Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Favorites of 2008 (part 2)

As promised, today I'm sharing the second half of my Favorites of 2008 list. These are the albums that I wrote about in the second half of the year, and just like with yesterday's post, they're roughly in chronological order, not ranked based on popularity.

By no means was this list meant to be prescriptive or an attempt to shame you into thinking you've been listening to garbage. Hopefully though it will turn you on to an album or two that slipped through the cracks while your ears blinked. May your 2009 be just as sonically enjoyable!

14.) Ave.To - Three Way Intersection

"The album is all about putting together some phat beats. They build them, they tear them apart, and then they piece them back together. Along the way, be prepared for a ride through some wide open vistas of jazz, hip-hop, and soul. There's some really thick grooves here that they assemble using a blend of electronics and traditional instruments. One track you'll be hearing an electric guitar, the next some sassy horns. It shifts from afrobeat (Future Funk) to spicy Latin jams (Cuba Libre) to 70's funk (Stank), with some slow grooves in the mix as well to throw on after you've moved into the bedroom (Xess), all with a hip-hop moveability to it." (original post)

15.) NOMO - Ghost Rock

"Although it's the first time I've been acquainted with the group, Ghost Rock (the album I encountered) is actually their second. The band hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan, but sports some funky Afro-beat and world music chops that are out of this world. And when I say out of this world, I mean imagine Fela incorporating some loops and delving into electronica, creating an Afro-beat of the future...This album is 100% about what a band can do playing off one another, and in this case, NOMO does a phenomenal job." (original post)

16.) The Old Believers - Eight Golden Greats

"The first track, There It Is, leads off with Nelson's voice front and center and has an old time frumpy feeling to it (in the kindest sense of the word!). Keeley makes her presence felt on the second track, No More (listen to it below), and here is where the This Mortal Coil connection comes into play. This is easily my favorite track from the album in that it instantly reminded me of their album Blood, which quite obviously is a most positive connection for me. Keeley provides lead vocals for three of the tracks on the album, and although I enjoy Nelson's, these are the stand-outs for yours truly. They're lusciously divine ear candy with a feather-lite touch. After going back and listening to Blood, the tracks here have more layers of instrumentation, but I'd still suggest they're an extension of that same vibe." (original post)

17.) Jay Brannan - Goddamned

"As you might have guessed from what Jay had to say above [in a Sunday Spotlight], the album is incredibly intimate. I know that that term is bandied around a lot in regard to music, but in this case, it's absolutely true. You truly get the feel that Jay is sitting in front of you with his guitar on his lap telling you about what's been happening in his life recently. This is surely where the charm of the album lies - in the simple, unassuming warmth radiated throughout. (original post)

18.) Madlib: The Beat Konducta - WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip (compilation/mix)

"Delving into Madlib's world is like Alice heading down the rabbit hole. Although you can guess that it's going to include some dope hip-hop, smooth soul, or neo-historic jazz, you never know what's going to be served up along the way and in what portions. As a producer, the man's a genius. As a crate-digger, a regular Indiana Jones. As a music-mixer, a magician. He's put out so much material under so many names over the last ten years that you could do a college disseration on the sum and make your professors' heads spin...The album hits shelves tomorrow, but here are the first two tracks to get you salivating. I could have picked any two practically at random and you would have gotten some rich tracks that wouldn't really give you an idea of what the only darn mix is like. It's like cutting a square inch out of a Van Gogh and expecting you to appreciate the entire materpiece." (original post)

19.) KaiserCartel - March Forth

"To be completely honest with you, taken as a whole this album is one of my favorites of 2008. As I mentioned above, the two members' voices working together really work for me. Their music (with one notable exception) is about muted and tempered emotion. An apparent subdued starkness on a perfunctory listen that contains weighty emotions within only a few shades that beg you to listen carefully to experience them." (original post)

20.) Calypsoul 70 (compilation)

"Strut Records has done it again: another album full of dusty gems dug up from who-knows-where. This time they've mined the musical treasure trove of the Caribbean to find twenty tracks that span not only ten years of time, but a wide range of musical genres. And when I say wide, I mean Grand Canyon style...Some of the tracks on the comp celebrate the traditional homegrown styles of music that percolated in the Caribbean, and others display the effects of outside music being assimilated into musical forms already powerful in personal expression, resulting in soul, funk, disco, and Afrobeat akin to what was being produced in other parts of the world, but quite unique in its own way. As always with Strut liner notes, it's a mini-history lesson that's a hundred times more enjoyable than learning about the Louisiana Purchase...I've expressed my unabashed love of everything Strut puts out before, but with Calypsoul 70, I think they've outdone themselves with their strongest offering yet." (original post)

