Here are my favorite albums of 2010. In all cases, these are the albums I spent the most time with. Sure most of these are on other lists as well, and many of you are hip to how good the Kanye, Big Boi and Deerhunter albums are, but go ahead and spend a little time with the White Denim album. The White Denim album is hosted on their website and fans can download and contribute an amount of their choice. It is a great, great record that should not be overlooked. The No Age and Abe Vigoda albums both feature two bands transitioning from their punk roots to more of a shoegazey, layered sound. In both cases, they absolutely nailed it and have released the best records of each band’s career.
Without further adieu, here is my list. Enjoy, and have a safe and fun holiday season.
No Age : Everything in Between
No Age | Dusted
Deer Hunter : Halcyon Digest
Deer Hunter | He Would Have Laughed
Abe Vigoda : Crush
Abe Vigoda | November
Fang Island : Fang Island
Fang Island | Davey Crockett
Kanye West : My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Kanye West | So Appalled
Big Boi : Sir Lucious Left Foot The Son of Chico Dusty
Fang Island are 5 piece out of New York, by way of Rhode Island. Zack Bolotin turned me on to them, and I can’t thank him enough.
Fang Island describes their sound as “a bunch of friends high-fiving each other”. I have also heard it described as “triumphant rock”. Both labels are certainly appropriate. This is an album of fun, accessible, inclusive ROCK anthems. Great Styx-like harmony vocals, fantastic riffs, and scorching guitar solos.
I played it for my wife and her friend this morning, and they were not into it. At all. Me, I can’t get enough. It’s far and away my favorite album of 2010. My only complaint is that it is not long enough!
If you live in Seattle, they are playing at the Showbox on 9/28. I can’t wait.
Ahhh Yes. A hip-hop album that captures the listener and keeps them engaged for the entire album. Yup, that’s right. Just throw this on and listen to the end, then repeat.
Big Boi’s first solo release is catchy, arty and most of all fun. Great snappy beats with an emphasis on the low end married with Big Boi’s funny, witty and smart verses make this album a must-have summer fun fest from start to finish.
Singles “Shutterbug” and “Tangerine” are infectious bangers that will have you reaching for the repeat button.
Nas and Damian have put together a fantastic, collaborative, concept album about Africa -the continent that both artists point to as their ancestral and cultural homeland. “Distant Relatives” is a great album, which blends elements of reggae and hip-hop to create a polished, foot-tapping, hybrid sound. Proceeds from album sales will help fund schools that Nasir and Damian plan to construct in Africa.
The first single, “As We Enter” is super-catchy, and is backed by a groovy, Mulatu Atske sample. This song is pure fire, and bound to be a favorite. Also check out “Leaders” and “Friends”. Great message, great tunes. Enjoy.
I have been meaning to finish up this blog post for some time, and with the recent tragic news concerning Guru, I wanted to get this out today. Listen to the MP3s, leave a comment if you are so inclined and send some positive vibes Guru’s way.
I have two college friends to thank for my introduction to the Brand New Heavies and specifically, the landmark album, Heavy Rhyme Experience Vol. 1. It was the summer of 1993 and I dropped in on Billy Ray and Brownie’s Brighton Bachelor Pad and was greeted by B. Ray, “Yo, check this out. Hip-hop backed by a live band.” At the time this was revolutionary. He threw on the disk, and I was instantly hooked. I think the first cut he played for me was The Pharcyde’s“Soul Flower”. To say it moved me is an understatement. After leaving their apartment, I made my way to Newbury Comics in two shakes of a rabbit’s tail and had that disk in my Discman before you could say “Boo”. To rap and hip-hop fans, the album now holds legendary status. It features a who’s who of golden-age underground rappers, backed by the tightest, funkiest, band around – The Brand New Heavies. Since this release, there have of course been additional live band/hip-hop collaborations, but nothing like Heavy Rhyme Vol.1. It’s now been 18 years since the release, and all I have to say is, can we PLEASE have a Vol.2?
