Friday, December 31, 2010

Dedicated Ears 2010 Most Listened To List

 This year I am sticking with just 2010 release for my most listened to list. For me,  listens is the best way to figure out what the best albums of the year are.  It was a really good year for hip hop and rap and that is reflected below.  If I were to include some other albums I have listened to as much as these, but don't fit the 2010 release date those would be The Black Atlantic, Manipulator Alligator and Turtle Ambulance.

1)  Pretty Little Empire - Reason and Rooms  Second year in a row that this St. Louis four piece is my most listened to album. All they did since last year was add an amazing drummer, delve into indie guitar circa 1990 and crank up the harmonies. Superb song-writing again and  3 of the four members sing lead vocals admirably. That doesn't happen every day does it?

2)  Hemmingbirds - Death Wave Yoo Soo Kim of the Chicago indie band Hemmingbirds  plays everything on this album save for a few drum tracks. Great pop songwriting. The music draws from everything from Pink Floyd to Decemberists.   Non- conventional pop song structures give this album its own sound that keeps you invested in these songs. 

 3) Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy   (Roc A Fella) Amazing that Kanye is continually topping his last album and this album is no different. Less of the club centered songs and more story telling going on here. This gets better with every listen.

4) Carlos Mendez - Depie 
 Folk from Panama that uses Latin rhythms and indie pop as well to make for a relaxed vibe. This album was stuck on repeat for me throughout this past summer.  If you didn't think you liked music in languages other than English this may convince you otherwise. 

 5) The Juliets - The Juliets   (Flat Response Sound) Chamber pop from Detroit that is heavy on the strings.  With influences of Brit pop and indie rock this album also has a bounce on the bottom end that is an interesting mix within the realm of chamber pop. Well thought out lyrics and great production

6) Bullets In Madison - We Became Your Family When You Died
 Chicago bands best to date.  Equal parts ambient and shoe gaze with a touch of post-rock. These songs help to make a cohesive album that is flush with emotive arrangements that demand to be heard over and over again.

7) Grinderman - Grinderman 2  (Anti/Epitath) Thanks God for Nick Cave's relentless drive as Grinderman is what he does in his "off" time. This time around it's less punch you in the face and more drag you on the floor. I am very careful not to say this is a more mellow album than their first but it does rely on a groove more and has less of the loud punches.  He has separated himself from many of his peers with the improvement in quality as well as keeping the sound very relevant.

8) Horse Feathers - Thistled Spring (Kill Rock Stars) What a beautifully sorrow sound this album has. The strings are are used to make washes of emotion that are so addictive to listen to. The vocals and lyrics come from  an honest place and make for such a full sound with the strings.

9) Angelique Kidjo - Oyo  (Razor & Tie) Benin artist Kidjo commands presence not only with her big voice but with her ability to seamlessly wander between American soul and traditional African music. Even an appearance by Bono on a track could take away from this album's goodness.

10) Pelican - What We All Come To Need  (Southern Lord)   Chicago instrumental metal stalwarts make grown up metal that both headbangers and casual listeners can listen to and enjoy.  The build up on some of these songs is pretty heady stuff.

11) Cassis Orange - Kashisu Orenji  (Grip Tapes)  Autumn Ahinger is Cassis Orange who is based in Chapel Hill.  This EP of electronic pop gems reminded me a bit of Tune - Yards the first time I heard it.  The vocals are spot on and the keyboards are great. 

12) Crash Collect (formerly Elle Lefant)  - Pulse Short and sweet EP by Poughkeepsie based duo that is a powerful brand of electronic soul. Out-sized vocals and playful electronic pop make for quite a pairing.

13) Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid    (Bad Boy) I got this album a bit late in the year. I suspect that if I listened to it for another month that it would jump into my top 5. This is genre bending at it's best. Janelle manages to wear many musical hats and wear them all very well. 

14) We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls (Fat Cat Records)

 Sublime Scottish indie rock that is so damn catchy.

15) Joe Harbison - Traditions  ( Joe is from Kentucky and is quite a prolific musician.  He has unique vocals that I enjoy. He is another one man band and plays everything you hear as well as writes composes these songs.

16) Cee Lo Green - The Lady Killer (Radiculture/Elektra) Another album I got later in the year that could have climbed much higher. Awesome horns, the "F# You " song that is a viral video hit and a really good Band Of Horses cover ("No One's Gonna Love You) . Cee Lo gets it right and doesn't take himself too seriously and that is a page other hip hop acts would be well served to embrace.

17)  Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two : Return Of The Ankh (Mowtown) I like her as a neo soul artists originally and now enjoy her even more as an experimental soul songstress. Though not as experimental as Vol. 1 this album is really good.

18) Magic Man - Real Life Color (Arcade Sound LTD.) Lo fi electronic pop from Boston. So, so addictive these songs are.  

19) The Roots - How I Got Over  (Def Jam) You can almost get complacent in thinking every new album by the Roots is going to be a great album. It does seem to work out that way doesn't it? So this is another album long and beats and thoughtful raps by guys who know who they are, Philly's finest.

20) Yawn - Yawn EP   Chicago psyche-pop loaded with hook and a wide array of sounds.  Do you like your tribal beats with your psyche rock? Then you will love this.

21) Yellow Ostrich - The Morgan Freeman EP  Oddly enough, The Morgan Freeman EP was written all about... Morgan Freeman, well his Wiki page anyways. With such irrevrant beginnings is it any wonder that this is actually very good? Quite an ear the band has for melodies.Thanks to The Waiting Room Radio Shows web-cast for the tip!


Machelle Blankenship said...

Thanks for sharing. I've really enjoyed the blog last year and look forward to reading and learning this year! Love all the posts for PLE especially; thanks for the introduction!

Anonymous said...

"Yoo Soo Kim of the Chicago are plays everything on this album save for a few drum tracks."


tonyrusniak said...

My wife and I enjoyed yours as well. I actually taught her how to sew (I took fashion design at Columbia Chicago) and we bought a nice dual feed Pfaff as our first joint big purchase. She now crochets as well. You make some great looking things on there, I like the bath rugs. I am glad to infect as many folks as possible with the PLE music bug. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reading my blog. I should have an interview and some concert footage of the show up on my blogs youtube channel. They are playing here in Chicago for a show that my blog is sponsoring, on Jan 18th. Happy New Year Machelle!

DC said...

Cheers for the mention, T. Hemmingbirds album is superb as is Pretty Little Empire's.

tonyrusniak said...

No problem. I have enjoyed you podcasts quite a bit. There are a few bands from the last show that I am going to go get their albums.

Pinto and the Bean said...

Nice to see Hemmingbirds on this list! We're performing with them at Double Door in February and can't wait! They're a great band!

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