My Favorite Albums of 2016

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My fellow earbudders,

Well. Another year of music has come and gone, which means, another list of favorites to publish for you to read, consume, and just maybe decide what to put on your own end of the year playlist for gist and shiggles. These 40 albums were my favorites. I try not to say the “best “ones because I know that for every album that is on the list, I probably missed my fair share of musical goodies but these are the ones that got numerous plays on my ipod. This year revealed reunions, long awaited returns, artistic passion, departed souls, and your run of the mill pop fluff – of which there was a little too much of I admit. I was bored by many of the pop songs I heard on the radio – same beats, same squeaky voiced people singing the same things over and over again. You could take the head off one singer, replace it with another and you wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference. But the true artists – the ones that display quality over quality, fought their way through the cracks of pop goo. So for that I’m grateful for this year of music and helping me get out of darkness. For now anyway.. Enjoy the list. And Happy New Year.

1. Anderson Paak – Malibu
2. Solange Knowles – A Seat at the Table
3. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
4. S U R V I V E – RR7349
5. The Weeknd – Starboy
6. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
7. Beyonce – Lemonade
8. Brookzill! – Throwback to the Future
9. Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death
10. The Kills – Fire and Ice
11. JoJo – Mad Love
12. Emeli Sande – Long Live the Angels
13. J. Cole – 4 Your Eyez Only
14. Robbie Williams – Heavy Entertainment Show
15. Kane Brown – Kane Brown
16. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
17. Childish Gambino – Awaken! My Love!
18. Raleigh Ritchie – You’re a Man Now Boy
19. David Bowie – Blackstar
20. Elizabeth Cook – Exodus of Venus
21. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
22. Teenage Fanclub – Here
23. Santigold – 99 Cents
24. Jack Garratt – Phase
25. Africaine 808 – Basar
26. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive
27. Hamilton Soundtrack
28. Shura – Nothing’s Real
29. Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math
30. Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate
31. Leagues – Alone Again
32. Roosevelt – Roosevelt
33. Rocky – Soft Machines
34. Deftones – Gore
35. Hidden Figures – The Soundtrack
36. Lazarus (Original Cast Recording)
37. Ria Mae – Ria Mae
38. Jamila Woods – HEAVN
39. Skye and Ross – Skye and Ross
40. Ghost Beach – Blonde

Honorable Mentions:
LP – Death Valley EP
Big Gigantic – Brighter Future
Justice – Women
Dawn Richard – Redemption

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Troye Sivan’s Wild

Hello earbudders,

I know it’s been a long while since I posted anything. Just wanted to tip you off to a song I came across by Troye Sivan called, “Wild.” And no, I don’t mean the version that has been out since his record release. I’m talking about the re-worked one with Alessia Cara, you know, the Wild Things Are singer. She accompanies Troye on this version of “Wild.” I don’t know exactly what is Alessia’s obsession with wild things are, but I really think this is a great pop song for the summer. It’s got a rich melody and people chant singing in the background throughout the song. Although it’s not known if the “people” are just dubs of Alessia’s voice, I don’t really care. You KNOW when there’s chant singing, it’s going to be a good time. Take a listen and enjoy it. I certainly did. If the wild things are where Troye and Alessia are, then sign me up. Should be pretty righteous.

PS. I’m waiting for someone to mash up “Wild” with Tegan and Sara’s “Drove Me Wild.” Pretty much a no brainer.

 

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Album of the Week: The Veronicas

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The one good thing about the fall I enjoy is record companies issuing releases in time for Christmas (or whatever else you might celebrate). It’s like their last push for music ear budders like myself to get into new bands or singers that we might not have heard anything from and I dig that. That being said, this is a band that is a perfect example. I don’t know much about The Veronicas other than they’re Australian, they’re twins, and they have a single called “You Ruined Me.” When I heard this first single, I was a little hesitant because I thought, “Ok, here we go, another band writing sad sap music and singing about a love lost.” So when I was sent their latest self tilted album I already had a preconceived notion. I have to say, I couldn’t have BEEN more wrong if I tried. These ladies are, as Robbie Williams says, “the tits.” They do not disappoint. Lisa and Jessica Origliasso have made an album that captures all the best in music today – melodies, dance, pop, electronic, solid songwriting, and vocals. If this album doesn’t sell well, it’ll be a tragedy because they really really are wonderful. Stand out tracks – really, the WHOLE ALBUM. It’s a rarity that I go for every song on an album. Most albums have at least two songs of filler. But these ladies know their stuff. They know what works, and what doesn’t. They really have something for everyone. Let me give you a run down of a few tracks:

