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Monday, August 14, 2006

Millenium Project: Day Seven (Albums 40-31)

40. George Michael - Patience (2004)
Despite being a bit overlong, Patience is George Michael’s best album since Faith. The lead single, Amazing, should have been so much bigger than it was, while Shoot The Dog and Cars And Trains follow along with a similar uptempo, funk loveliness. Best of all is My Mother Had A Brother, which brings me to tears whenever I hear it. Utterly gorgeous vocal performance and absolutely heartbreaking song. The album is a bit ballad-heavy, but Michael’s voice is suited to this style so it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

George Michael - My Mother Had A Brother

39. Janet Jackson - Damita Jo (2004)
Janet gets a free pass because she’s been like my favorite artist since I can remember. Love her, and anyone who doesn’t needs to check out Velvet Rope, one of the best albums ever made. Damita Jo, unfortunately, is not one of her best albums (and I can admit that!). It starts out wonderfully, with the funky Sexhibition and hard hitting Damita Jo, and briefly hits classic Janet standards in the middle with Island Life, All Nite (Don’t Stop), R&B Junkie and I Want You. SloLove and Just A Little While are also worth a mention, but all in all there is too much slow, relatively lifeless material in between the highlights for this to be a Janet classic (fingers crossed for 20 Y.O., though).

Janet Jackson - All Nite (Don’t Stop)

38. The Darkness - One Way Ticket To Hell And Back (2005)
I guess a lot of people didn’t like the campness of this album? I, for one, think it’s 1000 times better than their debut. It’s more consistent and much more fun. I think the major problem with this album was the single choices. Knockers, Hazel Eyes, and Bald are singles-in-waiting, while Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time could have been a massive ballad hit. The Darkness channel both Queen (the title track) and Sparks (English Country Garden) here, so that equals instant kudos from me.

The Darkness - Knockers

37. The Dresden Dolls - The Dresden Dolls (2004)
A very different album, Dresden Dolls mix rock, cabaret and punk together to delicious effect. Opener Good Day is basically a lo-fi power ballad, while Girl Anachronism, Miss Me and Coin-Operated Boy are full out cabaret punk. The lyrical territory ranges from sex-changes (Half Jack) to rapists (the horrifying Slide) to self cutting (the dramatic Bad Habit). There are also more straightforward songs here, the gorgeous Jeep Song being the best.

The Dresden Dolls - The Jeep Song

36. Christina Aguilera - Stripped (2002)
The album to tear Christina Aguilera away from the pop-princess mold forever, Stripped is a diva milestone. If nothing else, the amount of ground it covers should be celebrated. There’s rock (Fighter, Make Over), Latin (Infatuated), gospel (Walk Away), old-school soul (Underappreciated, Impossible) and dance/funk (Can’t Hold Us Down, Dirrrty). Then, of course, there are the ballads. Gorgeous ballads abound. The best (and best known) is Beautiful, but A Voice Within and Cruz are also close.

Christina Aguilera - Fighter

35. Don Juan Dracula - Young Debutantes II (2005)
Perhaps the best ever example of straight-ahead synthpop ever recorded, Don Juan Dracula’s full-length debut will entertain from beginning to end with no lulls. That doesn’t mean that their isn’t a standout. Run Away With You looms in the center of the album like the holy grail of pop. It is insanely catchy and pretty much perfect in every way. Fashion Girl, Take Me Home, and Down In The City are also highlights, while Erection Reflection is hilarious.

Don Juan Dracula - Run Away With You

34. The Sounds - Dying To Say This To You (2006)
The new one from the sounds, though not as fantastic as their debut, definitely doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it gets better with every listen. Short and punchy, the album plays like a good party. Some of the songs are now dominated by synths (Hurt You, Tony The Beat), but all are written as true pop songs, which means they all get lodged in the listener’s brain. Also on this album is the band’s first real ballad (Night After Night), which--in case you thought they were getting soft--is also presented as an uptempo version.

The Sounds - Hurt You

33. Bodies Without Organs - Halycon Days (2006)
Bodies Without Organs create some of the catchiest music around and their palette expanded with their most recent release. Temple Of Love was a brilliant first single, but opener Chariots Of Fire may be even better. We Could Be Heroes is a worthy follow-up to Open Door and I was instantly attracted to the classic ballad melody. The first half of this album is so strong that it’s almost impossible for it not to lose some steam as it progresses, but even the last songs are still brilliant.

Bodies Without Organs - Chariots Of Fire

32. Surferosa - The Force (2005)
Surferosa improved immensely on their debut and released a pop/punk/dance classic. Each sounds like something that should have been a number one hit a few decades ago but somehow remained underground until a triumphant 2005 return. Norway’s answer to the Sounds, the band don’t really aim to break new ground, which is fine. Instead, they spend their time planting as many hooks into their songs as possible. Royal Uniform, Bungalow Bang, Prestige and Human Fool are just some of the many highlights.

Surferosa - Human Fool

31. Kylie Minogue - Light Years (2001)
How can you make a pop album more perfect than Light Years (well, there are 30 albums left….so if obviously can be done). Anyways, it’s hard to point out a highlight (thought Your Disco Needs You does stand out) in an album of highlights. Despite being filled with dance-pop, there really aren’t any other albums around like Light Years. Definitely tongue-in-cheek through and through, it’s a warm, funny and an incredibly uptempo affair.

Kylie Minogue - Your Disco Needs You

(Music is for evaluation purposes only. Buy these fabulous albums here.)


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