Dibder's Top 100 Albums Of 2010: Pt. 3

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Dic 30 2010, 20:56

Sorry for the lateness... Christmas always seems to mess me about; at least I've had enough time off to get most of this list sorted!! Anywho, enough rabid transgressions, please avail yourselves of positions 50-26 of my year end chart!

50. Love King by The-Dream

Superstar R&B singer/songwriter/producer strikes again with another album of luscious, sensuous, state-of-the-art slow-jam grooves that even at their absolute nasty-filthiness are shot through with enough intelligent sexiness for you to at the very least nod your head in appreciation. Following through on sophomore album Love vs. Money's themes of love, sex and wealth as well as further establishing his persona as the, well, "love king", but without such an epic narrative throughline, the Prince influences in particular have never been so pronounced as before, but the fact that Terius Youngdell Nash aims so high and still manages to pull it all off for most of the album's duration is a commendable feat.
PopMatters: "The-Dream continues to be the lone artist in today’s R&B scene that seems to be able to execute a conceptual vision, and be more than a vehicle for whatever is happening and hot on the radio." Link
My Favourite Track: Yamaha

49. Pink Friday by Nicki Minaj

After threatening to explode for the last two years thanks to the proliferation of four mixtapes promoting her "Ghetto Barbie" persona, Ms Minaj managed to do so with some style in 2010 after much deafening buzz from her hip hop contemporaries. And whilst Friday isn't as galvanizing a release as it necessarily should have been in accordance with the hype, the elements are all present for Minaj to cement her reputation as something potentially exciting with regards to pop music in general; the girl can flit between lovelorn ballads, self-effacing character examination and endearing fantasy-based imagery with alarming ease and charisma, though nothing here quite matches the lyrical and literal ferocity of her guest spot on a certain shrugging-superstar's behemoth of an album...
NME: "One hopes that with the confidence this record brings, she’ll take a more permanent seat at hip-hop’s high table." Link
Last.fm Review from beloved_juno: "I was bored with the music scene for sure, but this type of thing has given me something to be excited about again."
My Favourite Track: Moment 4 Life

48. Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager by Kid Cudi

Mr. Mescudi follows his critically praised debut album from last year with a dark-side-of-fame affair that is to be treated with extreme caution, positively wallowing within his stoner-based anarchy whilst he extols disenchanted rhymes of social alienation and self-abuse. It's candid, indulgent and more than a little self-destructive, but Cudi's half-sung cadence is still in fully endearing force, commanding empathy from his listeners as he tries to piece together his shattered, drug-addled ego, only for the young man to call time, put his hands up and take responsibility for his own self-destruction. The music follows suit, taking in spaced-out rock guitars, angelic choirs, distorted electronic longeurs of ominous drone; even when the man lets his personal demons out on the loose, his musical intelligence and cohesion shines through.
Slant Magazine: "Pursuing genius at the expense of consistency might work out just fine for Cudi: I'm not convinced that he's a good rapper, but I'm pretty sure he's an important one." Link
Last.fm Review from MysticLycium: "This album, and indeed, this artist, took me a few weeks to really get into. Once I warmed up to Cudi's no-BS, earthy, natural rhythms and rhymes, I couldn't get enough."
My Favourite Track: All Along

47. MAYA by M.I.A.

Maya Arulpragasam almost had as much to say for herself and her music this year as the press did when her third album dropped in the summer, which is really saying something. Her first full-length release after Paper Planes became the most awesomely-unlikely worldwide smash hit of 2008, MAYA found its progenitor on more of a mission to prove her mettle as a rabble-rousing beatsmith with a penchant for snaggingly glorious earworms and bolshy swagger, refusing to entertain or answer to anyone except herself. And whilst this did herald some of her finest work to date, it meant the album itself suffered from disjointed thematic elements as a whole, trying to reconcile its heroine's anti-corporate paranoia with her own at-times vacuous rhymes. The urge to dance though is, as ever, irresistible...
Guardian: "Is M.I.A. losing her ability to offset controversy with tunes millions can love?" Link
Last.fm Review from Confessions87: "What happened?"
My Favourite Track: XXXO