1. Sanctified – A sexy sultry boot stomping “take me to the river” jam about love and the feeling, the intense feeling you get when you’re wrapped up in it. Truly beautiful.

2. Do You Miss Me? – If you are a fan of electronic music with a hint of synths and industrial elements, then this is right up your alley. It’s dance-y, bouncy, and honestly… a rap song lol. Trust me. It’s excellent. Their raps intertwined with industrial undertones can be compared to any rapper out there today. I’m not lying. It’s good shit.

3. Cruel – Easily a radio hit. It’s reminiscent of bands like Paramore, Sleeper Agent, Echosmith, and the like. It’s very catchy. The main objective: being upset at the ex boyfriend who shows off his new flavor of the month, and virtually ignoring his ex.. And every time she sees them together, it is like a knife to the heart. She sees it as a cruel and heartless. She wants him to miss her. We’ve all been there haven’t we?

4.  Line of Fire – Another sexy tune but with a hip hop beat behind it. The vocals just ooze sex if that’s possible. They’re setting you up for the kill. They know what they want and won’t expect anything less.

5.  Teenage Millionaire – Another dance track about a love affair that they treasure as the richest thing in their lives and that relationship is so grand it makes them famous. If only all love could be like that, no?

6. Born Bob Dylan – This is truly a standout for me. The lyrics are wonderfully beautiful. She is trying to capture how she feels for someone but can’t. She tries. But can’t, so she wishes she could be as poetic as Bob Dylan. She struggles because she KNOWS how she feels in her heart, but words seem to escape her. It’s another radio friendly potential single that is an absolute winner for me.

I love this album folks. I won’t reveal all the tracks. But I thank The Veronicas for giving me faith in good pop music again. So many influences are heard in this album. If you want to hear an array of entertainment, I suggest you give them a listen.

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2014. First Podcast of the Year. Earbud Approved.

Happy New Year fellow earbuds,

Here’s to a new year of new music and new sounds. I have a new show for ya. So you know the drill. If this month is any indication of how music will be, we’ll be in for some really really good work from people. So go ahead and take a listen.

Stream Here: Beatcast #31

Download here: Beatcast #31

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In The Wake Of You – Dum Dum Girls

Transgender Dysphoria Blues – Against Me!

Angels & Airwaves – Angel Haze

Frankie Fell in Love – Bruce Springsteen

Happy (from Despicable Me 2) – Pharrell Williams

Silver Timothy – Damien Jurado

Anagram – Young The Giant

Check In – Cibo Matto

F For You (Ft. Mary J. Blige) – Disclosure

Running (Cold Cave Remix) – Nine Inch Nails

Smell Of Gasoline – Reverend Horton Heat

Biggy – Warpaint

Wishing Well – Wild Cub

Colours To Life – Temples

Cry To The Beat Of The Band – Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Don’t Find Another Love – Tegan And Sara

The ’59 Sound (Acoustic) – The Gaslight Anthem

All Through The City – The Hold Steady

 

 

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2013 Pop Song Round Up. You Know You Wanted It.

Ok, so it’s that time of year. I thought I’d do something different. I’m making a list of my favorite 20 songs of the year that’s strictly pop related. Then later, I will make a list of songs that should be brought to light. Then lastly will be my favorite twenty albums of the year. It’s a very difficult thing, to narrow down everything you listen to in the year of 2013, or any year for that matter, and put together a list of your favorite songs. This is going to be separate from my last podcast folks, where I’ll share some songs from albums you might not have gotten around to listening to or have never heard of before. Trust me it will be good. For now, take a look at the clips posted for my favorite songs of the year. These twenty are just pop gems that wouldn’t leave my head or my ipod for the year. And I will remind you all these are just MY favorites. If you don’t agree, make your own lists. It’s fun, go ahead. So without further ado.

