Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #'s 100-76

It's staggering to think that there is but a day and a half left in this decade - this horrible, wonderful, miserable, memorable decade. The New York Times has a really interesting piece of interactive photojournalism entitled "Documenting the Decade" up on their website.

This is my pathetic attempt to do in kind.

100. Hybrid Theory - Linkin Park
Warner Bros
Buy (

Despite every terrible thing that this album represents, not least among them, the rise of nu-metal in the American consciousness, it is an undeniable landmark on the long road of this decade. Though I was but a wee lad when it was released, songs like "In The End" will always take me back to a simpler time, that pre-9/11 era when life's biggest problems consisted of teenage angst and loneliness. Spawning massive singles like "One Step Closer" and "Crawling", Hybrid Theory stands out from the KoRns, Bizkits, and Roaches, clearly the high-water mark of an otherwise forgettable genre.

99. The Second Stage Turbine Blade - Coheed and Cambria
Equal Vision
Buy (

Released on Albany's own Equal Vision record label, The Second Stage Turbine blade introduced the country to the lilting, gender-defying falsetto of Claudio Sanchez, with the catchy "Devil In Jersey City" and the impossibly high "Everything Evil". A remarkable trade-off between post-hardcore and progressive rock, this album paved the way for the band's future crossover success (not to mention introducing the five-part saga of Coheed and his wife Cambria).

98. Gorillaz - Gorillaz
Buy (

Any album that can increase public awareness of Del tha Funkee Homosapien is alright in my book.

97. Toxicity - System of a Down
Buy (

Get off my case - for what it is, it's a great fuckin' time.

96. Take This To Your Grave - Fall Out Boy
Fueled By Ramen
Buy (

Before they were going down with Sugar, dating Ashlee Simpson, or panicking at discos, Fall Out Boy crafted an essential album firmly planted in that post-emo craze.

95. The Illusion of Safety - Thrice
Sub City
Buy (

Now content to gaze at their shoes, Thrice is unrecognizable as a band who cut their teeth on post-hardcore. From brutal opener "Kill Me Quickly", to early anchor "Deadbolt", all the way through to the epic finale of "The Beltsville Crucible", The Illusion of Safety stands as a milestone of 2000-era California punk.

94. Of Latitude and Longitude - Axiotronic
Electronic Eel Records

So much electronic music is conceived as little more than a means to some separate end. It's a shame, yes, but it's also a reality: house is for dancing, trance is for getting fucked up, electro is for nostalgia, etc. This current state of affairs makes Axiotronic's latest release all the more refreshing; Of Latitude and Longitude is presented as electronica, wholly undanceable, produced for its own sake. Unfortunately, this purity of intent will, in all likelihood, preclude the album from ever attaining a wide audience - if it isn't spun in the club, most in the community won't take notice. Michael Spinka's Axiotronic project might prove to be Philadelphia's best kept secret...(From my original review)

93. Uphill City - I Am Robot And Proud
Buy (

Beautiful electronica; see above.

92. In Rainbows - Radiohead

The fact that a song like "15 Step", from an album that was released in a truly independent fashion during an age of label omnipresence, could end up in the credits of a blockbuster like Twilight says more about this release - and this band - than I ever could. I've warmed up to the disc considerably since its release, with songs like "Nude" standing tall alongside the likes of "Karma Police" and "Everything In Its Right Place" as some of Radiohead's best.

91. Feed The Animals - Girl Talk
Illegal Art

Released under the same model as In Rainbows above, Girl Talk scored another massive hit with Feed The Animals. Be sure to read Chris Sanders' original review.

90. Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd - Pink Floyd
Buy (

Compilations and retrospectives are a tricky breed, but Echoes wears it well. Capturing the best of Pink Floyd from the earliest days of Syd Barrett all the way through 1994's Division Bell, these are two discs that are, in short, essential.

89. At the Speed of Light or Day - Volta Do Mar
Buy (

Volta do Mar n. - from the Portuguese sailing technique meaning "turn of the sea", (not to be confused with The Mars Volta), known for a chaotic blend of free jazz, math rock, and prog that is quite unlike any other; Related terms: sonic maelstrom, Jaga Jazzist, good

88. Legend of the Liquid Sword - GZA
Buy (

87. Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? - Of Montreal
Buy (

Having listened to this album since it leaked in 2006, by the time it was released I was already waiting for Of Montreal to release a follow up. Chronicling a rocky relationship and extended bouts of depression, this is a surprisingly heavy album for a band whose frontman is known for naked, cross-dressing, cabaret-style live performances.

