In Ghost Colours
I had been listening to tracks of this album since mid-2007, but boy was the album worth the wait. Glistening, shimmery keys and great pop hooks, In Ghost Colours channeled 80's synthpop in all the right ways. If you were lucky enough to catch them live, you could tell the band were humbled by their own success.
Hercules & Love Affair
It took me a few listens to warm up to this album, but it paid off. Yes, it does sort of trail off in the middle, but there is something heartfelt, unique and complicated about each track that commands repeat listens. "Blind" and "You Belong" are being anointed as dance classics and it's amazing how Antony doesn't always steal the show from the brilliant cast of characters.
I started listening to Graceland a few weeks ago, and didn't give a flying fuck about its influence on Vampire Weekend's debut. People said the same thing about first Strokes album and Television, but I didn't hear it. All I know is this album has the jangly college pop I yearn for. So fresh, clean and approachable that even my Dad was curious about it on our drive from Lafayette to San Francisco.
808s & Heartbreak
Yes, it's been out for less than a month, but it has also revived my interest in the "album" more so than any other recent release. The excessive auto-tune and lo-fi production does little to hide the aching in Kanye's songs. More importantly, you don't need to be on a downer to listen or appreciate this album's great music and Kanye's creative merits.
"Shove It" was pretty much my theme song this year, as was "L.E.S. Artistes." Moving from San Francisco to New York, "I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up" was pretty much the story of my life. The rest of the album has some hot tracks on it, but I prefer the mash-ups of "Anne" and "Lights Out" found on Top Ranking.
A few more albums I liked:
Hot Chip, Made In The Dark ("Ready For The Floor," "Hold On")
Britney Spears, Circus ("Circus," "Mannequin", "Unusual You")
Kylie Minogue, X ("In My Arms," "Like A Drug," "Heart Beat Rock")
My list feels pretty mainstream, but what can I say, Most of the "new" albums I bought this year were archives (i.e., I fell in love with Numero Group's Eccentric Soul series, old italo disco and newish italo disco from Italians Do It Better). But more importantly, I really liked the albums I listed above.
I spent most of my this year listening to remixes and singles from artists that could bring me up up up: Designer Drugs, Little Boots, Kid Sister, Treasure Fingers, Danity Kane, Cyndi Lauper, Kleerup, Miami Horror and more. Who said the single was dead?
The biggest disappointment was the new Beyonce album. Out of the sixteen songs on my deluxe version, I would master the tracks in this order:
1. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
2. Sweet Dreams
4. Ave Maria
6. Video Phone
8. Smash Into You
9. If I Were A Boy
As a music fan, I'm always interested in seeing what the old foggies at the Grammy Awards are including in their annual nominee list. This year, I find my jaw-dropping by some of their selections:
1. M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" nominated for record of the year. This is the kind of thing that everyone believes should happen, but never actually does. I'm totally shocked. Also, the Jay-Z and T.I. collaboration "Swagga Like Us" (which samples "Paper Planes") is also nominated twice.
2. Hot Chip's "Ready For The Floor" nominated best dance recording (along with Madonna, Rihanna, Daft Punk and ... Lady Gaga???). Sam Sparro is also in there, but I never warmed up to him.
3. Robyn's self-titled album nominated for best electronic/dance album. If she wins this, what a triumph. Kylie Minogue's X is in there too, but that album was definitely hit/miss for me.
Grammy stalwarts like Beck, Radiohead and Coldplay are all nominated. And who is this Adele? I have never heard this "Chasing Pavements" song. In any case, it's not a perfect list but I'm rather impressed that Grammy voters are being slightly more progressive about their choices.