1. Drake – Hold On We’re Going Home – I am constantly torn with Drake. I don’t understand him sometimes. He’s either a singer, or a rapper. But this one won me over. Completely. His melody, his voice everything. It was the tits in this song. So congrats Aubrey (his first name in case you didn’t know). You won me over.

2. Daft Punk – Get Lucky – If you listened to the radio at least five times this year, you probably heard this song at LEAST three times. It’s disco, it’s dance, it’s r&b, it’s upbeat. And even though Pharrell is singing on it, the beat is so grand you don’t even care.

3. Bastille – Pompeii – a grand atmospheric song about life and the detriments of sadness. But you’d never know it because of how upbeat the song is. I love it when that happens.

4. Demi Lovato – Heart Attack – She won my ears and heart over. This is such a killer song with a strong voice to back it up. Kudos to you Ms. Lovato. I’m an official Lovatic. #staystrong

5. John Newman – Love Me Again – This is a british kid who absolutely blew me away last month. His album, Tribute, is a fun mix of r&b and big band and dance. If you love Amy Winehouse, or Mark Ronson, this is the song for you.

6. Tegan and Sara – Goodbye Goodbye – While most people would have chosen Closer, I chose this one. Totally a switch from their pop rock/acoustic sound, this is a pop dance hit. If you want to shake that money maker and keep a chorus in your psyche for weeks this might do the trick.

7. James Blunt – Bonfire Heart – The “You’re Beautiful” singer released this and it goes right after my heartstrings, revealing that at the end of the day, all we want is someone who will keep our hearts burning for love and affection through all the trouble and trials of the world.

8. Pink feat. Nate Ruess – Just Give Me a Reason – Do I really have to say why? It’s Pink.

9. The Neighbourhood – Sweater Weather – I swear I heard this song fifty times a day. It’s the make out song of the year. Imagine this, a man admiring his lady’s body and wanting to keep her warm. I mean, seriously, I didn’t think men like that existed anymore.

10. Fitz and the Tantrums – Out of My League – a retro r&b and pop sweetness.

11. Kanye West – Black Skinhead – Why this makes the list? That beat. That beat is an absolutely infectious.

12. Disclosure – Latch – Hands down one of my favorite electronic/dance songs this year. All of it. The vocals, the delivery, even the video is fantastic. Truly check this band out. Two brothers. Very young but very very wise beyond their years in musical backdrops.

13. Jay Z – Picasso Baby – Yes he brags. He doesn’t have anything else to do let’s be realistic here. He doesn’t have anything to prove. So when he name drops, Jay-Z does it right, even if the person who he name drops is dead. I wonder how much Picasso was googled after this song dropped.

14. Zedd – Clarity – it’s just groovy.

15. J. Cole – Power Trip – a storyteller that is often unheard of in the plethora of soundalike rap, J. Cole reveals his feelings towards a woman who rules all aspect of his life and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

16. St. Lucia – Elevate – a positive song. Just trust me. It’s a toe tapper.

17. Arctic Monkeys – Will You Be Mine – I’ve always been a fan of this band. Will You Be Mine is just a throwback to old rock with a smidge of r&b. It’s not dance, it’s just crunchy rock. Gotta love it.

18. Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen – yet another “we never know about life and it can turn around at the drop of a hat” song. It actually works. Ellie doesn’t have the strongest voice, but what she has she uses well against a mid tempo beat.

19. Selena Gomez – Come and Get It – Admit it. You found yourself humming it when no one was looking. Yeah, I was too.

20. Chvrches – The Mother We Share – The new new wave pop band for 2014. Guaranteed. Perfect combo of danceable beats with synths and a strong vocalist make this trio a nice way to end the year of 2013.

SHOULDA BEEN ON THE LIST:

Emeli Sande’s Next to Me. It’s a pop classic. Her vocals are golden. She’s beautiful through and through. Why didn’t she make it? Because the song was released in 2012. True story. But it’s an amazing track. Absolutely brilliant.

