Once again, I’m taking up the critic’s mantle. For no other reason than the fact that I can, I’m looking back at 2008’s musical offerings to determine those I find worthy of being called The Best.
And so, here begins my list of The Top Twenty Albums of 2008 … starting with the bottom five.
- Copeland – You Are My Sunshine
- David Byrne & Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
- Sam Sparro – Sam Sparro
- The Roots – Rising Down
- Q-Tip – The Renaissance
Copeland takes the inventive step of using their lead singer’s falsetto to invoke the restless ghost of Elliott Smith, then layers under it sonic overtones that smack of Eagles and Beatles. The band makes a few minor missteps, but nothing that their FM Gold harmonies and soaring soundtrack instrumentals can’t smooth over.
The should work together more often, these two. Eno makes the music, Byrne writes the lyrics and sings in a way that is familiar, if perhaps a bit mellowed from his Talking Heads days. The end result is an imminently listenable album with just enough subversive thought to keep it interesting. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? And yet …
This is a guilty pleasure album if even there was one. I was tempted to leave it off the list entirely, but this was one of those times where a handful of tracks saved them all. The second track, “Black & Gold” shouldn’t be so good, but there is something about the song’s simplicity and the subject matter that compels repeat listenings.
I had high hopes that Rising Down would hold up under a year’s listenings, and it did well … just not well enough. The scourge of the guest MC keeps the mic away from Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, the principal voice of The Roots, for far too long. None of these pretenders is nearly as strong as Black Thought, so this locomotive of an album loses steam far too often … and not even ?uestlove’s rhythm section can save it. That said, “Rising Up” remains one of the best tracks of 2008, hands down.
Eternally young, always mischeivous, even optimistic, Q-Tip doesn’t let his very recognizable voice run solo often, but when he does, nothing holds a candle. Given his track record, it’ll be 2017 before we see another solo Q-Tip album, but these 12 jazz-heavy tracks provide plenty of joyous genius to enjoy right now.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are welcome.