Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Louis's Top 20 Records of 2008!!!

Photobucket20. Umlaut - I UMLAUT EINS (Buy here.) German heavy metal by way of Fort Collins. It may be a joke, but it’s a damn funny one. I highly recommend their live show. Listen to: “Danse”

19. Malibu - ROBO-SAPIENS (Buy here.) The latest side-project from Roger Manning, a fun, bouncy 80’s-synth throwback. It’s extremely fun and will incite much dancing. If people still danced, that is. Listen to: “The Bounce”

18. Journey – REVELATION (Buy here.) Laugh if you want, but this is old-school Journey, filled with soaring vocals (courtesy of new frontman Arnel Pineda) and that “believe in yourself” songwriting that bands just don’t do anymore. Listen to: “Never Walk Away”

17. Neil Diamond - VELVET GLOVES & SPIT (re-issue) (Buy here.) A sterling in-between album that finds Diamond leaving the Brill Building and searching for success on his own. Even though it contains the classic “Shilo” and “Brooklyn Roads”, it’s probably most famous for “The Pot Smoker’s Song”. Listen to: “Shilo”

16. Original Soundtrack - PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (Buy here.) Yeah, this has got lots of previously released material by Eddy Grant, Bel Biv Devoe and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, but I got this for the title cut, a brand new song by Huey Lewis and the News. It’s a really good song. Listen to: “Pineapple Express”

15. Vee Device - LOVE WILL TEAR US TO SHREDS, ACT II: THE GENRE OF SILENCE (Buy here.) The casual listener would be apt to call the output of Fort Collins’ Vee Device, well, pretentious, but unlike similar acts, such as the abhorrent Decembrists, Vee Device as so much catchiness to their music that it becomes the sort of pop music you’d heard during the Russian Revolution. Which is what I think they’re going for. Hopefully. Listen to: “Bastille Day”

Photobucket14. Duffy – ROCKFERRY (Buy here.) It’s so great to have a British neo-soul singer who is not a total crack-whore. No, Welsh chanteuse Duffy likes to take good care of herself and, if that weren’t enough, she knows how to craft a classic sound that is sexy and poppy, but, you know, won’t cut you for a fix. Listen to: “Warwick Avenue”

13. The Proclaimers- LIFE WITH YOU (Buy here.) Am I the only Proclaimers fan in the United States? I have bought every album since SUNSHINE ON LEITH, and each one is better than the last, more raucous than the last, and, more bitingly sweet than the last. This British import (once again, eff you American record companies) is their best record to date. Listen to: “Life with You”

12. Weezer - THE RED ALBUM (Buy here.) Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. They practically invented emo so I should hate them, but you know, I just can’t. Weezer is just so damn likable. Their music is so damn likable. I’ve listened to “Pork and Beans” probably more than any other song this year. It feels like ’95 all over again. Listen to: “Pork and Beans”

11. Brady Harris - COVER CHARGE (Buy here.) I am a total sucker for cover albums. Hearing a new artist (well, an artist that’s new to me at least) doing an unique cover of a popular song, to hear how they take that tune on, is always an inviting proposition and here, Harris does hauntingly jaunty version of “Like a Prayer”, “Smile Like You Mean It” and a stellar mash-up of “I Want You to Want Me” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”. Oh, and let’s not forget that take on “Ace of Spaces”. Listen to: “I Want You to Want Me / Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”

Photobucket10. Ringo Starr - LIVERPOOL 8 (Buy here.) What does it say about me that Ringo’s output is my fave solo Beatle’s body of work? I can’t help it—the guy’s work is so freaking enjoyable, and sing-songy, and happy, and, well, lovably sad-sack. This album (back on Capitol) didn’t sell for crap, but I bought it on release day, excited to get it home and in the headphones, and it really delivered. It’s a mature sound, but fans of later releases like TIME TAKES TIME will be in Heaven. Listen to: “Liverpool 8”