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Last Podcast of 2012. My Favorite Songs..

This has been a strong year for singles. Albums not so much. Usually I have a difficult time trying to weed through all the albums of the year. But I didn’t really have that much of a problem for this year’s picks. You can see who I picked for my top 20 albums in the previous blog. But this year a lot of songs grabbed my attention and never let go. Theses songs are in no particular order. Just because Bruno is number 1 doesn’t mean I think he had the best song, his song was just the first one to pop into my head. Some of these tunes I’ve already played in previous podcasts over this year  so don’t worry if they sound familiar. Some were songs I just thought were standouts from the other better known songs groups or singers are known for and I wanted to bring them to the music roundtable. So I ‘m going to share. Isn’t it nice when people share? So here is my podcast link to download:

http://djgabbers1.podomatic.com/enclosure/2012-12-29T15_24_57-08_00

 

Or if you want to stream it.. http://djgabbers1.podomatic.com/entry/2012-12-29T15_24_57-08_00

And here is the list. Some are from my list of albums, some are just random.. songs I enjoyed and got stuck in my head for days. Sorry No Call Me Maybes here. Enjoy. I’ll be back in 2013 with new lists, new podcasts, and new random acts of music love.

Be safe everyone. Happy new year!

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Bruno Mars – Money Make Her Smile

Muse – Panic Station

Linkin Park – BURN IT DOWN

Rita Ora – How We Do (Party)

Vicci Martinez – I Can Love

Bright Light Bright Light – Feel It

Rihanna – Diamonds

Divine Fits – Would That Not Be Nice

Cat Power – Ruin

Christina Aguilera – Light Up The Sky

Crystal Castles – Sad Eyes

John Talabot – When The Past Was Present

Chromatics – Kill for Love

Japandroids – Fire’s Highway

Cold Specks – Blank Maps

Jack White – Love Interruption

Four Tet – Locked

Calvin Harris – Sweet Nothing (feat. Florence Welch) 3:33

El-P – For My Upstairs Neighbor (Mums the Word)

Tegan & Sara – Closer

Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child

Metz – Sad Pricks

Twin Shadow – Five Seconds

Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream

The Gossip – Casualties Of War

The Gaslight Anthem – Here Comes My Man

Killer Mike – Reagan

The Gaslamp Killer – Dead Vets (with Adrian Younge & MRR)

Pink – Blow Me (One Last Kiss)

Robbie Williams – Different

Bring it 2013!

 

 

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Blogging is Fundamental: And so is the list of 2011 Top 30 Albums

Well this has been QUITE a rollercoaster of a year for music. Dance music was HUGE, indie acts crossed over, and rap..still sucked. But there were a few gems that slipped through the incredibly thin cracks. All in all, this was a great year for music. My ears for the most part were pleased, and so were my speakers whenever I played something with heavy basslines. Overall I give the year a B+. Now some of you will completely disagree with my choices. That’s fine. Some of you might not have even HEARD of these bands. And that’s what I’m here for I believe. So expand the mind a little will ya? So buckle up and hold on for a random, random list..While I am not a writer by any stretch of the imagination, I follow my tapping feet and my shaking booty. They lead the way. So sit back, relax, and rant and rave or smile at my choices. Don’t worry, you won’t be quizzed on this later.

30. Niki and the Dove – The Drummer

While this is just an EP it packs quite a wallop truth be told. Swedes do it best it seems and the trio provides a loud pulsating sound that grabs onto you and puts you in a trance and throws in a little r&b for gits and shiggles. You don’t know which way to go all you know is you want them to lead the dance way.

Key Tracks – The Drummer, Last Night

 

29. Pack A.D. – Unpersons

This album really blew me away. With a combination of rock and blues, they are definitely the quinticential garage band’s garage band. You can easily hear The White Stripe’s influence, as well as Flat Duo Jets with the growls and and the hollers. What else do you do when the relationship goes down the drain? Sing the pain away and get your growl on. Seek your revenge. Call the person out. Make the rock loud. And they did all of the above. You break up with someone? Put this album on. I guarantee you will feel better.

