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Last Album Cut from the Top 100: Tinariwen-Emmaar
- Duck Sauce-Quack
Style: Incredibly stupid, exceptionally catchy dance jams full of pop influences.
Sidenote: The fact that some have reviewed this album in a serious manner and proceeded to trash it shows just how clueless critics can be.
Recommended: Everyone (With Teddy Toothpick), NRG
- Dope Body-Lifer (Not on Spotify)
Style: Based in Hard Rock, But Pepper Their Music with Influences from All Genres.
Sidenote: A great Baltimore band, they’ve actually toned down their frenetic style a lot. Every song of theirs used to be infused with hyperactive, video game-y math rock. I miss that.
Recommended: Rare Air, Repo Man
*The track listing and when each song starts is available on the info section of this YouTube video.*
- Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings-Give the People What They Want
Style: Jones is the queen of soulful funk, and the Dap-Kings’ blaring horn are instantly recognizable across the world.
Recommended: People Don’t Get What They Deserve, Now I See
- Thurston Moore-The Best Day
Style: Alternative Rock with Experimental Tendencies
Sidenote: Moore is Also the Lead Singer of Sonic Youth.
Recommended: The Best Day, Speak to the Wild
- Tribal Seeds-Representing
Style: Alternative Reggae
Recommended: Rock the Night (With Maad T-Ray), Lonely Night
- Le Butcherettes-Cry if for the Flies
Style: Shriek-filled, distorted Art-Punk, some reminding me of The Birthday Party.
Sidenote: Teri Gender Bender was taken under the wing of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, the most innovative guitarist of the current alternative generation. I’m guessing that he picked her for a reason. But Teri, please no more crazy pig heads or other shock value instruments. Your talent is reason enough for fans to see you.
Recommended: Your Weakness Gives Me Life, My Child
- The Horrors-Luminous
Style: Though they started out as a garage band, their style is now gorgeous, epic pop layered with synths.
Recommended: I See You, So Now You Know
- Eagulls-Eagulls (Self-Titled)
Style: Lo-Fi, Aggressive Garage-Punk
Recommended: Nerve Endings, Possessed
- King Tuff-Black Moon Spell
Style: Fuzzed up glam rock with garage and surf influences.
Sidenote: He gets endless comparisons to Ty Segall, so I found it interesting that Segall played drums on the title track.
Recommended: Black Moon Spell, Demons from Hell
Style: Warm, comforting dream-pop, created with world music samples.
Recommended: Stay, Paradise Waiting
- Big K.R.I.T.-Cadillactica
Style: Soulful, contemplative southern rap (at least the part of the album I listen to)
Sidenote: I would have ranked this album near the top if was entirely based in the style of songs that I’ll recommend. Even so, 6 out of the 14 songs (2, 5, 11, 13, 14, 15) are mind-blowing.
Recommended: Life, Soul Food (With Raphael Saadiq), Angels, Saturdays = Celebration (With Jamie N Commons)
- Lydia Loveless-Somewhere Else
Style: Alt. Country with brutally honest lyrics (she speaks her mind!)
Recommended: Really Wanna See You, Verlaine Shot Rimbaud
- Owen Pallett-In Conflict
Styles: Violin influenced, majestically arranged dream pop.
Sidenote: Pallett collaborates on arranging songs for other artists, among them Arcade Fire.
Recommended: In Conflict, Infernal Fantasy
- Robert Plant-Lullaby…And the Ceaseless Roar (Not on Spotify)
Style: Is there any rock legend who continuously releases albums that push boundaries like Plant? On this go around, he fuses mystic middle-eastern with bluegrass, modern rock, new age, old blues, and even some Irish music sounding like the beginnings to early Afro Celt Sound System songs .
Recommended: Turn it Up, Embrace Another Fall
- Fu Manchu-Gigantoid
Style: Sludgy, crunchy stoner rock.
Recommended: Anxiety Reducer, Radio Source Sagittarius
- Kid Cudi-Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon
Style: Cudi’s associated with rap music, but keeps straying farther and farther away from that categorization. Using huge, spacey, mood-inducing productions. Cudi seems to collaborate and harmonize with the production rather than sing over it.
Recommended: Satellite Flight, Balmain Jeans (With Raphael Saadiq)
- Linda Perhacs-The Soul of All Natural Things
Style: Singer/Songwriter with a haunting voice that could stop traffic.
Sidenote: Perhacs made an album in 1970 which was modified by producers to fit radio, sounding unlike what she intended. It was recently found, correctly mastered, and now, almost 45 years later, comes her follow up.
Recommended: The Soul of All Natural Things, River of God
- Mogwai-Rave Tapes
Sidenote: When post-rock bands age, it can be tough to figure out how to change and keep things interested without sacrificing identity. Mogwai have experimented on recent albums and scores, but seem to have finally found a comfort zone on Rave tapes, which is the most restrained album they’ve ever made. They add electronic elements, but juuuust the right amount. The art of the slow building instrumental is taken for granted, but Mogwai perfect it on Rave Tapes. And when they add in vocals, like on “Blues Hour”…whoa…
Recommended: Hexon Bogon, Blues Hour
- Kate Tempest-Everybody Down
Style: Spoken word poetry over hip-hop/dance beats.
