Top 10 Albums of 2008

2008-12-09 13:23
 
 

If anything, 2008 proved to the year of the 'all killer, no filler' comeback. Neil Diamond, Al Green and AC/DC all returned from the studio with some of their best material in ages. And even Koos Kombuis managed to rediscover some of his protest song fire! What was their secret? Simple: what all these artists know was that ass kicking albums are stories, with a beginning, an end and irresistible ups and downs in between.

The Top 10 Albums of 2008


1. The Roots Rising Down
A musical skyscraper of an album, an apocalyptic, steel and glass construction with grimey windows and arguments in the lifts, shot through with portraits of people experiencing the loneliness of finding your true self in this "brand or be branded" century. It's a futuristic, psy-fi set of protests and personal revelations that just might wake you the f**k up.
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2. Koos Kombuis Bloedrivier
Koos has realised something: it’s us versus them. The Rainbow Nation has become a Bloedrivier, he says on this new collection of protest songs. But not like you think. You will hear Koos angry, but he’s been that before. You will hear him rock out, again not for the first time. But has he ever, ever been so… right?
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3. Neil Diamond Home Before Dark
This time instead of "Sweet Caroline" gone sour, Diamond imagines Bob Dylan covering "Beautiful Noise". This isn't just Diamond taking a leap of faith and going unplugged. It's way more.
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4. Coldplay Viva la Vida....
Coldplay reach for the top rung of the ladder to rock immortality. It's a chance to show that Chris Martin can change pitch, that Will Champion can thump sticks with the best of them, and for Coldplay to finally dismiss lingering suspicions of their mediocrity.
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5. Jennifer Hudson Jennifer Hudson
Every so often an artist enters the music scene and blows everyone away. You best believe it: this girl has a long career ahead of her.
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6. 340ml Sorry for the Delay
The jam is over: now, 340ml are "sending a message to destroy your radio" with philosophies, parables and popping basslines. Not like their unlikely idols Rage Against The Machine, mind. Instead, the revolution is merely wondered out loud: "Who conquered HIV? Who colonised the galaxy?".
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- Listen to clips

7. Al Green Lay it Down
The Reverend lays down 11 soul-filled romantic singles straight from the heart, keeping it real in an old-school kind of way on duets with neo-soul stars Anthony Hamilton, John Legend and Corinne Bailey Rae.
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8. Lupe Fiasco The Cool
Thinking man's emcee Lupe Fiasco gives hedonistic hip-hop pimps a much-needed enema on this uncompromisingly erudite rap outing. Refusing to resort to misogynist booty calls, ghetto fabulous thug life clichés or X-rated rhyme excess, Fiasco funnels his rapid fire rhymes into a zombie revenge rap fable that imagines The Cool as an undead Armani-suited hustler haunting Hip-Hop’s Streets in search of self-expression.
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9. Goldfish Perceptions of Pacha
They wowed South Africans with their unique blend of deep house, jazz and live instruments. Now they’re ready to take over the world!
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10. AC/DC Black Ice
Just when you thought his spider-veined knees couldn’t take it anymore, Angus Young starts duckwalking the arena stage once more. Black Ice is uncannily 80s, the kind of thing you’d find in the same time capsule as a Betamax tape of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and for-her shoulder pads.
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Also essential listens
Metallica Death Magnetic
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Erykah Badu New Amerykah, Part One (4th World War)
- Read the review
My Morning Jacket Evil Urges
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Autechre Quaristice
- Read the review
Portishead Third
- Read the review
With rock obsessed with selling seasonally hip dance ditties and rap still flogging bling summer singles 2008 was almost a very bad year for albums. Thankfully though there were still those musos intent on pushing the album envelope.

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