Wow, I did not realise that I have not blog for a few months now. Just could not find the time to do it with year end business targets to meet (yawn, yawn) and other stuff....
I guess what's better to start the new year with a little list of the BEST CD ALBUM of 2008 for me! Yes, I know it's old school but music for me needs to be appreciated like a work of art and although I still fancy tracks but listening to an album is a real experience...
3 main criteria for the list are:
1) The most times I have listened to the FULL album and not just selective tracks or singles
2) I have to like at least 80% of the tracks to qualify (no skipping as much as possible when listening to the CD)
3) The album has to be enjoyable after repeated listening
With that, here is my Top 10
10. Keane - Perfect Symmetry
Always a big fan since their debut "Hopes & Fears". Super melodic and 80's influenced pop. New album continues in the same vein. No breakthrough though. Saw them with guitar for the first time on Jimmy Kimmel Show therefore no longer unique! Still...it's a good album. They still write good melodies.
Favourite track(s) - Spiralling, Black Burning Heart, Better Than This & Perfect Symmetry
9. Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak
First Kanye album that I like in it's entirety. Hates his ego but this guy is a bloody genius. This album is unlike any HIP HOP album out there as he is dabbling with so much electronics (hence the title) underneath a love theme. Bravo!!! The sampling or cover of Tears for Fears "Memories fade" on "Closest Winter" is superb!!! Not a commercial project like his last 3 albums (no standout HIT singles) but this album will last longer than any hip hop albums out there!!!! I don't understand why he bother adding a bonus `live' track at the end of the album which spoil my experience.
Favourite track(s) - Coldest Winter, Love Lockdown, Robocop & Say You Will
8. The Killers - Day & Age
Another act that is not afraid to try something new. Did not like "Sam's Town" but with Stuart Price as producer, they can't go wrong! Not as immediate as "Hot Fuss" but a definite grower. First single is a killer choice (pun intended) otherwise I may not have got into the CD to make the list for 1008. Again, lots of 80's influence as well.
Favourite track(s) - Human, Spaceman, This is your life (sounds like Talking heads "Road to nowhere") & The World We Live In.
7. The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
Discover the band from a sampler CD (Fruit Machine) and have not stopped loving them since. Label has done a great job in chosing the right singles to release and building the band carefully. The remixes for the singles are outstanding including mixes by Calvin Harris, Kasper Bjorke & Tocadisco. Check them out. I am only disappointed with the last 2 tracks on album which leaves me with a sore ending after a great first 80% or this album will be higher in the ranking.
Favourite track(s) - Great DJ, Be The One, Shut Up and Let Me Go, We Walk & That's Not My Name
6. SebastiAN - A Fine Selection Of Remixes
Another gem from Ed Banger records (Justice, Mr Oizo & Daft Punk). He is definitely the next French export to look out for in 2009! His remixes are so far out that it blows my mind to a whole new stratosphere (...and I don't even do drugs). (The other remixer that does the same is Soulwax). Once he's done remixing the song, you can barely recognize the original!!!!
Favourite track(s) - ALL. The album doesn't go higher on the list because you need to be in a certain mood to enjoy it. You can't just play this CD anytime you want otherwise you'll go barking mad. Also, the tracks are not original (yes, I am a purist). Don't drive and listen to this CD unless you are rushing to your next appointment!!!
5. Jason Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things
A case of an artist that continue to grow in creativity and talent with each album. Glad Atlantic stuck with him. There is so much similarilty with Khalil Fong's career. In fact, we are hoping to find some opportunity for both of them to collaborate. Watch this space...
"I'm yours" really open him to a whole new market but his previous albums are pretty good too. Perfect album to play during the weekend to chill or when driving. It's one of those album that does not have a weak song at all. Also, there are enough variety so it doesn't become boring after a few listens.
Favourite track(s) - I'm Yours, Lucky, Details in the Fabric & A Beautiful Mess
4. T.I. - Paper Trail
Rap artist are always about singles to me and initially T.I. would fall under the same category if his last few albums are concern. But when I listen to this album, I was pleasantly surprise to find out that he really put a lot oif effort into making a good album and a great listening experience. Although there is 16 songs, there are none of the `segue" conversation tracks which always piss me off. He also write intelligent lyrics as well and using guest singers that really makes a difference to the songs and not just who is popular right now to collaborate. Definitely moving commercial hip hop into the right direction and not just taking about bitches and hoes. The only downside is that the album starts slow and only after Track (4), it burst into life and then there is just no letting go till the end of the album!