Brand New Heavies featuring Gang Starr | It’s Getting Hectic
Brand New Heavies featuring The Pharcyde | Soul Flower
With Spoon’s seventh album, this Austin-based band departs from their previous release, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” by limiting the layered sound and accompanying horns that contributed to its greatness. “Transference” retains Spoon’s signature piano and stabbing guitars but casts this sound in a more understated context. At times this album feels like you are listening to an intimate bedroom recording or a demo and not a finished album. This works for me, as I like the intimacy that this creates with the listener. For some, “Transference” may need some time to grow on you (and your ears). Others, like myself, may respond to it immediately. It is the first entry on my list for albums of the year (2010). Sure we can debate the merits of where this album ranks in the overall Spoon catalog, but for the moment, listen to the MP3s and be thankful for 15 years (and counting) of Spoon.
Love these guys. This EP feels like a natural extension to MPP. The songs on this EP really have that classic Animal Collective epic, dramatic feel to them. The MP3 that I have posted below features the first ever authorized Grateful Dead sample. See if you can figure out the song. Phil Lesh sings the lead. Leave a comment with your guess. I think I just outed myself as a Grateful Dead fan – something Ryan Adams and I have in common.
Animal Collective | What Would I Want Sky
Deer Tick – Born on Flag Day
A little piece of country-folk-indie-Americana right out of Rhode Island. I heard that Deer Tick evolved from a bedroom project of one John McCauley, into what is now a full-fledged band. McCauley sings with a very distinctive rough and gruff voice, that really lends itself to the country vibe of the music. Hailing from Massachusetts, I take special pride in a band coming out of New England and I look forward to future releases.
Deer Tick | Little White Lies
Built to Spill – There Is No Enemy
With “There Is No Enemy”, Built to Spill has released an album that is right up there with “Perfect From Now On” and “Keep It Like a Secret.” Yes, it is that good. Gorgeous melodies, strong rhythms and Doug Martsch’s fantastic guitar playing. Some of my best memories are seeing these guys over the years. I haven’t seen them perform live since ’99, I am due!
Built to Spill | Life’s a Dream
Girls – Album
This album got a lot of play this year. It is a gorgeous album of dreamy, ethereal, California pop. It feels like Brian Wilson or Panda Bear could have possibly had a hand in this. My whole family dug this album, especially the kids. A few months ago, while driving in the car Cece shushed Maya because she was talking to loudly while we were listening to Girls. Sounds exactly like something I would have done to my sister back in the day.
Girls | Hellhole Ratface
Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
In case you have been living under a rock, Neko Case has a stunning voice. It seems to hover above her music, which creates a haunting, otherworldly effect. With this album, Neko continues to redefine country music on her own terms and in many ways has created her own sub-genre of country.
Neko Case | Fever
Japandroids – Post Nothing
With just a guitar (and lots of pedals) and drums, these guys produce one hell of a sound. Rooted in garage-rock, but more complex with their use of noise. Yes, they are loud, but inside of the noise, exist some really incredible melodies. I saw these guys back in November and they put on a fantastic show, one which I highly recommend.
Japandroids | Young Hearts Spark Fire
Buju Banton – Rasta Got Soul
This album by Buju Banton really surprised me. It is a fantastic roots-reggae album. I realize many will disagree, but I like it better than “‘Til Shiloh.” Buju’s enthusiasm on this album is boundless.
Buju Banton | Rastafari
Handsome Furs – Face Control
Handsome Furs is the husband and wife team of Dan Boeckner (of Wolf Parade) and Alexei Perry. Together they create high-energy, electro-punk (is that even a genre?) that is catchy and infectious and danceable.
Handsome Furs | All We Want, Baby, Is Everything
The Big Pink – A Brief History of Love
For some reason The Big Pink (isn’t that a Band album) remind me of the The xx. Both are youngsters from the UK, that create dreamy, electro-pop songs that stick to your ribs. This is a great album, noisy at times, but with enough melodies to have you tapping your toes and singing along. Listen to Dominos (MP3 below) and get a taste of what The Big Pink is all about.