Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top 10 Albums of 2008

10. Drew Danburry - This Could Mean Trouble You Don't Speak For The Club
A good friend of my fiance, Drew Danburry traded me a copy of his album for my extra copy of Style Wars. I met him when he and his wife needed a place to crash while making a tour stop in California. Drew Danburry tours, tours, and tours. If his band isn't availible then he tours on his own. His music is everything. It's folky indie pop with layers musical, vocal, and lyrical. Really impressive CD here. Go buy this album (or trade him a 70s doc on New York graffitti) and make sure to stick around for the bonus track.

09. Nappy Roots - The Humdinger
For years and years I waited for another Nappy Roots album. I may have been the only one but damnit, that doesn't cheapen my struggle. I had worn out my copies of Watermelon, Chicken, and Grits and Wooden Leather. It turned out that their earlier independently-released albums 90 in the Slow Lane and Country Fried Cess weren't worth listening to. In short, I needed some new Nappy. A mixtape was released and peaked my interest. Eventually the album dropped and song after song pleasured my earholes. Gross. Between "On My Way to GA," "Swerve and Lean," and "Pole Position," I had a new group of tracks to keep me happy for another couple years. But if anyone hears any news about more new Nappy...please let me know.

08. Moe Pope and Headnodic - Megaphone
As you all know, Crown City Rockers used to be called Mission before they came to California. Raashan Ahmad and Moe Pope were the group's two emcees and Headnodic, Woodstock, Max McVeety, and Kat Ouano produced and played instruments on the Mission album. When the group decided to move to California, Moe Pope stayed behind and created Project Move. Headnodic made his way West and is wasn't until 2008 that they put out an album together.

The album is a blast to listen to. Between the always-interesting and fun production from Headnodic and the energetic lyrics and hooks from Pope, there's not a single track I would skip on Megaphone. Make sure you listen up for the interludes where the guys start naming off their favorite producers from hip-hop's history.

07. The Roots - Rising Down
Holy shit. First off, I've never been a huge Roots fan. I know, I know, I know. How can I claim to love hip-hop and not love The Roots. Let's be clear, I've always loved what The Roots stand for: intelligent lyricism, the use of actual instruments, and a passionate work ethic. But there was always something that never allowed me to fully soak in and enjoy their work. Rising Down changed all that. That invisible auditory wall is GONE. The Roots are as incredible as everyone says they are. My brain has finally switched on and accepted it. Not only do I now consider myself a Roots fan but the album features tons of other emcees that are more than impressive: Dice Raw, P.O.R.N., Malik B., Peedi Crack, and Truck North. That, along with appearances from Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Styles P, Wale, Chrisette Michelle, makes the album look like a Hall of Fame lineup of talent.

06. The Presidents of the United States of America - These Are the Good Times, People
Straight pop music. This is the most fun-t0-listen-to album on the list. Sure, some might say that there's a lack of substance, but there's no bad tracks if pop's what you're looking for. If you like their old stuff--you'll like their new stuff. Here's a little added bonus if you were fat/nerdy/white in the late 80s/early 90s: Weird Al directed their Mixed Up S.O.B. video.

05. DJ Cam - Lost & Found
A French DJ with a love for blending hip-hop and jazz, Cam has released over fifteen albums since 1994. His latest project is one of his best. Miminalist vocals and room-filling instrumentals combine to produce an extremely impressive jazzhop album. One of the best tracks reworks Kool & the Gang's "Summer Madness" while another draws inspiration from Chinese violins which reminds me of the streets of San Francisco. This is a beautiful collection of nine songs which blend together into fourty minutes of mind-stretching music.

04. Billie The Vision & The Dancers - I Used to Wander These Streets
Go to their website to get this album for FREE.

Using the internet to put their name out, this Swedish group has played gigs everywhere from high school gymnasiums to prision institutions. Releasing their first album I Was So Unpopular in School and Now They´re Giving Me This Beautiful Bicycle in 2004. Since then, they've sold thousands of records and recieved hundreds of thousands of online downloads. Touring with the Pipettes (hopefully to the U.S. soon), the group continues to pay their dues while their popularity slowly and steadily continues to grow. The third track "Someday Somehow" will transform you into an instant fan.

03. Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke
Thank you, blog-o-sphere! Without you, I would have never heard of Ladyhawke. Hell, I probably wouldn't have heard of most of these albums without blogs. A lifelong fan of 80s music, Phillipa Brown, is a one-woman force for bringing the unpopular decade back to the mainstream. Packed with synthesized keyboard sounds Ladyhawke belts out Kim Wilde/Cyndi Lauper/Pat Benetar-esque pop vocals. If this is your cup of tea, you'll order a gallon of this. And yes, the band is named after the Matthew Broderick movie.

02. Raashan Ahmad - The Push
I've been waiting for this album for YEARS. Literally, years. The Crown City Rocker frontman and I talked about this album back in 2006. When we spoke, he told me that the album was nearly completed. Then, it seems the project refused to stop growing, morphing, and expanding. One time, Raashan told me that he was waiting for Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 to stop by and lay down his vocals for a song he was working on. Numerous producers and DJs were assisting in creating tracks for the album and as Raashan released lyrics to new tracks on his website, my excitement level tripled, then quadrupled, and tripled again on top of that. Then came the release date. A free show at Amoeba. I was in the front row, my recently purchased CD in hand, hands up and down as Raashan killed it. Buy this album, it's not expensive, support local art. Support MUSIC.
Fight the power! Power fight people
People fight people for the crumbs that we left with
Crumbs look like buffet's to poor folk
But knowledge is the wealth and that ain't no joke
Crips fight bloods and bloods fight cholo's
Cholo's to whites and white fight black
Like, gimme them scraps and be gone with the wind
But the hood's a bad land like a reservation
Press wanna fight for free speech in the court
Dad's wanna fight when they kids play sports
thugs wanna scrap when you eyeball em' wrong
m.c.'s wanna fight when you rhyming too long
tribe fight tribe in the congo, WAR!
we buy the fight at the diamond store
big country fight little country for they minerals
fly drugs to the block make more criminals…FIGHT!

01. She and Him - Volume One
What a surprise. I thought for sure that The Push would have been my number one album of the year. Then my friend Kaleen told me about a new project involving M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel. I'd enjoyed M.Ward's music before but had no idea that the Almost Famous actress could sing. She can. The combination of these two musicans kicked my ass in a major way. I think it was the surprise that slid this album to the top of the list. I knew I'd love The Push but to get this much happiness from a group I'd never heard of makes me look forward to the future of music.

Here's a link to a mix I made. There's one song form each album in this folder. Support these artists. Buy their CDs. You won't regret it. If you'd like to tell me your Top 10 albums/artists of 2008, I'd really appreciate it.


MovieMan0283 said...

Your list has made me realize that I have not heard a single album from 2008. Not a-one. I think this makes it the least-heard musical year on my part since, oh I don't know, 1953?

elgringo said...

MovieMan0283 - Well then, I'd suggest downloading that mix I made. Also, everyone knows 1953 sucked for music.

Keith said...

So far I'd say (not in any order):

- M83: Saturdays = Youth
- Cut Copy: In Ghost Colours
- Portishead: Third
- Q-Tip: The Renaissance
- Hercules and Love Affair: Self-titled
- Crystal Castles: Self-titled
- Ponytail: Ice Cream Spiritual
- Fuck Buttons: Street Horrrsing
- Amanda Palmer: Who Killed Amanda Palmer (I'm also in love with her, so I don't know if this can count)
- Subtle: ExitingARM

And my least favorite hyped-as-shit album: Tha Carter III

Fletch said...

Unlike MovieMan, I've heard some albums from 2008...but none of these. Heck, I haven't even heard of half these acts. Boo me, I guess.

elgringo said...

Keith, I've listened to four of those albums (Cut Copy, Portishead, Q-Tip, and Hercules and Love Affair) and really enjoyed two of them (Q-Tip and Cut Copy). For some reason, I couldn't get into Hercules even though I seemed to be the only person on the planet. As for Portishead, I'm going to chalk that one up to a "I'm wrong because I don't love this group" label just like I have to do with Radiohead. I know I'm wrong about them and have been trying to right my erroneous ways.

As for the rest of the albums, I've only heard OF M83 and Fuck Buttons but never heard their music. I used to listen to Dresden Dolls but haven't caught her solo stuff yet. Never heard of Ponytail or Crystal Castles before. And I didn't know Subtle had an album out. Thanks for the recommend.

elgringo said...

Fletch -- Like I told MovieMan, guess you should download the sampler I made up. Let me know what you think.

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