Wednesday, January 23, 2008
HBE's Most Anticipated '08 Album Releases
It's a brand new year, which means a brand new slate of albums. Based on confirmed dates, rumors and a whole lot of wishful thinking, this is what I'm looking forward to most in 2008.
The trip hop outfit from Bristol have been laying low for a decade and any sign of new music comes as a welcome surprise. Their only two studio albums, Dummy and Portishead are defining albums of the 90's, so it will be interesting to see if their new output will be as fresh.
2. Los Campesinos!-Hold On Now, Youngster...
Judging from the first couple of singles and a recently posted video of them in the studio, Los Campesinos! stands to release one of the best debuts of the year, and also one of the giddiest albums of the year. If it sounds anything like the hyperactive joy of "You! Me! Dancing!", count me in.
3. Van Hunt-Popular
There's not exactly a guarantee that this album will be released since it is currently without a home after Hunt's exit from Blue Note, but the year is young, so there's hope. For that reason alone, I can't put it at #1 since its future is uncertain. But based solely on the leaps and bounds he made from the relatively safe debut to 2006's funky and wild On The Jungle Floor, this album could never see a release date and I would anticipate it forever.
Ladytron is another group who has shown improvement with each album, and it's not as if their first one was a slouch to begin with. Their latest album, Witching Hour, saw the synth pop quartet take their sound to a darker place, but nonetheless still enriching. Another great album and I would gladly put Ladytron amongst indie's current elite.
If the album had been named anything else, I might not be anticipating this as much. Nas has still managed to release solid albums, but he set the bar too high early in his career. As soon as I heard the title of the album and who was recording it, I knew that I had to listen to immediately. Nas is one of the most socially aware mainstream artists that we have right now in any genre and him dedicating an entire album to race relations has no doubt sparked a creative fire in him. He is one of the few relevant elder statesmen of hip hop and the commentary that he might provide on this album could result in a career-defining effort for him.
6. Erykah Badu-Nu AmErykah
While Worldwide Underground was enjoyable in some spots and went gold, I can't consider it a successor to Mama's Gun. Despite its long running time, that release is still considered an EP and never really felt like a proper follow-up with its loose jammy vibe. Nu AmErykah will be two discs and looks to be more cohesive.
7. Franz Ferdinand-Untitled
One word: Xenomania. The teen-pop production collective is responsible for hits by Girls Aloud, Sugababes and Cher, to name a few and the news that they would be producing some tracks for the upcoming Franz album raised a few eyebrows. It elicited nothing but glee from me. Xenomania's productions are as adventurous as anything you're likely to hear in pop or anywhere else, which I think complements Franz Ferdinand just fine. Franz Ferdinand have always had catchy hooks while Xenomania's work has always retained a bit of edge. The pairing should be more natural than that of The Mooney Suzuki and The Matrix.
Four out the last five Madonna albums are arguable classics. American Life is the only stinker she's had in a while, but she rebounded with the amazing Confession On A Dancefloor. She's built up a lot of goodwill, so even though a few of the early leaked tracks with Pharrell did not prove promising, you can't really count out Madonna.
9. The Avalanches-Untitled
Their last album, Since I Left You, is one of the best debuts of the decade and is still talked about to this day. Judging from the carefully constructed use of samples on their first album, it's no surprise that a follow-up would take nearly seven years to arrive. They have kept busy in recent years with solid remixes for The Concretes and Belle & Sebastian, so there's little worry on my end about whether they can deliver another quality album.
10. Al Green-Untitled
The big news here is that Al Green is hooking up with ?uestlove and The Roots in the studio. I say it's about time that the Reverend hooked up with some young blood to bring some life into his recording career. His last two albums on Blue Note had some decent moments, but proved ultimately forgettable in the long run. ?uestlove feels like the perfect person to helm an Al Green record. His knowledge and appreciation of classic soul will no doubt bring out shades of the Al Green that we all first fell in love with it, and he's well on his way judging from some of the leaked studio jams.
Estelle's debut, The 18th Day, delivered an engaging mix of soulful beats and conscious rhymes, but her recent excellent single, "American Boy", with Kanye West suggests a happier approach. If the album does turn out to have less rapping than its predecessor, I can only hope that the quality of the songs will remain as strong.
12. N.E.R.D.-untitled album
Recent pictures from the BBC blog show N.E.R.D. in the studio with Spymob, which is a great sign, seeing as how their tight sound is part of what made the live version of In Search Of... a success. Their rhythmic punch was sorely missed on 2004's Fly Or Die and Pharrell alone in the studio has not turned out to be a good thing so far (see In My Mind).
13. The Game-LAX
The Game is such a student of hip hop history that it's hard to believe that he could ever release a duff album. He's so self-consciously aware of the ingredients that while he may not deliver anything surprising, it will still be worth spending money on. The initiative to make a classic will be even higher if this turns out to be his last album as he has been claiming recently.
14. Pas/Cal-I Was Raised On Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura
One of the most underrated indie pop acts in America will finally release a full-length album. After a few years of delivering fantastic EPs, the name Pas/Cal could finally be on the lips of music lovers across the nation.
15. Paula Campbell-I Am Paula Campbell
This Baltimore R&B songstress has been kicking around on Columbia for a few years, but it appears that she may actually be close to releasing her major label debut. The songs posted on her MySpace suggest a pretty solid and refreshing debut.
And the rest...
David Banner-The Greatest Story Ever Told
Be Your Own Pet-Get Awkward
Mariah Carey-That Chick
Dengue Fever-Venus On Earth
Lil' Mama-Voice Of The Young People
Lil' Wayne-Tha Carter III
Ludacris-Theater Of The Mind
Man Man-Rabbit Hats
Teedra Moses-The Young Lioness
Murs-Murs For President
Rakim-The Seventh Seal
The Roots-Rising Down
Slim Thug-Boss Of All Bosses
Sons and Daughters-The Gift
Vampire Weekend-Vampire Weekend
What Made Milwaukee Famous-What Doesn't Kill Us