category: Music (Classic)

2010 Music Year in Review

It’s been another great year of music. It’s tough to keep up with everything coming out, so I’m sure there’s some awesome stuff missing here, but the normal rules apply: this what I dug most and came back to most frequently.

(See also: 2009, 2008, and 2007.)

Everything’s sorted in alphabetical order.

The Best of 2010

  • Belleruche: 270 Stories
    Belleruche’s approach of combining turntables and soulful vocals (“Influenced by vintage blues records, punk girl drummers, obscure 60’s cover bands and experimental west coast turntablists”) reminds me a lot of what we heard from Kristin Mainhart and the Khromozomes crew in the earlier part of the decade. Great, danceable, funky tunes very much in line with their excellent “Turntable Soul Music” from 2008. The video for “Fuzz Face” is also well worth checking (every frame was photocopied to hell to create a really ill visual distortion). Favorite cuts: “Fuzz Face,” “3 Amp Fuse,” and “Gold Rush.”
  • Black Sheep: From The Black Pool Of Genius
    For some reason, this album completely flew under the radar. From my recollection, almost no one talked about it after the first week it was out. But, honestly, it’s pretty darn good. Production’s dope and no fan of early-90s hip-hop can tell me that they didn’t get geeked from “Elevation” or the Native Tongues’ reunion track “Birds of a Feather” (even with the awkward levels on the mix).
  • Boog Brown: Brown Study
    Voiced by Detroit native Boog Brown and produced by the (I-finally-realize-he’s) super dope Apollo Brown, Brown Study is packed with some genuinely awesome tracks, including the amazing “Friction” featuring Miz Korona and perennial favorite Invincible (if she’s not making an album of the year, she’s appearing on them), “Friends Like These” featuring Kam Moye/Supastition, “Play the Game” featuring Ken Starr, and “Marinate.”
  • CeHa: Bilet
    Driving Polish hip-hop with some excellent production. Favorite track: the reggae-inspired “Rób, Co Chcesz.”
  • Celph Titled & Buckwild: Ninteen-Ninety-Now
    Original, unused mid-90s Buckwild beats lacing Celph Titled verses? Um, yes please. Great stuff, including guest spots from Treach, Demigodz, Celph Titled, and a massive posse cut with Sadat X, Grand Puba, A.G., O.C., and Diamond D. Favorite cuts: “Swashbuckling,” “There Will Be Blood,” and “Styles Ain’t Raw.”
  • Clutchy Hopkins: The Story Teller
    In a world where everyone knows everything, it’s kinda cool that the mystery behind Clutchy Hopkins has remained a mystery. Is he really DJ Shadow? Cut Chemist? Madlib? Whatever the case, the music sounds is like a folky funk live-instrument amalgam of all of them.
  • El Da Sensei & The Returners: Nu World
    El and Tame are working on an Artifacts album, but until then, we have their excellent solo work to enjoy. Tame had two killer albums last year (one solo and one with Del) and El’s work with Polish production duo The Returners this year was every bit as good as his first outing with them a few years back. A great, great release. Best cuts: “Knowledge Be the Key” featuring Raaka, “2 the Death,” and “Live Noize” featuring Akrobatik.
  • Igor Boxx: Breslau
    From the Skalpel crew, Igor Boxx’s solo venture at first may not seem quite as interesting as the group’s work, but with repeated listenings, it really opens up. Great, deeply personal music.
  • Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: I Learned the Hard Way
    Do all the analysis you want about white kids and the popularity of retro-soul of the last decade thanks to labels like Daptone, Soul Fire, and One Note, there’s no denying that Sharon Jones tears shit up. I Learned the Hard Way is a phenomenal release, full of the fire and soul that R&B hasn’t had in decades. Classic recording equipment and techniques are an important part of the equation, but if Jones’ presence and voice weren’t there, all the recording gimmicks in the world wouldn’t matter. Top-to-bottom, this one’s a classic will be in rotation for many years to come. Favorite cut: “Money.”
  • Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma
    Too busy? Phooey. Too blippy? Nah. All I know is that I’m continuing to dig the insanity and complexity.
  • The Left: Gas Mask (also)
    Producer Apollo Brown is another guy behind the sampler that had a great year, laying down the foundation for two of my favorite albums of the year, Boog Brown’s aforementioned Brown Study and this collaboration with MC Journalist 103 and DJ Soko. The classic formula: dope MC, soulful beats, and cuts (though I could have used some more of the latter). Favorite cuts: “Statistics (feat. Invincible),” “Gas Mask,” and “The Melody” (where Journalist 103 is on a Supastition steez). A month after the album hit, a 3-track EP of leftover cuts was released as Gas Leaks. It’s also worth snagging.
