Friday, December 31, 2010

#20-#1 Top 25 of 2010 (cont.)

20. Lights – “My Boots”

Though the median age meant for this song is 14, “My Boots” by Canadian electropopper, Lights, packs an addicting hook and chorus with a fresh-as-hell beat even though it veers into Lady Gaga territory midway through a bridge. If only all teen pop could sound like this.

19. Rogers Room – “Take Me Home”

Rogers Room is an Australian DJ duo, who would have swam directly underneath my radar had it not been for Soundcloud. Soundcloud, for the uninitiated, is a free music uploading/downloading/distribution/community service that I predict will soon destroy MySpace as the one-stop spot to hear new music online.

Rogers Room actually found me on there, which led to my falling in love with “Take Me Home.” On this song Rogers Room milks a sample from the Jones Girls' "Dance Turned Into a Romance" and adds in so many synth and beat changes that it feels fresh upon every listen. "I guess we were just drawn to the original sample," they explained to me via e-mail. "We tried to add another dimension to the original by enhancing the peaks and the drops."

18. Kisses – “Kisses”

17. Sam Sparro – “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)”

16. Drake – “Show Me a Good Time”

Though Thank Me Later had some questionable production, I respected Drake’s restrain throughout the album and “Show Me a Good Time” plays perfectly to his ability to sing and rap all in the same breath.

15. Chromeo – “Night by Night”

Three albums in, I think it's safe to say P-Thugg and Dave 1, who together make up Chromeo, have perfected their retro sound by adding more vocals and less analog synth masturbation.

14. Tyler the Creator - "VCR/Wheels"

It's hard to digest the harsh lyrical content that makes up Tyler the Creator's "VCR/Wheels," but with a beat this smooth and laid-back your conscious and political correctness gets thrown out the window. At only age 19, this LA MC's gravely vocal delivery, provocative lyrics and progressive beats make him sound years, even decades, ahead of whoever will top this year'sSource list.

13. Mayer Hawthorne – “No Strings” (Produced by Classixx)

Mayer Hawthorne + Classixx = money. Enough said. (Note: Mayer Hawthorne gave the best live performance I saw all year.)

12. Bag Raiders – “So Demanding”

11. Holy Ghost! – “Static on the Wire”

Holy Ghost! finally put together more than a remix or single with this four-song EP entitledStatic on the Wire. The NYC duo comprised of Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser know how to ride a groove and keep it interesting and that is just what this title track does. Residing on DFA Records, Holy Ghost! really should be the face of the label since they do what LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, etc. all try to do and fail. Of course, if disco had never died on the astroturf of Wrigley Field 31 years ago, this is what it would sound like today.

10. Mac Miller – “Nikes on My Feet”

White people and rapping is not usually my bag. But when it comes to Pittsburgh's Mac Miller, throw it in. Throw it all in. Taken from Miller's mixtape KIDS (Kickin' Incredibly Dope Shit), also named after the film of the same name, "Nikes on My Feet" is not so much breaking new ground as it is reminding you of what hip-hop was like in the mid-90s, often referred to as the Golden Age of rap, when Nas and Rakim reigned supreme. The beat is tight, obviously, but Miller can rhyme, too. From weed to throwback shoes to fine dining to again, weed, Miller has an inviting, youthful delivery that I suspect will serve him well on an official release. The producers behind the scenes don't hurt, either.

09. Penguin Prison – “The Worse It Gets”

I've listened to this song so many times this year that I feel like it's been around forever. Penguin Prison is Chris Glover, a former rapper turned disco darling. Glover's original and remix productions are so clean they whiten your teeth while you listen. I wait with fingers crossed for a full-length LP next year.