Key Tracks – Haunt You, Rid of Me, Seasick

 

28. Blood Oranges – Coastal Grooves

I don’t know much about Dev Hynes other than he loves rhythmic melodies and is completely influenced by 80s dance and new wave. It’s got great guitar lines and his voice is strong. It’s a cd that can be played after winding down after clubbing. It can be played in your car, or even at a party. Dev does most of the guitar strumming and a wonderful player he is. The music is clean and fun. And sometimes after the day is done, that’s all we need, something fun.

Key Tracks – Champagne Coast, Instantly Blank (The Goodness), I’m Sorry We Lied

 

27. Luke Bryan – Tailgates and Tanlines

While I’m not a big fan of country, there is usually an artist in the country department that makes the list for me. Luke Bryan, in addition to being easy on the eyes, has concocted a perfect pop country album. There is nothing particularly earth shattering about this album, but what he does he does well, just providing melodic country music that sticks with you and gets the feet tapping.

Key Tracks – Country Girl (Shake it For me), I Don’t Want This Night to End, Harvest Time

 

26. Mint Julip – Save Your Season

This album is difficult to discuss. The music is incredibly haunting. And incredibly mismatched. One minute you want to dance on the table and the next you want to..well.. hug someone followed by a “I love you man.” It’s just a great sounding record. Just listen for yourself.

Key Tracks – Days Go By, Save Your Season, Letting Go

 

25. The Kooks – Junk of the Heart

This is anything but junk. It’s kind of different from their previous albums. It sounds a bit more mainstream, but that’s not a bad thing at all. They’re not reinventing the wheel, they just want to make a good album you can listen to again and again. So far, no complaints here.

Key Tracks – Mr. Nice Guy, Taking Pictures of You, Is It Me

 

24. Foster the People – Torches

Ok, Pumped Up Kicks aside, this is an EXCELLENT record. Absolutely. It’s upbeat. It’s quirky, and gets my toes tapping. I mean, what else do you need? And it’s got piano. They make piano sound cool. Heck yeah!

Key Tracks – I Would Do Anything for You, Don’t Stop, Miss You

 

23. Mister Heavenly – Out of Love

Melodic harmonies, hard rock, and yet kinda sounds like it could be played in the 50s. I even detect a wee bit of the rockabilly. I was thoroughly surprised. The band is made up of members of Modest Mouse, the Shins, Man Man, and Unicorns. I guess with that cosmic slop, I should have known it was going to be good.

Key Tracks – Harm You, Charlyne, Doom Wop

 

22. Penguin Prison – Penguin Prison

Just makes me wanna dance dance dance. For reals. The new wave pays a visit. Synths, done in the right way, can really make an album stellar. And this.. was done in the right way.

Key Tracks – Don’t Fuck with My Money, Something I’m Not, Pinocchio

 

21. The Kills – Blood Pressures

Listening to this band makes me OWN blood pressure go up. It’s very loud, dark, and dirty. Just plain dirty.. with a hint of blues. This duo never disappoints. I just wish it was longer. Just an excellent album. I leave it with my jaw to the floor.

Key Tracks – The whole damn thing.

 

20. Zola Jesus – Conatus

Zola makes the best choir in the world sound miniscule in comparison. Her voice is just overwhelmingly loud. It’s beautiful music. Not music to be heard everyday, but she is definitely definitely quite the treat to listen to. Her music is atmospheric, etheral, and romantic. My dream? To put her in the studio with Florence and the Machine. Can you IMAGINE what will happen?

Key Tracks – Vessel, In Your Nature, Swords

 

19. Rihanna – Talk That Talk

Aaaah yes. RiRi. She has returned. Again, with another set of r&b and dance hits. They hit harder with every album. On this one she definitely explores the club scene a little more than previous efforts as well as the sexual bravado… And her voice fits perfectly with the beats. She’s come a long way from her first album and I look forward to hearing where she takes her music next. “Drunk on Love” has been on repeat on my pod for days.

Key Tracks – Where Have You Been, We Found Love, Drunk on Love, Roc Me Out

 

18. The Chain Gang of 1974 – Wayward Fire

I’m kinda an 80s junkie, even though I remember the 90s more vividly from beginning to end. This album could easily have been played in heavy rotation in the 80s. It’s a great combination of new wave, rock, and guitars that made the 80s what it was. Plus, it’s a fantastic title for a band no? Chain Gang of 1974. I mean, who DOESN’T love this name??

