Friday, December 25, 2009

Best of the Rest

Merry Christmas everyone, and thanks for reading our silly little blog. Instead of posting my Top 5 of the past year (like you all really care what order I have Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, and Phoenix in, right? 2009 should be known as the year of completely uninteresting year-end lists), I went back to find 5 standout albums of the past year which I've been meaning to post but never got around to. So here they are, the top 5 least-heard of 2009:

Lee Fields & The Expressions - My World

Soul record of the year. Lee Fields connects all of the dots between Gaye, Mayfield, Winehouse, and Lidell. True, he gets some help from his friends - a band made up of Budos, El Michel, and Menahan members - but rather than attempt to force an update of his 70's sound, they cede the floor completely to his James Brown swagger and Otis Redding strain. Yeah, it's that good. Also, some of you who've been bumping J Cole's mixtape might hear some familiar things, especially on track 5...


Platinum Pied Pipers - Abundance

From old to neo-soul, the Platinum Pied Pipers are a couple of Detroit producers who have created the first real essential R&B album of the millennium. Though the singing is just OK, it's saved by the expansive and adventurous production, where electronic and acoustic sounds don't so much blend as spar as the tracks go on. Forward-thinking and almost too rich, you can chew on this one for months and months and still not really figure it out. The black Portishead? The urban Fleet Foxes? The first Andre 3000 tribute band? Yeah, it's something like that.


Foreign Born - Person To Person

So here's a unique story: band moves to L.A. to make it big, ends up writing a sunny pop album about all of the beautiful/ugly contradictions of SoCal life. But wait, you guys, Foreign Born is different. Not in any big way, really...or even any noticeable way. It just sticks in ways and in places other bands don't. Think of the first Weezer album, or Bloc Party, or Interpol. There's no real reason these bands should have risen above the rest, but we're all in agreement that they should've. Foreign Born is like that.


Phantogram - Eyelid Movies

They would've gotten away with it, if it wasn't for those damn kids. Phantogram, a boy/girl duo from Saratoga Springs, NY, put out a flawless album of electro minimalism, only to have a bunch of British teenagers totally upstage them and their sound. However, Phantogram's own vibe - more hip-hop than XX, and way dancier - deserves its own buzz. They say they aim to be the halfway point between Serge Gainsbourg and J Dilla, and if that doesn't get you to listen, you should probably just leave.


Paul White - The Strange Dreams of Paul White

This last one is for all the beatheads out there. Paul White is a whitehot producer out of Britain that combines the sampling skill and aesthetic of Madlib and Flying Lotus with the musical ear and weird-love of RJD2. The 21 beats on his debut are some of the most innovative music hip-hop made in 2009. Yeah, as the album title says it's really really strange, but the strangest thing about it is how addicting it is - whenever I put this on I can almost never take it off, because each track is so bizarrely fascinating. Get this man a rapper immediately.



Willy said...

thanks for the sweet choices listed here. can't wait to check them out!

Brynna said...

A fine year in music no doubt, even if the critics need to give it a rest with the lists. Thanks for posting, your ability to find the hidden gems never ceases to amaze.

smb2009 said...

Bear in Heaven reminds me simlutaneously of Jon & Vangelis and Lindsey Buckingham. Delightful.