Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Albums of 2009

After much deliberation I have compiled a list of my favorite albums of 2009. As usual my tastes oscillated throughout the course of the year, rotating between electronic, lo-fi, shoegaze and psychedelic tunes. Absent from heavy rotation was hip hop and trip hop as I tended to favor more poppy genres this year.

See Mystery Lights by YACHT
Not only is this the most creative album of the year, it is the most fun. Bubbly loops, repetitive lyrical chants, and James Murphy-inspired electro waves pulse through the tracks and bring them to life.

Bitte Orca by Dirty Projectors
Experimental Pop at its finest. In the same vein as The Fiery Furnaces, figuratively or literally... Uniquely eccentric arrangements and discordant-yet-harmonious vocals come together to create this intricate masterpiece.

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... PT II by Raekwon
Fourteen long years after its predecessor drops, Raekwon's new offering is classic Wu-Anthem shit. This album is the pinnacle of crime rap. Hell, I'm pretty sure Raekwon invented the genre.

jj n° 2 by jj
Apparently the combination of Swedish DJ's with secret identities (really) and Tough Alliance-owned label Sincerely Yours, results in an incredibly diverse, global album of monumental proportions.

FELT 3: A Tribute To Rosie Perez by Felt
Slug and Murs are back and this time Aesop Rock is providing the bumps. The same witty lyrics spell out tales of the duo in their latest chapter while Aes drops diverse, yet unexpectedly accessible beats.

Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear
Sharp, complex vocals and rich, harmonious layers compose other-worldly chamber pop on Grizzly Bear's newest effort. Notably, Beach House's Victoria LeGrand makes an appearance on this vocal-driven, cacophonous pop masterpiece.

Paranoid Cocoon by Cotton Jones
A soulful, yet experimental attitude pervades this new Folk offering from Page France's Michael Nau. The melancholy 'Blood Red Sentimental Blues' is probably my favorite track of the year.

Man on the Moon: The End of Day by KiD CuDi
Cutter is back with his first album. Appearances from Indie giants MGMT and Ratatat highlight this dynamic and impassioned album. Scott's unique delivery and emotional lyrics come together with moody, futuristic sounds to create an instant classic that will inevitably propel CuDi past the stratosphere and onward toward the Moon.

LP by Discovery
Take a little bit of Ra Ra Riot and add some of last year's Indie sensation Vampire Weekend and you get Discovery. Effervescent synth tones pulse throughout this album which is somehow able to stand out in an increasingly crowded genre.

Manners by Passion Pit
Following up last year's immensely successful EP is a hypnotic, disco inflected album comparable to The Postal Service. A perfect blend of upbeat synth and catchy pop.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hip Hop in 2009... alive and well (fed). I only need to point you to J. Cole's new tape The Warm Up. This guy graduated Magna Cum Laude from St. John's University. He was the first to sign with Roc Nation and on this tape J. Cole proves why he's got everyone including Hov listening to the boy from the 'Ville.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Top Ten Favorite Albums

DJ Shadow - Endtroducing..... (1996)
A Hip Hop masterpiece. The first album ever to be comprised of only samples. Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt needs no introduction.

Panda Bear - Person Pitch (2008)
A dynamic solo album from Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) of Animal Collective. Usually tagged as Freak Folk or Psychedelic Pop, the sound of the record is eerily similar to the production of Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys. Check out Take Pills. It starts out slow but gets very lively.

The Raveonettes - Lust Lust Lust (2007)
This album is characterized by dark lyrics, intense noise, pounding beats and 50's/60's pop chords. It sounds like what I think an album by The Jesus and Mary Chain would sound like if it were produced by Phil Spector in the 60's... brilliant. Blush is one of the most moving tracks off the album.

Madvillain - Madvillainy (2004)
Collaboration between producer extraordinaire Madlib and masked rhymer MF DOOM. Highly acclaimed at release, Madvillainy is already regarded as a classic, and for good reason. There are three remix albums, one by Madlib himself. The other two are by Koushik and Four Tet, both electronic artists on Stones Throw Records. Check the videos for All Caps and Accordian.