86. United Nations - United Nations
Buy (

Please, Glassjaw. Release another fucking album already.

85. Manners - Passion Pit
Buy (

Michael Angelakos' helium whip-it delivery is not for everyone, which makes Manners' crossover that much more surprising. John Mayer loves "Moth's Wings", "Sleepyhead" is on a smartphone commercial, and everybody and their mother has a remix of "Little Secrets".

Every day is full of surprises, I guess.

84. How The West Was Won - Led Zeppelin
Buy (

Briefly, the best live album ever released.

83. Trainwreck - Boys Night Out
Buy (

Again, briefly, my favorite concept album since In The Aeroplane Over The Sea.

82. Intimacy - Bloc Party
Vice Records
Buy (

This is a captivating record that successfully blends sampled beats, lush orchestration, a baroque sensibility, and straight-up rock, to form a concoction that is a radical departure from their too-weird-for-its-own-good A Weekend In The City. As such, Intimacy is more of a return to form than anything, really.

There is no doubt in my mind. Bloc Party is back...(From my original review)

81. Power - Boys Noize
Buy (

Although not as immediately accessible (or danceable) as 2007's Oi Oi Oi, Alexander Ridha's sophomore long player succeeds in its own right, breaking free from the confinement of a "dance album". It is more akin to an aural journey from the highest extolls of glee to the darkest, most troubled angst. "Gax" is the opener of the year and the closing beat of "Heart Attack" blends bleeding synths with an almost sub-sonic churn that conjures images of a dying blue whale sputtering its last breath.

Boys Noize certainly outdid himself here.

80. The Big Picture - Big L
Buy (

This might be one of the best posthumously released rap albums of all time - Life After Death notwithstanding.

79. Tha Carter II - Lil' Wayne
Cash Money
Buy (

For well over an hour, Lil' Wayne almost manages to keep a straight face, which by itself warrants inclusion in my book.

78. Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene
Arts & Crafts
Buy (

Although not as transcendent as its predecessor You Forgot It In People, the Toronto collective is in top form on this self-titled LP. The time signature which lends its name to "7/4 (Shoreline)" gives the track a feeling of being "off" and spot-on all at once, "It's All Gonna Break" is jaw-dropping, and the album's centerpiece "Superconnected" is a six minute time capsule, demonstrating the power and beauty of Canadian indie rock, capturing lighting in a bottle.

77. Hurtbreak Wonderland - World's End Girlfriend
Human Highway
Buy (

Most only know Katsuhiko Maeda for his split release with post-rock giants Mono. However, World's End Girlfriend's solo material is even better. A haunting mix of electronica and classical, Hurtbreak Wonderland is a rollercoaster ride through mania, terror, and, well, wonder, quite unlike anything else you'll ever hear.

76. To The 5 Boroughs - Beastie Boys
Buy (

Brent DiCrescenzo put it too eloquently to ever taint.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Asi me gusta a mi (Remix)

Have you ever heard of Chimo Bayo?

I certainly hope not, otherwise you're probably all too familiar with:

Well, here's da REMIX, and it's actually pretty decent compared to the original:

Mad dIrty baSs yo.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mehdi Mixmas 2009!

'Tis the season for the spirit of giving, and so Ed Banger standby DJ Mehdi prepared a nice little Christmas mix that, in his own words, "Starts quite smoothly and gets harder towards the end, just like I like it."

Download it here, courtesy of my friend Brother Suarez.

And also be sure to check out Mehdi, Busy P, and - oh wait - Justice at the Ed Banger 7th Anniversary Party this coming February - I'm really starting to have second thoughts about this whole going to Spain business.