08. Twin Sister – “All Around and Away We Go”

"All Around and Away We Go" is a diamond-encrusted treasure of lo-fi indie pop from a Brooklyn duo that hit the blogosphere earlier this year. With an instant groove and sexy backing vocals, it's singer Andrea Estella's breathy, seductive and quirky Bjork-like vocals that set Twin Sister apart from, well, everyone. I think it's safe to say this is what Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti would sound like if it were fronted by a woman (and not just a guy who sounds like one).

07. Small Black – “Photojournalist”

Although I found Small Black to be a disappointing and inexperienced live band, "Photojournalist" in its recorded form is an uplifting and hard-hitting dream of a song. It may also very well be the last hit to come out of firstwave chillwave. Yeah, I just said that.

06. Twin Shadow – “At My Heels”

Twin Shadow, like Twin Sister, is also a newcomer to the blogosphere. Equipped with Chris Taylor (of Grizzly Bear) at the producing helm, Twin Shadow is but a moniker for George Lewis, Jr. -- a hairy-chested, mustache-wearing black dude that may have been an extra inBoogie Nights. "At My Heels" seems to have fallen under the shadow (no pun intended) of the album's brighter songs like "I Can't Wait," but it really is the best track on there with hooks galore and jangly guitars, filling the void in my heart left open until the next Strokes LP arrives.

05. Caribou – “Odessa”

I loved this track from its first beat. Sure to top a lot of year-end lists, I probably would have ignored Swim if it were not for “Odessa,” the album’s first single, which saw Caribou transform themselves from an experimental ambient pop band to an experimental ambient pop dance band. “Odessa” is weird, anxious and joyous all at the same time. I especially love the tambourine that comes in at 1:23.

04. Miami Horror – “Holidays” (ft. Anthony Palomo of Neon Indian)

This was the feel-good pop anthem of 2k10, hands down. Although Miami Horror’sIlluminations LP disappointed me as a whole -- trading in their pitch-perfect Prince synth pop in favor of a more live rock sound -- “Holidays” shines brightly on the album’s first half. It's disco, it's dreamwave, it's a Saturday morning children's TV theme from the 70s. Another huge boost comes from Neon Indian’s Anthony Palomo, who lends his vocals here.

03. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Round and Round”

What else can really be said about this song that hasn't already been said? I'm just happy for Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, better known as Ariel Pink, who has achieved major commercial and critical success with Before Today, his seventh album and first to hit the Billboard charts (#163). I had been listening to this guy for a few years, a huge fan of the 2004 LP, The Doldrums, and "Round and Round" just takes his extremely lo-fi, bedroom-recorded sound to the next level with a huge chorus: "Hold on, I'm calling, calling back to the ball / And we'll dazzle them all, hold on"

02. Chad Valley – “Anything”

Britain's Chad Valley has it all: An ear for sampling fantastic disco records and combining them with his own mournful, longing and booming vocals. It's a formula that provides not only a danceable groove but also intellectual intrigue -- a rare feat for dance music. Like most of his contemporaries, Valley has entered the remix game, but if he plans to take over America, I think he'll grab more of our attention by continuing to mold originals like "Anything," which are perfect as is.

01. Toro Y Moi – “Talamak/You Hid”

To be honest, the coveted #1 spot could have been given to any of the 11 tracks that make up Toro Y Moi's Causers of This, an impressive debut that works on two levels: as an album, but also as a mixtape. Chaz Budnik, the mastermind behind Toro, sequenced the album in such a way that each song bleeds into the next -- much like a mixtape. The best example of this is “Talamak" leading into “You Hid,” which together create quite a memorable moment. Like Chad Valley, I adore producers like Budnik, who bring so much soul in and out of electronic dance music. The next Toro Y Moi album is already set to come out in February and while it will have more of an organic, live sound, there's no denying the technical proficiency and pop sensibility harnessed by Budnik on "Talamak," "You Hid," and the rest of Causers of This. Highly recommended? Not enough.
So, what do you think? What did I leave out? What were your favorites of 2k10? Follow Make-Out Music on Twitter or comment down below to let me know what you thought of the music released this year.

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