Archive for December, 2010

2010 Albums: Best Reissues

1 ROBERTO CACCIAPAGLIA THE ANN STEEL ALBUM Glance
2 GALAXIE 500 TODAY/ON FIRE/THIS IS OUR MUSIC Domino
3 DAVID BOWIE STATION TO STATION EMI Read the rest of this entry »

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#26-EMERALDS-Does It Look Like I’m Here? (Editions Mego)

One of the biggest breaches of fresh air in the world of electronica comes surprisingly from an act that incorporates elements of prog and looks back to the seventies for inspiration. This trio from Cleveland, part of the new movement vindicating the cassette as a format, led by the prolific Mark McGuire –who also released an excellent solo album this year – and specialized in drone and long experimental explorations, have found a perfect balance in this record, in which their loop-based melodies are gifted with a haunting quality.

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#27-SUFJAN STEVENS-The Age Of Adz (Ashmatic Kitty)

Sufjan Stevens´comeback has left a bittersweet taste in our mouth. Not because ‘The Age Of Adz’ was not a good record, but because after all this time he couldn’t reach the heights of his former work. First thing we knew is that the album-per-state of the union project had been definitively parked; then that the sound prevailing in ‘Adz’ was a return to the simple electronic touches of his early work; both news weren’t exactly received with joy. Compared to his peers, Stevens has proven that he still is well above the average and capable of producing quality work, but despite the notable effort, he hasn’t been able to take our memories of Illinois, not even of Michigan, away.

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#28-WOODS-At Echo Lake (Woodsist)

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Freak-folk met lo-fi wizardry in Woods former breakthrough ‘Songs Of Shame’. The follow-up is another reassured collection of beautifully crafted moments, where the lo-fi element is slightly fading away, reaffirming the bands rich Americana and psychedelic vein. Jeremy Earls high-pitched vocals shone again, whereas from his label Woodsist he kept adding to his treasure trove the work of promising new artists.

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#29-SLEIGH BELLS-Treats (Mom + Pop)

Mixing noise, electronica and guitar fuzz this Brooklyn duo’s presentation card, ‘Crown of the Ground’, was a sure shot that went straight to trend makers’ jugular, earning instant plaudits as the next big thing. M.I.A. signed them for their label and the way was paved for one of the most hyped up debuts of the year. The record didn’t disappoint, building up on the character of their first tracks in a way that reveals Derek E. Miller´s hardcore past and singer Alexis Krauss keenness for teen pop tunes. Lack of diversity, though, prevents it from classic status, but for an act that´s just started there’s still plenty of time for the promise to be fulfilled.

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#30-AUTRE NE VEUT-Autre Ne Veut (Olde English Spelling Bee)

More Cutting edge experiments from the trendiest label in the planet; Autre Ne Veut´s songs have been described as the sound of a drunken man trying to sing R&B. There´s a chillwave haze that helps placing them close to acts like How To Dress Well; but also a very lo-fi disposition, notably in the use of distortion applied to the vocal melodies reaching a confusingly engaging effect. Enigmatic in his identity, Autre Ne Veut is also surrounded by top notch collaborators such as Kingdom, who reworked the single ‘New Depth’ or in demand mix engineer Chris Coady.

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2010 Albums: Best Various Artists Compilations

1 COLD WAVES AND MINIMAL ELECTRONICS VOL 1 Angular Read the rest of this entry »

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#31-JAVIERA MENA-Mena (Unión Del Sur)

Latinamerican pop has had a booming year with artists coming from all corners of the Spanish speaking continent full of propositions that often merged local tradition with hip Anglo-Saxon trends to astonishing results. Chilean chanteuse Javiera Mena confidently embraced the classic vocal influences of Karen Carpenter or Carole King; mixing it with the indie sounds of C86; the dancefloor oriented production of Pet Shop Boys or eurodance and a hint of old-fashioned popular Hispanic Diva crafting some of the best pop tunes heard anywhere in the planet over the last twelve months. Collaborations with Jens Lekman or Kelley Polar added international appeal to Javiera´s fine collection.

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#32-MATTHEW DEAR-Black City (Ghostly)

The slickest production of the year arrived by the hand of Mr. Dear, leaving aside once again his many side projects and returning under his own name. ‘Black City´, the follow-up of ´Asa Breed’, took eighties electropop revisionism to new darker and more atmospheric pastures, being its only flaw the excessive length of most of its tracks, that would have been more suited to the structure of ordinary pop songs than to their progressive electronic development. However, a record that counts with such standout moments as ‘You Put A Smell On Me’; ‘Little People (Black City)’ or ‘Slowdance’ deserves as much praise as it can get.

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#33-THE-DREAM-Love King (Def Jam)

The man responsible for some of the biggest R&B smashes of the last decade (‘Umbrella’;’Single Ladies’) keeps on adding singularity to the formulaic waters of the maligned genre. Maybe because of that he’s found bigger support among the blog intelligentsia that from established urban circles, even when as an artist he is yet to become the big selling force that matches the one of the songs he writes for others. ´Love King’, his third album, was another excellent display of a songwriting talent that puts to shame any competitor, where he finds himself equally comfy wearing a Prince disguise (‘Yamaha’) or deconstructing the stereotypes of love, sex and money that populate the typical contemporary ballads.

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#34-LIARS-Sisterworld (Mute)

For their fifth studio offering, this normally abrasive trio returned to LA and masterminded a sort of concept album about the urban alienation that goes with living within a huge metropolis’ underbelly. ‘Sisterworld’ found the band´s penchant for finding new ways of musical exploration in good shape. A bonus record featuring covers and mixes from the cream of today’s more reputable musicians (from Bradford Cox to Thom Yorke) was the welcomed extra to an excellent album.

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#35-TWIN SHADOW-Forget (4AD)

Another protegée of Grizzly Bear´s Chris Taylor, Dominican Born and Brooklyn based George Lewis Jr. shows a keen eye for everything eighties in his debut, from the aesthetics of his videos (‘Slow’ reprised the iconic Calvin Klein commercials of the era) to a wealth of keyboard riffs and hooks, not to forget the notable influence of such key figures of the decade as Morrissey or Ian McCullough. On a first listen ‘Forget’ is deceptively simple, but repeated attention unveils the singer’s unique touch in one of the year’s finest debuts.

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2010 Albums: Best Antologies

1-PAVEMENT-QUARANTINE THE PAST (City Slang) Read the rest of this entry »

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#36-ACTRESS-Splashz (Honest Jon’s)

Londoner DJ and producer Darren Cunningham has made an impact in the world of electronica. Coming from the orbit of dubstep in a moment where the trendy subgenre is being swallowed by the mainstream, Cunningham has managed to escape its shortcomings and expand his music into an original collage of influences. He likes to describe it, probably not without irony, as ‘R&B Concrete’ but in the tracks of his first opus, you can hear a wide range of propositions, from sci-fi soundtrack-like passages (‘Maze’) to experimental jokes showing a good sense of humour (‘Supreme Cunnilingus’), plus plenty of winks to house and minimal.

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