Thursday, January 3, 2013

Stefan’s Top 10

This is the third year that I am doing my Top 10 Music list (Click on these to see 2011 and 2010).  It’s fun to go back and take a look at what were my previous Top 10s, some of those albums have held up while others have definitely faded away.  It will be interesting to see how many of these will hold up over time.

For fun I have added two little side music bits...

Favorite Song Used in a Commercial: Odetta - Hit or Miss (Southern Comfort)

One mellow yet funky tune.  Put on that speedo and drink your SoCo on the beach.

Favorite Song Used in a Movie: Chuck and Mac - Powerful Love (Looper)

Such a dope song.  Makes me want to drive real slow in a big cadillac, does not make me want to chase down and kill my future self.

OK! Now my top 10

Honorable Mention: The Illz - The Darkest Hour:  I am a big fan of The Illz mellow beats and smooth rhymes.  He uses really great samples taken from music nobody else really uses.  This album only came out a few weeks ago and really is more of an EP (5 of the songs are only a minute or two long) but I know I will listen to it quite a bit.

11.  Beach House - Bloom: I know I am starting with 11 and not 10.  I can count, shut up.  I came to this album pretty late but it has steadily grown on me.  This is one of those odd albums where in general I have no idea what they are singing about but the music just flows from one song to the next and I can kind of zone out.  Space music.

10.  Frank Ocean - Channel Orange: It’s crazy this guy is only 25 years old.  He will make lots of great albums.  This album is probably on every top 10 list out there but yeah, it’s that good.  Dude has a smooth voice that is filled with emotion that just glides over his mid tempo beats and mellow electric piano work.  One thing that makes the album very interesting is how he sings from male, female. straight and non-straight perspectives.  This album is a genre changing work.

9.  John Mayer - Born and Raised: Once again, John Mayer makes an album and it totally hooks me.  The man is immensely talented at song writing and guitar playing.  He has has his blues albums and pop albums but with this album he attempts folk/pop and nails it.  This is a summer day mellow album.  Jeez, all of my favorites are mellow types.

8.  Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid M.A.A.D. City: Another 25 year old talent.  Kendrick has brought that West Coast flair back to rap.    This album tells the story of an individual growing up in Compton.  His rhyming and story telling is exceptional.  His vocals don’t fight with the beat.  My only problem with this album though? All of the skits.  This is a total throwback to rap albums from the 90s but I think they interrupt the flow.  How often does one simply listen to an album and not do anything else?  I don’t like skits.

7.  Fresh Espresso - Bossalona: I find this album very interesting as producer and one of two rappers in Fresh Espresso, PSmoov, went clean midway through the production of this album.  Pretty much every song is about partying it is interesting how some mention drugs and alcohol while others don’t mention any substances but instead how pimp one can be with just their attitude.  I think PSmoov is a great producer who has influenced a lot of Seattle artists and this album a great example of his work combining, funk, electronica, and hip hop styes.  One of the best songs on the album is Goodbye My Love, PSmoov’s song about giving up drugs.

6.  Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - The Heist: Something not totally mellow! These two have blown up this year with a sold out tour and a huge fan base.  It seems Macklemore is everywhere now, good for him.  This album is really on my list thought because of Ryan Lewis.  This guy is such a good producer.  He is the master at making a beat and hook.  The entire album was made with no samples.  NO SAMPLES! That’s hella filthy.  Now of course the honesty of Macklemore’s lyrics can’t be denied but at times it can seem a bit preachy.  I still applaud him for speaking what he believes in however.  Same Love is one of the best songs of the year.

5.  Gary Clark Jr - Blak and Blu: Back to some rock.  Blak and Blu is a great combination of rock, blues and hip hop beats.  With fuzzy distorted guitar and heavy beats this is a fun album to rock out to.  One can definitely say this sounds like The Black Keys but this has a bit more produced sound and more guitar solo work.  I recognize the similarities but I think Gary Clark Jr definitely stands on his own.  Gary can also mix it up and play a pop song or a mellow R&B influenced tune.

4.  Nas - Life is Good: Some artists have started out hard and started making kids movies (Ice Cube) or started out hard and then turned to reggae (Snoop) or started out hard and then turned to acting (Method Mad and most rappers).  Nas has stuck to making straight hip hop, ok he was in Belly but that was basically one long music video.  He doesn’t get really experimental, just sticks to 90s style hip hop.  I love it.  Nas is maybe the greatest story teller in the history of hip hop.  I think the song The Black Bond is a perfect example of his story telling.

3.  The Lumineers - The Lumineers: This is pretty hipster (which is totally cool) but damn, I love this album.  Hipster folk! The American Mumford and Sons! You may not know this, but they have more songs than just Ho Hey.  This is a fun album that is very summer.  It is a nice change of pace from a lot of the music out there.  I enjoy the simpleness of their music.  This is not a super happy song but I think it is very powerful.

2.  Sol - Yours Truly: Sol is still in college, damn.  I think this is the most complete hip-hop album of the year.  Great beats and rhymes.  Some songs sounds a bit like Kanye while others could be compared to Kid Cudi.  With different marketing and exposure this could be a very good selling album.  Sol has talent and it will be fun to see how he progresses.

1.  Patterson Hood - Heat Lighting Rumbles in the Distance:  My number one album of the year.  The Drive By Truckers have mellowed out over their last few albums but with Patterson Hood’s solo effort he has almost completely given up the electric guitar and taken that mellow vibe even further.  This album is extremely personal about, the South, love, loss and living on the road.  This album highlights how great of a songwriter Patterson is and how he has matured since starting the Drive By Truckers in 1996.  Love it.

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