Favourite track(s) - On Top of the World, Live Your Live, Whatever U Like, No Matter What, Swagga like us (feat. Jay Z, Kanye & Lil Wayne), Slide Show (feat John Legend) & Dead & Gone (feat Justin T)
Bonus - Check out "Collect Call" on the Japanese edition of the album which sampled Keith Sweat "Make it last forever".
3. Kings Of Leon - Only By The Night
"Sex on Fire" turn me to this band when it went to #1 on the UK singles chart. I was so surprise when I check the album out. It's so good for a change compared to the emo bands (no offence to them) but to see some nasty guitars and melody really gives me the chills. They reminded me of INXS and other Australian rock bands like Eskimo Joe etc. It's a shame that US radio is ignoring this band. This album will be a classic album.
Favourite track(s) - Sex on Fire, Use Somebody, Crawl, Revelry, Notion, Manhattan & Cold Desert.
2. Coldplay - Viva La Vida (Original package)
If "Life in Technicolor ii" from Prospeckts March EP is added on to the album, it would be close to #1 album for me. Just lacks 1 extra HIT. I really applaud Chris Martin for not wanting to put too many tracks on 1 album and I am then puzzled why he released an EP after that. Yes, they are the BIGGEST ROCK BAND in the WORLD!! (until U2 released their next album). Music wise, they are progressing and the usage of Brian Eno IS a smart move no matter what Q mag says.
Favourite track(s) - From Track (1) to Track (9)!!!!!
1. RADIOHEAD - IN RAINBOWS
They finally released a "sane" album since "OK Computer". Although this album still ranks as the 3rd best Radiohead album for me after "The Bends" and "OK Computer", it could surpass at least OK Computer in a few years time. Why, you ask? Well, these boys are geniuses as you can actually discover little things in the album everytime you play the album. It's freaky but true. Also, the album gets better with time and there are only a few albums that can do that. This album will be a true classic in 10 years time. The album is technically available last December for free downloads but available as a CD in January. Till today, I still enjoy the album like it's new...
I have not seen them live since they play at "Ko Shan Theater" years ago and can't wait to see them again.
Favourite track(s) - Nude, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, All I Need, Videotape, Reckoner & House Of Cards. I may not enjoy every track as much as I do on "Viva La Vida" but the favourites are REALLY REALLY good which make "In Rainbows" my CD of the year. The best album experience for 2008!!!!
Other albums bubbling under but did not hit the above criteria or just miss the Top 10:
- Lil Wayne / Tha Carter III
T.I. & Lil Wayne has completely made 50 Cents and Eminem sounds passe. Curious to see both Fiddy & M eir new albums will do well when it comes out soon. This album has some good songs but not a complete album experience. Yes, I skip tracks.
- Ne Yo / Year of the Gentlemen
The new MJ? I always like his singles but he is still not a finished article as far as albums are concerned. "Mad" is my favourite track but album does not have enough variety and second half of album gets a little boring. He will continue to grow with each album and I cannot wait for his next album to make my Top 10 list. `Closer' shows that he is also willing to experiment and pushing the boundary of R&B. Miss out the list by a small margin.
- Chris Brown / Exclusive
Can you imagine that they came up with a bonus edition which features 2 hit singles off it??? (Superhuman & Forever)! Talk about unprepared release. Similar to Ne-Yo, he should plan the album in advance and take our at least 5 songs from the album and make the album a womderful experience from Track (1) onwards. Shame about R&B and Hip Hop albums. Jamming endless bad tracks on albums.
- Usher / Here I Stand
Inconcistent album with flashes of brilliance with "Love in this club", "Trading places" & "Moving Mountains". Again, too many bad tracks in album. Under pressure from Chris Brown and Ne-Yo for the billing for The King of R&B.
- MGMT / Oracular Spectacular
Continue to surprise me with every listen. Fresh sounds but need a breakthrough track and they could achieve MIka type success. If I would start listening to this album earlier, they could have a good chance to make the Top 10.
Pleasant surprise. I think he has a bright future and one to watch. Discovered from You Tube and this is his second album. Superb songwriter with a knack for melody. I think this one will continue to develop now that he has some success in US. Reminds me of "Rob Thomas" of Matchbox Twenty. Check out "Stranger", "Fall For You", "Like A Knife" & "Your Call". Just needs a bit more depth in songwriting and he will make it into my Top 5. Each songs does not stray far from one another which means you will stop listening after a short period.
The Passionate Music Man