We have a guest writer! My brother, Nathan, has written his top ten.
10a. Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow – A very wintery, stark feeling album (thank you title), this album came to me from a wonderful woman that knows her tunes. I had not listened to Kate Bush in some time but was very pleased to be graced with her sound again. Beautiful voice and fragile piano that comes through on “Snowflake,” “Misty,” “Among Angels” and “50 Words for Snow.”
10. Drake - Take Care - Say whatever you want about him being pop or sell-out or anything else questioning his street cred. The kid's got talent and puts out some good tunes. I have listened to this album a lot since it came out with massive guilty pleasure songs like "Take Care," "Crew Love," "Underground Kings," and "Lord Knows." The guy is a bit moody but I find him to be compelling and fascinating. Great album that covers the spectrum from party anthems to songs of depth and intelligence.
9. Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears – These guys straight do it right. Wonderful soulful bluesy rock. Grab your lady, pour some wine or whiskey, kick off your shoes and work clothes, slide on some jeans and a t-shirt and meet me in the kitchen for some dancing and wriggling ‘cause Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears are making me move…. “Booty City,” “Livin’ In The Jungle,” “She’s So Scandalous” (yeah!) and “Mustang Ranch” get things rolling. There is some R.L. Burnside influence here so if you like that, pard’na give this some album some loving.
8. Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 – I have to admit, I’m not the biggest or most hard-core Beastie Boys fan. I’ve always appreciated them but can’t remember ever just looooving them. I do remember Licensed to Ill when it first came out and rocking to it in Middle School – yes, Middle School. That was a great album, same with Paul’s Boutique (underrated even) but after that I would buy the album out of sentimental feelings or worse, wanting to talk myself into liking the albums. Don’t get me wrong, there are some tracks from Check Your Head, Ill Communication, etc. that I still liked but never the complete album until…Hot Sauce Committee Part 2. This album is chalk full of goodies, “Too Many Rappers” (w/ Nas), “Make Some Noise” (great way to start an album with the Let Me Clear My Throat feel to it) and the incredible “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win.” The whole project feels like these guys did what every good artist should do. Don’t make music for what is the trend or what they think someone wants to here – make what you, the artist, would love to kick it to. This is that kind of album and it shows.
7. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers – I have been saying that this guy could become one of the very best hip-hop artists of all time with what he has been putting out. “Lasers” continues that ascent. Exceptional flow and bounce, stellar word play and lyrics and fantastic music/beats. What does that all mean together? A great mother-f*cking album. The only criticism is how many guest spots he allows as he can carry things by himself (although I love it when he pairs up with Matthew Santos like on “Shining Down”). But again the album works with some of my favorites being: “Break the Chain,” “Letting Go,” “Words I Never Said,” “Conflict Diamonds,” and “Coming Up.”
6. Radiohead – King of Limbs – I am a bit of a sucker for these guys, I have to come clean about that. I tend to think that about 50% of their music is good, 30% is very good, 15% being genius level and then 5% being bat-shit out there that I don’t get. This album personifies my ratio for me – particularly if you add the bonus songs of “Supercollider” and “The Butcher.” “Little By Little,” “Lotus Flower” (genius), “Separator” and “Morning Mr Magpie” all hit the right notes for me. They are the type of music that can float in the background as you work or relax or if you want to turn it up and dial in your own focus to the music it brings you in.
5. City and Colour – Little Hell – I discovered Austin Green (he didn’t want to call himself the Austin Green Band so decided on City (Austin) and Colour (Green)) a few years ago (check out “What Makes a Man?” – I listened to that as I was going through my divorce - ugh) and this fella shoots right to your core. “Grand Optimist” – “I fear I’m dying from complications…complications due to things that I’ve left undone…that all my debts will be left unpaid…then there’s my father…he’s always looking on the bright side…saying things like ‘son, life just ain’t that hard’…he is the grand optimist…I am the world’s poor pessimist…I guess I take after my mother…now the wound has begun to turn…another lesson that has gone unlearned…but this is not a cry for pity or for sympathy…” Really beautiful but haunting. My other favorites are “Little Hell,” “O’ Sister,” and “Weightless (Demo)” – pretty incredible poetry.
4. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire – Much like Adele, I believe everything this dude sings. I like him with the Cardinals and all but I much prefer his slowed down and quieter stuff, like this album… “Come Home,” “Do I Wait,” “Save Me” and “Star Sign” work my heart over.
3. Adele – 21 – Man….this girl has one of the most incredible voices of all time. Because of this album, I got into an incredible kick of similar music dusting off Janis, Amy (R.I.P.), Aretha and Sharon King to name a few. With all these artists there is the core ingredient prevalent – truth. You believe what these women sing and it connects on such a guttural level that your soul is moved to tears. Now, that may sound like some corny-ass, Hallmark lines but I distinctly remember a moment driving alone on the Big Island of Hawaii (I made a deep spiritual connection with that place – more on that some other time maybe) this year along a winding mountain road feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders listening to “Turning Tables” and crying uncontrollably as I felt the defiance and strength rising back out of her anguish and frustration. I got it. And then you throw on “Set Fire to the Rain,” “Someone Like You” and “Rumour Has It”? Incredible album. But wait, then you add “Rolling In The Deep” on top of those tracks?? Near perfect album. That song can never get overplayed to me. Perfect song. I get it.
1a. TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light – Love, love, love this band. If you don’t get em at first, don’t fret. Just listen again. ‘Cause these Brooklyn based cats are on to something. Incredible soul, incredible rock-ishness, incredible feel. “Every lover on a mission, shift your known position, into the light…” – “Second Song.” Listen intently to “Will Do” (“a heart doesn’t play by rules and love has its own demands…”) and “Troubles” (“despite all the heartache it brings…my love is a sure-fire thing…”) as well as other great songs like “You,” “New Cannonball Blues” (love the edge to it) and “Keep Your Heart.” I think these guys are genius and this album is a gem in their crown.
1. The Black Keys – El Camino – I don’t care how new this album is (three days) – this is a perfect rock-n-roll album. How these two dudes (JUST TWO GUYS) make such an incredibly full and strong sound is mind-boggling (go see them in concert – filthy (aka really good) show). The only complaint you can say about these fellas is that their albums sound pretty similar to one another. That may be true but if their sound is f*cking fabulous bluesy/rock then why change that??? “Lonely Boy,” “Little Black Submarines” (listen to that song explode!), “Money Maker,” “Mind Eraser” and “Hell of a Season” have received instant heavy rotation on this guys playlists! Perfect album to come at a perfect time. All hail the Black Keys!