Best CDs of 2008

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Best CDs of 2008

Post by Baz on Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:39 am






POP

BON IVER
For Emma, Forever Ago (4AD)
It's the age-old story: Justin Vernon broke up with his girlfriend, holed up in a shack in the Wisconsin wilderness, killed and ate a deer, and wrote one of the most beautiful acoustic albums ever. Ghostly, multi-layered vocals form a choir of loss that lingers long after the music has stopped.

TV ON THE RADIO
Dear Science (4AD)
Before this third album, I had a grudging admiration for TV on the Radio's gloomy art rock while never actually wanting to listen to them. Here they locate their dancing shoes, employing Prince-style funk and sweet falsetto vocals while still incorporating enough daring sonic touches to confirm they haven't gone soft.

FLEET FOXES
Fleet Foxes (Bella Union)
Sounding as ancient as the mountains of which they sing, this Seattle quintet's timeless debut could have been the album of any one of the past 50 years. Like some backwoods Beach Boys, their pure four-part harmonies and folksy strum are old-fashioned but gloriously pretty.

LAURA MARLING
Alas, I Cannot Swim (Virgin)
This debut would still have been called mature if it was written by a worldly fortysomething, never mind a pixie-haired 17-year-old from Reading. Avoiding the tweeness of nu-folk contemporaries such as Noah and the Whale, Marling sings in a weary lilt with a melodic sophistication that suggests even greater things are to come.

DUFFY
Rockferry (Polydor)
With Amy Winehouse busy torching her talent, Amy Ann Duffy cleaned up in 2008 with a mountainous voice that drips soul. Her debut has enough vintage touches to appeal to purists who thought they don't make 'em like that any more, and in the unstoppable Mercy, an unashamed pop classic.

ELBOW
The Seldom Seen Kid (Polydor)
Possibly the first Mercury Prize-winner that didn't raise even a flicker of disagreement. Long-standing national goodwill towards these perpetual underdogs from Bury reached critical mass with this fourth album, a collection of complex rock no better than their previous works — that is to say, brilliant.

JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN
To Survive (Reveal)
With her second album, New Yorker Joan Wasser emerged from the shadows of collaborators Rufus Wainwright and Antony Hegarty and late boyfriend Jeff Buckley. A piano-led, classy collection of torch songs with genuine soul, this is a minor gem well worth seeking out.

GOLDFRAPP
Seventh Tree (Mute)
Having out-Kylied Kylie on its predecessor, Supernature, the fourth album by professional vamp Alison Goldfrapp and shadowy producer Will Gregory was an abrupt about-face. Seventh Tree is like the Wicker Man in space — spooky folk meets psychedelic electronica — which had fans dancing around a remarkable new maypole.

MGMT
Oracular Spectacular (Columbia)
This year's Klaxons, New York duo Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Vanwyngarden have the bizarre neon outfits and a home built halfway between indie rock and electronic pop. In their singles Electric Feel, Time to Pretend and Kids they had three of the biggest tunes of the year, as well as an album that was both perfectly accessible and reassuringly weird.

COLDPLAY
Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (Parlophone)
It was hardly their Kid A, but Coldplay did push the boat a little way out of the harbour for their fourth album. Inspired by their producer Brian Eno, they employed African guitars (Strawberry Swing), shoegazing atmospherics (Chinese Sleep Chant) and increasingly complex song structures (42) while never forgetting the big melodies.
David Smyth


WORLD

TOUMANI DIABATÉ
The Mandé Variations (World Circuit)
Mali's Toumani Diabaté has become the acknowledged master of the kora — the mellifluous combination of calabash gourd, wooden stick and nylon fishing line, brought to life with generations of ancestral tradition. This is a showcase of brilliant playing, with re-workings of traditional classics alongside new experimental pieces such as his tribute to Ali Farka Touré.

MARIZA
Terra (EMI)
Mariza is the big star of fado at home in Portugal and its international ambassador. Her recent Barbican concerts sold out quickly. With an enviable ability to convey the emotional heart of a song, she remains true to traditional fado with Portuguese guitar, but with judicious imports keeps it fresh, lyrical and full of warmth.

KIRAN AHLUWALIA
Wanderlust (World Connection)
Kiran Ahluwalia is the exciting newcomer of the year. Born in India, raised in Toronto and now based in New York, she's already made a name in North America, but this is her first international release. She sings ghazals, the sultry love songs of the subcontinent with some surprising ingredients. This is the record I've returned to more than any other this year.

DEBASHISH BHATTACHARYA
Calcutta Chronicles (Riverboat Records)
Bhattacharya creates a glorious tour-de-force of guitar playing inspired by his home city's landscapes, religions and culture. On slide-guitar — an instrument brought to Calcutta from Hawaii in the 1920s and brilliantly adapted to Indian music — he creates a virtuoso and intricate portrait of one of India's most bewildering cities.

