Thursday, December 9, 2010

James's Runner-Ups!

Next week we'll begin rolling out our Albums of the Year list (voted on by us, and you). For the time being, I thought I'd drop a preview post featuring a few of 2010's best albums that didn't make our list. Sure, each of these albums could whip The Suburbs to death with both arms tied behind their backs, but the public has spoken. And apparently, the public doesn't love the following albums as much as a I do...

I'll admit, I was stunned to see that I was the ONLY PERSON who voted for Robyn's Body Talk album. Maybe nobody else put it on their lists because they were bummed out that the tracklist for the full LP wasn't as tight as it could have been, or maybe everyone was pissed that "Cry When You Get Older," a standout from the Body Talk pt. 1 ep, was somehow left off. Or maybe not enough indie-snobs know how to love a good pop album when it comes along. Here's the thing--Robyn has one of the biggest personalities in pop music, and every one of her songs is bursting with that personality. The songs are catchy and well produced, the lyrics endearing and clever, and the whole album is built on sick arrangements perfect for dancing and singing along to. If you haven't checked out Robyn yet, please, please do. You owe it to yourself.

Here's the video for "Hang With Me":


Okay, so Erykah Badu's New Amerykah pt. II: Return of the Ankh isn't quite the heavy, impassioned soulful scream of part one, but it wasn't supposed to be. pt. II was like the chill counterpart, the collection of songs--still brimming with quiet Badu's heavy love and quiet anger--we're supposed to celebrate with after the close of the last world war. These are soul songs, love songs, space songs, spirit songs, friend songs, and Badu never misses a beat, coming off as bogglingly playful and serious as ever.

Here's a video for Badu's NSFW video for "Window Seat":

This album was a bit of grower--soft psychedelia with warm production and an almost early-Shins like penchant for melody. But as soon as the album gets fired up, Wild Nothing come into their own, mixing textured layers of synthesizers and atmosphere into every track. Odds are, a few months from now, this will be much higher on my year end list. That's the dangerous of making these lists early though.

Check out "Bored Games" from Gemini:


In a word, something about Four Tet's There is Love in You sounds haunted. It probably has something to do with that opening track, "Angel Echoes," with its splintered human voice yearning over miles of unobtrusive beats and confused bells. While the album's opener is the most overt example of these ideas, the mood and tone pervades the album, leaving us a little bit dizzy and surrounded by ghosts at every turn. There is Love in You is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest albums of 2010. Give it a try.

Enjoy "Love Cry" from this album:


I don't really know what this album is or where it comes from, only that it's a low key, soulful, slightly sexy bit of indie pop. The album offers plenty of 80's attitude and production flourishes, but without ever succumbing to the unquestioned and unearned nostalgia that so many of their peers traffic in. As far as I can tell, the only way Twin Shadow manages to avoid that trap is by keeping the songwriting easy and free--there is never a sense that the band is trying to hard to recall a past era, they're just playing their songs with a knowing nod backwards about twenty-five years.

Check out "Castles in the Snow":

With Black Noise Pantha Du Prince have made one hell of a lovely electro-trance-techno-pop-whatever-you-people-call-it record. Oddly enough, I somehow forgot to include this on my own top 40 list. That happens sometimes. Anyway, the beats bubble with life, the synths are bright and fizzy, and even Noah Lennox drops in for a visit, but not in any way that draws too much attention away from the album's rich textures and chill tones. Black Noise is both full of motion and ruminative, a blissful collection of thoughtful, rewarding arrangements.

Here is "Stick to My Side" (w/ Panda Bear singing):


See you on Monday with our (and your) Albums of the Year list.

No comments:

Post a Comment