01. James Pants: “Seven Seals”
02. Burns: “So Many Nights”
03. Kid Sister & Green Velvet: “Everybody Wants”
04. Azari & Ill/Agayo Remix: “Hungry For The Power”
05. Le Le/Mercury Remix: “Disco Monster”
06. Feadz: “Get On Down”
07. Serge Santiago: “Atto D’ Armore”
08. Tony Senghore: “If You Came Here”
09. Boy-8-Bit: “Chapel Of Chouls”
10. Skunk Anansie/Michel Cleis Remix: “Because Of You”
11. Boris Dlugosh: “Bangkok”
12. Arveene & Misk: “Hells Bells”
13. Momma’s Boy/Kid Kaio Remix: “Wedouwedou”
14. Riton & Seiji/DIM & TAI Remix: “Computer Juice”
15. Philip & Lloyd: “Keep On Moving”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Baby, you eat spaghetti?

Dispatches from around the internet, just in time for holiday funsgivings...

Regardless of whether you like his style, Carles over at Hipster Runoff has made an exhaustingly comphrehensive retrospective of the last decade in music. Dude has a lot of time on his hands, clearly.

And remember the biggest thing out of the Dominican Republic since "Pepe"? Como se dice, Watagatapitusberry, no?

Well, believe it or not, DJ Toy Selectah has a remix of it. Yes, this is serious:

Also, Nickelback is the top group of the decade? *NSYNC had the biggest album? WHAT??

Finally, just for shits, an old Animal Collective video, from their Feels days:


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Songs of the week: 12/22/09

Merry Christmas-ing times, my laptop has been out of commission since about last Tuesday, so the updates have been pretty non-existent. Don't fret though, I've continued to search out some fun songs to help keep my sanity in tact.

My indefinitely running playlist continues.

songs of the week #30:
1. Fly Away Another Day - Pretty Lights (This song is fucking NUTS. If you are a fan of any electronic genre, there's a moment for you in the seven minute tour de force)
2. Where Is My Mind? - Bassnectar (Courtesy of Bassnectar themselves)
3. Graze - Animal Collective (PAN FLUTE)
4. Valhalla - Hostage (A little tacky, but it's so damn good!)
5. Hood Up! (Club Edit) - Stress x Wildlife (French rapping times)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top 20 Songs of 2009

It's mind boggling to think that another calendar year has elapsed. When I looked at my day planner and saw "Fly Home" written, it started to sink in that December was here, but what really hit me was when the first year-end lists started popping up in various publications.

In an attempt to not be biased by the opinions of others, I have refrained from reading what anybody else believes to be the best album, track, ______, as sometimes I will conveniently "remember" a release that had slipped my mind (often for good reason) in an attempt to appeal to others' taste - usually I have good success catching myself before I hype something undeservedly, but I'm sure it's happened before.

So here we go, my attempt at a clean, virgin list of my favorite 20 songs from 2009, hopefully as pure as the powder after the year's first Albany snowfall.


This Station Is Non-Operational20.Forever

Surprising, right?

But come on, it's got Eminem's massive recovery from his, erm, Relapse, the most enjoyable verse Lil' Wayne's dropped since Tha Carter III, and the country's last positive memory of Kanye West before the VMAs.

Oh, how could I forget?

Last name: Ever.
First name: Greatest.


19.I'm Not Your Toy (Jack Beats Remix)
La Roux

La Roux has a great voice. She has great lyrics. And to the unsuspecting listener, it would follow that she then would have great songs. As an exercise to the reader, I encourage you to look up the original version of this song, because then you'll really understand just how terrible her music sounds.

Thank god Jack Beats were able to lend a hand that does her voice a wobbly justice.

Passion Pit

Although released on last year's Chunk of Change EP, this track came to define the spring and summer of 2009 for many people after a mastered version was included on Passion Pit's debut full-length.

Its shrill vocals are certainly not for everyone, but if you're on board, then it's pretty damn beautiful.

The Juan MacLean

This list seems, at least to me, dominated by bright, shiny, summertime house music - perhaps it's for good reason. The descending progression of a damped trumpet packs more punch than ten of Rick Ross's baddest boasts, conveys more heartache than the entire Norah Jones back catalog, without being heavy-handed or predictable in the least.

I guess DFA Records has stuck around for a reason, and The Juan MacLean has provided another stunning example.

16.Nothing Pure Can Stay
Audrye Sessions

The song in studio could never compare to its majesty live, but it's certainly worth pretending.

15.Stand Up
The Prodigy

As previously noted, this is the march that Sousa never wrote, triumphant, electronic, and glorious.

14.Dance Dance Dance (Buraka Som Sistema Remix)
Lykke Li

I don't care who you are, where you are, or what state of mind you're in - this is Zen in a bottle, six minutes of instant nirvana.