AMADOU & MARIAM
Welcome to Mali (Because)
Amadou and Mariam met 30 years ago at blind school in Mali and have risen to become international stars. Their catchy, soulful melodies make this into a feelgood album of love songs — to each other and to their country. And the Damon Albarn-produced track Sabali gets stuck inside your head. As the title says, Welcome to Mali!
Simon Broughton


CLASSICAL

THE MASTERSINGERS OF NUREMBERG
Sadler's Wells Opera/Goodall (Chandos CHAN3148)
The Reginald Goodall production of Wagner's Mastersingers at Sadler's Wells in 1968 led to a landmark Ring and the blossoming of British talent on international stages, including Bayreuth. That remarkable Mastersingers is at last available on CD and it's just as one remembers it: spacious but lyrical, allowing the textures to be revealed in glorious detail.

SALOME
Philharmonia/Mackerras (Chandos CHAN 3157)
Like the Goodall Mastersingers, this English-language Salome is made available by the Peter Moores Foundation in conjunction with Chandos. Susan Bullock's world-class performance in the title role, catching the deadly capricious character of Strauss's infatuated princess'to perfection, is supported by a strong cast with the experienced Charles Mackerras at the helm.

TCHAIKOVSKY/MUSSORGSKY/ROREM
Gerald Finley/Julius Drake (Wigmore Hall Live WHLive 0025)
Marking the 25th issue of Wigmore Hall Live, this recital is by the outstanding Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley with pianist Julius Drake. Finley admirably encompasses both the lyrical raptures of Tchaikovsky and the angry, harrowing Mussorgsky Songs and Dances of Death. Ned Rorem's War Scenes are equally gritty and uncompromising.

BACH CANTATAS
EBS/Gardiner (SDG 147)
John Eliot Gardiner's parting of the ways from DG some years back has resulted in an ongoing series of Bach cantatas, consummately performed, imaginatively packaged, each set as it arrives full of contrapuntal delights to be explored. The latest issue features six cantatas for the eighth and 10th Sundays after Trinity.

PIANO ROLL RECORDINGS: TCHAIKOVSKY AND GRIEG
Various Artists (DSPRCD 035)
A disc that came my way this year —though these are 1992 recordings of early piano rolls — is this one of Tchaikovsky and Grieg items played by Percy Grainger, Horowitz, Cherkassky and Gabrilowitsch. Grainger's sublimely subjective reading of Erotik (from the Lyric Pieces) is worth the price of the disc alone.
Barry Millington


JAZZ

AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE
Prelude (FreshSoundNewTalent)
An album with an ambience of its own, this music treads a distinctive new path, as Charles Mingus's once did. Trumpeter Akinmusire's themes have a common thread and his group, drawn from the same Los Angeles college, play them with a shared purpose. Original yet rooted firmly in tradition, it bodes well for the future of Afro-American jazz.

ESPERANZA SPALDING
Esperanza (Verve)
Less revolutionary but equally sensational is the debut of this delightful double-bassist, bass-guitarist, arranger and singer-songwriter from Seattle. The daughter of American and Mexican parents, she is a complete natural. She swings like a demon, scats like a veteran, solos brilliantly on any standard and plays bass like an angel. She even dances with the instrument while playing it. Definitely here to stay.

JARRETT-PEACOCK-DeJOHNETTE
My Foolish Heart (ECM)
While stars in their own right, pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette create something special as a unit. Their unrivalled empathy allows them to take standards to new levels of subtelty, invention, fluidity and, above all, exhilarating swing. A worthy addition to their Standards Trio canon.

MIKE WALKER
Madhouse (Hidden Idiom)
How satisfying it is when the wider world hails a local hero long worthy of wider recognition. That's the story with guitarist Walker, an underground hero in Manchester and a complete unknown in London. Madhouse (And the Whole Thing There) reveals him as a mighty player and a composer of exceptional range. Beautiful melodic sambas give way to spiky grunge-rock interludes and stately close-harmony brass
chorales.

MILES DAVIS
Kind of Blue — 50th Anniversary edition (Columbia)
The best-selling jazz record of all time, and arguably the greatest. Enjoy once more Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans, sublime artists creating an album of timeless beauty. A perfect introduction to jazz — if you don't own a copy, now's the time to rectify that grievous omission.
Jack Massarik


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Re: Best CDs of 2008

Post by YePiF on Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:17 pm

LAURA MARLING
Alas, I Cannot Swim (Virgin)
This debut would still have been called mature if it was written by a worldly fortysomething, never mind a pixie-haired 17-year-old from Reading. Avoiding the tweeness of nu-folk contemporaries such as Noah and the Whale, Marling sings in a weary lilt with a melodic sophistication that suggests even greater things are to come.

Hmmmmm

Here is a better review:

LAURA MARLING
Alas, I Cannot Swim (Virgin)
WARNING: Do not buy this album!
Talentless singer songwriter. Incredibly bland lyrics. Only in the position she is now because NME decided she was "indie" enough to be made cool. Quite possibly the worst album of 2008.
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Re: Best CDs of 2008

Post by Baz on Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:02 pm

Lol. I couldn't comment.

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Re: Best CDs of 2008

Post by jackie 46 on Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:36 am

Quite like some of Duffys songs on her new album.
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Re: Best CDs of 2008

Post by Dave Mercury on Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:08 am

Probably Coldplay for me.
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Re: Best CDs of 2008

Post by Baz on Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:27 am

Coldplay have got a new single coming out from the Prospekts March ep. Life in Technicolour II I think.

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