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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Adam’s World Top 25 of 2008 Part V of V
Friday, December 26, 2008

Here we are. We’ve reach the best of the best, the crème de la crème, the pinnacle of album greatness for 2008. Yes, it’s the top five albums of the year and the list features something soulful, something downtempo, something Hip-Hop, something rock and something blues.

5) Lee – Meet Lee

Lee is a throwback in a lot of ways. He’s a Hip-Hop artist that utilizes jazz, has intelligent lyrics, uses live instrumentation, and doesn’t indulge in the rap clichés of misogyny and violence. He’s a positive realist who focuses on love, God and politics (though not all at once!). His vocals are simultaneously soothing and urgent and on Meet Lee, just like with his previous releases as the lead vocalist of The Square Egg, he proves he has the chops to both rhyme and sing. From the highly political “Move” to the love song coming from the vantage point of a starving artist, “All U Need,” Meet Lee is some fantastic grown folks Hip-Hop that should be played near the younger generation in hopes that some of the ideas rub off on them.

Song you need to hear: All U Need

Website: whoislee.com

4) Shock of Pleasure – It’s About Time

Sometimes the thumping of the speakers of your favorite nightclub can get repetitive and, quite frankly, annoying. This is why God invented downtempo, or as Shock of Pleasure has dubbed their music, electro-lounge. It’s About Time is Shock of Pleasure’s very chill debut and it hits on all cylinders. The tunes are exactly as the band describes them, both electro and lounge-like, setting the mood for a very chill and enjoyable evening. Kelley Christian’s vocals can work as being either soothing or haunting, but either way they’re always on point. The group’s very unique covers of the classic tunes “Spooky” and “Superstar” are a shining example of how a band can rework a song to fit their form of music without losing the essence of the original composition.

Song you need to hear: Left For Dead

Website: shockofpleasure.com

3) Homeboy Sandman – Actual Factual Pterodactyl

Homeboy Sandman is the second, and final, repeat appearance from last year’s Top 25. There’s a reason he’s the most buzzed about emcee in New York City (remember folks, you heard about him here first!) and Actual Factual Pterodactyl showcases a myriad of the reasons why everyone in the underground scene is talking about him. He can switch up his flow and rhyme to, or about, just about anything. Every song is a winner on this album, from incredible collaboration with P.Casso titled “Wise Up,” to his Latin dance themed “Mambo Tail Tale,” to the awe inspiring “Or,” during which he finishes every rhyme with a word that ends in “Or.” If you only have time to listen to one song, however, make it “God Fire Breathe,” which is, simply put, bananas. Shoot, all that and I didn’t even mention “iTunes Song,” “Lightning Bolt. Lightning Rod,” or “Gggrraa!!” Yeah, this is one heck of an album.

Song you need to hear: God Fire Breathe

Website: homeboysandman.com

2) The Vincent Black Shadow – El Monstruo

In 2006 The Vincent Black Shadow released a fantastic debut album titled Fear’s in the Water that is still in rotation in my CD player. I thought it would be nearly impossible to follow it up, but with this year’s independent release, El Monstruo, they have managed to do just that, and outdo themselves in the process. El Monstruo possesses everything a rock album needs to be truly special. Great lyrical content, an amazing band, and in Cassie Ford a lead singer who is so spectacular I’d listen to her sing the phone book. From the musically lush “Dig Dig Dig,” to the politically poignant “In A Row,” to the vocally impressive “Don’t Make Me So Mad,” to the downright burlesque “Never Met Another Woman Like Me,” TVBS covers a lot more ground on El Monstruo than they did on Fear’s in the Water and they do it well. It’s not often that an album I wait in eager anticipation for lives up to expectations. El Monstruo exceeded them.

Song you need to hear: Don't Make Me So Mad

Website: tvbsmusic.com

1) Everlast – Love, War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford

I’m still not sure how Everlast went from being one of the rowdy Irishman of House of Pain to being one of the preeminent bluesman in the music industry, but as long as he keeps putting out albums like Love, War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford I’ll be perfectly happy with the transition. This album is so good I nearly had to pull over to the side of the road the first time I listened to it. Simply put, it blew me away. Always political, Everlast doesn’t shy away form his views on tracks like “Kill The Emperor,” “Naked” and “Letters From The Garden of Stone,” but he also shows his softer side a number of songs that deal with love and relationships, although not in a saccharine-y sweet kind of way. One listen to “Everyone” will perfectly illustrate this. It’s interesting, when this album first arrived I had no idea what to expect. It turned out it's an album I won’t soon forget.

Song you need to hear: Stone In My Hand

Website: martyr-inc.com

Adam’s World Top 25 of 2008

Part I: Albums 25-21
Part II: Albums 20-16
Part III: Albums 15-11
Part IV: Albums 10-6
Part V: Albums 5-1
posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:30 AM  
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