Before putting together my top 10 albums of this year I thought it would be good to look back at my picks from last year. Have I actually listened to any of those albums this year? 2012 picks Hmmm. I’ve listened to about half of them. I haven’t listened to The ILLZ, Beach House, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean of NaS in a while. I will probably be revisiting those soon now that I realize how long it’s been.
When I first started to put my list together I thought I would have a lot of albums to go through but to my surprise I didn’t really end up with that many. While I didn’t have that many in total I did end up having a hard time narrowing it down to ten. I could easily do a top 15.
Ok, blabbity blab, let’s do this.
10. Rhye - Woman: My top 10 list is going to start with straight baby making music. This album is so smooth and sexy. Milosh’s voice sounds a lot like Sade and at first I couldn’t quite tell if I was listening to a dude or a chick. There has been a lot of good music in the last few years coming out of Northern Europe. This music is sex. I really would love Rhye to make an album with Rick Ross. I think bringing such two opposite styles together would be awesome.
9. Mayer Hawthorne - Where Does This Door Go?: I am convinced that if Justin Timberlake made this album people would be considering him a genius. Since this was made by Mayer Hawthorne people just focus on the fact that he didn’t stay with his 70’s funk sound the whole time. I appreciate Hawthorne going in a bit of a different direction. This album has some Rick James, Hall & Oats and 80’s sounds. He could use a haircut though. What are you? A European soccer player?
8. John Legend - Love in the Future: I have always liked John Legend but never really listened to him that much. In general I can’t really listen to a full R&B album but this one is different. The guy can sing, like really well. I think a large part of me liking this album is because it was produced by Kanye West. I think when Kanye makes his own music he sometimes tries too hard to make something different but with Legend’s album he just makes good beats and music.
7. Haim - Days are Gone: Chick LA Electro Pop! I am fairly reluctant to get into the electro pop music scene (no CHVRCHES on this list) and I generally am not really into female singers but this album is a lot of fun. I have heard them compared to Fleetwood Mac but I don’t really hear that. It is pretty much impossible to listen to this music and not start moving your feet or bobbing your head.
6. The Physics - Digital Wildlife: I didn’t realize until I had narrowed my list down that there are only two only hip-hop albums here. I liked Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail and I appreciated Kanye's Yeezus but I don’t think it was their best work. The Physics are arguably the best Seattle hip-hop group right now. Hip-hop seems to have taken a turn in the last year or two towards a much more electronic sound. This album embraces that trend and makes it work. The Physics have also taken on the challenge of singing some of their own hooks. This is a great album.
5. St. Lucia - When the Night: Electro pop! I have recently come to this album but I love it. Very 80ish. Makes me think of Mr Mister. This album has a very summer sound to it and makes you want to party. Put on a stupid shirt, grab your synthesizer and rage!
4. Sol - Eyes Open EP: While this is an EP it is 10 songs album. Sol recorded this while he was traveling around the world. His producers would send him beats and he would find a studio to record the vocals. An interesting way to put it together. I am convinced that Sol will reach a new level of popularity this year. He has already been getting contacted by a lot of record labels as they try to find the next Seattle rapper. You can call this the Macklemore effect.
3. Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse: Scottish rock! I randomly found an album by these guys two years ago on my ipod and they quickly became one of my favorite bands. Love their song and the way he pronounces words is fun. Acts of Man is one of my favorite songs of the year. Their lyrics are usually depressing and about breaking up but whatever, lots of good music is depressing. Speaking of depressing! Check out my next two albums!
2. Jason Isbell - Southeastern: Depressing singer songwriter music!! Isbell’s focus has really shifted since leaving the Drive By Truckers. His music is no longer so much about the guitar work as it is about his songwriting. Want to make a depressing album? Here is what you do...go to rehab and then tour with Ryan Adams. Holy crap this album is sad but so so good. The only two complaints I have with this album is that it came out in the summer when the weather is nice and the sun is out. Save this album for winter! Second complaint, I absolutely hate the song Super 8. I don’t know why he added it to the album, it breaks the flow and it sucks. Super 8 is the reason this album isn’t number 1 on my list. I don’t want to end this review on a bad note so here is one more bit about this album, the song Elephant is one of the most beautiful and depressing songs ever. Yay Jason Isbell!
1. The National - Trouble Will Find Me: More sad music! This album isn’t as depressing as Jason Isbell but it is close. The National are funny because they seem like such opposites of their music. They appear to be really cool and lighthearted people. I enjoy that the other members in the band call the lead singer, Matt Berninger, Dark Lord or the Naysayer. The guy has such a cool and dark voice. This band just continues to get better and better and I think this is their best album yet.
So there you have it! Stefan’s top 10. Have a great 2014