46. Aphrodite by Kylie Minogue

One of the world's most beloved pop stars releases her eleventh studio album in twenty-two years and only goes and makes us all fall in love with her all over again. Resplendent in blissed-out happiness, it was the return to dancey joy-pop that many were expecting her last album to be, Kylie not only giving her fans what they wanted with some ingenious moments of self-reflexivity by way of old-fashioned references to her past career synthesized into present-day dance grooves, but also imploring the rest of the world to dance via some of the most movingly rapturous tunes of her career. Unified into superlative cohesion by pop maestro Stuart Price overseeing the fine work from various other writers and producers, listening to Aphrodite feels like Minogue's glorious homecoming.
Spin Magazine: "Minogue delivers bliss like no other (wo)man or machine." Link
Last.fm Review from rustystake: "Aphrodite only falters when you expect some sort of theme or message alongside the music – alas, there is none."
My Favourite Track: Cupid Boy

45. Familial by Philip Selway

Ornate alt-indie-folk now, courtesy of Radiohead's celebrated drummer Selway and a valuable clutch of musicians hailing from Soul Coughing and Wilco, which sees him justifiably steal a modest share of his own limelight away from the achievements of his band's more renowned members. Though you could expect a member of one of the best band's rock music has ever seen to contribute something lovely on their own, Selway's solo debut is still disarming for its assuredly warm and plaintively straightforward merits, much like Selway's delicate-yet-confident vocals that are showcased throughout.
Drowned In Sound: "I'm not sure what I expected, but Familial is half disappointment, half potential." Link
Last.fm Review from Babs_05: "The more you listen, the more comes out. The first is pretty, the second starts to get interesting..."
My Favourite Track: Falling

44. Seasons of My Soul by Rumer

Praise be to the overlords of solo female-fronted retro-pop; someone has finally been found who manages to harken back to the golden years of easy listening of decades ago without sounding like a pale imitation or a cynical exercise to sell albums to those who, bless'em, still buy albums! But seriously, if one doesn't fall in love with Sarah Joyce's silky voice at any point during their first listen of her debut album, they'll need to fine-tune their ears with razor wire or some such, Joyce displaying an effortless charm throughout on one of the finer vocal showcases that 2010 has seen to have released upon it. Sure, the Karen Carpenter comparisons are so prominent that Burt Bacharach needed to hear the woman sing for himself, but as she seamlessly transitions between tremulous heartache and reverence throughout, it's hard not to be impressed.
Guardian: "Almost uniquely in its chosen milieu, Seasons of My Soul sounds like a hit album without sounding like all the other hit albums." Link
Last.fm Review from StudleyUK: "Unlike most other retro-sounding singers of today, she's not playing it for irony or kitsch value."
My Favourite Track: Take Me As I Am

43. Diamond Eyes by Deftones

One of the most glorious hard rock moments of the year belonged to the beleaguered Deftones, still smarting at the absence of their beloved bassist Chi Cheng, but not without so much inspiration as to run many other hard-rock outfits into the ground via sheer audio brutality mixed with an almost-tender grace (compared to their previous releases anyway). Even to the least-attuned rock music listener, one cannot help but admire the tenacity and passion with which the band can still thrash out their absolute monsters of tracks whilst still marrying their work with an arresting ear for melody and sublime noise.
BBC: "This is a statement of consolidation, a neatly segued set that finds Deftones playing to their well-established strengths." Link
Last.fm Review from Tom1911: "I've found one of my favourite bands and the best album this year."
My Favourite Track: Beauty School

