The best albums of 2008

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3. Jan. 2009, 16:36

#10 > tie: In Ghost Colours, Cut Copy and "Couples", The Long Blondes

Years go by and I listen to less and less electronic music, but In Ghost Colours gave the genre a shining moment in 2008. Can Cut Copy be called an "electronic music" band? With all the guitars on the album, it's hard to tell. But this was the record that made me dance the most in 2008, with great hymns-for-the-dancefloor such as Lights & Music and the wonderful Unforgettable Season, with its New Order inspiration. This is an album for the good times.

As for The Long Blondes, the band said goodbye in 2008. Their sophomore album, "Couples", was another proof that the band had a bright future ahead. Dorian Cox's lyrics are still full of acid commentaries on love and sex, addressing situations such as not betraying your boyfriend (Guilt) and the sadness of being single while "the couples go by and give the eye" (The Couples). Kate Jackson's vocals are nuanced and smart, making every song intelligent while retaining the band's pop approach. As for the complaints that "the band abandoned the guitars and headed to the dancefloor", it's just bullshit - powerful rock moments such as Here Comes the Serious Bit are there to prove the contrary.


#09 >> Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
Being from Brazil and not exactly following the indie scene discussions, I didn't get all the arguments over Vampire Weekend's debut. Is it a "love-it-or-hate-it" album? This sounds bizarre, since it's such a simple album, and (for me) so instantly likable. It's hard not to enjoy the contagious rhythms of A-Punk and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (how long till movie people start using this song in beach parties sequences?). Great musical bits such as the guitar in Oxford Comma add a lot to the pleasure of hearing this pretty short album.


#08 >> Me and Armini, Emiliana Torrini
La Torrini keeps on making a new album that's quite different from the one before. Here she abandons (for the most part) the acoustic pieces of Fisherman's Woman and goes for songs that are filled with drums (there's a song called Jungle Drum, for God's sake). She's more adorable than 99% of people in tracks like Big Jumps with a impossibly lovely "do do ro do do", and on Ha Ha - where an acoustic guitar resembles the most magnificent moments of her previous album. But she can also sound heavier (and sexier, too). Just check the dense Gun or the amazing Heard It All Before, which goes from reggae to an almost punk-ish song (!).


#07 >> Thirteens, Leona Naess
As a big Leona fan, I've been waiting for a new album for five years. I was almost getting used to the thought that she'd never release a fourth album. And then there was Thirteens, a lovely, serene, acoustic and very "repeatable" disc. From the "ghostly" backing vocals on Ghosts In The Attic, it's a sequence of little songs that keep on growing on me. In a fair world, Leave Your Boyfriends Behind would be a hit as big as Feist's "1 2 3 4" (ok, maybe Leona should've done a video as amazing as Feist's), since the songs share the same "vibe". I'm currently in love with Learning As We Go and her advice to "Just don't lie to your heart"; but the great moments are plenty. Even though the album is haunted by her father's death, Leona's spirit can be resumed on a song title such as Unnamed (This Song Makes Me Happy): it's simple, it's optimistic despite some bad news, it's amazing.


#06 >> Detours, Sheryl Crow
For a long time, Sheryl Crow was my favorite female artist. Then came Wildflower - probably one of the greatest musical disappointments of this decade for me (along with Madonna's Confessions on a Dancefloor). Most of the songs sounded the same, and the lyrics weren't near half as good as other Sheryl lyrics. But now I have Detours, and I'm in love with her again.
An american friend told me that it's considered very "uncool" to like Sheryl Crow these days (he's a fan, just like me). Maybe it's because Sheryl never wanted to be "cool" in the first place; she seemed to be in a place all of her own, just doing her stuff. At the same time, she's trying to save the world - another "uncool" thing. Well, the songs are memorable, and that's what matters. Out Of Our Heads has to be the cheesiest and happiest protest song of the year; impossible to dislike. Gasoline takes Sheryl back to the narrative format she mastered in previous songs. But the best moments are the most intimate: battling with cancer on the very sad Make It Go Away (Radiation Song), singing a Lullaby For Wyatt, asking for mother care on the brilliant title track or singing softly to me on the perfect Drunk With The Thought Of You.


