Tuesday, December 14, 2010

[BEST OF 2010] 15 amazing albums (albums 11-25)

blog 2010/12/14 - [BEST OF 2010] It's beginning to smell a lot like awesomesauce. (albums 11-25)

Almost there!  We've had some pretty joyous albums so far, and it just keeps getting better.
This batch here alone is enough to make my knees quiver a little bit.

15 AMAZING ALBUMS (BEST OF 2010 #11-25)

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Basia Bulat - Heart Of My Own
Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot The Son of Chico Dusty
Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here
Gogol Bordello - Trans-Continental Hustle
Hot Chip - One Life Stand
The Morning Benders - Big Echo
Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers
Rae Spoon - Love Is A Hunter
The Roots - How I Got Over
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - I Learned The Hard Way
Sleigh Bells - Treats
The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt
Yeasayer - Odd Blood
Zola Jesus - Stridulum II

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

You really can't say anything bad about this band.  They are one of Canada's great exports, and rightly so.  Even if you didn't love Neon Bible as much as you hoped you would, they are back in top form here, with extended rock motifs that feel impassioned and honest, even when being mundane.  Except for the tragic Neil Young imitation on Month Of May, it's a pretty perfect record.  Even when the record gets synthy near the end, it always sounds perfect, and reminds you of the joys of Funeral.

Basia Bulat - Heart Of My Own

Basia Bulat is a Canadian whirlwind of talent of charm.  Her two full lengths pull oh so deeply at my heartstrings and only get better with age.  Live, Basia is a remarkable talent who can pull off stuffing shows solo or with a band.  I consider it absolutely criminal that people South of the border have yet to start drinking in her catalogue.  While Canada has an army of musical exports like Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett, you should all do yourselves a favour and add Basia Bulat to that list.  There are just no other multi-instrumentalists who makes such impassioned, tender and powerful folk music.

Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot The Son of Chico Dusty

With all of the sticky repulsive charms of an early Snoop Dogg, Big Boi knocks out the competition and raises the funky hiphop bar.  Instead of just sampling George Clinton, he has learned from the master and features flashy organs and synth playing that give this record such an amazing groove.  When Janaelle Monae was coming out with her new album, I was really hoping it would be THIS record.  But the Monae was a bit to uneven beyond the hits, and all of the goodness is here.  Probably one of the greatest injustices of hiphop this year will be that Kanye will get all of the end-of-year attention, when I really think this album is far greater of an effort and achievement.

Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here

I feel kind of guilty posting tracks here because this album is so obviously structured as a whole experience, a singular performance of spoken word and funk that opens you up and connects you to a good chunk of Gil Scott-Heron's soul.  At only 28 minutes, you have no excuse to dedicate the extended moment to it, and you will be justly rewarded for it.  This is a genius of performance, self reflection, and emotive musical expression.

Gogol Bordello - Trans-Continental Hustle

Gogol Bordello have always been buckets of fun.  That's never been in dispute.  But beyond that we have a solid album that shows us the value of a fabulous producer.  Rick Rubin is on board, and reportedly pressed them on the song writing, and it paid off in spades.  The album is frenetic and dense and sometimes exhausting, but it is also filled with touching moments of reflection interspersed with the political rabble-rousing.  And if songs like Immigraniada or My Companjera don't get you moving we might have to renegotiate our friendship.

Hot Chip - One Life Stand

Hot Chip really don't get enough love.  Maybe people are just taking them for granted?  But really they have made one of the best synth pop records of the year and have pushed themselves to new heights.  They have always been really good, and despite some of their production sounding like an Ableton Live preset, it is their seasoned pop songwriting prowess that makes them growl and croon their way in to your heart.  I can't believe people are all gaga for the (somewhat boring) new LCD Soundsystem, but totally overlook this gem.  Even the sentimental tracks on here like Slush and Alley Cats are gorgeous, and just set you up for the fun and epicness to come with We Have Love and Take It In, respectively.

The Morning Benders - Big Echo

Like the Beach House LP, you can easily get set adrift in the mere aesthetic of the production values alone.  Big Echo gives you Big Echo, but unlike the Beach House, it is the rustic rock n roll that wins out in the struggle.  Like a cross between Phoenix and Grizzly Bear, this is my choice for the radio-friendly pop indulgence that really everyone should be loving, regardless of music breadth.

Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers

This album is all about the teeny squicks and squiggles.  There are really pleasant synths and ready-to-headnod samples, but it's the small iterations of the beat components that make it a real pleasure.  Of all the albums that came out this year that people toss "post-dubstep" on, this is by far the most completely successful.  What might be forgotten of course is how much this record owes to the last 15 years of the IDM scene, which paved the way for these kinds of percussion elements to take hold.   Dubstep is dead!  Long live the sexy-slinky-click-step.

