Monday, January 3, 2011

Best(-Take-Another-Looks) of 2010

The Best-Take-Another-Looks. The records that went unnoticed, went unreviewed, got hated on, didn't get much of a fuss made over them—or just need a little standing up for. If you don't have them/haven't heard them, give them a shot. You won't regret it. (And of course, don't forget Mark Ronson and The Octopus Project.) Now without further ado, and in not too particular an order:

10. Mumford & Sons — Sigh No More
This one probably doesn't need a lot of help from me, actually. It's on, even atop, year-end lists all over the place. But in case you only read Pitchfork (no judgments—that used to be me), a vicious 2.1 rating certainly wouldn't encourage you to give it a spin. Perhaps the endorsement of simple music lovers, as opposed to the ridiculous, faux-academic bitchiness of music critics, will?

Mumford & Sons — Sigh No More
Mumford & Sons — Little Lion Man


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9. fun. — Aim & Ignite
I'm cheating a bit here, as this one actually came out in 2009—BUT!—they released a deluxe edition this year, so it's totally legit. The band name doesn't exactly inspire confidence, but this album is incredible. You may be familiar with the lead singer's former band The Format. Like fun, they were wholly ignored by Pitchfork. And this is a real shame, because both bands made some of my favorite over-the-top pop of the past few years.

fun. — Be Calm
fun. — At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)

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8. Ratatat — LP4
Pitchfork is clearly just growing weary of Ratatat. With every album, they try and marginalize them more and more (LP4 got a poopy 5.2). And while I agree that maybe more than a little evolution is needed for them to make a scene once more, I still think that they're making great music. I don't know if I'll still be saying that by LPVII, but for right now I'm still all up in their camp.

Ratatat — Drugs
Ratatat — Sunblocks


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7. Yeasayer — Odd Blood
I'm not sure how one manages to be smooching and pooping on something simultaneously (I'm not German, after all), but Pitchfork's Odd Blood review seemed just such a display. They doled out conservative compliments and snide remarks about how Yeasayer were poised to be commercially successful (how dare you, band!) in equal measure, and then cherry-on-topped it with a 6.1. This album is beautiful and thrilling. Don't sleep on it.

Yeasayer — Ambling Alp
Yeasayer — Madder Red

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Gif Created on Make A Gif6. Dntel — After Parties 1/After Parties 2
It seems Dntel will always be a casualty of The Postal Service. I don't personally feel the need to separate Jimmy Tamborello from his ubiquitous Ben Gibbard collabo (especially since TPS turned me on to Dntel), but I really wish the blogholes could. They skewered 2007's lovely Dumb Luck and simply eschewed the After Parties EPs. It's worth noting that this sounds like a completely different Dntel now, but just as gorgeous.

Dntel — After Parties
Dntel — Aimless

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5. Freelance Whales — Weathervanes
My first exposure to Freelance Whales was a video of them adorably busking in a subway station. Yeah, it was precious and they were stunting — but it worked. And how else are artists supposed to get our attention these days? (This bunch isn't armed with the décolletage of Katy Perry, after all.) And while the subway shtick is somewhat indicative of Weathervanes, it does not merit a Nick and Norah reference. That sh*t is beyond the pale.

Freelance Whales — Generator ^ First Floor
Freelance Whales — Generator ^ Second Floor

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4. The Ruby Suns — Fight Softly
There are bands, and then there are "bands" that are just a dude who would rather not go by his real name. Sometimes other people play with them and sometimes they make albums by themselves, occasionally yielding fantastic results (see Hissing Fauna). No, Fight Softly is not 2008's awesome Ruby Suns effort Sea Lion—it's quite different—but it's also not a booger-eating 6.1.

The Ruby Suns — Mingus and Pike
The Ruby Suns — Cinco

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Gif Created on Make A Gif3. YelaWolf — Trunk Muzik/Trunk Muzik 0-60
Inevitably, the first beats of any conversation about YelaWolf involve some chortling due to his being a white kid from Alabama. Then the apologetic "But Bun B, Raekwon and Gucci Mane are all on the record." And after you listen, none of that mess matters. The production is spectacular. His rapping is excellent (and not at all like Eminem, for those wondering). There's some overlap, but you don't want to miss the mixtape or the album.

YelaWolf — Trunk Muzik [NSFW - Explicit]
YelaWolf — Box Chevy (feat. Rittz) [NSFW - Explicit]

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2. Jaga Jazzist — One-Armed Bandit
This band hasn't made a record yet that I didn't love, and One-Armed Bandit might be my favorite yet. Jaga Jazzist is a Norwegian 10-piece  (texture abounds!) that deals in jazzy, post-rock-y stuff with electronics sprinkled here and there. Most of the time, they don't sound quite like anything I can remember hearing before, although this record does occasionally smack of a cool old soundtrack from the '70s that you stumbled upon at a record store.

Jaga Jazzist — One-Armed Bandit
Jaga Jazzist — Touch of Evil

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1. Hooray for Earth — Momo
For all the negative press and backlash to questionable business decisions that beset our beloved eMusic this year, I still have to say "God bless eMusic selects." After all, they brought us Deastro, The Rural Alberta Advantage, High Places and this year, Strand of Oaks and Hooray for Earth. Momo is but a 5-song EP, yet it grabbed me by the goodies as much as any LP this year. Here's looking forward to the future of this outfit. Hooray, indeed.

Hooray for Earth — Surrounded by Your Friends
Hooray for Earth — Comfortable, Comparable

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1 comment:

  1. Your take on Pitchfork is as refreshing as a washcloth soaked in hipster blood. I want to not read it, but I just keep going back. Now, I read your blog instead. So, please don't stop reading Pitchfork, so that I don't have to...or something like that...

    ReplyDelete