The Best of 2008
Did you think I had forgotten to do one of these?! Shame on you! Alas, I will not try to bore you to death with mine. I cant claim to have listened to every heralded LP that was released in 2008, I can but merely tell you what I enjoyed listening to the most, in my own rendition of: The Best of 2008.
The image at the top of this post is a bit of a give away as to what my particular favourites from 2008 were;
The Neil Cowley Trio – Loud… Louder… Stop! – full review
- Masterful contemporary piano trio, in the ilk of E.S.T (RIP) but with oodles of their own character and merit released their second full LP (on Cake) to the delight of many jazz fans. The Neil Cowley Trio presented well structured and rich tracks to fill this LP, whilst the sheer power and emotion exhibited throughout helped to take this release to the next level. A very complete LP with huge continual playback appeal. If you like jazz, but don’t own this LP, then you are doing yourself an injustice.
Jose James – The Dreamer
- Surely the solo debut of the year. Jose James will give your ears the impression of a veteran, well travelled and old school jazz voice – but your eyes will call your ears liars. This young man is a modern day anomaly, as far as his deep, rich dulcet tones wish to convince. Just as Gilles Peterson said upon discovering Jose, I didn’t think voices like this existed anymore – and then came along Jose James. His debut LP, The Dreamer, never fails to take me away to a distant ethereal jazz land of sorts and nothing can interrupt it. With deeply resepctful homage paid to those who came before him, Jose James delivered as an absolute masterpiece via Brownswood Recordings in 2008.
mp3: Jose James – Velvet
Menahan Street Band – Make The Road By Walking – full review
- A super group of musicians made up from members of; The Dap-Kings, Budos Band, El Michels Affair and Antibalas. Menahan Street Band totally exceeded my already very high expectations and tore the roof off with this blinding assortment of funk, afrobeat and latin sounds released on the Dunham Records imprint of the Daptone Records label. Purely instrumental, it really whisks you away on a whirlwind adventure of sounds – the instrumentation is tight, and given that there are ten different band members, they all serve a beautiful purpose. Everything is in its right place on Make The Road By Walking and I wont get tired of this any time soon. Just sublime.
Daedelus – Music To Make Love To – full review
- Daedelus‘ third full LP on the Ninja Tune label comprised of an eclectic blend of electronic sounds. Known for his experimentation, tools and tricks, and also his reputation for making romantic electronica, Music To Make Love To took his sound one notch further. A combination of wonky electronica, hip-hop beats and library style sounds, this 15-track LP was a reminder just what the deft touch of Daedelus can produce. He has a certain way of creating music out of sounds you’d otherwise never find yourself wanting to be exposed to, and from what initially could be deemed as less-than-satisfying suddenly becomes something truly beautiful. Music to immerse yourself in.
Flying Lotus – Los Angeles
- One of the new breed of beat makers, Flying Lotus‘ work spans both hip-hop and electronica, but one thing remains constant always: the quality. Bouncing around for a couple of years, with mixtapes, remixes and the odd track (or 20) here and there, 2008 saw the long awaited first WARP release by the LA native. 2006’s 1983 LP was an aural delight, but FlyLo really came into his own with Los Angeles. A unique blend of sounds and styles, it provided a true insight into the destination that his productions has led him to. Verging between electronic soundscapes and mean, mean beats, this LP turned the heads of many in 2008 and it is plain to see why.
Eric Lau – New Territories
- I’ll tell you straight off the bat: this LP is a grower. But as we all know, it is often the growers that grow to become our favourite records. Eric Lau created a neo-soul style LP with hip-hop and r’n’b influences. It’s sweet, yet gritty – the melodies are liquid smooth and the beats are seriously tight. Guest vocals appear throughout and compliment Mr Lau’s beautiful music with both finesse and grace. After previous production works appeared on releases by England’s Fat City and Brownsword Recordings labels, Eric Lau saw his debut full LP released on the American label Ubiquity – his talent is undeniable and Ubiquity obviously realised this much themselves. There’s wonderful depth to New Territories that can only truly be appreciated through repeat listens, which of course I would urge you to pursue. Perhaps the real surprise hit for 2008.
The Natural Yogurt Band – Away With Meloncholy – full review
- First appearing as a 10-inch double vinyl LP on Jazzman Records, which was produced in low numbers, word quickly caught wind bout this incredible duo known as The Natural Yogurt Band. Wayne Fullwood and Miles Newbold created a beat heavy, jazz influenced record that caught the beatmakers and record diggers totally off-guard. Essentially speaking it’s just exquisite instrumentation, riding along with pipes, congas, keys and various other members of the percussion and woodwind families. It’s a music listener’s delight – those who like to soak up instrumental music, appreciating each sound from each respective angle, will crave this like audio-crack. Besides Clutchy Hopkins, there was nothing quite like this in 2008 and I’m eagerly anticipating a follow up.
2tall – The Softer Diagram – full review
- After producing the fantastic Beautiful Mindz LP a year prior, 2tall came back to remind us that he was the real deal with The Softer Diagram, released on the Content label. 12 ultra-fresh sounding productions took the listener from hip-hop to soul to electronica, and then back again. Obviously an artist with many influences, 2tall managed to etch his own unique style from each and turn it into his own sound. A gifted producer with a definite ear for fine sound construction, The Softer Diagram was another surprise hit for 2008 and if you didn’t check it out before, make sure you do so now.
And now some honourable mentions for other quality releases from 2008…
Quiet Village – Silent Movie
Max Richter – 24 Postcards In Full Colour
Medeski, Martin & Wood – Let’s Go Everywhere
Emiliana Torrini – Me And Armini
Roots Manuva – Slime & Reason
J.A.M – Just A Maestro
Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra – Miles of Styles
Natural Self – The Art Of Vibration
People Under the Stairs – Fun DMC
Mr. Scruff – Ninja Tuna
TM Juke And The Jack Baker Trio – Boto And The Second Liners
Hint – Driven From Distraction
Shawn Lee & Clutchy Hopkins – Clutch Of The Tiger
PlantLife – Time Traveller
Black Grass – Three
Illa J – Yancey Boys
Jamie Lidell – Jim
Clutchy Hopkins – Walking Backwards
Ratatat – LP3
Stacy Epps – The Awakening
SP – Movin’ Along
The Soul Jazz Orchestra – Manifesto
SOIL & “PIMP” Sessions – Planet Pimp
Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno – Death Of The Revolution
Q-Tip – The Renaissance
The Mighty Underdogs – Droppin’ Science Fiction
The Matthew Herbert Big Band – There’s Me And There’s You
Lukid – Foma
LTC – A Different View
Lettuce – Rage!
Kissey Asplund – Plethora
Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
Karl Hector & The Malcouns – Sahara Swing
The JazzInvaders – Blow!
Jackson Conti – Sunjinho
Hifana – Connect
The Herbaliser – Same As It Never Was
Funkshone – Shining
Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
Elizabeth Shepherd – Parkdale
DJ Cam – Lost & Found
Count Bass D – L7
Brownout – Homenaje
The Bamboos – Side Stepper
The Apples – Buzzin’ About
Alice Russell – Pot of Gold
Al Green – Lay It Down
Aaron Jerome – Time To Rearrange
Jazzanova – Of All The Things