Well, Well, Well, we come to the close of another year. These things are really pointless, but it’s time to make my list of my 10 favorite albums this year, mostly because I like making lists.
10. Have One on Me-Joanna Newsome
I liked the scope of this a lot. It takes patience to really listen to the whole thing, but it pays off, because she is constantly recalling bits of melody through it all. I bought the record on vinyl in Washington DC on my honeymoon and am still discovering new easter eggs in the songs. And I think the closer on the record is amazingly beautiful.
9. Sit Down Man-Das Racist
Shut up man and let me tell you why Das Racist is awesome. They are one of the very few rap groups that are talented, yet don’t care if you take them seriously or not. I get that word thrown at me sometimes, I’m talking about “novelty”. People love to call anything funny or too self-aware “novelty rap”. Kanye and Lil’ Wayne make jokes in their stuff too, but he’s not joke rap is he? It all has to do with the perception of somebody being “cool”. For some reason they escape the novelty boundary and I’m not so sure why. Anyways, Das Racist is above the game, because people can’t figure out what to label them as. They will have something that bangs harder than most with some serious MC on the track and they will keep up, and then they will have something less serious on the next track that makes you wonder what they are trying to be. And that’s awesome, because they have somehow made it impossible to define them. I say though, that they rap with the best of them and are doing important work in stretching the genre.
8. Bells and the Floating World-Serengeti
Serengeti is slowly becoming my favorite rapper. He is a bit of a workaholic, this year he had three projects come out, but this one is really just a remix and addition to last year’s excellent Terradactyl. Polyphonic’s production is lush and dreamy and probably near impossible to rap traditionally over. This is a challenge that Serengeti embraces whole-heartedly, following his stream of consciousness wherever the blips and arpeggiated electronics lead him. This to me is another pioneering move in hip-hop.
7. The Arch Android- Janelle Monae
The Arch Android is the first I have heard of Janelle Monae and a very strong showing. If Serengeti and Das Racist are expanding the borders of their art forms, Janelle Monae is going back to it’s funk and soul roots. Critic’s have described this album as cinematic. I will have to admit, I can’t follow any sort of story that she claims is behind the album, but the songs blend well into each other in a way that scenes in a movie do.
6. Winter of Mixed Drinks-Frightened Rabbit
I saw Frightened Rabbit about 3 years ago opening for Pinback and didn’t think much of them. Since then they have released 2 albums that are classic in my book. Although I tend to prefer Midnight Organ Fight, Winter of Mixed Drinks is not really a step in the wrong direction. The songs are still very catchy and the lyrics are well written. The big difference is that the subject matter is not as hard hitting, but I am glad they are not writing the same album over and over again. Check these guys out.
5. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy-Kanye West
10 stars? No way. Awesome? For sure. The production is so good on this album, but what kind of freaks me out is the vocals. A lot of the time, it’s like he is just trailing out and doesn’t feel like finishing the verse all that strongly. And some of the lines are just ridiculous. But I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I am actually impressed, because it seems like he was more concerned with making his voice an instrument this time around, it blends so well with the track itself. Kanye is not Sinatra anymore, it’s almost like he’s a male diva. Plus the twitter is great.
4. High Violet-The National
Like every National album, I feel like this one is a grower. So who knows, maybe in time it will grow itself even higher on the list. Having already had some time to process it, I think that the album shows them refining their sound to a definite, whereas the previous two albums found them stumbling upon it.
3. Situation on the Home front-Grimm Teachaz
Maybe a little high on the list? Sure. But maybe not high enough. I am obsessed with this project. Two highly talented and maybe partially insane rappers decided to make a whole album as characters from a quick sketch on a different album. The result is a bizarre throwback to early 90’s underground hip-hop. It’s like listening to the energy of Wu-tang. They make up words, throw in bizarre references, and pretty much abandon all conventional wisdom to make this thing. Not only did I laugh my head off when I first heard this, but I ranted and raved about it to my friends for about a month and couldn’t stop imitating Serengeti’s character, which is a Chicagoan white guy a la snl “da bears” who somehow raps hard. This is not a new character for Geti, but the way in which he is used is the best yet. Favorite Line from the album? “We the teachaz, our legacy don’t end. You Mister Rogers. You pretend. You lady Elaine. I’m crazy insane.”
2. Lisbon-The Walkmen
I was a little late getting into this band, but am loving the amount of catching up I have to do. Lisbon is my second favorite, right behind You and Me. The horns kind of do this thing to me, gets me feeling sad and wishing I was a cowboy or something.
1. This is Happening-LCD Soundsystem.
Summer album full of earnest dancey pop and a lot of mumbling complaints. Maybe the last ever from this group I guess. At least it’s a good way to go out. I definitely listened to this album the most this year, and will continue with it.
I liked the following albums, but not that much:
Age of Adz-Sufjan Stevens
All Delighted People-Sufjan Stevens
Saturday Night-Friday Night (Serengeti)
Forgiveness Rock Record (Broken Social Scene)
Only Built for Cuban Linx 2-Raekwon
Sir Luscious Leftfoot, Son of Chico Dusty-Big Boi
The Suburbs-Arcade Fire (I’ll take the most heat for this from people.)
I played a little show at the art theater yesterday night between two movies they were showing. The set list was:
Brain cell Break
Hard to be a Gentleman
I hope to do more little things like this in the future. It was really weird. And fun. I feel like I need to work on my slower song repertoire though, it was a bit too active on my part and I felt it by the end of the night.
Well, I will do my top ten movies of 2010 later this week.