Ahh it’s that time of the year and for once I’m organized enough to bring it to you. Sorta. I’ve actually been working on this list for about a week now but unfortunately left my external hard drive in the Delta Sky Club at Laguardia yesterday. Oops. Would have been nice to double check with my album files on that but I think I’ve put enough work in, if one or two albums slip through, my bad. At least it’s been found and is now in transit to me and we finally made it home to SF in one piece. On to the countdown…
Note: most albums are on sale right now at Amazon for $5 a pop. Hook it up!
There were a couple that didn’t quite fit on the list but I felt needed some recognition. We’ll call them…
Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
My favorite “new indie rock band” of 2010, Surfer Blood had me from the start. Gotta love that surf rock!
Yelawolf – Trunk Muzik 0-60
When I first saw Yelawolf at a Dub Frequency showcase at SXSW he instantly blew me away and I knew he was the next rapper to watch. Funny thing was I had already loved his sound from singing the hook on rapper Juelz Santana’s “Mixin Up the Medicine“. While I did enjoy his mixtape tracks a lot more than his album cuts, this definitely deserved some recognition since it’s his first official release and it definitely got some play.
15) Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley – Distant Relatives
The combination of hip hop and reggae that Nas and youngest-son-of-Bob, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley bring is the perfect blend of yin and yang. Some songs have the thick Nas flow, some have that mellow dub vibe, and others are a compliment of both.
14) Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History
Fulfilling all of my pop-rock cravings, Two Door Cinema Club kept me bobbing my head and singing along to their catchy songs all year. Consider them the band I most want to see live in 2011.
13) Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Featuring just about any awesome artist you can think of, the new Gorillaz album brought on some killer collabs and put together a solid album full of unique sounds. Yes, some were better than others but on the whole you gotta admit this was really enjoyable. They also released a free album, The Fall, (with mailing list sign-up) at Christmas that I’ve heard great things about but actually haven’t gotten a chance to peep yet.
12) Spoon – Transference
11) Vampire Weekend – Contra
I could say pretty much the same thing about Vampire Weekend as I did about Spoon. Great indie rock sound and you know they won’t stop with this one. Perfect for road trips or bright sunny days or road trips on bright sunny days.
10) Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid
A new favorite in the RnB/soul department, Janelle Monae has an amazing voice not only solo but also brings it together with some great partners on her freshman album. Packing a punch with 18 tracks ranging from mellowed out smooth jams to pep-me-up hits, this is a guaranteed top pick.
9) N.E.R.D. – Nothing
I’ve been a fan of N.E.R.D. from the beginning and no matter what style of music they work with, it seems to always turn out a great success. This album leans to the poppy side but still shows their true colors with genre-bending madness. It would be difficult for Pharrell to release something I won’t listen to.
8) OK Go – Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
I fell in love with OK Go in 2002 when I first heard the song Get Over It and it hasn’t gone away. Although it might be a bit of a stretch, they are my go-to emo band and their recent album has been there for me when I most needed it. I can listen to it from start to finish on a rainy day and feel that great feeling bands like this are aiming for.
7) The Roots – How I Got Over
The Roots have had quite a year after taking on the role as house band for Jimmy Fallon’s late night show in 2009. Their 9th studio album was released in June and brought with signature big band meets hip hop style guaranteed to get you dancing if not at least bobbing your head along to the always melodic beat. In September they even released the album Wake Up! along with the sultry voice of John Legend. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite song from this album because there are so many I love so much – and have played throughout the year in my dj sets.
6) Daniel Merriweather – Love & War
This album began to leak around Valentine’s Day last year and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Australian singer Daniel Merriweather has an amazing voice and backed up by great bands produces a straight winner. These songs also got a lot of play in my sets and put a bounce in my step while I listened on my iPod. Really excited to hear what will come from him in the future.
5) Hot Chip – One Life Stand
Hot Chip can do no wrong in my book and are one of my favorite live acts of all time. They are full of energy and play around with different styles, always leaving you impressed with whatever direction they take with their dancey pop-rock sound.
4) Aziz Ansari – Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening
Not usually one for comics in general, Aziz Ansari‘s first CD blew me away with laughs. We listened to this daily on our cross-country road trip and began speaking like Aziz at all times. He’s addictive and hilarious, buy this (or the very similar DVD version) and you will thank me later. I’ve been bugging him on Twitter to do some drops for me but so far he’s resisted my charm…errr harassment.
3) Rusko – O.M.G.!
This was my true pump-me-up album of the year. Dubstep is a genre we’re all gradually adjusting to, even if we don’t want to admit it, and Rusko gives it to us gentle and lets us experience it’s poppy side. The hard sound lifted me up so many times this year and his album on random was my go-to for the genre, listening multiple times a week after it’s release on Diplo’s Mad Decent record label.
2) Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Yes, you knew it was going to be on this list. Where most CDs have at least a few “meh” songs, Kanye delivers a complete work of art that can be listened from start to finish on repeat all day long. No lie, I’ve almost done it. I’m not just choosing this to like Kanye over all these other rappers but so many people put albums out today that feel so incomplete, a few singles sprinkled among unnecessary filler. This is how you make music.
1) Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son of Chico Dusty
Nope, Kanye isn’t my top album of the year because I was much more surprised by this solo effort from Outkast homie Big Boi. He proved that hip hop is alive and well and brought the heat with some amazing production to boot. I loved so many tracks on this, I even bought it on vinyl which came on some hot white wax that I was able to use at gigs on the regular. If you buy one album from my list it should be this one just because you didn’t expect it and will still be blown away.
Stay tuned for my top 50 songs of the year post coming in the next couple days…