42. Grey Oceans by CocoRosie

An album chock full of creepily-suggestive alt-electro freak-folk moments, courtesy of twin sister duo and their first release on formidable indie label Sub Pop. A genuinely mystifying piece of work, taking in Middle Eastern percussive arrangements amidst string-based acousticisms and the girls' own childlike vocals that eerily err more than once on just the wrong side of being menacingly sensual, it also provides some of the most randomly enthralling listens of 2010, the sisters taking advantage of the production clarity a successful label has to offer whilst still embracing their unique creativity (think iamamiwhoami but with their insistence on electro-pop lushness replaced with yet more alt-freakshow bravado). Expect to be disturbed and enchanted, often at once.
The Skinny: "Highlights CocoRosie's ability to mix any genre that catches their ear, using any instrument they can get their hands on; leaving us with another characteristically enchanting and delightfully weird LP." Link
Last.fm Review from alicefairyberry: "Some people are biased because of the cover. These people are idiots. This is CocoRosie's best album yet."
My Favourite Track: Lemonade

41. I Will Be by Dum Dum Girls

Dimly-lit beach-rock-pop that should have received all of the plaudits that Best Coast received later in the year, if only because the girls here do well to marry their incandescent sound with honorable homages to the founding fathers and mothers of their genre with keen-eared knowledgability to their own charismatic sense of wistful fun. As much owing to girl groups of the 1960s as it does to the punk groups of the later decades, it presents a genuinely delicious blast of sonic purity posing as displaced ironic irreverence, and is one of the best mini-gems of 2010 that demands more listens amongst the burgeoning 'noise-pop' brigade.
Clash Magazine: "I Will Be sees what should be a niche curio sound like the next big thing." Link
My Favourite Track: Rest of Our Lives

40. High Violet by The National

Fifth time is the breakout-making charm for these Ohio-originating gloomy rockers, their emotional brand of epic-yet-understated stadium rock singing its way into the hearts of many appreciative listeners, resulting in top ten placings in album charts across the world. It'd be hard to begrudge this success if the album was an overwrought, over-hyped album of rock monotony, but thankfully The National haven't lost their nerve nor flair when it comes to writing and performing songs of elegantly emotive cadence, the kind of music that subtly but undoubtedly breaks your heart and affirms your faith in life at the same time.
The Onion A.V. Club: "With High Violet, The National has graduated from being a critic’s band. Now it belongs to everyone." Link
Last.fm Review from borntohang: "Not very original to praise The National in 2010, but since when do I care?"
My Favourite Track: Runaway

39. I'm New Here by Gil Scott-Heron

Less than half-an-hour long but packing more punch than albums over twice as long in duration this year, Scott-Heron returned to the fold sixteen years after his last long-player of original material to a voluminous wave of critical appreciation, collaborating with no less than XL Recordings' Richard Russell himself for this soulful, painful, redemptive collection of hip hop/soul confessionals. Weathered by years of smoking and substance abuse, the grain of Scott-Heron's voice as he delivers woozy dialogues regarding his impoverished upbringing by his grandmother and his own wallowing personal demons, not to mention his singing with such soulful candor on other key tracks, is startlingly beautiful and gut-wrenchingly moving, complemented by Russell's virtuoso production smarts. If only it were a little bit longer though...
Pitchfork: "It does the impressive job of reviving an artist that's been out of the spotlight far too long and setting him up for a new incarnation as an elder statesman of modern roots music." Link
Last.fm Review from ollieclaxton: "Scott-Heron has broken completely new ground, amazing considering the distinguished career he has had."
My Favourite Track: New York Is Killing Me

