10. Zola Jesus | Stridulum IIBecause I listen to new artists almost every day, I thought I ought to finally share with you one of my greatest passions. Music.
10. Zola Jesus | Stridulum II
Don't be fooled by the disturbing cover art, american singer Nika Roza Danilova is coated in chocolate syrup. It's an unsettling image, but the visual is becoming for an album that beholds darkness in every corner. "Lightsick" develops patiently, steady piano strikes provide a haunting landscape for her apocalyptic words. As she says, "let it take you on..."
9. Baths | Cerulean
Barely over the legal drinking age, Will Wiesenfeld has crafted a highly dense album, layered with lush sounds and tasty noises, beckoning his listeners to accompany him on a quiet journey that promises joy in the small things. "Rafting Starlit Everglades" takes 45 seconds before it unleashes its muted punches. It's beautiful, it's constantly moving, and it's absurd that this young beatmaker can create something so courageous at such an early age.
"Rafting Starlit Everglades"
8. Beach House | Teen Dream
With a name bred for the big screen, it's fitting that Victoria Legrand is able to construct dramatic anthems of love that would make any low budget indie romance film soar with such a soundtrack. They're classified as dream pop, but that's not fair, they're not fluffy. Legrand's voice is powerful and bottomless, complete with Alex Scally's sharp guitars. "Take Care" came out of nowhere, and has quickly found a home in my future wedding video. Now if only I could find that girl to take care of...
7. Kanye West | My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
An irking ego, a thorny personality, and a barrage of baffling tweets would make me painfully hesitant to even listen to such an artist. But he's just too darn original. He's a handbook for spontaneity, you'll never guess what's next. He's a musical chameleon who's able to perform in multiple genre's. His flow & punchlines are innovative and adoptive, inspiring imitators. "Runaway" is a 'let me have it' cut, where he spews self-deprecating lines, accepting the hate unloaded on him after the infamous 2009 VMA's. But his confidence hasn't been disrobed. His will is more apparent than ever on a minimalist piano backing, and with a hilarious hook this "toast for the scumbags" carol climbed my 'most played' on iTunes.
6. Robyn | Body Talk
Much to my chagrin, the volume level is never higher then when I listen to Robyn. I enjoy driving tenfold when she's infecting me with her hybrid of dance & pop. Every chorus is scream-able, every kick drum instills rebellion, and her multi-dimensional personality makes for endless replay value. She's sexy, she's bizarre, she's wrathful, and she's giving. She released three EP's this year, and on Body Talk pt 3 she released "Call Your Girlfriend", a devastating pop ballad--she delivers to her boyfriend a sensitive way to end things with the other woman. It's mystifying that this girl isn't destroying the radio. Please listen to her.
"Call Your Girlfriend"
5. Crystal Castles | Crystal Castles II
Haunting jogging music. I started running to the Crystal Castles this summer. I belittled running as an enjoyable pleasure but as the the shattering electronics, gameboy glitching, and distorted voicing of Alice Glass consumed my attention, running became exhilarating. The pairing of Glass and producer Ethan Kath is ferocious and punishing. They recently released a single, their best track from Crystal Castles II, but replaced Glass' voice with that of The Cure's frontman Robert Smith. A bizarre move, but a surprisingly rewarding one. Smith's voice is achingly sincere, and it's clarity is a welcome change to that of the sometimes unrecognizable Glass. Is it better? I wouldn't declare that, but it's certainly more immediately accessible.
"Not In Love" ft. Robert Smith (The Cure)
4. Arcade Fire | The Suburbs
Stadium sound from a band that should be heard by every generation. Pitchfork captures it best, "The bulk of The Suburbs focuses on this quiet desperation borne of compounding the pain of wasting your time as an adult by romanticizing the wasted time of your youth." Something most of us at some point in our lives can surely relate to.
"Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"
3. Ou Est Le Swimming Pool | The Golden Year
This strange titled band instantly became my favorite new band of the year. My dear friend Katie introduced me to "Jackson's Last Stand", without hearing the rest of the album. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical. She adores a lot of house/dj stuff, but I have to keep thanking her for this reference. The Golden Year is pure addictive synthpop. Icy cool electronics benefit from Charles Haddon's painfully sincere, battle yells. Beautiful melodies decorate each track, but it's all bittersweet. Just months after the release of their debut album, Haddon jumped to his death from a communications tower, hours after he severely injured a young girl stage diving. Other members of the band reported he was severely distressed after what he had done. Haddon was obviously a deeply passionate person, it's tragedy that we won't ever see what else he was capable of. The calamitous event plays with your mind as you listen to the words sung in this album, they were almost prepartory. Some almost prophetic--"your staying with me forever, cause this is, its my last stand, it's my last stand".
"Jackson's Last Stand"
2. Teen Daze | Four More Years
2010 will be remembered as the year I became oddly involved in "chillwave" music. Teen Daze was initiated in a bedroom, appropriate for the type of intimate music he creates. Four More Years is gravy. It instills nostalgia, slows your heart down, and practically keeps you floating in an environment that seems far from here. "Shine On You Crazy White Cap" is a synth festival, showing off an expansive tone palette, and demands you long for "the coastline". His lyrics are a bit obscure but it's allowed by the pleasantness of his music. When I listen to this song, It's like a stairway to my memories, I'm naturally filled up, reliving good moments of this past year. I dare you to do the same. Dare you.
"Shine On, You Crazy White Cap"
1. Drake | Thank Me Later
I willingly throw the high school version of myself under the bus when I tell people of my wannabe urban hopes. I'll summarize, I was a painfully awkward "wigger". Though I never wore FUBU, I did drape myself in other street outfits, and built a unique collection of Jordan shoes. I wrote raps in a notebook, dissing the trendy kids, and attacking the skaters with the mammoth sized moon shoes. I took pride in being different in a sea of copyists. As everyone echoed what they saw around them, I listened to my friends Jay-Z, Nas, and Cash Money. I loved how tough they could be, and how they weren't afraid of anyone or anything. But there was a small desire for honesty, a hope that these sex obsessed, chromy rim wanting hood-rats would talk about something a little less shallow. Eventually I grew out of this phase but my love for rap has yet to be snuffed. Enter Drake. Honest hip-hop. His anti's will tell you he's too soft, his haters will say his privileged upbringing warrants a different career, and his critics claim he's a hip-hop concussion, he's disoriented. Drake keeps the greed for materialism locked up. Instead, he delivers honesty about family relationships, uncertainty in becoming famous, and a wish to be normal. Trivial? It's in the eye of the beholder. But it's joyfully refreshing to listen to a rapper who's completely candid. Drake tells us things that we'd be embarrassed to share with the world. And he does it with such suave. Of course his empathetic side is one to relish in, but I also celebrate his infinite cleverness with wordplay.--"I am, still here with who I started with/The game needed life, I put my heart in it/I blew myself up, I'm on some martyr shit/Carried the weight for my city like a cargo ship/Uh. I'm 23, with a money tree/Growing more too, I just planted a hundred seeds/It's ironic, 'cause my mother was a florist, and that's how she met my pops and now my garden is enormous" I can post all the lyrics I can find, but his flow is unparalleled, and deserves to be heard. Check out the most sincere hip-hop artist on the radio.
"Fireworks" ft. Alicia Keys
Wavves | King Of The Beach
Nicki Minaj | Pink Friday
"Girls Fall Like Dominoes"
CEO | White Magic
"Halo" Beyonce Cover
Sleigh Bells | Treats
Black Keys | Brothers
"Howlin' For You"
Jonsi | Go
"Grow Till Tall"
Scala | On The Rocks
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!