I wasn’t honestly planning on doing anything like this, mostly because I love to hate best-of lists. But since more than a couple people asked me to do it, I thought I would take the easy way out on content and put up a couple. I though that today we would just get the music one out of the way. I’m always in a weird place with music lists at the end of the year. I’ve never really been one for the serious artistry kind of music, normally opting out for cheap thrills. For example, Fleet Foxes seemed to be topping a lot of peoples lists, they would not even come close to being on my lists due to the fact that they make me sleepy. For me, the best music is thrilling, something that I listen to and get really excited about. For whatever reason many of the softer spoken albums that come out just don’t supply the visceral thrill that I really need. So, in no particular order, these are the albums and singles that supplied my fix this year. (As a disclaimer, I’m only going to post tracks for the albums that I didn’t hear much about from other people this year.) Let’s get started, shall we?
Sebastien Tellier Sexuality
Hands down the best album cover of the year. Pretty much all you need to know about this album can gleaned from Tellier riding a horse across that lady landscape. Tellier is the one true heir to Serge Gainsbourg’s sleazy love-machine throne. The album is sincere cheesiness at its finest. Too often, for lack of a better descriptive term, “sexy” music errs on the side of vulgar. Tellier’s album, to paraphrase from some interview I heard ages ago, wishes to leave the listener with the moral that in order to be a good lover you have to be a good person. It’s an album about doing it that even your grandmother could get behind. Due to its cheeseball factor, this album got severely overlooked which is why I put it right at the top of things. Sebastien Tellier is a one-of-a-kind songwriter, a guy with a very clear vision and the chops to back it up. I had a tough time picking a song that best exemplified this album, so I would just suggest getting the whole thing, for you and your significant other’s sake.
Windsurf – Coastlines
I’ve been a big fan of music getting a lot smoother this year. The distorted dance trash of Justice and pretty much every other artist of the last year or so was great when done well and a terrible racket when done poorly. Windsurf aim to make the most perfect summer album ever, and they come close. The album conjures up sandy beaches and Tequila Sunrises. Taking elements of, as it has dubbed in the past couple years, “Yacht Rock” and laid back electronics, Coastlines is an album to lose yourself in.
M83 – Saturdays = Youth
What is left for me to say about this album that hasn’t been gushed out of music publications already? Not much to be honest. I’ll just boil it down for you. This album took elements of 80’s soundtracks and scores and mixed them with Anthony Gonzales’s knack for creating extremely cinematic music, thus making it an amazing album.
Lindstrøm – Where You Go I Go Too
This album album is both completely accessible and difficult and the same time. The songs are beautiful and poppy, filled to the brim with hooks, yet never fall under the 10 minute mark. If there was an album to just put on while you are doing something and let it grow organically in the background, this would be it. Fusing the more ambient works of Vangelis and Moroder with the more current space-disco sound, Where You Go became not just one of my favorites this year but also one of those albums that I like making people listen to. More than a few of my friends have been made to listen to epic 28 minute long title track. I’m not going to post any tracks from this considering there are only three and they range from 10 to 28 minutes, but I urge you to seek this one out, it is going to be at classic status soon.
G-Side – Starshipz and Rocketz
I’ll just put this out there right now, this is the best hip-hop album I heard all year. No other album (including Tha Carter III, which only had a few brilliant tracks) thrilled me quite the way that this album did. It is undoubtedly a production based album, but good god is the production amazing. If there was any justice in the world, these guys would be southern superstars. I cant say enough good things about this album, it seriously blew my mind the first time I heard it. From the intense strings on “G-Sider,” to the euro techno of “Run Thingz,” all the way to the chopped up Enya sample on “Speed of Sound” this album is totally top 40 material while being one of the strangest southern hip-hop albums of the year. Because no almost no one I know has heard this album, I’m posting two track, actually the last two tracks on the album.
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
Like the M83 album, I don’t know how much more I could say about this album. I loved their first album, but with this one they really secured themselves a spot as a group that I really look forward to anything they put out in the future. I feel like I’ve listened to this album a million times since its release and it still hasn’t lost its excitement. That’s saying something too considering that this mother is looooong. In Ghost Colours could be one of the most flawless and epic pop albums of the past 10 years. It would definitely fall into the “don’t-need-to-post-a-track” category, but I love this album too much not too. Just in case you haven’t heard anything from it here “Nobody Lost, Nobody Found.” It is one of the last tracks and I’m posting it because I talked to someone the other day who said they had never made it all the way through the album.
Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair
Yet another “what-more-can-I-say” album, but it doesn’t detract from its brilliance. This album is disco as fuck. It makes me wish I was living in that short period of time where I could have gone into almost any nightclub and heard something this grooved out and soulful. Much like the Sebastien Tellier album, this is a good one to have on hand for late nights. Just try staying still. This album, alongside the “Blind” single, win on account of their design as well. You have no idea how good that album cover looks in the LP sleeve format. Instead of a track, here is the very fantastic video for “You Belong.”
Kanye West – 808’s & Heartbreak
Nope, he can’t sing, get over it. Yes, he has an ego, I would too if I was as successful as him. This album is fantastic. Actually it is that infamous ego of his that makes this album as effectively affective as it is. This is the sound of a guy who got so wrapped up in himself looking back and reevaluating his place in pop music and in the world-at-large.
I’ll try to keep this section shorter since this post is already way too long for something as subjective as music. These are the singles that really wowed me this year. There were plenty more than these three, but these are definately the three that turned my head when I heard them this year. Of course, some of the top songs of the year for me were contained on the albums above, but I promise that there will be no overlap.
Zomby – “Float”
This is one of those songs I heard in the middle of someone’s DJ sets a while ago and once I got home searched feverishly to figure out who it was. Turns is was british dubstep artist Zomby doing his best ’90’s house impression. Faaaaantasstic.
Valerie in general –
Valerie is a french music collective/blog that has really wowed me this year. Standing alone they would singularly fall into my “honorable mention” category, but together they may beat out everyone this year. Every track these guys put out, or shine a light on via the blog, is pure gold. Like Lindstrøm and M83, they take the clean synth sounds of 80’s film scores and transform them into some exciting pop songs I’ve heard in a long time. Keep an eye out for those involved with this group, they are just one little step away from becoming massively successful. Since it is my house-mate’s favorite song out of the lot of them, I’ll have you listen to “Waiting For Your Phone Call.”
The Juan Maclean – “Happy House”
Last but not least is “Happy House,” easily my favorite thing released all year. It’s better to just let you listen to it, but I will say it is 12 brilliant minutes of pure joy and dancing. Just try to hate it. Actually, I probably should have put this first with another disclaimer saying “If you don’t like this, this list probably won’t appeal to you.”
I’m sure there are plenty more things that I have forgotten to put on the list, but considering these were all the things resting on top of my brain I figure that they are the things that really stood out in the end. At some point Ill get to movies, I already have my worst of the year picked out (that’s right, I’m looking at you Synechdoche, New York).