Continued from Part 1, which can be found [here].
5. Radical Face – Ghost
Actually from 2007, I came across Radical Face through Pandora. “Welcome Home” came up a few times, and I adored it. I bought Ghost off iTunes mostly blindly, as a 30 second preview doesn’t give you a lot of context, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t even the best song on the album. “Wrapped in Piano Strings” stands as one of my most listened-to songs from 2010, but you’ll have to wait until next week’s mix for me to let you hear that.
“Welcome Home” is still an incredibly gorgeous song after more than 6 months and I honestly think it could have replaced “Wake Up” for the Where the Wild Things Are trailer and people would be singing its refrain instead of Arcade Fire’s. If someone else doesn’t use it in a movie, I most assuredly will.
Radical Face | Welcome Home [download](rightclick>saveas…)
4. Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me
I’ve spent probably over $100 on Joanna Newsom this year between her CD, a vinyl LP, and seeing her live so it’s no real surprise that her giant triple album Have One on Me showed up on this list. She would have certainly been third had it not been for the next album–they were about 4 tracks apart as of this writing. Her high place also makes sense on this list because of her uniquely layered approach to music. While not as grandiose as Ys, Have One on Me certainly has a fair share to root through and not just because of its 2 hour length. Songs like “Go Long” and “In California” are liked on their first listen and then loved as they become unfurled. Between musical intricacies and indelible lyrics this is one of the easiest albums to return to from 2010 (so far.)
I picked “Go Long” for its lyrics and wonderful musical touches. You can find the lyrics [here], but here’s an excerpt:
Run away from home-
your beard is still blue
with the loneliness of you mighty men,
with your jaws, and fists, and guitars
and pens, and your sugarlip,
but I’ve never been to the firepits with you mighty men
Joanna Newsom | Go Long [download](rightclick>saveas…)
3. Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid
Well, I just wrote a whole post about it, so it seems pretty natural for it to be up here. But who knew it would be so high?
Easily the newest album on the list in terms of when I got it, I couldn’t stop listening to The ArchAndroid for the entirety of a day and I still have been listening to it consistently since then. A pop masterpiece with the freshest sounds in the last 5 years and a huge list of influences, it’s genuinely hard not to listen to. As a credit to the album from the perspective of a singular work, it’s also hard not to listen to the entire album after listening to the starting track. Despite it’s freshness, it’s also distinctly influenced by old albums; each song flows from the last in a way that’s reminiscent of albums from before the era of shuffle and it’s even separated into two “suites,” essentially making a Side A and Side B.
The post has several other songs from this album, but I’m just going to put up “Oh, Maker” because it’s my favorite of the three I’ve already uploaded.
Janelle Monae – Oh, Maker [download](rightclick>saveas…)
2. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
In a fashion entirely opposite of The ArchAndroid, Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach didn’t immediately strike with me. In fact, I didn’t even like it much on my first listen. It was very different from their last two albums and was very weird and it had a Snoop Dog feature. I felt inclined to listen to it again and each time I did I had that feeling of wanting to go back and revisit it again, each time growing on me more and more. The album’s ability to slowly grow on me is what got it up here.
While it still pales in comparison to Demon Days, the album does have what I think is their best song, “On Melancholy Hill.” Classic Gorillaz and one of the few songs without a feature, it’s a testament to Damon Albarn’s ability to write an affecting and beautiful pop song.
Gorillaz | On Melancholy Hill [download](rightclick>saveas…)
1. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
Good God, talk about an album that’s just listenable.
Local Natives’ debut is simple indie rock and it doesn’t rewrite the book or do anything extraordinarily innovative. But it doesn’t need to be anything other than what it is. Virtually every song is memorable, singable and catchy with elegant harmonies, some excellent guitar lines and just some great moments. The albums on this list have all been things that are both easy to go back to and easy to put on and just listen to, and Local Natives have absolutely captured that with Gorillaz Manor. It would not surprise me if this stayed on my most listened-to list until the end of the year, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Local Natives | World News [download](rightclick>saveas..)