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Topic: music appreciation
wanted to make sure i got around to writing about albums and songs that stayed on my turntable, in my CD/media player, or just got stuck in my head this year. for some of the choices, i'll include links to where you can stream or download songs. collect them all and you'll have a BSOTS best of 2005 online mix tape of sorts. can't say no to free music, right? plus, hopefully it'll help lead you to some works you may not be familiar with or encourage you to drop dollars on a release you may have been curious about. i would also provide a list of releases i didn't get around to, but why depress myself like that? let's do this...
THE ALBUMS I ADORED
MARK DE CLIVE-LOWE - Tide's Arising [ABB Soul]
everything that this man's been involved in, i've liked. *Tide's Arising* does not disappoint. uptempo and downbeat future soul that keeps the body and the brain engaged. check "Slide," "Heaven," and "State Of The Mental" for the best moments.
click here to stream or download "Heaven"
DANGERDOOM - The Mouse and The Mask [Epitaph]
when i first learned about the heavy use of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup on this project, i thought somebody was joking. somehow or another, Dangermouse made it work. as for MF Doom, to call him a clever wordsmith is putting it lightly. Doom's just sick, a rhyme sayer that will always have you hitting the rewind button just so you can make sure he said what you think he said. yeah, this one's a keeper.
FULL - Desperandum [Handpicked/Madpeeps]
the "rocktronic charismob" tightens up its game and manages to make an accessible avant-pop album with rock guitars firmly in hand while losing none of the free jazz sensibility that made their previous effort so engaging. lead vocalist Ms. Wings is a star that shines even brighter on this release. the whole world needs to know about this band.
JNEIRO JAREL - Three Piece Puzzle [Ropeadope]
Brooklyn native. Philly resident. MC/DJ/producer. it's insane how great this album is. somewhere between A Tribe Called Quest at their pinnacle and the finest moments from Madlib's catalog is Jneiro Jarel. no lie. go cop this joint. NOW.
JAMIE LIDELL - Multiply [Warp] - UK
never would i have expected an album like this from one-half of Super Collider. a wonderful mix of past, present and future soul, and Jamie gets kudos for crooning his ass off. sounding like an updated version of a Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones collaboration one minute, then classic Stax Records 45s the next. brilliant.
click here to stream or download "When I Come Back Around"
M.I.A. - Arular [XL]
perhaps my wife said it best while watching M.I.A.'s backup dancers shake their rumps across Central Park's Summerstage: "she's not a revolutionary...she's the daughter of a revolutionary." point taken. even so, this remains one of the best political/party albums to come out in a long time. my joints include "Galang," "Sunshowers," "Bucky Done Gun," and "$10."
NNNJ - Monkey Straddle [theAgriculture]
perhaps the strongest release from theAgriculture in 2005, this debut album from Nnnj bowls you over with shape-shifting maturity. jazz-inspired dub occasionally flirting with hip-hop rhythm structures, a number of the songs almost take on an otherworldly quality. words are hard to come by, but it makes more sense with each and every listen.
NOUVELLE VAGUE - (self-titled) [Luaka Bop]
here's another project that could've fallen flat on its face if it wasn't handled correctly. take two guys with a love for '80s synth-pop and punk tunes, throw in some vocalists and have them sing the lyrics to said tunes (even though they never heard the originals), then dress it up in a cocktail lounge background. doesn't sound good on paper, does it? do yourself a favor and listen to it anyway - it's great. covers of Joy Division, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and a bunch of others. guilty pleasure of the year.
PREFUSE 73 - Surrounded By Silence [Warp] - UK
some weren't down with this album, claiming that producer Scott Herren got his pseudonyms mixed up and spiked his Prefuse 73 efforts with too much Savath & Savalas. perhaps that's because this album represents Herren's most kaleidoscopic view of hip-hop yet, as well as his most star-studded. while the representation of MCs is strong on this effort (El-P, Ghostface, Beans, Aesop Rock, GZA, Masta Killa...), some of the best collaborations are with The Books, Claudia & Alejandra Deheza, and Tyondai Braxton.
click here to stream "Hideyaface"
PLATINUM PIED PIPERS - Triple P [Ubiquity]
one of the best hip-hop soul full-lengths to drop in who knows how long. Wajeed and Saadiq bring their A-game on this one. special guests include Sa-Ra, J-Dilla, Tiombe Lockhart, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and others. fantastic.