9. Christophe - THE LIFE OF AN OUTLAW: 1-17-08 DEMOS (Buy here.) Straight outta Lawton, Oklahoma, is the brutally exciting first outlaw country record from OKC horrorpunk legend Christophe. Sure, his punk stuff was good, but his country stuff is GREAT. This self-released disc, stripped bare, with a quivering voice and a resonate acoustic guitar, is full of that small-town spite’n’quiet anger that singers like Merle Haggard and Hank Williams Jr. had, but with a sleek little evil edge to it. Listen to: “The Life of an Outlaw”

8. Flight of the Conchords - FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS (Buy here.) Man—that song “Business Time” was written for me. Too close to home. But also too funny. Listen to: “Business Time”

7. The Osmonds - CRAZY HORSES / THE PLAN (Buy here.) I really have no problem losing credibility with you. The Osmonds should be held in way higher regard than they do. Way higher. Need proof? Look at this two-fer import. CRAZY HORSES is one of the greatest metal—yes METAL—albums of all time, filled with Mormon rebellion at it’s finest and then, as penance, comes THE PLAN, a whacked-out rock opera based around THE BOOK OF MORMON that make’s the Beatles’ SGT. PEPPER look like Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees’ SGT. PEPPER. Listen to: “Crazy Horses”, “Let Me In”

6. Ben Folds - WAY TO NORMAL (Buy here.) Ben Folds follows a formula, sure, but it’s a reliable formula that never fails to deliver. Profane comedy easily mixes with piano-driven melancholia, with liberal doses of maudlin bitterness strewn throughout. If you like Ben Folds, you’ll like this. Listen to: “You Don’t Know Me”

Photobucket5. Jeff Finlin - BALLAD OF A PLAIN MAN (Buy here.) It would be too simplistic to call Jeff Finlin country, Americana, folk, rock, whatever. I mean, how do you categorize Bob Dylan? He’s a genre unto himself. And that’s what Jeff Finlin is. A powerfully snide—but never bitter—voice telling tales about the darker side of the everyman. His music is a personal thing that desires a personal connection to be fully understood. Listen to: “Jesus Was a Motorcycle Man”

4. Glen Campbell - MEET GLEN CAMPBELL (Buy here.) It’s an all covers album, so you got me sold already, but add Campbell’s sweetly plaintive voice to songs like “Sing” and “These Days” and you’ve got a thoroughly melancholy masterpiece, with the songs taking on a whole more meaning in his mortality-filled delivery. Listen to: “Grow Old with Me”

3. Josh Fix - FREE AT LAST (Buy here.) Every year, I search for the next big Queen/Billy Joel operatic/piano man sound. Past winners have been Mark Mallman, Mika and, now, out of nowhere, the attitude-laden Josh Fix. Catchy doesn’t even begin to describe his songwriting. Biting and, at times, mean, his lyrics are definitely prime-era Joel, but with a glorious almost-wall of sound production. Listen to: “Don’t Call Me in the Morning”

2. AC/DC - BLACK ICE (Buy here.) Quite simply, if you don’t like AC/DC, you’re lame. These guys are what rock is all about and, in a time when most piss-poor modern rock is all about whining about how daddy didn’t understand you, these stalwarts return to kick you in the ass and tell you to grow the hell up. All these songs are about rocking, getting laid and blowing shit up. The way rock is supposed to be. Listen to” “War Machine”

Photobucket1. Neil Diamond - HOME BEFORE DARK (Buy here.) Don’t call it a comeback, he’s been here for years. Enough with the jokes, hipsters. Neil Diamond is not some kitsch artifact—he’s the real deal, and probably the greatest living American songwriter. Produced by career-boosting Rick Rubin, HOME BEFORE DARK improves upon the 12 SONGS formula, by having Neil return to his storytelling roots, writing stark songs that are surprisingly uplifting and strangely dour at the same time. If you ever had any doubt to the legitimacy of Neil, pop in this album and then quietly go screw yourself. You should have never doubted Neil to begin with. Listen to: “Act Like a Man”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Louis! You're nuts! Surely this is the most eccentric Top 20 list of the year. I'm surprised you didn't include field recordings of the ruby-throated humming bird.

Mike Baron

January 29, 2009 at 6:37 AM  

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