Lovage - Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By (2001)
Concept album from supergroup Lovage, featuring Mike Patton and Jennifer Charles on vocals, Kid Koala on turntables and Dan the Automator as producer. Lazy trip hop beats meld with sultry, passionate vocals, and spirited cuts by Koala. The themes of lust, intrigue and betrayal are revealed in a playful, tongue in cheek manner. To Catch a Thief is one of my favorite tracks off this record.

Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)
Debut full length album by Canadian indie giants, Arcade Fire. Every track on this album is incredible and diverse. Defies explanation. Check out Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) and Neighborhood #2 (Laika).

Danger Mouse - Ghetto Pop Life (2003)
Top notch producer DJ Danger Mouse and Jemini the Gifted One collaborate on this rare hip hop gem. With guest appearances from Prince Po and The Pharcyde, its easy to see why this is heralded as a classic. Some tracks are hard hitting and serious while others are lighthearted, like Don't Do Drugs.

The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
This album was largely ignored upon release but has since been proclaimed as one of the most influential rock albums of all time. Perverse and sadistic lyrics over strange and noisy instrumentation. Venus in Furs has an Eastern quality to it.

The Avalanches - Since I Left You (2001)
One of the most creative albums ever produced, The Avalanches debut LP is cobbled together from over 3,500 obscure samples from old records, films, and TV shows similar to Endtroducing. It's an awe inspiring feat of musical production. The album mixes disco, hip hop, trip hop, and dance music to create a strange balance that weaves throughout the tracks. Frontier Psychiatrist really shows off their creative sampling.

Leonard Cohen - Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
The first album I ever heard. I still have my father's original pressing. It may also be my favorite album ever. So Long, Marianne was likely the first song I ever listened to, and I wouldn't mind if it were the last.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Zooey Deschanel

More like zomg. Zooey plays She to his Him (or something) in the band She & Him. Below is a link to their video for Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? It might be the best video of 2008.

She & Him - Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?

Sophisticated Disco

I may be way late on this but better late than never... Hercules and Love Affair dropped their eponymous debut album last March and it's the best disco I've heard since The Avalanches' Since I Left You. If you haven't heard, Hercules and Love Affair is a music project from New York's DJ Andy Butler. Nomi Ruiz, Kim Ann Foxman and Antony Hegarty (lead vocalist in Antony & The Johnsons) provide amazing vocals over Butler's uptempo disco beats. It is interesting to note that Butler, Hegarty and Foxman are gay and Ruiz has undergone gender reassignment surgery. Butler says of the project and its namesake,
"There were myths in classical times that told stories about [Hercules'] various love affairs. He was reputed to love both men and women. I took the name after a story about Hercules and one of his specific lovers. I mean, I was just fascinated by the fact that, in classical times, the strongest man on Earth might have also been in love with a man and be heartbroken by a man, y'know? I thought it was an interesting detail."
Below is a link to the video for the second single from the album, which happened to be Pitchfork's "Best Song Of 2008".

Hercules and Love Affair - Blind

Monday, March 16, 2009


OK, so I recently discovered Bee Thousand, the breakout album by Lo-Fi pioneers, Guided By Voices. This is probably the best Indie Rock album you've never heard. They put out several albums during the 80's and 90's however, it wasn't until the release of Bee Thousand in 1994 that the band really got any critical attention. The album has since been hailed as a masterpiece, and is considered among the most important alternative rock albums of the 1990s. But don't take my word for it, go buy this album. You will not be disappointed. Check out Tractor Rape Train.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Math Rock

So, I'm now obsessed with female guitar virtuoso, Marnie Stern. She plays a unique blend of pop, punk, and math rock that I can't stop listening to. Her latest album, This Is It & I Am It & You Are It & So Is That & He Is It & She Is It & It Is It & That Is That (yeah, its that long) was released in late 2008 but I just now got around to listening to it. Apparently she has tons of accolades for her guitar skills but either way, this album rocks. Below is my favorite track off the album.

Marnie Stern - Simon Says


In a few moments you will have an experience which will seem completely real. It will be the result of your subconscious fears transformed to your conscious awareness. You have five seconds to terminate this tape. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.