Recommended: The Truth, Theme from Becky
- Ces Cru-Codname: Ego Stripper
Style: 2 Kansas City rappers who have mastered the art of breath control and battle rapping, but also show the potential for lyrical growth.
Recommended: Give it to Me, Fate
- Rubblebucket-Survival Sounds
Style: Anthemic, danceable indie rock…or something like that.
Recommended: Sound of Erasing, Carousel Ride
- Robert Francis-Heaven (With The Night Tide)
Style: With his new band in tow, Francis fleshes out his sound and paints impressive pictures of stories involving his surroundings as well as his inner tumoil.
Sidenote: Francis took 2 years off of music to deal with personal issues, and has come back with an overflow of ideas, all making the final cut of the album. Because of this, listening beginning to end lacks cohesion and holds me back from ranking it higher on the list.
Recommended: Baby Was the Devil, Take You to the Water
- The Nighthawks-444
Style: Blues, rockabilly, honky tonk.
Sidenote: A Washington DC tradition, The Nighthawks aren’t a throwback. They are an amazing band playing timeless material.
Recommended: Walk That Walk, No Secrets
- Sage Francis-Copper Gone
Style: After 4 years away from music, rapper/poet/spoken word artist Sage Francis is back, and as emotionally distraught as ever. His wordplay doesn’t fit traditional patterns, and his beats are as typically atypical as ever. And his lyrics…
Sidenote: The honesty of Make ‘em Purr is about as honest and “un hip-hop” as he can possibly get, which is very punk and ballsy.
Recommended: Make ‘em Purr, Vonnegut Busy
- G. Love & Special Sauce-Sugar
Style: Rootsy, jam band-style positivity, bringing the heat in both singing and rapping form. No one does it like G. Love!
Sidenote: The original trio is back in action for the first time in 20 years, and unsurprisingly create G. Love’s best material since that original album.
Recommended: Saturday Night, Nothing Else Quite Like Love
- Ryan Adams-Ryan Adams (Self-Titled)
Style: Back from a 3 year hiatus (which in Ryan Adams years translates to 50), Adams comes strong with the most focused work of his career.
Sidenote: One of the smartest songwriters and musicians of this generation, Adams has released entire albums of damn near every genre. I think he’s hit home on this one, as back to basics rock and roll seems to fit him. I feel like Jenny Lewis could have used more of this type of production on her album that he produced.
Recommended: Stay with Me (Very similar to Lewis’s “She’s Not Me”), Trouble
- Paolo Nutini-Caustic Love
Style: Stax record-esque Retro doo wop ,funk and soul. Nutini specializes in crooning in the same vein as Al Green and Bill Withers, yet can switch gears and take on a Prince persona as well.
Recommended: Iron Sky, Fashion (With Janelle Monae)
- Logic-Under Pressure
Style: Making a name for himself with his braggadocio rapping on mixtapes, Maryland (!!!) rapper Logic threw everyone a curveball by making his debut album 100% based on emotionally in-depth life stories, with no guest appearances.
Recommended: Soul Food, Growing Pains III
- The Kooks-Listen
Style: Music critics have trashed The Kooks for their retro hip-hop dance beats and melodies being stolen from other artists. Ehh. I think it’s just good ol’ fun music.
Sidenote: I sense Jack Penate-esque stylings off his unbelievable 2009 album “Everything is New.” (Come back, Jack! The music world needs you!)
Recommended: Forgive & Forget, Are We Electric
- Mastodon-Once More “Round the Sun
Style: Mastodon has ruled the metal world for the last 10 years (They peaked, in my opinion, with the incredible “Crack the Skye” album), but seem to be headed in a hard rock direction at this point with less progressive tendencies.
Recommended: High Road, Diamond in the Witch House
- Kishi Bashi-Lighght
Style: Similar to Owen Pallett (lots of violin, along with many other various instruments) but more experimental and concentrated on vocal harmonies.
Recommended: Carry on Phenomenon, Once Upon a Lucid Dream (In Afrikaans)
- Cyhi da Prynce-Black Hystori Project (Mixtape) (Not on Spotify)
Style: A incredibly gifted and intelligent rapper with wordplay for days, CyHi tackles some weighty subjects over atypical beats, but never seems out of his comfort zone.
Sidenote: Can someone please tell Kanye West that he has one of the best rappers in the world signed to his label, just waiting to release an album?! #FreeCyHi
Recommended: Mandela, Basquiat
*The track listing and when each song starts is available on the info section of this YouTube video.*
- Warpaint-Warpaint (Self-Titled)
Style: Experimental art pop. I also hear hints of psychedelic rock and shoegaze.
Recommended: Biggy, Disco//very
- The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger-Midnight Sun
Style: Overall, the band (consisting of Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl) have proven adept at every style imaginable. For this specific album, they dive into psychedelic textures. Sean’s father would be proud.
Recommended: Midnight Sun, Xanadu
- Natural Child-Dancin’ with Wolves
Style: A mellower version of The Band.
