So I decided to follow suit with all my other music publications I follow and post a blog about the best albums from my opinion. In no order, here they are. Note I am encouraging you to check each of these out with an open mind. I listen to all kinds of music, I have always been this way and will never stop doing so. If you feel I should review an album, send me a link or a suggestion my way and I’ll check it out. There are many great albums, all of them are very different. That’s why I couldn’t rank them in any order. It’s like people you see in the world, they all do different things and wear different clothes for whatever reason.. enough with the Breakfast Club chatter, let’s get on with it shall we!
La Roux- La Roux
At first I wasn’t too big on La Roux, I thought it was cool, but took me a second listen to really get into them. I was blown away after listening to the self titled album, which is incredibly retro, but still undoubtedly catchy at the same time. I’m aware it was made in 2009, but the album got hot in 2010. While it doesn’t have the success of a Lady Gaga or Rihanna record, it is still very relevant. Bulletproof topped pop charts all over the world this summer! Such a stand out song to support a brilliantly stand out album. Also I waited almost 6 months to see La Roux in concert when the concert was postponed due to singer Elly Jackson’s throat problem. I look forward to hearing more from them in the future. I also like to style my hair similar to Elly sometimes. 🙂
Cellar Doves- In New Mirrors
My friend Damian from Providence, RI, has been making music for a very long time, since childhood I believe. From making music in bands, and then performing as an experimental solo artist, Damian has kept moving forward in his craft. In New Mirrors, under his current moniker Cellar Doves, is no exception. The flow of the album is really well done, his self mastered production sounds great, and the album stays true to himself as the person I know. Cellar Doves is his most dance oriented project to date and you should get with the program. He also DJ’s as Damian Daviid at clubs around Providence, making you shake your ass with all the four to the floor goodness. There is more from Damian (aka Double D) to come!
Neon Indian- Psychic Chasms
It was a chance encounter I had with Neon Indian earlier this year, particularly the band name led me to check him out on iTunes in January. This stuff is fucking neat! That’s the first thing I need to say about it. It was also my first exposure to a new type of music which prides itself on making itself seem old, warped, and vintage. That is “Chillwave.” It’s production is interesting, it sounds like an old 80’s new wave album laced with LSD and recorded with a tape machine. The warmth of this record is amazing. I couldn’t stop listening to this album, and it is still hot on my iPod one year after me listening to it. Nice.
Electric Type- Style Is Bright
My friend from Pennsylvania, whom I met on myspace. I plan on doing an extended review of this record, but I just wanted to include it on my best of 2010 list. I have watched him continuously make music much like I have in 2010. I am really happy when my friends show progression in their art/craft. It inspires me to get better too. We are fans of each other’s work, and I just wanted to say that the “Style Is Bright” on this one. This is a dance floor filler for sure. The song “What Is It To Love Sum One” is a future house music dance floor anthem! Cheers mate!
Crystal Castles- Crystal Castles (II)
Crystal Castles is a group who likes to push the boundaries of what is acceptable. Their live shows prove this. It is totally chaotic and frantic, which puts the fans into a wild frenzy much like a riot or a heavy metal concert. Alice Glass usually has some kind of flask or vodka bottle onstage with her, Ethan Kath has a gigantic rig of synthesizers and sequencers which make all kinds of bitchin noises. WIth this second album, which has the same name as the first one, Crystal Castles tried to go for a more “mature” sound, which is still quite decadent for their standards. From more relaxed tracks like Celestica and Not In Love, to rabid rock n rave combo’s like Baptism and Doe Deer, the album puts CC in a more experimental direction which is both dark and encompassing. I love the flow of this album, it is just great. It is a little on the noisy side at times, but it’s all controlled and it sounds great. Cheers.
Flying Lotus- Cosmogramma
Flying Lotus is the very definition of an artist. I heard of his name after learning that he produces all the really cool hip hop instrumentals you hear on Adult Swim. It reminds me of the production techniques used by the likes of MF Doom, 9th Wonder, Madlib and People Under The Stairs, mixed with the likes of Miles David and John Coltrane. Add off the wall electronic sounds and sampledelic MPC workings and you have a fraction of the idea of what Flying Lotus (aka Fly Lo) does. Cosmogramma, is more of an adventurous and epic listen which is more of a jazz record, than a hip hop beats record. It’s progression goes from lo-fi sampled bass beats all the way to chipper jazz pieces which is all blended together excellently. It also has a guest collaboration with Thom Yorke. While Flying Lotus has a strong hip hop feel to his music, it goes way beyond those boundaries. Crazy.
Tesla Boy- Modern Thrills
Yay! Another 80’s influenced album! I don’t know why but I totally fell in love with 80’s influenced dance music this year. I heard once on an interview/podcast from NPR (All Things Considered: Best New Electronic Music September 2010) talk about this phenomenon. “I enjoyed my childhood. I think there are a lot of people who have very fond memories of their childhoods. Why wouldn’t you want to go back to that?” That’s a good way to sum up Tesla Boy’s “Modern Thrills” which takes the 80s sounds and makes it almost mockable, but in this case highly respectable. This band comes out of Russia, and their music is a real blast from the past. A very believable modern 80’s band. Love it.