Key Tracks – Devil is a Lady, Heartbreakin’ Scream, Matter of Time

 

17. Childish Gambino – Camp

Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, is a nerd. And he illustrates that in this album. He illustrates how he grew up, fitting in a world that didn’t necessarily accept him because he wasn’t the stereotypical Black person one sees on tv or the media or in music. He loves his parents, he realizes how lucky he is, and he’s funny. I can kinda relate to that;-) It’s funny, it’s refreshing, and I like it. I hope he sticks around for a long time.

Key Tracks – Bonfire, LES, You See Me

 

16. Designer Drugs – Hardcore/Softcore

SO. LOUD. I CAN. BARELY. HEAR. MYSELF. DO. ANYTHING. MUCH. LESS. TYPE!!

Key Tracks – Leather Gang, Crazy for You, Riot

 

15. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

The Shredding Queen on this one… she is an excellent guitarist. It’s a break up record. Or the picking up the pieces after breaking up with someone. It’s quite quirky. It’s beautiful. It’s perfect. Thank you Annie. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. It’s good. It’s very very good.

Key Tracks – Cruel, Cheerleader, Champagne Year

 

14. Antigone Rising – 23 Red

The ladies from Long Island, NY, have returned with a very upbeat and incredibly catchy collection of songs of rock and a twang of country. It’s a feel good album that was perfect for the summer whether relaxing at the beach, driving with friends, or doing your best air guitar and air drumming in your living room. The quartet possesses high energy, beautiful melodies, and heartfelt songwriting. It’s a treasure and a must have..

Key Tracks – No Remedy, Everywhere is Home, You Say You Want to Leave (Circles), Gracefully

 

13. Washed Out – Within and Without

The man is Earnest Green. The album? Beautifully textured and layered. It leaves you with a push and pull between summer lounging and dancing.

Key Tracks – Eyes Be Closed, Far Away, Within and Without, Call it Off

 

12. Camo and Crooked – Cross the Line

If you like drum and bass, and needle drops, this one is for you. The end:-) Thank me later.

Key Tracks – Funk You, Make the Call, Portal

 

11. Lisa Bianco – Momentum

The long awaited second cd was worth the wait. The crunchy guitars make you want to jump up and slap yourself, your mom, and the little dog that keeps yapping. She’s loud, bold, and unapologetic. From beginning to the end of this record, you are taken on an emotional ride of hope, love, frustration, and satisfaction. Big thumbs up from me.

Key Tracks – Breakin’, Erase You, Big City Lights, Low

 

10. Lady Gaga – Born this Way

The Ga doesn’t disappoint on her second full length masterpiece. She returns proving (as if there was any real doubt) that she has the chops, and the right production team behind her to carry her voice into the world. I kinda dig it. More power to her.

Key Tracks – Government Hooker, Marry the Night, Heavy Metal Lover

 

9. Wild Flag – Wild Flag

This is not a superteam. It’s a combo of great musicians from Helium, the Minders, and Sleater-Kinney, who happen to be friends. They’re in your face, they’re loud, they are awesome. Period. If you listen to Wild Flag, you are left twitching on the floor wanting more of the wails and crunchy sounds of guitarists Mary Timony and Carrie Brownstein. One word to describe it? Incredible.

Key Tracks – Romance, Glass Tambourine, Electric Band

 

8. The Black Keys – El Camino

The Ohio boys return again for a new album. It mixes garage rock, soul, and a bit more rock edged than Brothers. It’s fast paced and if anyone can make the loud, it’s these two. Dan’s guitar wailing just makes it even MORE worthwhile.

Key Tracks – the whole damn album

 

7. Swedish House Mafia – Until One

Whaaaat? I can’t hear you!! That is what I usually say when I listen to this album because the beats are so loud and addictive it’s hard to concentrate. The whole album is just wonderful from beginning to end. I turn up the volume and twitch again with glee. The synths make this album and the mix is just perfect. All hail the new Kings!