Portuguese kuduro outfit Buraka Som Sistema crafted a beat that could be described as nothing but the musical soulmate of Lykke Li's shiver-inducing vocals, the epitome of chill.

Excision & Datsik

Speaks for itself.

12.The Churn of the Century

Is "The Churn of the Century" the dirtiest dubstep of the year?

No, that'd have to go to either "Swine Flu", or that last track, "Swagga". Its pomp and horns and massive beat are all well and good, but those other two songs are just downright filthy beyond belief.

But is it the best dubstep of the year? Yes. Emphatically, yes.

11.Pon De Floor
Major Lazer

'Nuff said.

10.Moombah (Afrojack Remix)
Silvio Ecomo & Chuckie

Any DJ that drops this in their set has the power to render every other track irrelevant.

That its snare-n'-kick 4/4 is one of the most distinctive beats out there, the fact that the muted horns of its build are just the right mix of subdued and expressive, it just spells "hype" in all-caps, to the point that when the song arrives at "T-t-t-t-t-turn up the bass!", every man, woman and child is ready for it.

And then it drops. Holy shit, does it drop.

9.Summertime Clothes
Animal Collective

I knew this was the best song off of Merriweather Post Pavillion the first time I heard it. But it wasn't until I saw Animal Collective's Friday "Celebrate Brooklyn" show in Prospect Park this August that its true beauty clicked. The churning vibrato introduction that looped in and out of phase with itself seemed infinite in its length and depth; every chorus of "I want to walk around with you" dripped with more sincerity and longing at each repetition; the pulsing rhythm was embodied in a collectively swayed dance; that final, emphatic refrain, "Just you", was invicible, stretching, enduring, powering through the humid night air.

Sublime. Unreal. Transcendent.

8.Casa Bey
Mos Def

Mos Def is most definitely back, the Ecstatic makes that much perfectly clear. And what better way to cap such an emphatic comeback than with a finale that breezes through everything that made hip-hop great during the golden age.

Don't doubt Def, he's Bed-Stuy forever.

7.French Navy
Camera Obscura

During any other year, I think this would be, hands down, song of the year. It has that saccharine refrain that reaches above and beyond the limits of the word "catchy", not so much sung as it is sighed, wistful June nostalgia filling every breath.

That it's not is nothing but a testament to the other 19 tracks present.

6.Can't Stop Now
Major Lazer

So, yeah, I know - this is not the song that defined the summer for as many people as "Pon De Floor" or "Hold the Line", but does that make it any worse?

It is pretty interesting that of all the tracks on the dub/electro/dance hall tour-de-force Guns Don't Kill People, Lazers Do, "Can't Stop Now" is the straightest reggae to be found. And yet, it has the most massive, overwhelming, and engulfing bassline, one that simply drowns out the fidget house hook on "Pon de Floor" and club-ready bomb (in the worst sense possible) of "Keep It Goin' Louder".

I be lovin' it more every day.

5.King Beetle On A Coconut Estate

Easily the least known and most under appreciated song on this list.
Simply epic.

4.Empire State of Mind

I guess it's a bit of a cliche now, but do you remember the first time you heard it, poss in your bedroom sometime in July? Do you remember just knowing in your gut that this would absolutely blow up in New York, from the Five Boroughs to Fredonia, and every place in between?

Because I do, and it was marvelous. Jay Z, at the top of his game.

3.At Least I'm Not As Sad As I Used To Be

Dynamic to the core, this song stops and starts and shifts and morphs through all of the tropes of indie pop, pitch perfect in execution, before arriving at a driving waltz that is the sing-along moment of 2009.

Boys Noize

This might be my favorite dance song of all time, and that's really saying something. Just make sure that you get the version off of the Starter EP, as the album mix amputates the year's most recognizable 32 bars from the intro, essentially neutering the track.

1.What Would I Want? Sky
Animal Collective

It's a word that gets thrown around a lot, but it's never been more true: flawless.

Animal Collective had an unbelievable year, with a slew of tracks that blew everything else out of the water. So, yes, "Brother Sport" is exuberant, "Summertime Clothes" timeless, "Graze" jaw-dropping, and "My Girls" simply transcendent.

But "What Would I Want? Sky" is flawless.