Wednesday, December 8, 2010
George Soteropoulos' Starting Rotation
1) Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
If you like it, good...if not, even better and I'll keep it all to myself. Every fan of music has had that one live performance that shook them and made them fans of an artist forever. Fresh off of eating my Toppers breadsticks I was witness to Kanye West's "Through the Wire" video for the very first time. Intrigued about this artist and his swag led me and my best friend and critical music snob Brian Moshe to The Rave to see Kanye in person. Standing next to a legend in an inside-out Clyde Drexler jersey the entire show, Kanye proceeded blow our minds. He has continued to do so year after year and this years album Kanye put it all together to make a true masterpiece. I could go on for hours about the lyrics, execution, guest collaborations, and metaphors of the album. Instead I will leave you with three of the greatest quotes from 2010, also belonging to Kanye West.
"Everyday I wonder what Thom Yorke is doing at this very moment"
"I have decided the bless the city today by wearing a white suit"
"Chain heavy, shirt optional..."
2) The National- High Violet
Growing steadily in popularity over the years, "High Violet" was the National's final push that broke them out of indie lore and into mainstream America. Not since Chris Iaask in Wicked Game has a a singer with a more rich vocal style come along in Matt Berninger. One of my favorite live acts around, The National bring just as much intelligence to every show as they due in energy and intensity. (and twin brothers, because they also bring that to the show) As beautiful and complex as any album this year, The National are no longer lightweights but Mike Tyson's in their genre. Not many artists will have as much anticipation and hype surrounding their next album as will The National. Until then I will joyfully listen to High Violet for the 100th time.
3) The Walkmen- Lisbon
Hamilton Leithauser is a cool dude and his band is no where near regressing. Lisbon is the follow-up to the sensational You & Me, my album of the year in 2008. Intimate and romantic, the Walkmen know how to make things personal. Adding to their sound is their near flawless execution of playing live. The Walkmen are a true "album" band which is rare these days. Like fine wine their albums age even more beautifully over time. "Strong men also cry, Mr. Lebowski. Strong men... also... cry."
4) Curren$y- Pilot Talk
Former property of Young Money, this New Orleans artist put out not one defining album this year but two. Choosing between the excellent Pilot Talk 1 or 2 was not easy but that is a good problem to have if you are a fan of this pot smoking rapper. A mixtape legend in his own right Curren$y finally put forth this debut album and surrounded himself with rising stars Jay Electronica, and Big K.R.I.T., as well as hip hop legend Mos Def. Any other year this album would have been higher.
5) Deerhunter- Halcyon Digest
If Bradford Cox would stop wearing dresses he would be one of my icons. Deerhunter's last album "Microcastle" held a spot on my previous Top Ten List and this album is no exception. Halcyon Digest is enhanced by strong production from Ben Allen whose past efforts included Animal Collective's masterpiece "Merriweather Post Pavilion." Still this project centers around Cox whose lyrics and vocals excel even more so in the guitar based rock n' roll genre than in his also excellent solo work Atlas Sound.
6) The Morning Benders- Big Echo
Maybe I'm just sick of the Wisconsin winters but 2010 had me diggin beach music more than ever. This album holds one of my favorite tracks of the year "Excuses" which some dude at Sony obviously must have liked as well because it is now on one of there commercials which plays 24/7. Great melodies combined with excellent production from Chris Chu and Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear make this an enjoyable album. Plus the album cover has a great pic of a Mom in a "onesi."
7) Surfer Blood- Astro Coast
Great guitar was hard to come by in 2010, and that is why I am thankful for Surfer Blood. The classic riffs and use of re-verb and distortion along with equally harmonic melodies made this as catchy as a Vampire Weekend album but with a rougher edge. They also have a song entitled "Twin Peaks" which plays homage to David Lynch's masterpiece. The only drawback was seeing them perform live on P4K TV where I'm convinced that is not the same singer on the album. Hopefully that performance was just a goof because this debut from Florida is not. Hooray for American rock and roll.
8) Twin Shadow- Forget
I was a little late on this album but since the recommendations came in to listen to it ASAP, it has not left my tape deck. Possibly this years lyrical gem, Dominican-born George Lewis Jr. has added class to the current crop of leading men. Morrissey and Bowie would be proud. And just like that George proclaims in his album, this George can also not wait for summer.
9) Broken Bells
The Shins "Oh, Inverted World" and Danger Mouse's (aka Brian Burton) "The Grey Album" a mash up of Jay-Z's Black Album and The Beatles White Album were two of my choices for albums of the decade. It was a no brainer that when these two hooked up I was looking forward to the collaboration. Burton plays most of his own instruments this time instead his usual sampling and Mercer's vocals are some of the best in the biz. A great album to fold your laundry to.
10) Tame Impala- Innerspeaker
When Noel Gallagher shows up at a concert I listen. This Australian trio debut's album explores the psychedelica of Pink Floyd, Cream, and The Flaming Lips all wrapped up in a Sgt. Peppers blanket. Lead singer Kevin Parker is a dead ringer for John Lennon and at times takes his vocals to atmospheric levels. If you stopped smoking pot for awhile here's your excuse to fire it up again.