Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hey-yooooo! Guess who's back? This guy! I know, I know...I've been seriously slacking in my blogging duties, but back off! This year's been pretty busy for yours truly, including getting married, road trips for work and being trapped in a Chilean mine for months. Okay, so maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch, but just because this is only my fourth post of the year doesn't mean it can't be a doozy of one. The "Top 20" post is a must every year, and 2010 saw some fantastic releases by both newbies on the scene and veterans we've grown to love. So with that, I give you my top twenty of the year:

20. The Golden Filter Voluspa
This New York electronic duo produces an ethereal sound unlike any other. Unique, pulsing drum beats, string samples and lead singer Penelope Trappes' haunting voice make this an album worth getting freaky too. If Heaven ever had a dance mix, this would be it.
Highlights: Dance Around the Fire, Look Me In the Eye, Stardust

19. Parlor Hawk – Hoarse & Roaring
This folk rock group out of Utah came out of nowhere, and absolutely blew me away with their sound. The poetic lyrics and beautifully composed melodies make this one of those albums you want to get lost in.
Highlights: Home, Every Bone, Flowers

18. Ratatat – Lp4
What can you really say about this duo? Talented musicians? Yep. Catchy as shit tunes? You bet. The perfect party music? You bet your ass it is. No one does ass-shaking, face melting instrumental jams like these guys. Ratatat, we thank you.
Highlights: Drugs, Neckbrace, Bob Gandhi

17. Cee Lo GreenThe Lady Killer
Only Cee Lo Green could make something that exudes 60's era funk and soul so well that you can't help but smile when you hear it. Is it that voice? Those beats? Who cares. This album is so slick and smooth that after listening to it, you might feel like you just got knocked up.
Highlights: Bright Lights Bigger City, Fuck You, It's OK

16. Fitz & The TantrumsPickin' Up The Pieces
Following on Cee Lo's ode to the oldies, Fitz & The Tantrums bring the classic Motown sound in a big way. With their soul/funk/rock sound and pitch perfect harmonies, you could swear you were listening to the new Tom Jones album.
Highlights: Breakin' The Chains of Love, Dear Mr. President, Winds of Change

15. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
This folk rock group from London, England has been garnering tons of attention and accolades, and it's clear why. Each song takes on a life of its own, building and building until they take off and soar. It's pretty obvious these guys will have quite a career ahead of them.
Highlights: The Cave, Winter Winds, Awake My Soul

14. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
One of the most creative and talented guys on the hip hop scene right now, Cudi doesn't just push the boundaries, he pretty much tears them down. Encompassing different styles of music and themes, with plenty of help from some of the indie scene's stars, Kid Cudi continues to dominate.
Highlights: Scott Mescudi vs. The World, REVOFEV, Erase Me

13. Broken Bells – Broken Bells
Can Danger Mouse do anything that isn't successful? Brian Burton, aka super producer Danger Mouse and James Mercer, the lead singer of indie darlings The Shins have teamed up for an unexpectedly fantastic album, with hooks and beats you want to hear over and over again.
Highlights: The High Road, Vaporize, The Ghost Inside

12. Yeasayer – Odd Blood
With their previous release, we heard a sound that was vaguely tribal and organic, yet pulsed with a beat that made you nod your head with joy. Odd Blood does that and then some with, dare I say, even catchier hooks and beats. Is it possible? Listen for yourself.
Highlights: Ambling Alp, Madder Red, I Remember

11. Interpol – Interpol
These veterans on the indie scene may have outdone themselves on this release. Lead singer Paul Banks' voice is as good as ever, and the band, with new members making their presence heard, have crafted an exceptional album. Harkening back to their roots, that dark, droning sound so many of us have grown to love is ever present.
Highlights: Success, Summer Well, Lights

10. The WalkmenLisbon
Another stellar release by these indie darlings, Lisbon flows with a dreamy quality. Hamilton Leithauser's voice is as strained and powerful as always. Conceptualized over a lengthy stay in Portugal, the album evokes all of the energy and tone that one could discover in a town like Lisbon.
Highlights: Angela Surf City, Blue As Your Blood, Victory

9. The National High Violet
Can this group release anything that's not a hit? So far it looks like they're incapable of it, which is a very good thing. With their brand of sleepy, dream-like music and insightful lyrics, they've once again claimed accolades from all over the music industry, and rightly so.
Highlights: Terrible Love, Bloodbuzz Ohio, Runaway

8. Girl TalkAll Day
Gregg Gillis, aka DJ Girl Talk, has done it again. This master of the mashup has constructed the catchiest damn album around. If you don't want to jump on a dance floor and bust a move while listening to this, you may not have a soul. Who else can successfully mix Portishead and Outkast into one seamless song that works on every level?
Highlights: Let It Out, Jump On Stage, Make Me Wanna

7. Arcade FireThe Suburbs
Ah yes. What year end "Top Albums" list would be complete without the darlings of the indie music world amongst the highlights? That is, IF they've released an album that year. Luckily, this year we were graced with yet another classic in the making, and it has everything you could ever ask for, including soaring vocals set amidst their brand of richly layered instrumentals. What's not to like?
Highlights: The Suburbs, Ready To Start, We Used To Wait

6. Kanye WestMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Okay. You're right. Yes, he's an ass. Yes, he's a self-absorbed douche. But dammit, if you don't agree this man is a master at his craft, then we have nothing left to talk about. With some of the most creative, influential and groundbreaking hip-hop being made today, Yeezy truly begins to shape not only a genre, but an entire movement in music.
Highlights: POWER, Monster, Runaway

5. Local NativesGorilla Manor
This Cali indie band debuted this year to a huge response. With hyperactive percussion and hooky-as-all-hell melodies and vocals, this group of guys took the indie music scene over like a firestorm. Not to mention they can totally kill it when performing live. We can only hope we're graced with even finer things to come.
Highlights: Airplanes, World News, Stranger Things

4. The Black KeysBrothers
This is a review of the album Brothers by The Black Keys. The consensus of this review is that the album is very, very good.
Highlights: Everlasting Light, Tighten' Up, The Only One

3. Sleigh BellsTreats
If I had to sum up this duo's debut album in one word, it would simple be *$@&%. Based in Brooklyn, NY, songwriter/guitarist/producer Derek Miller and vocalist Alexis Krauss have created the most amazing piece of joyous noise pop ever heard. From the first note on the album to the epic ending, it's an onslaught of pure excitement to the ear.
Highlights: Tell 'Em, Riot Rhythm, Rill Rill

2. The Tallest Man on EarthThe Wild Hunt
The moniker of Swedish folk musician Kristian Matsson, The Tallest Man on Earth completely owns with little more than his voice and a guitar. Echoing the sounds of early Dylan with introspective lyrics and a mastery of the guitar to boot, this guy truly does stand tall amongst his fellow folk musicians.
Highlights: The Wild Hunt, Burden of Tomorrow, You're Going Back

1. Beach HouseTeen Dream
My numero uno album of the year has to be Teen Dream. This duo's previous albums have been stellar, but their most recent is by far their best to date. With their signature hazy dream pop sounds and singer Victoria Legrand's haunting, atmospheric lyrics and rhythm, one can't help but be instantly taken away.
Highlights: Zebra, Used To Be, 10 Mile Stereo

Well, there you have it. If you happen to have never heard of some of these albums or artists, I highly suggest giving them a listen. You just might be delightfully surprised. Here's looking forward to another amazing year in music.

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