  • Little Miss Higgins: Across the Plains
    The album has firmly planted Little Miss Higgins amongst my favorite modern blues singers alongside Brownbird Rudy Relic, CW Stoneking, and Mamie Minch. Just, wow. There’s some serious power behind this creativity, as seen on “Bargain! Shop Panties,”
  • oddisee: Odd Winter
    Released in January, this one started the year off wonderfully. Oddisee is one of the most inventive and talented producers in hip-hop right now, able to tackle pretty much any style with ease and expertise, and this collection is a good example of his versatility. From the outstanding hands-on-the-lunchtable battle track “Riiight (feat. Stik Figa)” to the choppy “Carry On” to the mellowy-soulful “All Because She’s Gone.”
  • PackFM: I F*cking Hate Rappers
    “Too many MC’s, not enough fans.” The title track is the anthem for anyone who’s overwhelmed with the barrage of hip-hop by barely talented bedroom rappers and for the true MC’s and producers tired of nobodies talking shit with authority just because they were on a mixtape. But this 15-track (5 are skits) release isn’t a one-note pony. Pack brings heat on “Wanna Know” with labelmate Deacon the Villain, “Here We Go (Come On),” “Absolutely Positive,” “Sire” (Pack’s take on “King of Rock”), and the 180 degree turn from the title track titled “I F*cking Like Everything.” The skits are well done, but of course, get a little tired on repeated listening (though I’ll never tire of the “I think my Aunt got signed to Koch last week” line on the intro). The production by Kno, Tonedeff, Domingo, J-Zone, and others is great.
  • Pink Freud: Monster of Jazz
    Since one of my favorites bands of all-time, the brillant Polish post-contemporary jazz group Robotobibok, broke up a few years ago, I’ve been leaning on groups like Pink Freud to keep me happy. Like their previous output, Pink Freud’s “Monster of Jazz” is a wonderfully eclectic selection of modern jazz with splashes of electronica.
  • POE (Projekt Ostry Emade): Złodzieje zapalniczek
    I anxiously awaited this late-year release from the moment I heard about it. Emade’s a dope producer and OSTR is a great MC (ahd producer, but I don’t think he got behind the boards at all on this one) and the album didn’t disappoint. I only got to listen to it a couple of times since it took me until mid-December to get a copy, but it’s a great Polish hip-hop release with a classic style. Combine it with the full set of accompanying instrumentals, and I’m happy. Favorites: “Nie odejdę stąd,” “Nadzieja,” and “Ty Znasz Ten Stan.”
  • Rakaa: Crown of Thorns
    Of course Rakaa’s a dope MC, but when you give him some amazing production on every single track, you’re going to end up with an album of the year. There’s certainly no album that got more rotation for me than this one, due in part to the amazing “Delilah” and one of the sharpest political songs I’ve heard in a long time, “The Observatory” (featuring Mad Lion).
  • Reason: Landlords & Lullabies
    I wasn’t really too familiar with Rhode Island MC Reason, but I checked out some recent mixtapes and eventually bought the CD of his 2010 LP Landlords & Lullabies. His style may not be for everyone, but I really dug this release from the top down. Favorite tracks: “Paid Bills,” “Girls with Cameras,” and “Clingers” (featuring Dirty Hank).
  • Sade: Soldier of Love
    Receiving a massive PR push when it was released in January, Sade’s first album in a decade surprised the hell out of me. The title track/lead single was straight fire and the rest of the album was almost as good (other favorites: “The Moon and the Sky” and “Long Hard Raod”). This is one of those rare releases that matches voice and music so perfectly.
  • Scanner with the Post Modern Jazz Quartet: Blink of an Eye
    The problem with blending jazz with any other genre is that the jazz almost always suffers. Guru’s Jazzmatazz series was good, but you weren’t hearing any hard-bop complexity in the song structure. It’s rare that one can do what Scanner and the Post Modern Jazz Quartet have done here: mesh blippy electronica with post-contemporary jazz and make it sound “right.” The key is that this is a jazz album first. Scanner’s contributions, while certainly not an afterthought, are understated. Rather than becoming the focus, they’re an accent. Half the time, one doesn’t even realize Scanner’s doing anything, until you realize that the swirly effect that swooped in was his doing. On “Dreaming With You at My Side” (probably the least “jazzy” of the tracks here) the fuzzy bleeps somehow mesh with vibraphones and dub-style reverb on keys doesn’t sound out of place.

