At first I was sure it was this song (admittedly heavily influenced by Funk Master Flex’s histrionics):
But after listening to the entirety of Rick Ross’s Teflon Don, I think it might be this song:
The Drums are like The Smiths reincarnated poorly, and yet they made my top ten list of albums this year. Fey? Yes. Pretentious? Absolutely. Overwrought? You bet. But isn’t that what makes them so good?
Das Racist’s entry into the scene was the stupid/smart blog hit “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” If that’s the only mark this Queens-bred, multi-racial hip-hop duo had left, they would have fast faded away. Fortunately, two mixtapes later, Das Racist has proven that there’s more to the trick than just post-modern observation. Yes, they kinda have that backpacker mentality which is sometimes nerdy and too self-referential and annoying. But bottom line is Das Racist make better hip-hop than a lot of other artists out there right now. Stream-of-consciousness rhymes, sometimes literally broken into fragmented one-word ideas, play out over excellent beats, both original and jacked (see their take on Ghostface’s “Nutmeg”). Can’t wait till the album drops.
I had ignored Beach House for a few years, but their 2010 release, Teen Dream (Sub Pop) really made me take notice. Victoria Legrand’s vocals are just beautiful – earthy, throaty, and vibrant – and Alex Scally’s guitar playing is deceptively simple. He can carry a song with a simple guitar line and just a few effects. I got the chance to see the band at Prospect Park this summer… well, not exactly “see” since really I sat outside the walls of the concert and just listened. But that was good enough.
Deerhunter’s latest album, Halcyon Digest (4AD), is musically a bit quieter, a bit more melodic and laid back than the band’s previous efforts, but it’s an emotionally stirring and emphatic statement. The recording and production is raw and immediate, which makes Bradford Cox’s personal and worldly observations that much more effective. If you miss Jay Reatard, take a listen to their tribute to him, “He Would Have Laughed.” It’s moving.
Of course, this album is going to be on the top of almost everyone’s year-end lists, and for damn good reason. This is the best work the Arcade Fire has ever done, and The Suburbs (Merge) is an incredibly bold, varied, and creative musical statement. At times driving, at other times pleasantly meandering, with a healthy dose of modern-era paranoia and occasional optimism, Win Butler and company’s arrangements have never sounded better.
I usually geek out on year-end lists, but really, what’s the point? Instead, I am just going to post some thoughts about and music from albums that meant a lot to me this year – one a day until the new year. And maybe for a few days after that as well.
My favorite album of 2010 – one that surprised and slightly embarrassed me – was Infinite Arms from Band of Horses (Columbia/Fat Possum/Brown). I was completely obsessed with BOH’s first album, Everything All The Time (Sub Pop), mildly infatuated with their second, Cease To Begin (Sub Pop), and at first, kind of turned off by Infinite Arms. BOH has always done no-frills but incredibly catchy indie rock very well, but the band’s new album gets into country, ’70s rock, and schmaltzy singer/songwriter territory. Deep. Maybe it’s the fact that I started listening to the album obsessively on my wedding day this past June and into Hannah and my amazing Italian honeymoon, or maybe it’s just Ben Bridwell’s incredible ability to write good pop-rock, but this album grew on me mighty fast. I’m not listening to it so much these days, but it was a highlight of this past year for sure.
Sorry, these are only watchable on YouTube, but just click on video for quick links.