#05 >> Little Honey, Lucinda Williams
I wasn't expecting another Lucinda album in 2008, since she released the devastating West in 2007. But there she was with a new batch of songs, and she's sounding HAPPY! Great news for her; great news for the fans, who got a new album so soon. The Grand Dame of rock'n'roll (come on, Lucinda deserves a title) is still as raw as ever, from the opener Real Love to the cover of AC/DC's It's A Long Way To The Top that closes the album. In the middle, Lu rocks her sex life on Honey Bee ("Now I got your honey all over my tummy", yeah!), and cries Tears Of Joy. But the better moments come with the serenity of Knowing and the sadness of If Wishes Were Horses. That's the thing with Lu & me: she never disappoints.


#04 >> 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West
I certainly don't listen to Kanye West the same way american (or british) people do; I don't follow all the lyrics and the raps. The thing that attracted me to Kanye's music was always the music itself. Since The College Dropout came out, Kanye's inventiveness caught me. With the Jon Brion collaborations, Late Registration quickly became one of my favorite albums of the decade.
So on his 4th album, Kanye's not rapping! I don't give a shit; the music is still awesome and original. It's his darkest album (by now, everybody knows that it's haunted by his mother's death and the breakup with his fiancée), and the music really suits his mood. Tracks such as opener Say You Will and Amazing were made for the night, with cold beats and a chilly atmosphere. Highlights include singles Love Lockdown and Heartless, and my personal favorite Paranoid - finally Mr. West has done the dancefloor hymn he's been threatening to make since album #1. With 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye solidifies his status as the most original act in current mainstream music.


#03 >> Third, Portishead
11 years, and they come back with an album as wonderful as the previous ones? How surprising is that? Third leaves me speechless whenever I listen to it. Some people say "trip-hop" is a limited definition of the Portishead sound; the band itself hates it. I like it because I can't define what exactly is trip-hop; if a friend asked me for an explanation, I'd have no words. To me, this is an album for the end of the times; there's an "Children of Men" vibe here that I quite enjoy (check those alarm sounds in the end of Threads!). We Carry On is the sound of machines going to war; Machine Gun is, hm, self-explanatory. Small, with the Nico influences, is apocalyptic. Should I say anything about Beth Gibbon's vocals? And should I even mention that this war is a war of the heart, in Beth's lyrics? Masterpiece - the third in the band's career.


#02 >> Elephants... Teeth Sinking Into Heart, Rachael Yamagata
In 2008, Beyoncé made a double album that could be fit into a single one; she separated her "personalities" in two albums with 5 or 6 songs each. Rachael Yamagata didn't go that far (she never mentioned two personalities), but, like Beyoncé - before Beyoncé, actually -, she did the same. "Elephants" is the softer Yamagata, the one from Happenstance, the one with the fuck-me-I-wanna-die-with-these-lyrics. She's quotable as a movie from Billy Wilder; songs such as What If I Leave, Elephants and the 9-minute-epic Sunday Afternoon cut deep inside.
"Teeth Sinking Into Heart" is the real surprise - there's also a ferocious side in this girl! Sidedish Friend and Faster are the standouts, rockin' hard and with intensity. "Intensity" may be the key word here: Rachael sings everything with a passion that's impressive. Her songs pierce me and heal me. And I love her for that.


#01 >> To Survive, Joan as Police Woman
Oh, Joan! So simple, yet so complex. I can hear someone ask me "Why do you like this girl so much?", and I can't explain. I can try.
In the end of an interview, Joan thanked the reporter. When he asked why, she said, "For not asking about Jeff (Buckley; they used to date when he drowned). For letting me be me".
This is what I like about her. And this is in her songs. It's in the verses of Holiday, my favorite song of 2008, with her letting go of "this worn out desire to be free". To be in love is the opposite of being free, but she knows this is not a sad feeling. "I'm so happy to be loved", she states on the next song, and the message is said, simple as that. Simple? Try To Be Lonely, where she says she found "the one to be lonely with". Joan understands the complex simplicity (to quote Teedra Moses) of love, and this wisdom is everywhere on the album. Even if she's struggling to find "the spark to survive" on the devastating title track. Joan is not just a great singer-songwriter, she's someone I truly admire.

Kommentare

  • JoaoPerassolo

    vou baixar a Joan. interessei.

    11. Jan. 2009, 0:35
  • Kym-B

    After 11 years of waiting and hoping, I really, really, REALLY wanted to love "Third" by Portishead. Unfortunately, I have to turn it off each time I try, I hate it that much. What's the secret of getting into it? I'd love to know.

    4. Mär. 2009, 15:31
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