"Let me be your everlasting light." - The Black Keys, Everlasting Light
I don't know that there was a broad theme for my music listening habits in 2010. I found a lot of hip-hop I liked again after 2009 where I liked very little. I tended towards soulful records (whether neo, retro, bluesy, classic, or avant-garde). I loved adventurous spirits. I embraced the concept of "free" releases fully and gave them equal footing with paid for albums. I collected almost entirely digitally (amazonmp3.com is awesome. and evil. eMusic is getting better with age). I fell back in love with composed, instrumental, mostly soundtrack music. And I saw a whole lot more music live which I hope continues into the new year.
But, instead of giving you a list, I give you some anecdotes.
The Album That Most Represents 2010: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I have to take all of Kanye's output as a whole. Combined with the G.O.O.D. Friday releases It's over 20 songs of excess with wide ranging topics that display his own egoism, confusion, candor, bluster, and frustration. Ain't that America in 2010 for sure? West, of course, stamps his unique musical genius and lyrical wit and humor on it and brings along some of the most interesting artists in the business to collaborate with him. I don't know that I can pick a favorite track from this album but All Of The Lights from the formal release and Lord Lord Lord from the G.O.O.D. freebies stay top of mind. Shout-out for getting me to appreciate Justin Bieber, too, with Runaway Love.
The Album That Most Represents Who I Am in 2010: How I Got Over
I wrote a bit about this album in July. Back then I said:
Like De La Soul's The Grind Date stood out for me as reflective of a moment in time in my life, such is the same with How I Got Over. Hip Hop can grow as I grow. Belee Dat.That still holds true. It's nice to see hip hop mature while remaining fresh and interesting and relevant. And, personally, I felt like I really got over this year, truly beginning my life as an adul in big ways. Hell, I'm writing this from my fiance's house as we inch ever closer to our shared life together. We're doin' it (again). That, of course, is my stand-out track.
The Album That Everybody Everywhere Will and Should Love: Brothers
There is nothing negative to say about this album. From it's first moments to it's last, it is a kick in the pants. I got to see The Black Keys live this year and they impressed by having even more energy and musical acumen on stage. You've heard a good portion of this album on commercials all year and those moments haven't been annoying. I haven't found that ubiquity to turning those songs into being "played out". It's just good good music. Favorite Track: Howlin' For You.
The Album to Get You To Inbox Zero: Inception
Loved the movie. Might love the soundtrack even more. Battling with email is a daily occurrence for me and using this album (or Hans Zimmer's and Christopher Nolan's other recent collaboration - The Dark Knight Soundtrack) to get me through it has become standard. I don't have explanation for why. It just puts my mind in the right space. Time loses form. The world pulls away. It's just me and your damn delivered missives and I'm chopping them down. Favorite Track: 528491.
The Album For Sunday Morning Brunch or Your Fancy Dinner Party: BlackMagic
I didn't know anything about José James until one of my trips to Atlanta in the last year. After brunch with J. and Karsh and Brandon, we made our way to Moods Music where J. gave a nod to him as worth my time. He's so right. This release is luscious. It fills you up. It makes me feel better about myself and the world. Favorite Track: Code.
The Album That's Way More Awesome Than I Would've Ever Thought: Culdesac
Childish Gambino is Donald Glover (Troy from Community). His free mixtape is ridiculous. His live show was ridiculous. He's got way more talent than should be allowed. I'm impressed. Favorite Track: The Difference, although the Adele sampling Do Ya Like is a strong contendor.
The Album(s) That Reminds Me Why I Love Los Angeles: Love Pts. 1 and 2
Build an Ark is a local collective. They make big music. They make lovely hippie style community music. They make me proud to be from LA. Favorite Track? Pshaw, get both full lenghts and support great music and great people.
Other albums of note:
- New Amerykah Part II: Return of The Ankh by Erykah Badu
- Authenticity by The Foreign Exchange
- Contra by Vampire Weekend
- Teflon Don by Rick Ross
- Good Things by Aloe Blacc