Posted by Jell on January 12, 2009 at 10:13 pm in News

It’s the new year, which means best of lists, so here’s mine. 5 of my favourite albums released in twenty hundred and eight.

Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IIILil Wayne - Carter III

Lil Weezy doesn’t so much play with words as shoot at their feet to make them dance for him. The opening four tracks on ‘Tha Carter III’ are as good as any three consecutive tracks you’ll ever hear on a hip-hop album, and the Kanye West remix of ‘Lollipop’, is my track of the year, not least because it contains the best lines on safe sex ever written (see below). The rest of the album varies, (too much r&b), but Lil Wayne has made his own style, like a more musically-aware Old Dirty Bastard, and his inventiveness makes the whole record big fun. This was the biggest selling album of the US in 2008; gangsta rap with something to brag about.

“I’m in your, neighborhood, area, CD thing, tape deck, iPod, your girlfriend, and she say I got great sex, safe sex is great sex, better wear a latex’ cause you don’t want that late text That “I think I’m late,” text.”

TV on the Radio – Dear ScienceTV On The Radio - Dear Science

TVOTR strike that precarious balance between arty experimentalism and emotional accessibility. Dear Science sees them move on from the buzzing ruggedness of the amazing ‘Return to Cookie Mountain’ and embrace a more polished, but equally visionary and fully realised sound. This band have found their own creative space, where well-chosen words cascade evenly over a sound relentlessly modern but also fully poetic.

“What’s this dying for”? Asks the Stork that soars with the Owl, high above canyon’s mighty walls. Owl said “Death’s a door, that love walks through. In and out. In and out. Back and forth. Back and forth”.

Why? – AlopeciaWhy? - Alopecia

The latest record from Why? sees Yoni Wolf delivering his lines on death and relationships in his characteristic rap/whine over arrangements of piano, xylophone, bass, guitar and drums. I can see why this mightn’t sound appealing. But the arrangements are perfect. The chord progressions, melodies, beats and rhymes all come together like they’ve been lovingly crafted by skilled artisans. Yoni’s words are the centrepiece, his clever rhymes are more than just wordplay. The imagery is vivid and stays with you. It shows Yoni’s soul in all its anxious loves and toil.

“Even though I haven’t seen you in years, yours’ is a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere.”

Subtle – ExitingArmSubtle - ExitingARM

Set against Yoni Wolf’s sometimes uncomfortably raw personal monologues are (his old bandmate) Doseone’s abstract collage of characters and narrative. The sparkling production of pulsing synths, humming guitar and cracking beats give this epic tale a directness that nicely anchors the sprawling metaphysics of ‘HourHeroYes’. Doseone remains, for my money, the best rapper in the game. His game might be a little different to everyone else’s, but isn’t that the point? Subtle also win the prize for one of my favourite gigs of the year.

“When last we left HourHeroYes, he was one part endless, two parts death.”

The Field – The Sound of LightThe Field - The Sound Of Light

When I heard The Field’s 2007 debut ‘From Here We Go Sublime’, I was, like everyone else, mesmerized, but also slightly annoyed that I hadn’t come up with the idea first. It is, after all, a simple premise. Tiny, single-note size samples of records chopped and repeated over the pulse of kick drum and hi-hat. ‘The Sound of Light’ takes this imprint and stretches it out into 4 15 minute cycles. This is minimal techno as if made by Steve Reich, and totally engrossing.

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