• PLEASANT SURPRISE •
Learn To Live
The odds were pretty stacked against me digging a Country album, no matter who was singing it. But solid songwriting and a great voice made this a no-brainer for the Pleasant Surprise award.
• MOST IMPROVED •
808s & Heartbreak
As I said in my review of this album, Kanye had been a disappointment to me over the last couple of years. This record took him at least temporarily, in a new direction. I love when artists aren’t afraid to try something new.
• BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT •
Oh joy! We get two disappointing albums for this category instead of just one. Yay!
New Amerykah Part One
An occasionally wise lead singer once crooned “Fuck retro anything.” Well, I have to agree with him. Seriously, what the fuck was this record, and what the fuck happened to Erykah Badu? She totally went for that contrived retro bullshit that makes so many bands lame. Mama’s Gun came out way back in 2000 and still stands tall as a fabulous album all the way through. 2008 would mark 5 years since her last album; the kinda not great Worldwide Underground. This bitch better come out with a seriously great album if she wants to leave any kind of cool legacy behind. And she better not wait 5 years to do it.
Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright
Speaking of Maynard Keenan, Billy Howerdel better find him, and start kissing his ass. The reason Billy didn’t sing for A Perfect Circle is because he’s a horrible, boring, personality-less singer. Somehow this album even managed to make Josh Freese’s drums sound lifeless. What a disaster.
• SONG OF THE YEAR •
Far broke up in 1999 after releasing their best album; Water & Solutions. There wasn’t much talk about the band until this awesome cover of a Ginuwine song appeared on myspace under the moniker Hot Little Pony. The band got back together in 2008 for some small tours, but so far, no new album is planned. Even if they never record another note, hearing Jonah Matranga sing these lyrics is ridiculous enough to make this song rock for a long long time.
• HONORABLE MENTIONS •
The Sound of Animals Fighting
The Ocean and the Sun
Technically, I guess this album would be classified as “progressive rock”, but a better description would be “some seriously wacky cool ass shit”. An amazing, original album done by dudes who are in other bands. Dig it.
Nine Inch Nails
You can’t beat Nine Inch Nails. You just can’t. Sobriety has worked wonders for Trent Reznor. Since getting clean, he’s maintained the level of intensity and creativity that garnered endless complementary adjectives over the years. Now, prolific can be added to the list. The Slip is compact, heavy, danceable and kickass. It doesn’t exactly count towards the album, but the tour(s) in support of this album were the best the band has ever done.
Guns N’ Roses
No Slash, no Duff, no Izzy. Who gives a shit!? This record is jam packed with really good songs. Yes, it took way too long. But it’s here now and it’s better than 99% of what get released every week. I think the long wait coupled with the lack of promotion and absence of any interviews, video, or anything at all from Axl made the release seem a bit anticlimactic. Sonically, albums don’t get much better than this one.
• ALBUM OF THE YEAR •
The CD version of this release was marred by a horrible mix/mastering job based on a decision to participate in the Loudness Wars. Despite that fact, the album rules. We all waited a long long time for a kickass Metallica record, and we finally got it. Bang your head.