This is not, of course, the best music that came out this year, how arrogant of me to even think about this, it’s just ten records i’ve loved really really much.
Mala - Mala in Cuba (Brownswood)
Deep, tribal, hypnotic, groovy, visceral. A record with something to say.
Lianne La Havas - Is Your Love Big Enough (Warner)
Best voice of the year.
Lukid - Lonely At The Top (Werkdiscs)
I’ve been really displeased lately with all the bandwagoning in electronic music. I mean, everybody’s free to do whatever, and popular things will always spawn cheap imitations and stuff, but i mean, what happened to finding your own voice and stuff? Lukid doesn’t care, and is consistently blurring lines between genres while still managing to make inspiring, beautiful music. His score for Sam Blair’s documentary Personal Best, released this year, is also extremely good.
Rudy Zygadlo - Tragicomedies (Planet Mu)
Most talented producer / performer of the year. Still hasn’t put it all completely together, but only because he’s got more to play with than most.
Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes (Warp)
Flying Lotus has been consistenly one of my favorite artists for years now. But, in 2007, when i was playing back to back with dabrye, pursuit grooves, elliot lipp, kidkanevil and all those people nobody really cared if it was the best music around. It wasn’t, it was a nerdy subgenre subculture, as underground as they come. It was, and it is, cosmic off kilter instrumental hip hop beats or something. It really appeals, naturally, to an extremely small amount of people out there, who probably grew up with a steady diet of pete rock and videogames or something. For everybody else it’s an acquired taste. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m here to say it loud to you, i love it, but Fly Lo is not the ultimate thing to all the people. Sliced bread he ain’t. Even though probably nobody is, come on, let’s be real.
But honestly, you don’t have to like it because everybody does. Most of those guys are lying, or it’s marketing. It’s ok to hate. Let the healing begin.
The Heavy - The Glorious Dead (Ninja Tune)
Best rock band around, bar none.
Slugabed - Time Team (Ninja Tune)
It’s no secret i loved Rustie’s Glass Swords more than anything that came out last year, and this is basically the only thing that managed to recapture the same kind of atmosphere for me.
Jimmy Edgar - Majenta (Hotflush)
I’d like to write that this is the kind of music Prince would make if he just started out today, but you know what, Prince probably has made this very same record, cover, lyrics and all, and put it out around 1985 or so.
Chromatics - Kill For Love (Italians Do It Better)
Album of the year contender, unparalleled atmosphere, vintage, classy and yet fresh. Plus, Chromatics are trying something really novel with their approach to the whole ‘game’ or music business thing, which is, in a word, they don’t have one. They just don’t care. Nobody even knew when the record would drop, as it missed launch date after launch date month after month. And when it finally dropped reviews didn’t go live for weeks, because nobody had an advance copy. And yet, it’s in every year end best of list, because, you know, the music is really the only thing that matters. What a refreshing core message.
Aesop Rock - Skelethon (Rhymesayers Ent.)
Hip Hop should, you know, by now, be more mature, as a genre. Instead it’s still mostly treated like a fad that’s going to die any day now unless you fan hard on the flames. So people just hang on to every scrap of ‘new’ like their life depended on it. Aesop Rock doesn’t. He just wrote a bunch of awesome songs. It will take you some time to decode the lyrics, but they’re the most meaningful ones you’ve ever heard, anywhere. It just makes anything else seem dumb and teenagery. It’s a literary masterpiece in record form. The sheer awesomeness of words is the edge hip hop has on traditional songwriters that can get away with 4 lines per song. Don’t let it go to waste. Aesop Rock doesn’t.