Argued arbitrary by many, but all I do this time of year is read “best of the year” lists. Its only right that I put my own opinions out there for the internetz. This certainly beats the days when I would e-mail my list out, right? The list has expanded to 20 this year because it was a damn good year for what some call a “dying format”. As always, this list is based on to what I enjoyed/listened to/talked about most, not what Rolling Stone, SPIN, whoever claims is best. Feel free to comment and add your own along the way. Lets get started.
Walk the Moon – i want! i want! (Cop it here)
Though it was released at the tail end of 2010, Walk the Moon should be recognized for being one of my favorite albums discovered in 2010. The Cincinnati four piece made a highly replayable set of swirling pop with a dash of electro that hints at the larger potential. “Anna Sun”, “Lisa Baby” and “Jenny” have pretty much been on repeat since first listening.
Givers – In Light (Cop it here)
Many people may recognize Givers as a band with nearly as many songs licensed in tv ads as Foster the People, but their infectious pop sensibility is all over In Light. At less than an hour in length, the album easily breezes through multiple listening sessions with hints of tropical/calypso (“In My Eyes”, “Ceiling of Plankton”), Americana (“Saw You First”) and of course indie pop (“Words”, “Up Up Up”). Listen to the thumping fun of “Up Up Up” the next time you are in a bad mood and try to tell me that you are still in the dumps.
Big KRIT – Return of 4Eva (Cop it here)
The newcomer whose moniker stands for “King Remembered In Time” certainly made an impression on me with his free mixtape Return of 4Eva. Like he just stepped out of a time machine from 1994, KRIT is a emcee old heads reliving the days of OutKast and Scarface can bond over with backpackers and youngn’s alike. The soulful wisdom (and production) of “Dreamin” and “Another Naive Individual Glorifying Greed and Encouraging Racism” make KRIT a reason for hope in a new age of hip-hop. Not to mention “Rotation” made automobile pride cool again.
Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 (Cop it here)
After 30 years of making music and Adam Yauch’s recent bout with cancer, no one would blame Beastie Boys for hanging up the mics. Instead they returned with one of their most diverse efforts in Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2. Synth masterwork “Make Some Noise” and dub anthem “Don’t Play No Games I Can’t Win” were summertime addictions, but the grimy edge of “Say It” and “Too Many Rappers” was unexpected fun. So yes, I will listen to forty year old Jewish men rap, especially with production like this.
Foster the People – Torches (Cop it here)
No doubt “Pumped Up Kids” is a major testament that a)pop music can come from expected places, b)even a song with disturbing subject matter can take over airwaves. The real accomplishment is the way Mark Foster sustains his pop acumen over the entire Torches album. From “Waste” to “Helena Beat” to “Call It What You Want” to “Houdini”, Foster the People accomplished a hit parade that was commendable. I can’t event count the number of times I “focused on my abilities” in 2011.
Other albums of note: The Rapture – In The Grace Of Your Love, Tennis – Cape Dory, TV On The Radio – Nine Types of Light, Alabama Shakes – Alabama Shakes EP, Explosions In The Sky – Take Care Take Care, The District Attorneys – Waiting on the Calm: The Basement Sessions