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A Carnival or Top Ten List, of Sorts

January 1, 2011

OK, so it’s not in time to influence any holiday shopping lists, but here are a few cd’s that boiled their way to the top this year for me.  Or, more specifically, spent more time in the pile on the passenger seat of my car than others.  I’ll try to include some links along the way.

  1. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings: I Learned the Hard Way       They embody everything I love about music.  DapTone does it their own way with vintage equipment to make modern dance funk soul madness.  And Sharon Jones is the best lead singer performing today.  And I love her. 
  2. The Roots: How I Got Over       The masters of Hip-Hop create a truly memorable record with a great set of guests.  Check it out here
  3. Madlib: Madlib’s Medicine Show series     Every one of these cd’s (11 in the last year) is a brilliant mix of a sub-genre of groovy beats.  Everything this guy touches is worth a listen.  Check him out here
  4. Local Natives: Gorilla Manor        Infectious vocals, fun beats, smart orchestrations, and an instantly like-able cd.  Check out their site here
  5. The Tallest Man on Earth: Wild Hunt       Superb singer-songwriter stuff – Sweedish subtlety.  Visit him here
  6. Caribou: Swim      It’s great dance music.  No, wait, it’s intimate and thoughtful.  No, it’s just perfect.  Go spin “Leave House” here and be converted. 
  7. Tame Impala: Innerspeaker    So if it comes down to most plays this year, I think this one wins it outright for me.  A great headphones cd – a phrase I felt obliged to invoke at least once here.  Psychedelic, swirly, droney, and lovable.  Listen here to “It’s Not Meant to Be.” 
  8. Best Coast: Crazy For You      Wow – can I possible love her voice and lyrics and sunny pop more?  Simple.  Lovely.  Check out “Boyfriend” or “When I’m With You” here
  9. Paul Weller: Wake Up the Nation      I pretty much love everything this guy does, and have followed his shifts for years.  Seeing The Jam in 1982 changed music for me forever.  Worship here
  10. John Grant: Queen of Denmark         So I really like Midlake and their own cd this year was solid, but this collaboration with John Grant wowed the British press and me right along with it.  Lovely and a must-listen.
  11. Superchunk: Majesty Shredding        Seeing them outdoors here in Chicago in June was a highlight of the year.  I just love this band with all of my partially North Carolina-based heart.  They just keep doing it.  Still crazy and rockin’ after all these years.  Go here to start your adventure.   Might I add the giant Merge boxed set from last year just might be one of my favorite possessions.
  12. The Soft Pack: The Soft Pack        Explosive, totally catchy, perfect rock & roll.  Great live shows this year.  A winner from first listen.  Here is their website. 

Nods must be given to: The National, The Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, Midlake, Neil Young, Gil Scott-Heron, The Besnard Lakes, The Radio Dept., Emeralds, Drive-By Truckers, Surfer Blood, Mavis Staples, Deerhunter, LCD Soundsystem, Flying Lotus, and Foxy Shazam (best male lead singer)

Still to come: best jazz, international, and reissues.

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