38. Crystal Castles (II) by Crystal Castles

The fiercely antagonistic electro duo who exploded onto the electro-goth dance scene a couple of years ago with equal amounts sublime ferocity and questionable content (helped to no end by their amazingly cathartic, often violent festival appearances, courtesy of teenage frontwoman Alice Glass' propensity to hurl herself into the crowd) are back with their second LP and what a glorious return to the fray it was. Enhancing their 8-bit electro-mosh sounds of yesteryear by broadening their scope (Sigur Rós' most upbeat and lovely song is turned into a doom-laden dirge at one point to head-turning effect) and toning down the abhorrent sounds that alienated a few would-be listeners from their debut, there are moments on this sophomore behemoth that surely represent some of the best dance music in years.
PopMatters: "They’ve made a bigger, denser, more accessible record but in so doing, have not lost sight of their strengths—rather, those strengths now shine through even more clearly." Link
Last.fm Review from ChrisCappello: "This is an album for angry punks who can let loose from time to time; more befitting of a moshpit than a dance floor proper."
My Favourite Track: Vietnam

37. The Lady Killer by Cee Lo Green

Former Goodie Mob member and current electro-soul stalwart who comprises one half of Gnarls Barkley earns his third stab at solo stardom with a delightful mix of pop, R&B and soul, harkening back to old-fashioned Motown sass and orchestrations whilst still managing to thrown in a few modernized dance signatures and his patented own dark neurosis cultivated on the Barkley albums. Sure, it may prove a little more accessible to pophounds this time around, evidenced by one of 2010's more ubiquitous producers Fraser T. Smith surfacing more than once behind the production desk, but thankfully, Green's performance holds sway quite majestically, just as happy and ebullient singing it straight to his ladies as he is slyly letting them know where to go.
Slant Magazine: "Pitch-perfect from tip to toe, The Lady Killer's leading man may well have cemented himself as one of his generation's finest singers." Link
My Favourite Track: Fuck You!

36. Love Remains by How to Dress Well

One of the biggest trends of 2010 was the burgeoning of a new movement amongst young electronic composers that drew on portentous synths and distorted ambience to help recontextualize hip hop and R&B music for a new generation of tweaked-out, disenchanted shufflers. Whilst not strictly adhering to the deathly sickness of the so-called drag sub-genre in light of his penchant for nu-R&B crooning and song construction, New York's Tom Krell and his one-man-show still stands out as one of 2010's most exciting new artists by way of managing to capture a unique synthesis of ambient electronica, urban drone and R&B slow-jams that not a single other musician this year can claim as their own. In Love Remains, the night out has found its latest essential afterparty soundtrack and the music world a star for the future.
Spin Magazine: "This debut is a different kind of soul music, as meditative as it is evocative." Link
Last.fm Review from PICKWICK-: "Eerie, murky, blown-out, 90s R/B inspired ghost lo-fi. An interesting experiment that is strong because the songs are good."
My Favourite Track: Ready For The World

35. Cerulean by Baths

More tweaked out hip hop beats from a promising young producer here, but this time erring more along the lines of beatific, cozily warm electronica rather than chopped up urban drone or lost-in-the-ether nu-soul. Though not apparently the same in style or execution, Will Wiesenfeld's debut bares a slight resemblance to that of Owl City's monstrously saccharine electro-pop that inexplicably invaded the upper echelons of the charts in January, in that they are concerned with fledgling beings exploring new worlds with keen-eyed wonder and finding beauty in their surroundings. But where City's Adam Young cynically punches the twee button repeatedly to up the schmaltz factor, Wiesenfeld marries his beats and programming with an endearingly amused savvy, cutting vocal samples into indelibly wondrous chill-out moments for ultimate swoonsomeness.
Pitchfork: "Trying to find an escape while remaining down to earth, searching for something magical in our day-to-day lives. Some find it in a drink; some find it in nature. Others will find it in Cerulean." Link
My Favourite Track: Aminals

