It's the most wonderful time of the year, damn it! So wipe that frown off your face, put down that revolver, and listen to some good music. While I continue to fine tune my year end "TOP RECORDS OF 2008" list, I give you my friend, Mark Levine's favorites of 2008. I posted Mark's worst of 2008 last week and since then he's e-mailed a few times, wondering when this list would post. "I just don't want people to think I hate music." (Not to worry Mark, although you do like Coldplay.)
M.L.'S TOP TEN OF 2008
My favorite record of the year. It's Winwood's most organic sounding record since the days of Traffic. It's not trying to be anything, but is everything. It is exactly how a Traffic record should sound in 2008.
2 .LENNY KRAVITZ- IT IS TIME FOR A LOVE REVOLUTION
I wish more people loved this record like I do, but Lenny Kravitz continues to get little respect, regardless of how good his output may be. Classic Lenny sound, but fresh and barely a bad song on the entire album.
3. THE KOOKS- KONK
Kooky, upbeat and fun, British power-pop. Two notches above every other Brit-pop band of the moment.
Some people love to love them, while others love to hate them. It took me a few records, but I think I've got it. Give the record some time and you'll find a great new song with each listen.
5. THE CURE- 4:13 DREAM
It's very exciting when a classic band that you thought had their best work behind them releases something this good. From the incredible opening track, "Underneath the Stars," this record is packed with GREAT, classic Cure material.
Hard to describe, which in this case is a great thing. It's a pop record, but it's also psychedelic. It reminds me of the bombastic prog sounds of Yes or ELP, but with more hooks and shorter songs. Just check it out, you won't be able to describe it or stop listening to it.
This band consistently cranks out great records, but this one might be their best. More diverse than their past records, but it still retains their unique sound and New York vibe.
8. BEN FOLDS- WAY TO NORMAL (& WAY TO NORMAL "FAKE")
I'm biased, and will pretty much like anything Ben does. That being said, there are some amazing songs here. He released a fake version of the album on the internet in advance of the real album (to outwit those damn kids that download everything) with the same song titles, but completely different songs; songs that were "thrown together" in a day while on tour. Strangely, the two records are indistinguishable from each other, and both are great in their own ways.
9. AC/DC – BLACK ICE
My first thought was "this sounds like every other AC/DC record, so why do I care." But then I thought, "this sounds like every other AC/DC record, THAT'S why I care!" It's their best record since the Razor's Edge in 1990.
I had low expectations since Chrissie abandoned her great band of the past 15 years, including guitarist Adam Seymour who really killed on the old material and original drummer Martin Chambers, in favor of an entirely new band that included the great Jim Keltner on drums. It's supposed to have a country feel, but it's really just a slightly modified version of the classic Pretenders sound. Chrissie discovered an incredible guitarist (he was more impressive live!) and wrote some incredible new songs that are a little different from past records, and this is a great "new" Pretenders record.
MY TWO CENTS:
It didn't make my top ten, but I agree with Mark's comments on the Lenny Kravitz record. It's his best record since the 1989 debut, "Let Love Rule," yet critics have trashed the guy for years over what some have called a "career of retread." This is what the guy does, and he does it well. The Pretenders record didn't do it for me. It tries so hard to be spontaneous that most of the songs sounds as if they took less time to write than to record. As for The Cure, that may make my final cut. Solid, and an amazing surprise from this legendary band. And speaking of Coldplay, I'm not one who loves to hate them, I love to annoy the people who love them.
Stay tuned for a BURNING WOOD reader's hilarious twist on box sets and my TOP TEN, both coming this week.
Here's the video for "Dirty City" from Steve Winwood's "