21.) Nikka Costa - Pebble to a Pearl

"She released a handful of albums in Europe and South America but it wasn't until 2001 that she hit the States with Everybody Got Their Something, followed by Can'tneverdidnothin' in 2005, and now her third album Pebble to a Pearl. Listening to her latest and comparing it to previous albums, its evident that she's only getting better. Not to say that her first was no good, it's just that she's developing a voice and style distinctively her own. Befitting her new label [Stax], Pebble to a Pearl really brings the funk, and the streaks of soul that were tantalizingly present before are now fully shining through." (original post)

22.) Mavis Staples - Live: Hope at the Hideout

"This live release follows on the heels of 2007’s We’ll Never Turn Back, an album also much in the spirit of the 60’s Civil Rights Movement, and it includes several of its tracks. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the last one, there’s just something so powerful about hearing Mavis perform these songs live. I was able to catch her over the summer, although it wasn’t in nearly an intimate setting as the Hideout, and was absolutely drawn in. To hear her here though, it’s such a pleasure. At times spiritual, and others defiantly growling, her voice betrays none of her age and still carries a power to connect the listener with her songs of a past our country needs to overcome and move past, but not forget." (original post)

23.) Mascott - Art Project

"You might just want to group Kendall with the countless other female singer/songwriters out there in the world, but you'd be missing something special. To be completely honest, I'm not exactly sure what sets her above her peers, but from the first listen I knew this was going to be an album that I'd return to and enjoy. As you might guess, the focus here is on Kendall's voice, a honeyed sweetness that doesn't get cutesy and sickly on you. Behind her, light instrumentation supports songs about love, its finding and its loss. Although it's been awhile since I've listened to their music, it reminds me of Eisley (who are in the process of putting together their new album supposedly!). And then to seal the deal, the album ends with a cover of June Carter Cash's Wildwood Flower, a heartbreaking song that I just love." (original post)

24.) Q-tip - The Renaissance

"Last night I was talking with some friends and one of them brought up The Renaissance, the latest release from Q-Tip, and suggested that it was the best hip hop release of the year. If his name sounds familiar but not immediately recognizable, it might be because this is his first solo release in nine years. Or, it might be that you remember him as a member of A Tribe Called Quest, probably the most intellectual alternative to the posturing of gangta rap in the 90's. Either way, he's back after rumors of numerous albums over the years have proved false. The album is pretty damn good, too. While I'm not entirely convinced it's the best hip hop album of the year (The Roots and Madlib come to mind off the top of my head as contenders), it certainly is neck and neck in the race." (original post)


Anonymous said...

agreed with most, but the real news from MADLIB this year is not the WLIB album, which was kind of hit-and-miss, it's his BEAT KONDUCTA 5-6, which was totally solid, Madlib at his best!

Sean said...


Believe it or not, that's an album that is on my must buy list that I haven't gotten around to getting yet. I'm definitely going to scoop that up soon though to check it out. Thanks for the push.

Jane said...

The Old Believers have a great sound -- "lusciously divine ear candy" is spot on. Thanks.

Behzad said...

from those i've heard, "Your Song", "Hello" and "Okay" are my favs too. here's some other ones i love (some may not be 2008, i dont know!)

Shelley Short - Swimming
Brett Dennen - Make You Crazy (feat. Femi Kuti)
Costa Music - As I Go Beneath
Hello Tokyo - I Spy
Jesca Hoop - Yell
Jewmongous-They Tried To Kill Us (We Survived,lets eat)
Langhorne Slim - Rebel Side Of Heaven
Melissa Ferrick - Heart Beat
Two Sheds - To Be Alive
The Weepies - Hideaway
the bird and the bee - Polite Dance Song

i should thank you for for the moments i've enjoyed listening to them :)

i'm also listening to "The script - we cry" and "Alicia Keys & Jack White - Another Way To Die" alot these days!
the others i'm listening are not 2008, including some soundtracks by Clint Mansell and Yann Tiersen, Roger Waters's Radio K.A.O.S, etc.

thank you for your list, i'll check the ones i'm not familiar with. :)
Happy 2009 again!

Sean said...


Thanks for sharing your faves as well. Glad you've found some tunes you enjoy here. Enjoy your 2009!