    My favorite track on the album is the closer, “Beyond the Edge of the Frame,” a frenetic breakbeat with piano and vibes and Scanner’s occasional interjections. While structurally it’s not as complex as the other tracks on the album, it has a drive behind it that’s hard to resist.

  • Sxip Shirey: Sonic New York
    I came across this one late in year, after listening to an episode of “Radiolab” featuring Shirey. Really unique instrumentation mixed with ambient sounds of the city. Sounds like a played out combination, but it works quite well.
  • Stik Figa & D/WILL: Alive & Well
    Stik Figa had quite a year with several dope releases hitting the net. His work with Oddisee on the From the Top was really dope, but I actually preferred Alive & Well, his follow-up with D/WILL to 2009’s hellogoodbye. I wasn’t familiar with D/WILL as a producer before his work with Stik, but I’m digging his sound. Stik Figa mayne! Favorite cuts: “Be Like That,” “The Down,” and “Alive.”
  • Cassandra Wilson: Silver Pony
    Cassandra never fails to impress, but I think Silver Pony, an interesting mix of live and studio recordings, may be my favorite release of hers in the last decade. Love that voice.

If I had to limit myself to one favorite, I’d pick two. Sharon Jones and Raaka. There you go… enjoy.

Though I never got around to doing any more, you may want to check out my mix I made in September titled “2010 Hip-Hop Favorites Part 1.”

The Best of Stuff from 2009 that I Discovered Late, in 2010

The Almost Best of 2010

  • Easy Star All-Stars: Dubber Side of the Moon
  • Eternia & Moss: At Last
  • Mos Def: Mos Dub
  • Nas and Damian Marley: Distant Relatives
  • Shigeto’s EPs

Other stuff worthy of mention, crammed into a small space.

BP and Odds: Vacancy,
Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part Two (Return Of The Ankh),
Falside: Dollars Make Change,
Mary Halvorson Trio: Switzerland 2010 / Saturn Sings,
Jaga Jazzist: One-Armed Bandit,
Elton John & Leon Russell: The Union,
OSTR: Tylko Dla Dorosłych,
The Roots: How I Got Over,
Sadat X: Wild Cowboys II,
Sage Francis: Li(f)e,
Whitefield Brothers: Earthology,
Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles

Favorite Hip-Hop Producers

  • Apollo Brown
  • D/WILL
  • Oddisee
  • The Returners

Best Ways to Hear New Music in 2011

  • Music blogs (for old, rare stuff, start with the Mining the Audio Motherlode category from WMFU’s blog and expand from there; for new stuff, search around a bit – just remember: always buy the stuff you like after hearing it!)
  • MOG
  • plug-in for Chrome
  • Bandcamp

50 Albums

(I’ve written pretty much nothing here this year. I am going to be redesigning this whole freakin’ site sometime soon. I’m thinking this winter. For now, I figured I’d post some stuff I’ve put up on Facebook.)

The standard old “if I had to limit myself to 50 albums for the rest of my life…” type list. Rule: no “best ofs” or compilations I’ve made myself (exceptions: live recordings and compilations of old blues artists limited to a specific time period). Trying to stick to one per artist.

And, yes, albums do still matter in the age of digital music.

Ordered chronologically, subject to my whims, and based not necessarily on artistic merit alone (or at all).

(This list took me months to finish putting together.)

[Year / Genre] Artist: “Album”

  • [1959 / Jazz]
    Miles Davis: “Kind of Blue”
  • [1961 / Exotica]
    Bernie Green & His Orchestra – “Futura”
  • [1964 / Ye-Ye]
    Chantal Goya: “Dans les 6 chansons du film de Jean-Luc Godard ‘Masculin-Féminin'”
  • [1965 / Blues]
    Son House: “Father Of The Delta Blues: The Complete 1965 Sessions”
  • [1966 / Free jazz]
    Archie Shepp: “Live in San Francisco”
  • [1965 / Jazz]
    Patty Waters: “Sings”
  • [1967 / Chicago Blues]
    Magic Sam: “West Side Soul”
  • [1969 / Jazz]
    Milt Jackson Quintet: “That’s the Way It Is”
  • [1971 / Soul]
    Bill Withers: “Just As I Am”
  • [1975 / Pop rock]
    Elton John: “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy”
  • [1977 / Reggae/Dub]
    Horace Andy: “In the Light”
  • [1978 / Horror soundtrack, Italian progressive rock]
    Goblin: “Zombi”
  • [1978 / Reggae]
    Dennis Brown: “Westbound Train”
  • [1979 / Italian horror soundtrack]
    Fabio Frizzi – “Zombi 2”
  • [1979 / Reggae]
    Winston McAnuff: “What the Man a Deal Wid”
  • [1980 / Christian Pop]
    Thomas Steven Smith: “Fresh Start”
  • [1981 / Rock]
    Joan Jett & the Blackhearts: “Bad Reputation”
  • [1983 / Reggae]
    Yabby You: “One Love, One Heart”
  • [1984 / Reggae]
    Half Pint: “One in a Million”
  • [1988 / Hip-Hop]
    Ultramagnetic MC’s: “Critical Beatdown” (ultimate edition)
  • [1988 / Hip-Hop]
    Public Enemy: “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”
  • [1989 / Vocal jazz]
    Ranee Lee: “Deep Song”
  • [1990 / Hip-Hop]
    Paris: “The Devil Made Me Do It”
  • [1990 / Hip-Hop]
    Poor Righteous Teachers: “Holy Intellect”
  • [1992 / Hip-Hop]
    Raheem: “The Invincible”
  • [1993 / Hip-Hop]
    Del tha Funky Homosapien: “No Need for Alarm”
  • [1993 / Death Metal]
    Cannibal Corpse: “The Bleeding”
  • [1994 / Turntablism/Breaks]
    DJ Q-Bert: “Demolition Pumpkin Squeeze Musik (A Preskool Breakmix)”
  • [1995 / Tuvan throat-singing (kanzat kargyraa)]
    Yat-Kha: “Yenisei-Punk”
  • [1996 / Reggae]
    Anthony B: “So Many Things…”
  • [1997 / Classical]
    Chen Yi – The Women’s Philharmonic: The Music Of Chen Yi
  • [1999 / Noise]
    Alva: “Slattery for Ungdom”
  • [1999 / Hip-Hop]
    Divine Styler: “Wordpower:2:Directix”
  • [1999 / Grindcore]
    Regurgitate: “Effortless Regurgitation”
  • [2000 / Polish post-contemporary jazz]
    Robotobibok: “Jogging”
  • [2002 / Funk rock]
    Yohimbe Brothers: “Front End Lifter”
  • [2003 / Hip-Hop]
    Non-Prophets: “Hope”
  • [2003? / Hip-Hop/Soul]
    Michael Franti and Spearhead: “Live in Sydney” (the original source for their live DVD)
  • [2003 / Jazz]
    Dragons 1976: “On Cortez”
  • [2005 / Punk]
    Made Out of Babies: “Trophy”
  • [2007 / Indie jazz-folk]
    Erin McKeown: “Sing You Sinners”
  • [2007 / Blues]
    Brownbird Rudy Relic: “Anti-Stereo Acoustic Holler Blues”
  • [2007 / Instrumental hip-hop]
    Thes One: “Lifestyle Marketing”
  • [2007 / Indie rock]
    Built By Snow: “Noise”
  • [2007 / Dub]
    Ticklah: “Ticklah Vs. Axelrod”
  • [2007 / Hip-Hop]
    Chris Read: “The Diary (World’s Greatest Rap Megamix)”
  • [2008 / Hip-Hop]
    Invincible: “Shapeshifters”
  • [2008 / Polish hip-hop]
    O.S.T.R.: “Ja tu tylko sprz¹tam”
  • [2010 / Soul]
    Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: “I Learned the Hard Way”
  • [2010 / Hip-Hop]
    Rakaa: “Crown of Thorns”

2009 Music Year in Review

So here’s a little secret: this was actually posted on December 29, 2010. Here’s the thing: I totally meant to finish this in 2009 and continue the yearly streak of music year-in-reviews, but I kinda’ never finished. Thus, this list is mostly without commentary, but I wanted to get it posted before I posted 2010’s.

(See also: 2008 and 2007.)

Everything’s sorted in alphabetical order.

The Best of 2009

  • Ancient Astronauts: We Are To Answer – Bad assness from German production duo.
  • Bad Luck: Bad Luck – Neil Welch’s latest.
  • Del and Tame One: Parallel Uni-verses – Two of the nicest join forces for one of the year’s nicest.
  • Dollabin: Styles You Can’t Afford
  • Fire!: You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago – EP of Swedish Psych-jazz.
  • JS-1: Ground Original 2
  • Erin McKeown: Hundreds of Lions – Album of the year? Possibly.
  • MF Woolly: Chrome and Ivory
  • OSTR: O.C.B.
  • Ras Luta: Jesli Slyszysz – Positive (I assume), upbeat reggae. Ras Luta sounds like a Polish Jr. Gong.
  • Souls of Mischief: Montezuma’s Revenge
  • Spinach Prince: Spinach Prince – Live instruments treated like samplers.
  • Sunny Tuff: Tuff Luff (EP) – My mellow my man!
  • Tame One: Acid Tab Vocab
  • The Unknown and DJ Ragz: DC Airways – Beats made on battery power in airports and on planes.
  • Wszystkie Wschody Slonca: Japonski Rezyser – Polish reggae/dub
  • Wu-Tang remixes/covers (El Michels, vs King Tubby) – Favorite: “Money Rules Everything Around Me” (CREAM & Horace Andy)
  • Various Artists: Kind of Bloop – 8-bit covers of Kind of Blue
  • Various Artists: Polska Rootz – “Future folk” is an apt description.

The Best of Stuff from 2008 that I Discovered Late, in 2009

The Almost Best of 2009

(alphabetical; and this is where I get lazy about linking)

  • Brother Ali: Us (love that combatting homophobia in hip-hop is becoming the thing to do)
  • Brownbird Rudy Relic/Orb Mellon: The Juke Shall Rise Again EP
  • Chip-Fu: Jungle Rock Jr. Stop Playing mixtape
  • DMV hip-hop from yU (Before Taxes), dumhi (3!), Diamond District, Oddisee (x2)
  • Elzhi: Leftovers mixtape
  • Kam Moye: Splitting Image (Best verse of the year: final verse on “Stars”)
  • Matisyahu: Light
  • Mos Def: The Ecstatic
  • Q-Tip: Kamaal The Abstract (rec. 2001, rel. 2009)
  • Sadat X: Brand New Bein’
  • ST/MiC: Honest Music
  • Aly Tadros: Things Worth Keeping (really liked “Linger”)

Other stuff worthy of mention, crammed into a small space.

Aarophat & Illastrate As Black Noise,
Blu: Open,
Built By Snow: Mega,
Chris Read’s stuff (The Little Brother Show, The Diary volume 1.5),
Common Market: The Winter’s End EP,
Thaione Davis: Still Hear,
Deeskee: Audiobiograffiti,
Esoteric: Serve or Suffer,
Fashawn: Boy Meets World,
Avram Fefer Trio: Ritual,
Finale: Pipe Dream and a Promise,
Mr. Lif: I Heard It Today,
N.A.S.A.: The Spirit of Apollo,
Sage Francis: Sick of Wasting…,
Sleep: Hesitation Wounds,
DJ Spooky: The Secret Song

Black World

The “special music issue” of Black World from November 1973. It includes an article by Marion Brown and a great interview with Archie Shepp:

(If the above embed is borked, go here.)


RIP, Tony D.

2008 Music Year in Review (yes, really)

Yes, I am actually publishing a 2008 year in review in March. But, I started putting this together last November and lord knows I’m hurting for content here, so here goes…
(See also: last year’s year in review.)

The Best of 2008

Invincible: Shapeshifters

When Jay Smooth embedded Invincible’s video for “Sledgehammer,” the first single off of her debut album (and my favorite hip-hop single of the entire year), I ordered the album from her site before the video had even finished. While Eminem and Dilla were Detroit hip-hop’s most popular exports, Invincible may well be the most deserving of attention. Not only is the precision of her complex flow razor sharp, she holds it down as an activist for the city’s forgotten. The result is an album full of jaw-droppingly dope lyricism, tight production, and an overall package that was hard to beat this year.

You’ll notice that I didn’t add anything like “one of the best female emcees ever” because I think we’re mostly past the point of acting like women can’t be every bit as ill as men. Invincible herself says it best with the nicest couplet of the year: “I’m striving to be one of the best, period / Not just one of the best with breasts and a period.”

Lots of superlatives here and they’re all deserved.

Supastition: Leave of Absence EP and Kam Moye: Self-Centered EP

I drop these together because Supastition=Kam Moye and both EPs are deserving of notice. Supastition is perhaps one of the best all-around emcees that you haven’t paid attention to. I know that was true for me — I heard his amazing “Fountain of Youth” two years late, but have been hooked since. This dude is hip-hop, like KRS used to say. Gems: “Welcome to My Life,” “Black Enough” (Self-Centered) and “Bad Blood,” “Word Has It,” “Worst Enemy” (Leave of Absence).

Goat: Special Agent

Special Agent is one of those rare unsolicited ADDreviews submissions that really grabbed me. It’s abstract, experimental, avant-garde jazz with just enough funkiness to keep things jumping. Now if I could just stop forgetting how good this album is after listening to it; I “rediscovered” it three or four times last year.

Nas: Nas

I haven’t really liked very much Nas has done since his first or second album even though the dude is a great MC. But this year’s self-titled album offered up some real gems, especially “Sly Fox,” a scathing attack on Fox News.

Neil Welch: Narmada

From my ADDreview: “Proof that post-contemporary jazz in the Trane/Shepp/Sanders/Ayler vein is alive, well, and getting better and better.”

J-Live: Then What Happened?

I’m a huge mark for J-Live. He’s one of the best out there and he proves it again and again, album after album. This one’s no different. “Ole (feat. Oddy Gato)”, “One To 31”, “It Don’t Stop”, and “You Out There” are all straight fire.

I had to stop following him on Twitter, though. Too many tweets.

7L & Esoteric: Esoteric Vs. Japan (Pterodactyl Takes Japan!)

I’ve always liked Esoteric as an MC but he’s really coming into his own as a producer. On this one, the samples are sourced from Japanese monster movies.

OSTR: Ja tu tylko sprz¹tam [Edycja specjalna]

From the moment I heard OSTR’s “Powietrze,” I knew this dude was someone to keep an eye on. And, indeed, this Polish emcee/producer has become one the country’s most well-respected and he’s finally getting his due in the States. This latest release has top-notch flows and beats that are beyond sick. Some surprise guests show up, too, in the form of X Clan’s Brother J, Brand Nubian’s Sadat X, and The Artifacts’ El da Sensei. Top tracks: “Co by siê nie dzia³o,” “1980 (feat. Sadat X and Cadillac Dale),” Jestem tylko dzieckiem (feat. El Da Sensei & Dan Fresh),” and “Jak nie Ty, to kto? (feat. Brother J).” Also, the instrumental for “Zamach na Ostrego.”

Al Green: Lay It Down

What do you get when you take legendary soul singer Al Green, put him together with producer ?uestlove and release the resulting album on Blue Note? A new Al Green album that has all the trademarks of his classic 1970 albums. This one was definitely an overlooked gem and the collaborations with Anthony Hamilton, Corinne Bailey Rae, and John Legend were surprisingly good.

Half Pint: No Stress Express

Yeah, I’m a bit biased, but Pint’s latest album is his best work since the late 80s, so I had to include it. Nice stuff here with Jack Maness from the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, Toko Tasi, Dollaman, and Miki Howard. Lots of great singles here, even if you’ve already got a couple of the tracks on other albums.

Pint also released a two-disc anthology last year that’s quite good, but he’s got several “Greatest Hits” compilations, so I decided this one deserved more notice.

Spejs: Czlowiek Z Jednym Pejsem

Another solid hip-hop album from Poland.

The Best of Stuff from 2007 that I Discovered Late, in 2008

A lot of times, particularly in the first month or two of the year, I come across something from the previous year that I missed. Here’s my ode to four albums that fall into that category.

Built by Snow: Noise (EP)

This is one of those CDs that I was sent for review on ADDreviews that sat around in my “unreviewed” pile for several months before I even listened to it. But it took only one time through to become one of my favorites. Sure, nerd rock isn’t exactly my normal musical territory, but the stuff here is just so catchy, I couldn’t deny it. “Radio,” “Julianna,” and “Laika” rawk.

Their new album, MEGA, came out last month and is almost as awesome as this.

Atmosphere: Strictly Leakage

This free album dropped on the web late last year and, truth be told, is as good as any other Atmosphere effort. It’s less introspective than Slug sometimes is and is more of a party record, with lots of battle rhymes over classic hip-hop tracks (like “YGM” (Young, Gifted, and Mixed) over Big Daddy Kane’s “Young, Gifted, and Black” track). Because of this, I think even Atmosphere/Slug detractors could get into it. Equally good on headphones, in the car, or while making pancakes.

100nka: Kompot Gratis and Potrawy sTrawy

I maintain that the progressive/post-contemporary jazz coming out of Poland is some of the most engaging music anywhere. 100nka is part of that scene.

I just became aware of their work last year and enjoyed the hell out of their 2007 double-release of Kompot Gratis and Potrawy sTrawy. Fans of Robotobibok and Pink Freud will love the complex, layered sounds of 100nka.

Thes One: Lifestyle Marketing

WOW. Thes One (of People Under the Stairs) takes the music of Herb Pilhofer, a composer responsible for a number of funky corporate jingles of the 1970s, and turns them into extra-funktastic beats. The swirling echoing vocals on “Northwestern Bell” will stick with you for days.

The Almost Best of 2008

One sentence each.

Craig G & Marley Marl: Operation: Take Back Hip-Hop: Way, way better than I expected.

Common Market: Tobacco Road: A strong follow-up to their classic debut.

pre: almightly low: Solid execution on a unique concept: an album built entirely on one-note samples.

Dr. Dooom: Dr. Dooom 2: Better than most of Keith’s recent output.

Del: Eleventh Hour: Not classic Del, but it’s always good to hear new stuff from the Funky one.

C-Rayz Walz & Kosha Dillz: Freestyle vs. Written: All writtens from Kosha Dillz and all freestyles from C-Rayz make for a fun concept album.

Muneshine: Status Symbol: The ultra-talented emcee/producer from the north is one to keep an eye.

Michael Franti: All Rebel Rockers: Like Yell Fire! part 2, but not quite as hot.

John Doe: The Last Amateur (One Hour Photo): More densely packed turntablism from the Hobo.

Just… WOW.

Yup, this would be the greatest video ever made:

Pistol Youth – In My Eyes from Pistol Youth on Vimeo.

Thanks to Dave for sharing this!

All that scratching’s making me itch

Rasine gets her first taste of turntablism and shows off her own skills.

Half Pint waxes philosophical on reggae

Pint breaks down the difference between reggae and dancehall:

Are You There, Jah?

If you missed it or it hasn’t been forwarded to you yet, don’t miss Andy Samberg’s “Are You There Jah? It’s Me, Ras Trent” from Saturday’s SNL. It’s spot on in every way. His “shanty dorm” looks a lot like mine did…