34. One Life Stand by Hot Chip

West London's favourite geek-chicos and their fourth album is a keen display of a dance-rock-pop outfit continuing to successfully establish its oeuvre in the world of pop music with inimitable style. Probably the most enchanting aspect of Chip and their work is in their confidence in the restorative powers of music; though their arrangements and collective persona suggest nerdily too-cool-for-school peeps, their songs are never dull or angry and inhabit a warm soundscape that is soothing, occasionally sad and self-effacing, but not without a sense of humour or dignity. This comes to bear on their fourth LP especially, given the genre tropes lovingly referenced throughout, and whilst there isn't a moment that stands out brighter than say Don't Dance or Careful, it could be their most consistently great LP thus far.
Guardian: "One Life Stand not only sees them back on track, it's also their best work, paring down those past excesses and unifying them into an extraordinarily lovely whole." Link
Last.fm Review from futurepope: "While it may be the soundtrack to a hipster dance party it deserved all the acclaim it received."
My Favourite Track: Alley Cats

33. Special Affections by Diamond Rings

80s-influenced synth-pop solo debut from frontman of Canadian rock outfit The D'Urbervilles, who rather refreshingly is more about writing simple, evocative pop songs and warble in a charmingly trenchant baritone, forgoing bells and whistles like Autotune to deliver plaintively relatable nuggets of pop gold. Given that the so-called 80's revival has been happening for a good ten years now, no one can accuse John O'Regan of belatedly cashing in on a fad to try and distance himself away from his band either; Affections contains the kind of sublimely fond homage its title suggests in bounteous abundance, sold through with enough winningness to qualify it for cult success.
Allmusic.com: "Virtually every one of these songs boasts a melodic smart missile of a chorus contributes greatly to the album's appeal." Link
Last.fm Review from theneedledrop: "There's a load of ambition here, but the only sad part is Special Affections lacks the power and the flash to bring it to the next level."
My Favourite Track: On Our Own

32. Penny Sparkle by Blonde Redhead

Cult indie favourites release their eighth studio album, which happens to be rather lovely, nestling inside forward-leaning electro-pop that is reconciled with indie-rock hooks by lead singer Kazu Makino's wistful vocals to deliver a timelessly special treat influenced by the fabled genre of dream-pop. Again, the spectre of 80s referentialism rears its head more than once, but it ought not take away from one of the finest alt-rock albums of the year.
NME: "Though lacking standout tracks, this is an icy masterclass in how synths should sound." Link
Last.fm Review from dandyboy73: "There aren't really any standouts, no tracks that shout 'I'm a single' or 'I should have been left on the studio floor'."
My Favourite Track: Love or Prison

31. Free Time by 少年ナイフ

Bright, effervescent garage pop from long-standing Japanese rock institution that will have entered its thirtieth year of being in 2011, but nevertheless are still filled with enough vitality and passion to keep rocking on for as long as they have. If the advent of female-fronted noise pop gaining column inches in various magazines and blogs was good for anything this year, it will have been for shedding some light on this immensely likable trio and their showing the world that bright, dancey rock-pop that owes more to Ramones than to U2 can still move you and still doesn't have to be mired in so-called ironic sentiments just to appear fashionably jaded by its obvious influences. And as a bonus, the album also happens to feature some of the cutest songs of the year!
My Favourite Track: Star

30. Disconnect From Desire by School of Seven Bells

This electro-indie supergroup formed via former members of On!Air!Library! and Secret Machines released their second album in 2010, an irresistible electro-pop affair that could very well be a collection of songs preserved in a time capsule that was originally to have been released in the late-80s/early-90s period. Of course, being the talented musicians that they are, the sisters Deheza (Alejandra still with the outfit, Claudia departing recently after the album's release) and Benjamin Curtis aren't content to just recycle old pop tropes to get the nostalgia crowd going, imbuing enough of a timeless sensibility to their completely self-produced work to make even the most jaded pop fan nod in appreciation more than once.
BBC: "SVIIB’s ability to create lucid, breathless music of inexorable beauty was glorious the first time round. But here they go further. Now it seems innate." Link
Last.fm Review from invisiblewings: "A brilliant dance record. Claudia and Alejandra's vocals are so entrancing you'll lose yourself in them."
My Favourite Track: Heart Is Strange