Key Tracks – the whole album, especially In the Air

 

6. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

It’s gorgeous, it’s lush it’s 80s revisited just on a grander dance scale. It’s a great gem to the ears.

Key Tracks – Intro, Midnight City, Claudia Lewis, Year One, One UFO

 

5. Mute Math – Odd Soul

Cheesus Crust I love this album. It’s loud, unapologetic, rocky, melodic.. the adjectives can go on and on. They really upped the ante with this album. And it shows. The production is sleek in some  areas and distorted in others. But yet it completely works. This could easily have been played in the 70s and they could have easily opened for Led Zep in LZ’s heyday The lead singer, Paul Meany, shouts like he found himself some religion and wants to share. It’s just a beautiful work of art to dance to. Get on the good foot, and get this album.

Key Tracks – Aliens, Odd Soul, Equals, Pyrtania

 

4. Betty Wright w. the Roots – Betty Wright: The Movie

Betty returns from a ten year hiatus with a wonderful r&b album with the Roots in tow. The production is completely old school for the most part, and there is nothing wrong with a little old school. Her voice hasn’t skipped a beat. While there are a few guest stars on the cd (Lil Wayne and Joss Stone), Wright is still in control, singing about happiness, heartbreak, and maturity. R&B singers of today should take a page from Betty’s book. They could learn a thing or two.

Key Tracks – Whisper in the Wind, Grapes on a Vine, So Long, So Wrong, In the Middle of the Game

 

3. Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials

Well, Florence and the gang returns. Her vocals are as bold as ever, accompanied by organs and drums. You get the feeling that you are listening to hymnals but you only WISH church hymns were as exciting as Florence makes them sound.  She’s empowering, elegant, and at times completely melancholy and dramatic. But all the while ALWAYS entertaining. And she’s only 24.

Key Tracks – Shake it Out, What the Water Gave Me, Breaking Down, Seven Devils

 

2. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

For a man who didn’t want this album to be released due to record company interference, this was a stellar set. Lupe writes about triumph over tragedy, fighting for what is yours, problems within inner cities, and the government, while maintaining his own sanity and dealing with his place in life and in music. It is quite a feat to take on, and Lupe does it tremendously well. This was quite the stand out, in a year where rap music was in major yawnapalooza. Thank you Lupe, thank you.

Key Tracks – Words I Never Said, Till I Get There, The Show Goes On, Break the Chain, All Black Everything (a particular gem, where he creates a fantasy of what ifs..)

 

1. TIE. Friendly Fires – Pala; Adele – 21

Before you say it, yeah I have a tie for #1. I love these albums equally. Friendly Fires saved my summer with an upbeat, dancey, r&b influenced collection of songs that got the butt shaking and  the brush in my hand doubled as the best mic in the world to sing along to their music. It is the best pop dance album this year hands down. And Adele, well.. when you can convey heartbreak as powerful and emotional as Adele can, you are most definitely.. winning. Her voice is just stunning, absolutely stunning and tugs at the heart strings like nothing else I’ve heard this year. This was her year, as it should have been. Perfect mix of soul, emotion, and pop. FF and Adele delivered in two different ways, but equally just as effective, to me anyways.

Key TracksFriendly Fires’ Pala: Show Me Lights, Hurting, Pala, Live Those Days Tonight, Blue Cassette

Adele’s 21: Rollin’ in the Deep, Someone Like You, Rumour Has It, Set Fire to the Rain, Take it All, I’ll be Wating

 

Aaand a little round of applause for the ones who JUST missed my list but deserve a serious shout out:

Fucked Up – David Comes to Life

Feist – Metals

DJ Shadow – The Less  You Know, the Better

The Roots – Undun

Yuck. Yes there is a band called Yuck. And they’re not yuck. not in the least.

Kelly Clarkson – Stronger. Gotta love the pop. The sweet sweet pop. #TeamClarkson

Whew. That was a LOT of music to narrow down to 30 choices. My ears hurt. My brain hurts. But if next year is anything like this year, then I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’m going to have some wine and listen to these albums again.

Rock on everyone. Happy new year.