5. Baths – Cerulean
Glitched electronic beats and a warm falsetto mark out Will Wiesenfeld’s debut Baths album for Anticon which manages to walk a fine line between vocal sincerity and thumping bedroom beats. Wiesenfeld’s ability to write proper vocal-lines and skew them with clipped rhythms, while maintaining focus made Cerulean a standout. Personally, (every personal list should have at least one real world connection) the album reminds me of the week I spent in Berlin.[Buy: iTunes | Anticon ]
4. Adebisi Shank – This Is The Second Album Of A Band Called..
You know the deal by now and many of you are in agreement. Adebisi Shank’s second album kept the rocking urgency but added synths, marimbas, talkboxes and Asian influences. Never was the description “Robot Rock” so accurately applied.
Listen at Spotify.[Buy: Richter Shop | iTunes | eMusic ]
3. Glasser – Ring
Yet another debut album on the list, Ring is the album where Cameron Mesirow’s innate ability to arrange voice and instruments shone. An array of percussive instruments, synthesizers and exotic sounds filled the album with a unique and intricate atmosphere while Mesirow plays the evocative musical siren.
Listen at Spotify.[Buy: iTunes | True Panther ]
2. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
For all the talk of Kanye’s self-centeredness, his brattish behaviour, his tantrums and his ego, there is no doubt that only a man as complicated and self-assured as Mr. West could have pulled off the grand vision of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Whereas 808s And Heartbreaks was marked out by autotune and a lack of guests, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy finds Kanye going through the rolodex, fitting everyone in and making it work on an epic level. ‘All of The Lights’ alone features John Legend, Fergie Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, La Roux, Elton John, Ryan Leslie, Kid Cudi, Charlie Wilson and Alicia Keys yet it still stands out as the most focused and bombastic pop song of the year.
Elsewhere, Nicki Minaj owns 2010’s best rap verse on ‘Monster‘, Bon Iver provides some gruff backing vocals and allows his own ‘The Woods’ to be sacrificed for the good of ‘Lost In The World‘, Pusha T provides the voice of the street coke rap posse while RZA and Jay-Z embolden the pure rap tune of the year ‘So Appalled’. But this is Kanye’s Dark Twisted World and he shines the most, both as an MC and as a producer of next-level hip-hop & pop event albums. Hearing how he turned Aphex Twin’s ‘Avril 14’ into ‘Blame Game’ remains one of 2010’s most enduring surprises but the power in the album comes listening to it as a whole. This is Kanye’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, we’re just happy to be in it for 70 minutes.
Listen at Spotify.[Buy: iTunes]
1. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Plastic Beach is where Damon Albarn’s band largely dropped the cartoon facade and embraced an even more dizzying array of styles than ever, all shot through with a sense of adventure and performances from a cast drawn from all corners of the music world. Highlights included Basho and Kano sparring with each other over a Lebanese string arrangement on ‘White Flag’, Bobby Womack’s shrill howl on ‘Stylo’ and Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano on ‘Empire Ants’ and ‘To Binge’. Contributions from Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Mark E. Smith and Lou Reed gave the album its colour. It was captain Albarn though, who steered the record’s mood from melancholy waters to warmer climes and back again, but never without taking in some breathtaking scenery.
Listen at Spotify.[Buy: iTunes ]