Recommended: Don’t the Time Pass Quickly, Saturday Night Blues
- John Butler Trio-Flesh & Blood
Style: While there’s enough songs on this album to show he still knows how to have a jammin’ good time, Butler has chosen to focus on his songwriting. I miss the nonstop fun of his last couple albums, but appreciate him trying to master his craft.
Recommended: Devil Woman, Livin’ in the City
Style: As rapper Slug (Sean Daley) advances in age, he rhymes about family, career, and thoughts of mortality that start to creep in. Production from Ant, involving live instrumentation, is very laid back and bluesy. It’s almost like elevator rap (totally unlike Atmosphere’s older material), which can seem a bit bland until Slug’s lyrics kick in.
Sidenote: It’s crazy to think that I have grown up right alongside Atmosphere for the last 20 years. We have both transformed from snotty kids into mature adults. (Well, at least they have). To me, 2 lyricists stand above all others: Bob Dylan and Sean Daley.
Recommended: Fortunate, Camera Thief
- Jenny Lewis-The Voyager
Style: Wow, this is some adult contemporary stuff from Lewis. The production is so slick that I might slip and fall while listening!
Sidenote: All hail the queen! In the current music landscape, there’s no woman I have more respect for than Jenny Lewis.
Recommended: She’s Not Me, Slippery Slopes.
- Rosanne Cash-The River & the Thread
Sidenote: I read that Cash wrote songs for this album while on the road. After discovering this, I listened to the album again from the beginning, and it comes alive with descriptive imagery.
Recommended: A Feather’s Not a Bird, The Long Way Home
- Mike Doughty-Stellar Motel
Style: Pop-rock with hip-hop influences.
Sidenote: Doughty seems finally able to overcome his addictions and his Soul Coughing persona. The non-hip hop influenced songs sound incredibly joyful. I wish the entire album could have been that way.
Recommended: Light Will Keep Your Heart Beating in the Future, When You Come Home
- Nickel Creek-A Dotted Line
Style: “Campfire Music” (Makes me want to be at a bonfire listening to this type of style.)
Sidenote: The first acoustic guitar strum of “Rest of My Life” immediately reminded me of how much I’ve missed Nickel Creek while they’d been on hiatus.
Recommended: Rest of My Life, 21st of May
- Pharoahe Monch-P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Style: Deeply emotional rap, battling his inner demons through music.
Sidenote: Listening to his trials and tribulations throughout the album, the uplifting collabo with Talib Kweli at the end gives hope that better times are ahead.
Recommended: Time2, D.R.E.A.M. (With Talib Kweli)
- Little Hurricane-Gold Fever
Style: A 2-person (male singer/guitarist and woman drummer), bluesy rock band playing crunchy guitar riffs. Gee, I wonder if there’ll be any comparisons.
Sidenote: A solid improvement from their first album. Little Hurricane has a bright future if they continue to blaze their own trail.
Recommended: Gold Fever, Boiling Water
- Temples-Sun Structures
If The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger took influences from the 60’s, these guys seem to have time traveled directly from that period.
Recommended: Mesmerise, Sun Structures
- Steve Gunn-Way Out Weather
Style: I mentioned Vactioner’s ability to convey warmth through a dream pop style. Steve Gunn does the same in a more organic way.
Highlights: Milly’s Garden, Way Out Weather
- Diamond District-March on Washington
Style: Hip-Hop without taking on a fake persona or obsessing over material objects. This is Diamond District, with Uptown XO, Oddisee and the most underrated rapper in the world, yU. They care about 2 things…respecting the art/craft of hip-hop, and repping the DMV (DC, MD, VA)!
Recommended: First Step, The Back Up, Apart of it All
- Johnny Marr-Playground
Style: Indie rock with a groove.
Sidenote: Marr shocked the hell out of me with his previous and first solo album The Messenger last year. I could listen to that album all day every day, and while Playground doesn’t quite match up and annoys me with some overproduction and dance beats, he seems to have had a ton of ideas stored up, just waiting to be recorded. I never was a big Smiths fan, but Marr is on another level.
Recommended: This Tension (*This album’s New Town Velocity*), Back in the Box
- You+Me-Rose Ave.
Style: Intimate, naked guitar and harmony duo.
Sidenote: I prejudged this pairing of Pink and Dallas Green from City & Colour, assuming there was no way it would work. I was dead wrong. There’s been some great guitar & harmony coed duos lately, with She & Him, Pete Yorn/Scarlett Johansson, The Civil Wars, The Swell Season, Angus & Julia Stone, and the obvious Robert Plant & Alison Krauss.
Recommended: Capsized, Break the Cycle
- The Donkeys-Ride the Black Wave
Style: Another 60’s influenced group, but there’s no psychedelic influence, just sun-drenched beach harmonies.
Recommended: Nothing, I Heart Alabama
- The Barr Brothers-Sleeping Operator
Style: It seems like there’s always the blueprint for a gorgeous folk harmony, which is then fleshed out with enough instruments to keep the quartet busy and add spice to the songs. They never let their musicianship get in the way of the song, though, which shows just how professional the group is.
Recommended: Love Ain’t Enough, Half Crazy