Rae Spoon - Love Is A Hunter

While certainly this is his most dance-friendly album, Canadian singer/songwriter Rae Spoon will probably never escape that title just there: singer/songwriter.  It is the inescapable pull of the folk roots that show in songs that are crafted to show a story or an emotion or an event, by only revealing a few emotionally triggering shards of what's really going on.  The party tracks are fabulous and will certainly make it's way to the mixtapes of whomever you are trying to seduce, but even they can't help but hint at the depth of emotion revealed bethelightbethelightbethelight or Lighthouse.  Highly recommended for fans of both Hot Chip and/or roots folk.

The Roots - How I Got Over

People sometimes forget that musicians are professional.  They have families and need to eat and music is a job as much as an art form.  Some people hemmed and hawed when The Roots were taking on their light night TV gig.  Some people winced and cried when they said they weren't making any more albums.   But even with the ridiculous expectations that their back catalogue had set, and the rampant cynicism when dealing with aging hiphoppers, no one ever expected such a full and satisfying album to pop up.  This is the new template for the mid-life hiphop career.  This is how hiphop, now 31 years old, starts self-reflecting and deciding that yes, it is indeed mortal and aging.  While the music is on point, it is the rhymes that are the highlight here, at once showing clever wordplay and proper flow, but also showing off a deep refinement of their craft and constant resistance to falling in to lazy traps. 

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - I Learned The Hard Way

When I played this for a friend, his reaction was an enthused "They still make music like this?" and it's true, we often get lost in all of the new sounds and microgenres that we do indeed forget that there are masterful ensembles continuing the storied traditions of Motown.  The Dap Kings are a monstrous force to be contended with, and are a must-see live.  And Sharon Jones late-to-the-game success is as heartwarming as it is pleasurable.  Hipsters might skip over this because they dismiss is as adult-contemporary or too Jazz-Fest, but let your guard down and get down in to it, because it's a heaping plate of soulfood goodness.

Sleigh Bells - Treats

Imagine, if you will, if Le Tigre dropped the undergrad in-jokes and had a decent producer working their drums.  Take that, dial in some modern compression techniques, and you'll get Sleigh Bells.  Have yourself a sexy punk dance party!  Finally, your blog house friends and hipster punk friends can get drunk together!

The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt

This guy has one of the most satisfying and rollicking songbooks since John Darnielle.  With production values slightly up from previous years, it still sounds like someone recording guitar and vocals in to a tape deck with all of the sincerity and energy of the universe behind it.  The Dylan references are unavoidable, but he transcends the aesthetic similarities and builds a roots-folk world all of his own.  It is totally engaging and romantic.

Yeasayer - Odd Blood

Another album on my list that I really think has not received the love and attention it deserves.  It is immensely creative and unapologetically addictive.  The main problem people have with it is that it is a grand departure from their prior album, but fuck the haters.  This is pop music for a new age, existing equally on the stage and in the studio, like Sufjan Stevens, Architecture In Helsinki and Hot Chip.

Zola Jesus - Stridulum II

Like the Wildbirds & Peacedrums album, this CD collects 2 Eps (Stridulum and Valusia) to form an album of incredible depth and potency.  And similarly as well it is the somewhat dark and morose vocals that stun the listener and draw them in to the ethereal world within.  There are synths and strings and beats, but it is all about the power of voice here.  I really think this album is a perfect treat for someone that loves Bat For Lashes, Diamanda Galas, and the previously mentioned Wilbirds and Peacedrums.


Arcade Fire - City With No Children
Arcade Fire - Ready To Start
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Basia Bulat - Gold Rush
Basia Bulat - If Only You
Basia Bulat - Once More, For The Dollhouse
Big Boi - Shutterbugg ft Cutty
Big Boi - Tangerine ft T.I. & Khujo Goodie
Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here
Gil Scott-Heron - On Coming From A Broken Home (Part 1)
Gil Scott-Heron - Running
Gogol Bordello - Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)
Gogol Bordello - My Companjera
Gogol Bordello - Sun Is On My Side
Hot Chip - Alley Cats
Hot Chip - I Feel Better
Hot Chip - One Life Stand
Mount Kimbie - Carbonated
Mount Kimbie - Mayor
Mount Kimbie - Would Know
Rae Spoon - Lighthouse
Rae Spoon - We Can't Be Lovers With These Guns On Each Other
Rae Spoon - You Can Dance
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Better Things
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - I'll Still Be True
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Without A Heart
Sleigh Bells - Rill Rill
Sleigh Bells - Riot Rhythm
Sleigh Bells - Tell 'em
The Morning Benders - Cold War
The Morning Benders - Excuses
The Morning Benders - Wet Cement
The Roots - How I Got Over ft Dice Raw
The Roots - Right On ft Joanna Newsome, STS
The Roots - Walk Alone ft Truck North, P.O.R.N., Dice Raw
The Tallest Man on Earth - Burden of Tomorrow
The Tallest Man On Earth - King of Spain
The Tallest Man On Earth - You're Going Back
Yeasayer - Ambling Alp
Yeasayer - Grizelda
Yeasayer - ONE
Zola Jesus - I Can't Stand
Zola Jesus - Sea Talk

penultimate city!!!!  http://thetastates.com/mp3s/blog/blog20101214.zip

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