29. Odd Blood by Yeasayer

Apparently inspired by LSD-induced elucidations that prompted the band to make an album to rival Rihanna for club-based airtime and revelry (condensed quite awesomely by member Anand Wilder as simply making a "poppier" album), Yeasayer's second album trades in on more electro-based, substance-fueled fantasy than their previous effort, and in effect, brings forth one of the most crazily fabulous electro-rock records of recent memory, as much trading in dramatic alt-flavoured shifts in time signatures as it does earworm-qualifiable ingenious pop hooks. The result is one of the only genre-crossover albums to be released this year that promotes nothing but sheer unadulterated enjoyment, where even the ballads hold such a thrall on the listener as to make them wave their fingers into the sky.
Clash Magazine: "The heartbreak and longing is jubilantly packaged, waiting for the sadness to be exorcised on a dance floor late one Friday night." Link
Last.fm Review from 16-19: "This album is creepy in the right places, while seductive and charming at the perfect moments."
My Favourite Track: I Remember

28. Soldier of Love by Sade

Arriving amidst an assured steam of hype and a full ten years after their last album of original material, Sade's sixth studio album was one of the most high profile releases of the year, eventually making the top ten best selling albums of 2010 with over two million copies sold, with 500,000 copies sold in its first week in the US. And it is not without justification that the English R&B group have achieved this feat in their career either, as Soldier represents one of the greater comebacks of recent years, Sade emerging out of the ether both with a renewed energy that makes them relevant to today's world without cynically cashing in to the latest trends, but also providing ample example of the kind of swoonsome loveliness that everyone fell in love with in the first place.
Pitchfork: "Offers listeners a rather narrow range of interest-- songs that (at their best) suggest strong feeling restrained by a fierce dignity-- but Sade remain the best at what they do." Link
My Favourite Track: In Another Time

27. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West

The single biggest event record of the year, the decade or perhaps the century sees Mr West at the height of his powers with an album loaded with excess, delusion, revulsion, inspiration... You could throw any single adjective at the album and it would stick, it’s that impossibly grand. Only someone of West’s clout could pull it off, and the album boasts enough invention, nerve and pure awe to match its guest roster (which even for a sky-high profile hip hop release is something to behold), and the relentlessness with which he pushes the boundaries of hip hop into surreal forms of expression is to be commended. Even nitpickers like me who have issues with the piece’s flagrant egotism have to put their hands up and greatly appreciate the advances West and his menagerie of players have done to make such an album.
Pitchfork:10.0Link
Last.fm Review from Aragorn_501: “Of course I wasn't sure about this record when I first heard about it, but thanks to his Good Friday releases and his absolutely bloated ego, he got me to listen to it. I do not regret it at all.”
My Favourite Track: Monster

26. TRON: Legacy by Daft Punk

Given their past work in film with enfant terrible Gaspar Noé, not to mention the anime odyssey that accompanied their Discovery album, one isn't surprised that the French house noiseniks would have even balked at being tapped to score a video-game-based Hollywood blockbuster. Kudos still are indebted to Walt Disney Pictures for giving them full reins to compose the sequel to their pioneering 1982 effects extraganza Tron, and the DJs-cum-score-composers have risen to the task of tackling an epic sonicsphere rather marvelously. Treading the tightrope between orchestral majesty and their fabled sound-system-pummeling beats and sequences, the result is the stuff of the purest manna from geek heaven; granted, not as "ravey" as some fans would like, but still a rather amazing body of work.
The Onion A.V. Club: "It’s an adeptly realized, tonally complementary companion to what sounds like an extremely intense science-fiction movie." Link
Last.fm Review from wookielove: "Some film reviews have called the movie one long Daft Punk music video, to which I reply, "what's wrong with that"?"
My Favourite Track: The Game Has Changed

Will try to get Pt. 4 done in time for tomorrow, but please don't hold me to it... ;)

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