title track is sublime while "Warwick Avenue" and "Stepping Stone" together are tissue box ready. With this album, Duffy is sure to stick around into next year.

12. Evovler-John Legend: While some were calling "foul!" when John ditched the ivories to get all spiffy hip-hop n' synthesizer on us, I was actually quite excited. Sometimes changing into a new pair of clean socks makes all the difference and here John has 'evolved'. Here, the Lege sounds like he's having just a good old time, especially on the party poppers, "It's Over" and "Green Light". John still hasn't lost his sensitive Mr. Romantic game as the lovely "Good Morning" and the slinky spark of "Satisfaction" show charm. Maybe I'm impressed easily, but this it's nice that John isn't sticking to same-old-sames and actually had some fun here.

11. Metropolis-Janelle Monae: Maybe I cheated with this, as this android from another funky planet didn’t have an official album release and was merely a seven-song EP. But I don't care, this is one of the most creative and far out albums this side of "Cosmic Slop" Funkadelic. Each song sounds like a score from a sci-fi blockbuster film (as it is a concept album about hunting down a certain robot) with it's BIG instrumentation and Janelle's swooping vocals. Songs like "Suddenly Jane" and soft jazz ballad, "Smile" show Janelle in her best light. It’s kind of a daunting shame that she’s on Diddy’s label, considering that she out sings, dances and out classes those hacks known as Cassie, Danity Kane and Day 26 every day of the week. As this is only a taste of what Janelle has cooked up, 2009 looks hella promising for a full-length album.

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