Advetures In 2008: Top 40 Albums (#29-20)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Away we go! Some say the art of the album is dead...but I just think some people haven't cleaned their ears out, much less explored beyond their familiar musical backyard. The albums that I have been counting down on these lists were projects that I felt were solid and truly bring to mind what it would've been like when my Mom heard (and wore to smithereens-true story) Carole King's Tapestry for the first time. Just an example, but it'd be neato to see if some of these albums that I've feature on these lists make it to "classic" designation in later years. If not, well...I'll just put them in the my personal classic files for now.

29. Oracular Spectacular-MGMT: Let me get a little "Rolling Stone journalist" for a second and be on MGMT’s bandwagon for a mini paragraph. *puts on music snob glasses* What I dig about this New York based duo is that they don't play by the rules as every song on their long awaited debut is more varying than the last. Lots of powerhouse synths, booming tribal drums and just some kick ass tunes, like the wild synth wilderness of "Time To Pretend" and the trippy thrash on "Of Moons, Birds and Monsters". An album that got my creative juices flowing.

28. Some People Have Real Problems-Sia: With an album title that has been my saying for years and an album picture that features some serious fun with Crayola markers...it didn't take me long to grab this off the shelf and purchase. Call me a late Sia bloomer, but I hadn't gotten around to discovering the Aussie vocalist and but I made up for lost time. What you have here is something sincere and contrary to the cover art, the album is lush and medative. Sia's voice is a soulful treat that sounds eerily like a blend between Tori Amos and Alana Davis. I adored "Little Black Sandals" and the piano snark bop of "The Girl You Lost To Cocaine"...oh, and "Buttons" was devilishly and sneaky cute.

27. We Started Nothing-The Ting Tings: Goodness gracious this album is FUN! The UK duo bring back to mind what was so neon n' hairspray fun about quirky 80's new wave. Think if Josie Cotton and Debbie Harry came back to town...leggings and all. The Ting Tings makes music that is meant to be played at high decibels and sung at even louder ones. Songs such as the impeccable shout-a-thon, "Great DJ" and the inescapable pop strut "Shut Up & Let Me Go" are pure gems.

26. Melody-Sharleen Spiteri: Lotsa folks weren't pleased as Crystal Light punch that former Texas frontwoman, Sharleen Spiteri did her solo debut filled with 60's soul inspired tunes...especially since almost everyone and their mama did something this year that recalled Motor City Magic. Still Melody is sublime in that it's darker in its tone and not as shall we say...Temptations snazzy? Think of Dusty Springfield on her most depressing day and you’ve got a clear picture that this is a different brand of a soul album. Sharleen’s rich vocal tone coats over songs like a comforting security blanket. Elegance is the factor here as songs like "All The Times I've Cried" and "Stop, I Don't Love You Anymore" are just refined like aged wine.

25. My World-Bryn Christopher: Bryn was dubbed “the male Amy Winehouse” this year and it was quite a lazy comparison. Sure his breakthrough Iraq War ode “The Quest” sounded like Amy’s “You Know I'm No Good" long lost cousin, but the only two things Bryn and Amy have in common are that they are British and they both execute 60's revival soul well. Bryn (with smoldering model good looks...is he single? *wink*) has a impressive debut that echos classic soul and gospel elements wonderfully. Not to mention has a great growly voice that resonates on tracks like "Help Me" and a gutsy remake of Portishead's "Sour Times".

24. Seeing Sounds-N.E.R.D.: Let’s forget for a milli second that garbage singles, “Spaz” and “Everybody Knows” are nestled on here. Okay…clearing the mind. Seeing Sounds is what you’d want from an N.E.R.D. album and then some. Chock full of wham-bam in your face tunes that merge the highways of rock and hip-hop, with a slice of crisp soul on the side. Songs such as the punchy, "Windows" and a swirling funk number, "You Know What" were criminally ignored for single release, and probably would've helped propel the album to better heights. Still Seeing Sounds is a balled up fist that will hit you square in your ears.

23. Fearless-Jazmine Sullivan: Miss Sullivan just came out of nowhere this year with her yearning, “I Need U Bad” and pretty much threw the music listening population out of its hum-drum loop. A song that sounded so like gritty Bob Marley meets a young Mary J. Blige that was shiny enough to splash right into mainstream FM radio waters. Her debut was iron clad solid, as it featured probably one of the best painstaking ballads this year called, "In Love With Another Man". Goosbumps. Also opening for Maxwell this year wasn’t too darn shabby either for this promising artist.

22. Aliens and Rainbows-Ferras: It’s quite a shame that Ferras got stuck being the “American Idol Hollywood Theme Song Guy” as his song, “Hollywood's Not America” got massive play during the crappiest season of AI. Ferras is bigger than that considering his debut has a swelling piano pop sound that’s feels along the lines of a young Elton John or Paul McCartney during his Wings days. Aliens and Rainbows isn't your typical piano-rock/pop album as there are some nicely structured lyrics and arrangements going on. "Liberation Day" (perfect little ditty to describe '08's changes) and "My Beautiful Life" stand out as some of the best cuts, but the album as a whole is rewarding.

21. The Odd Couple-Gnarls Barkley: The biggie question was...Can Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo out-do their classic "Crazy"? Well, they will be forever known for it, but the duo are continue to make music that pushes boundaries. This year they proved they are not going to be pigeoned holed into "one hit wonder-ism". On aptly titled, The Odd Couple, Gnarls B picks up where 2006's St. Elsewhere left off but they slow their roll a tad. The brooding and eerie grainy Blues of, "Who's Gonna Save My Soul" literally hypnotized me when I first heard it while I get a kick out of "Run (I'm A Natural Disaster)" and it's go-go boots ready groove.

20. Pebble To A Pearl-Nikka Costa: When blazoned hair wild child Nikka Costa signed to the legendary Stax Records this year, I thought…geez why wasn’t this done sooner?! Nikka’s rambunctious Janis Joplin meets Sly Stone persona fits right in at Stax’s lunch table, a table that has served up classics from the likes of Otis Redding and The Bar Kays . On Pebble, Nikka stays true to the record labels form with songs like the impromptu “Stuck To You” and the snazzy title track. Yet it has that Nikka spice peppered in that makes this one of Nikka's best efforts. Nikka never disappoints me so this was clearly a no brainer inclusion.

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