Chris Big Money- Sunset Beach EP
Ah, you know I had to. I spent the early spring/summer working on this EP. Originally I wanted to do a reggae influenced dubstep EP, however it did not work for me as well as I wanted to, so I went back and decided to make a style of music I knew much better. I wanted to show a sign of progression since November 2009’s “The Thought Process” which focused on the idea of making commercially unfriendly music to satisfy my own artistic indulgences. With Sunset Beach, I attempted to be a little more of a traditional singer/songwriter pop artist, and more embracing of pop culture. Sunset Beach was more dance oriented, and the focus of the music being songwriting over experimentation. There was still plenty of experimentation in Sunset Beach, but it was more controlled. I am releasing a remix album for this release in Christmas 2010, to bring some closure to this era of Chris Big Money.
Robot Science- Square
This album is pretty neat, I found it while exploring Bandcamp’s albums which a lot of them are free to download. I also use Bandcamp to release my music, I like the options it provides my fans, even if they are trying to get away from the free music market. With Robot Science, the music is very chipper, warm, and happy sounding. Plenty of beats, boops and catchy little melodies going on here. It is an instrumental record, which is meant to be listened to when you are more relaxed. It kind of reminds me of The Postal Service, without vocals and with a more straight forward breakbeat influenced rhythm structure. I really like listening to this album, it’s been on my iPod for almost a year now.
Skream- Outside The Box
Moving forward we have Skream, a pioneer in the dubstep blog world and another forward thinker. I enjoy his music more than other dubsteppers, because Skream focuses more on the smaller details of a good tune, than joining the filthstep bass size competition which plagues a lot of today’s dubstep. Well, you have his Freeizm series which is a little dirtier, but Outside The Box, is much more well… outside the box. The album is more evolving and theatrical in its approach, the drums guide you on your journey, the synths provide the scenery, and the bass empowers you. There are also a few interesting guest collaborations here too, particularly with Murs and La Roux. I look forward to seeing more from Skream, who never seems to stop making music. He periodically releases free music for his fans, and even has a group project called “Magnetic Man.” He’s like a machine. Bad ass.
Florence And The Machine- Lungs
This girl can sing! Hands down. This was probably one of the most buzzed about breakouts of 2010. An album that came out in 2009, which rose to prominence in 2010. I would like to say it was also the most commercially successful art-rock album of 2010. It shows. The artsiness of the album is very ambitious and never pretentious. I really like the lyrics of the songs, which deal with change (Dog Days Are Over), death (My Boy Builds Coffins), and revenge (Kiss With A Fist). Florence is a very gifted singer, which makes a good song dealing with a morbid subject and makes it sound quite beautiful. This is a great record for older people. I can’t find many 14 year old high school students listening to “Lungs.” It automatically makes you more intelligent by listening to this. I want to hear more, this album is a real tear jerker from start to finish.
Honorable Mention and Older Albums I listened to a lot this year:
Beach House- Teen Dream
Fever Ray- Fever Ray
Deadmau5- At Play 3, 4×4=12
JoE3- Love Kills
Little Dragon- Machine Dreams
Phantogram- Eyelid Movies
Chairlift- Does You Inspire You
Chemical Brothers- Further
Magitek- Odd Entities
Zero 7- Simple Things
Deftones- Diamond Eyes
Faith No More- Angel Dust
Felix Da Housecat- He Was King
Miami Horror- Illumination
How To Destroy Angels- How To Destroy Angels
Combichrist- Making Monsters
Miles Davis- Bitches Brew
Wavves- King Of The Beach
M83- Saturdays = Youth
Memoryhouse- The Years EP
Mr. Oizo- Lambs Anger
Benga- Diary Of An Afro Warrior
Cookie Monsta- Take Flight Club presents Cookie Monsta (DJ Set)
Caspa and Rusko- Fabriclive 37
Sleigh Bells- Treats
Rick James- Street Songs
Mayer Hawthorne- A Strange Arrangement
Washed Out- Life Of Leisure
Sebastien Tellier- Sexuality
Robyn- Body Talk (parts 1,2, and 3)
Dam Funk- Toeachizown
Major Lazer & La Roux- Lazerproof
Chromeo- Business Casual
Boys Noize- Power
Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
People Under The Stairs- Carried Away
Die Antwoord- $0$
Miike Snow- Miike Snow
Toro Y Moi- Causers Of This
Yeasayer- Odd Blood
Cee Lo Green- The Lady Killer
The Bird And The Bee- Interpreting The Masters: Hall And Oates
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti- Before Today
Javelin- No Mas
Skrillex- My Name Is Skrillex EP, Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites