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album of the year

video: Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

BLACK UP

listen: Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

Shabazz Palaces

Listen to Shabazz Palaces' new full-length Black Up in its entirety over at NPR. The album of the year drops next week on Sub Pop.

gorilla vs. bear’s albums of 2010

GORILLA VS BEAR'S ALBUMS OF 2010

30 Ty Segall - Melted
29 Shackleton - Fabric 55
28 Caribou - Swim
27 Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers
26 Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
25 Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh
24 The Walkmen - Lisbon
23 Tennis - Tennis (cassette)
22 Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
21 Frankie Rose & the Outs - Frankie Rose & the Outs
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20 Twin Shadow - Forget

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19 Forest Swords - Dagger Paths

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18 Harlem - Hippies

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17 The Samps - The Samps

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16 Grimes - Geidi Primes

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15 Dum Dum Girls - I Will Be

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14 Big K.R.I.T. - wuz here

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13 Twin Sister - Color Your Life / Alternates

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12 Earl Sweatshirt - EARL

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11 Toro y Moi - Causers of This

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10 Girls - Broken Dreams Club

More earnest pop gems from Girls: Broken Dreams Club is honest and heart-wrenching and revelatory in a way that you could only expect from these two. A very natural extension of Album, but also a tremendous step up, punctuated by tighter production and sonic explorations that exude a well-earned confidence. "Substance" charms with help from Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls, and "Carolina" -- a jam we've had in our head for roughly two years -- rounds things out in epic fashion.

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09 White Denim - Last Day of Summer

With the the looser, "fresh and casual" approach (their words) that White Denim takes on Last Day of Summer, the band comes closer than ever to capturing the preternatural chemistry and seemingly effortless shapeshifting flow they consistently display in their live shows. Not bad for what essentially amounts to a stopgap / "little summer retreat" while we wait for the band's proper third full-length. Download it for whatever you'd like to pay here.

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08 Games - That We Can Play

In which '80s homage/nostalgia is elevated to instant classic status by masterful pop deconstruction -- and subsequent magical reconstruction -- from Oneohtrix Point Never's Daniel Lopatin and Tigercity's Joel Ford. Granted, the run time here is slight, but the EP's brevity works in its favor, as there's not a wasted second on this thing. Also featuring one of the best songs of 2010, the unexpected "Cruel Summer"-recalling pop hit "Strawberry Skies," which features vocals from Laurel Halo.

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07 Lower Dens - Twin-Hand Movement

Like most of the uniformly stellar (and underrated) output from Texan Jana Hunter, the self-titled debut from her new band Lower Dens is understated and unassuming, almost to a fault. But repeat listens reveal gorgeous waves of ringing, shimmering "post punk drone pop," bolstered by Hunter's emotive, vaguely androgynous vocals and a tangible, increasingly rare cohesiveness for such a young band. This one crept up on us, and cliched as it may sound, it's fair to say that the whole here far exceeds the sum of its parts.

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06 Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

The highly anticipated, perpetually delayed solo joint from one of our favorite rappers is a triumphant return on all fronts. Despite a few still-kind-of-awesome missteps -- who invited Vonnegutt? -- Big Boi's classic, ridiculously dexterous flow and the record's always inspired, deliriously out-there production cement this as the most fun (and funkiest) thing released in 2010. Best driving music of the year, too.

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05 Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me

There's no question we fell in love with the more immediate songs on Have One On Me upon first listen, although like most, we initially found the record as a whole kind of daunting and impenetrable. But as you witness Newsom bring these songs to life, you're forcefully reminded of her very literally prodigious and virtuosic ability as a musician, songwriter, and lyricist, which only reaffirms how graceful and delicate and achingly beautiful these subtly complex compositions are. Revisit this one, it wears in like an old friend.
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04 James Blake - CMYK / Klavierwerke

Ghostly, living/breathing atmospherics from London's James Blake, who, in CMYK + Klavierwerke, has created two of the year's most groundbreaking releases. Blake's Burial-esque manipulation of vocals and unique and imaginative use of space is incredibly soul-stirring and affecting in ways that are unlike anything I've ever heard. Nowhere is this more evident than on the mournful, fairly mindblowing "I Only Know (What I Know Now)," which sounds like being born/dying, or as P4k's David Bevan put it, "like infinity trapped inside of five minutes."

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James Blake :: I Only Know (What I Know Now)

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03 Shabazz Palaces - Shabazz Palaces / Of Light

Originally self-released at the end of '09 and re-released by Sub Pop last month, Seattle's Shabazz Palaces thrillingly juxtapose the platinum voice and conscious/menacing lyrics of Palaceer Lazaro -- aka anti-Kanye Ishmael Butler of Digable Planets -- with bumping, futuristic Brainfeeder-level beats to create the most adventurous and inventive hip-hop release of the year. Look for a full-length in early 2011.

Shabazz Palaces :: Blastit...

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02 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today

EXCLUSIVE: we asked Carles to write a blurb for us about Ariel Pink's brilliant Before Today, which was recorded in a real studio:

"Alas! The brilliant lofi texturewave artist Ariel Pink has finally done it, leaving many of us wondering: "What did music sound like Before Today?" which is coincidentally the title of his gamechanging 2010 release with his band of lofi talismans known simply as the Haunted Graffiti. Merging his ambient bedroom recording artist textures with the modern textures and professionalism of the modern recording vibes required for 'mainstream indie coverage', Ariel Pink has emerged from the shadowy textures of yesteryear and has evolved into a modern indie star. It seems as if perhaps the world has finally caught up with Ariel Rosenberg, and our ears are finally ready for his textures. "Before Today" is history, while the future is a mystery but today is a gift which belongs to Ariel Pink."

--Carles of Hipster Runoff

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01 Beach House - Teen Dream

The most elegant, visceral, sensual release of the year comes from one of our favorite bands in the history of this blog. Teen Dream was born of a fully evolved vision and the indefatigable connection between Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, whose voice is quickly becoming an iconic one. And, it has the best songs.

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gorilla vs. bear’s albums of 2008

gorilla vs. bear's albums of 2008

Here are my favorite albums of 2008. Leave your favorites in the comments if you'd like, we'd love to see them. Make sure to check David's list at the bottom of the post. Thanks for reading the blog this year, guys.

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20. Diplo & Santogold | Top Ranking

There were a handful of arguably groundbreaking mixtapes this year (Wale, PRGz, Kid Cudi, the Very Best, etc.) that showcased their respective artists' best work, so it's not too suprising that I ended up loving Top Ranking considerably more than Santogold's proper debut LP. Like everyone else, I got tired of hearing Santi's stuff in every third commercial on TV in '08, but this mixtape is refreshingly all over the place, and of course, the presence of Diplo as beat selector doesn't hurt. "Icarus" is possibly Santogold's most stunning piece of work yet.

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19. Lykke Li | Youth Novels

With Youth Novels, Sweden's Lykke Li put out one of the most self-assured pop debuts of the year. She's still finding her way, sure, but the girl's got swagger, and with the assistance of PB&J sage Bjorn Yttling, she was responsible for some of the most interesting and evocative pop singles that came out this year (see "Little Bit," "I'm Good I'm Gone," "Breaking It Up," and "Dance Dance Dance").

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18. Department of Eagles | In Ear Park

In Ear Park definitively establishes Department of Eagles as much more than a mere Grizzly Bear side-project, as Daniel Rossen and Fred Nicolaus have created an expansive and deeply personal collection of vibrant psych-pop gems. The record almost has an old-timey feel at times, which Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes nicely articulates on his blog:

"More progressively Brothers Grimm jams from Dan o' Grizzly Bear, best album of the year easy. I feel like this is what people in the 30's thought music would sound like in the future. If there was a music section at 'Tomorrow's World' during the 1939 New York World's Fair this would have been the main example..."

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17. No Age | Nouns

In a year steeped with imitators, Nouns is set apart by No Age's unreal knack for melody and their inimitable ability to craft a genre-bending pastiche of layered, delay-laden ambience, and fuzzy, lo-fi thunder punk. Dean and Randy have an innate sense of how to effectively pace an album and get to the point without ever being afraid of ending a song as quickly as it begins.

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16. Flying Lotus | Los Angeles

Admittedly, I was a latecomer to this one, only turned on to Flying Lotus' vivid futuristic jams months after the proper release of Los Angeles, thanks to a couple of tight remixes and a pair of decent headphones. Repeat listens reveal a dense, intensely soulful soundscape that is best experienced as a cohesive whole, a la Donuts or Untrue. Also, you can't not love this clip for "Parisian Goldfish"; not necessarily the best song on the record, but probably the most insane (NSFW) video of '08.

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15. Air France | No Way Down

Air France's self-proclaimed "Socialist roof top music" was a staple for me this summer, and as the weather cooled and these jams got better, it became apparent that it's a pretty perfect autumn record too. While I'm definitely a fan of both the new M83 and Cut Copy records, No Way Down has them both beat in terms of blissful, sweetly nostalgic, wistfully romantic dance pop. Sweden still holding it down.

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14. Harlem | free drugs;-)

"the album free drugs;-) isn't really about drug drugs. we used to go swimming at venice beach all the time and it was how we described the feeling after you swim all day and you still feel the waves after you get out."--Harlem (source)

After a cursory listen to their dirty, eerily authentic throwback garage rock, you sort of get the sense that Harlem really doesn't give a fuck about anything but girls and drugs. This value system apparently serves them well, because their debut LP, Free Drugs;-), holds some of the most consistently tight, infectious, and endearingly scuzzy tunes I've heard all year. "South of France" is without question one of the best rock songs of '08.

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13. Quiet Village | Silent Movie

I was pretty obsessed with this record early in the year, even attempting at one point to track down all of the incredible, often decades-old source material that Quiet Village utilized in crafting this impossibly mellow collage (which, by the way, has drawn comparisons to classic efforts from DJ Shadow and the Avalanches). It's faded just a little since then, but every time I revisit the record, I'm sort of blown away by the fact that the duo was able to construct something so seamlessly original and modern-sounding from what is essentially a bunch of stylish re-edits based on their myriad influences ("Italian film soundtracks, BBC library music, disco edits, acid rock, vintage soul and easy listening").

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12. The Very Best | Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit are the Very Best

Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit are the The Very Best, and their mixtape is one of the most genuinely joyous, uplifting things I've heard in a long time. Feel-good jams of the year, hands down. Since I first wrote about Esau's glorious "Chalo" back in March, he's become one of my favorite new artists, and the group's proper debut LP (due in Spring) is one of my most anticipated releases of '09.

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11. Gang Gang Dance | Saint Dymphna

Saint Dymphna detractors bemoan the fact that this record is far more accessible and song-based than Gang Gang's previous output, and they've got a point. But I'm a big fan of the relatively pop-focused direction the band took on this LP, and the fact that these infectious, kaleidoscopic tribal dance jams are immediately engaging and somewhat accessible doesn't make them any less thrilling.

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gang gang dance :: desert storm

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10. Paavoharju | Laulu Laakson Kukista

Paavoharju is Finnish and they creep me out a little, but for some reason I find Laulu Laakson Kukista one of the most inviting and enchanting (in a bizarro-Disney way) albums I've heard in years. As I stated back in May, the record often evokes some "distant AM radio transmission, fading in and out from some hazy, psychedelic ether," making it equally suitable for atmospheric late night background noise, or an intense, focused listen on headphones. Plus, their label's description of the album is awesome:

"Sounds of raindrops falling on sheet metal roof melted together with old television's random-dot-pattern-noise. Leena Uotila's soft voice echoes in empty, dusty rooms. Catowls gathered to the sky, appletrees were blooming and waves rocked a barrell against the pier. Suddenly all this started to form esoteric mildew to cassette's magnetic tape. I finished our work with prayer only a moment before the cold winds rose from Saimaa."

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09. Beach House | Devotion

More consistently haunting, utterly elegant dream-pop from B-more's Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. Legrand's voice is at once seductive and heartbreaking, making it an ideal complement to Scally's ghostly slide-guitar. The shimmering, Motown-informed "D.A.R.L.I.N.G." is perhaps the duo's crowning achievement (although their new single comes pretty close).

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08. The Walkmen | You & Me

I still feel as strongly about You & Me as I did the first time I wrote about it, so I'll just repost that. One of the most moving albums of the year, and definitely one of my most listened to. My original sentiments, from July of this year:

"I'll preface this by saying that after A Hundred Miles Off, I probably couldn't have been any less excited about a new record from the Walkmen. So, with no expectations going into the band's new You & Me LP, I'm a little shocked that it's quickly become one of my favorite albums of '08. There's no "The Rat" here, but that's alright; the majority of this record is made up of woozy, intimate, often heartbreaking slow jams about fucked up relationships, and Hamilton Leithauser's worn, damaged growl is more affecting than ever."

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07. WAVVES | Wavves

"wavves are exemplifying every musical pastiche of what anyone in their mid 20's has been through, and somehow, some that they have not..."--destijl, on Wavves

As you might've gathered from my excessive posting about this dude over the last two months or so, I can't get enough of Wavves' radical "lo-fi beach punk." Listening to Nathan Williams' noisy, fuzzy, endlessly hummable melodies as they hiss out of my barely serviceable tape deck fills me with an inescapable urge to move back to Southern California immediately. Prone to vaguely appropriate/slightly unfair No Age comparisons, although I've heard rumblings that the two are now labelmates. Look for a new LP in February '09 on Destijl. Sidenote: Nathan also has a great rap blog where he posts Jeru tha Damaja videos and other cool shit.

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06. Little Joy | Little Joy

I think we've said this a couple times, but Little Joy's ridiculously charming self-titled debut is one of the most unsassuming, tastefully executed and perfectly timeless sounding records of the year. Influenced in part by Sam Cooke and early Bob Marley, Fabrizio Moretti's already stellar collection of instantly classic melodies is elevated to another level by the vintage warmth of "unofficial fourth member" Noah Georgeson's uncanny production. Best experienced on vinyl.

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05. Q-Tip | The Renaissance

"Your dubious style may rock for right now / but in the long run you really lost one." --Q-Tip, on "Move"

While not necessarily overtly political, it feels pretty fucking awesome and fitting that The Renaissance was released on November 4, 2008. The Abstract's first official solo effort in years recalls A Tribe Called Quest's final LP, 1998's sorely underrated The Love Movement, in that both records are smooth, breezy, feel-good joints whose overwhelming depth is almost lost in their laid-back subtlety. Also, like that record (and all Tribe efforts, for that matter), I'm pretty convinced that I'll still be spinning The Renaissance regularly in 10 years. The J Dilla-produced "Move"/"Renaissance Rap" is one of the best hip-hop singles of the year.

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04. Vivian Girls | Vivian Girls

I could go on and on about why I love Vivian Girls' irresistibly imperfect self-titled debut LP, from their charming, wilfully lo-fi/scuzzed-out production, to the girls' deft ability to incorporate their own obvious influences into something that feels new and exciting, etc. But it really comes down to two things that set Vivian Girls apart from other bands trying their hands at this steez: the group's unstoppable vintage girl-group harmonies, and a grip of insanely infectious songs that never, ever get old.

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03. Erykah Badu | New Amerykah Part I (4th World War)

Dallas' own Erykah Badu made her triumphant return early this year with New Amerykah Part I, a collection of soulful, heartfelt jams that, while at times a little messy and uneven, is one of the most adventurous and emotionally resonant albums of the year (and probably Ms. Badu's best). Seeing an extremely pregnant Badu perform these songs at ACL was one of the weirdest, greatest things I saw all year, and only reinforced how mindblowing and out there her ideas can be at times. Also: "The Healer" might be my favorite song of '08.

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02. Grouper | Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill

2008 was a banner year for hazy, ethereal dream-pop (see Beach House, Fight Bite, High Places, School of Seven Bells, Chairlift, etc.), with Grouper's devastatingly beautiful Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill firmly implanting itself at the pinnacle of the broad genre. And while they're obviously nothing alike sonically, Dragging replaced Untrue as my go-to late night soundtrack for a good part of '08, which is probably the highest praise I could give it.

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01. White Denim | Exposion

While Workout Holiday was garnering praise from just about everyone in the UK (the BBC, The Independent, Rough Trade, the Observer, et al.), White Denim quietly released their U.S. debut LP, Exposion, here in the states on Austin's fledgling Transmission label. To be real, I love both records immensely and either could be in this spot, but the slightly different sequencing and the addition of "You Can't Say," "Migration Wind," and the new extended version of "Sitting" (a song of the year candidate) give Exposion the slight edge, and offer a glimpse at the band's transition into slightly smoother waters without sacrificing a bit of the raw power, intensity, and sheer athleticism of the WD live show. Any and all conceivable hype aside, these guys were the best band in America in '08.

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Check David's list after the jump...

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white denim releases first US LP :: exposion

white denim releases first US LP :: exposion

white denim :: exposion

Austin's White Denim is set to digitally release their debut US LP, Exposion, tomorrow via Topspin, the same method chosen by David Byrne/Brian Eno for their latest record. This is essentially a brand new platform, so I'm not entirely familiar with all that it entails, but some of the key features include:

  • Directly from band to fan
  • Ability to listen to tracks, buy individual songs, bundle the whole record, download artwork and lyrics, etc
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Filed Under: , , Category: mp3, video

premiere: White Denim :: “Sitting”

premiere: White Denim :: "Sitting"


white denim

After releasing their stellar Workout Holiday LP in the UK to unequivocally glowing reviews, then proceeding to tear up clubs all over Europe, TX's White Denim is finally set to release their self-produced Exposion LP here in the states in November on Austin's young Transmission label. I might've gone on enough about how much I love these dudes over the last couple years, so let's just say that Exposion fully embodies this band's raw power and earnest, soulful approach, and is undeniably one of the best records that will be released this year. Here's the album's glorious closing anthem:

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Exposion arrives November 3 on Transmission. The band will play both the Monolith and ACL festivals in September before heading abroad for the Iceland Airwaves fest in October.

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unrelated:

Our weekly GvsB Sirius radio show airs today at noon + midnight EST on Left of Center. New stuff this week from High Places, Fight Bite, The Cool Kids, Harlem, and more. You can listen right here, for free. Full playlist for this week + some mp3s after the jump...

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Filed Under: , , , Category: mp3, radio

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