ROOTS MANUVA - Awfully Deep [Big Dada] - UK
while nothing on here isn't as career-defining as his underground classic "Witness (1 Hope)," Awfully Deep has all the elements to make this Manuva's breakout album. clever rhymes, tight beats, and choruses that stay in your head for weeks on end. further proof of why Americans have no business frontin' on UK hip-hop any longer.
SOUND DIRECTIONS - The Funky Side of Life [Stones Throw]
possibly Madlib's finest moment this year. an offshoot of the Yesterday's New Quintet project, the Beat Konducta leads a jam session featuring members of Breakestra, Antibalas, the Dap-Kings, and others introducing original tunes and remaking sampled classics. if you needed any reminder that jazz is Madlib's first love, here you go.
STEVE SPACEK - Space Shift [Sound In Color]
lead vocalist for the group Spacek comes through with his solo debut. slightly more down to earth than what he does with Spacek, but still miles ahead of a lot of soul releases out there. beats supplied by GB, J-Dilla, and Spacek himself.
click here to stream or download "Dollar"
DWIGHT TRIBLE & THE LIFE FORCE TRIO - Love Is The Answer [Ninja Tune] - UK
much props to Carlos Nino for getting brother Trible together with the best in present-day beat-making. spiritual jazz vocals float over head-nodding rhythm structures supplied by Madlib, Sa-Ra, Daedalus, J-Dilla, and Nino. Absolutely stellar.
THE SONGS THAT GOT STUCK IN MY HEAD...AND DIDN'T MIND...
THE ALMIGHTY K.O. - "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" [MP3]
the fact that it uses the instrumental for Kanye's "Gold Digger" (another song that got stuck in my head throughout 2005) is only half the story. made in response to President Bush's actions during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, K.O. comes correct with humor undercutting the anger. sometimes you need to laugh to keep from crying, and clearly K.O. understands this. even better than Mos Def's "Katrina Klap."
BLOC PARTY - "Tulips" [Dim Mak]
this song wasn't on their EP, nor did it appear on their Silent Alarm full-length. the tenderness and sensitive interplay between the band members on this song makes it one of the strongest in their catalog.
BOARDS OF CANADA - "Chromakey Dreamcoat" [Warp] - UK
i have yet to hear the latest album by BOC, but if the rest of it holds up to this song, it'll make for quite a session.
click here to stream or download this song...
CAURAL - "She's Everywhere I Look" [Consumers Research and Development]
i hold Caural (real name Zachary Mastoon) in the same regard as someone like Prefuse 73. this piece taken from the Hazardous Materials compilation is proof positive of his mind-blowing talent. heavy drums, melancholy piano, and dreamy, meditative chords equals continuous rewinds.
click here to download or stream this song...
COMMON - "The Corners" [Geffen]
i could try frontin' on this one, but it's no use - the minute Kanye's production kicks in, i'm head noddin' HARD. plus Common sounds hungry on the mic again. and it never hurts to have The Last Poets put in their two cents as well. this is how a single from an album is supposed to sound...
DARONDO - "Didn't I" [Ubiquity]
of the three songs i've heard so far from the Gilles Peterson Digs America compilation, "Didn't I" stays on lock in my head. it's the ultimate soul slow jam, and i can't believe that no one's unearthed this one already - it's too pretty to stay unnoticed. straight up - this is baby makin' music right here...
EDAN - "Fumbling Over Words That Rhyme" [Lewis]
taken from his Beauty And The Beat full-length, Mr. Humble Magnificent schools us with a positive education in hip-hop MCs. probably one of my favorite hip-hop songs of 2005. (side note: don't sleep on the track "Torture Chamber" either, featuring a hungry-as-hell Percee P on the mic...)
FOUR TET - "Smile Around The Face" [Domino]
Kieran Hebden nailed it with this one. swirls of sonic happiness shower down on you everytime you play it. absolutely impossible to be in a bad mood when this one's on - song titles don't lie.
JAMIROQUAI - "Feels Just Like It Should" [Epic]
the lead single off Dynamite, Jay Kay and company still manage to surprise. the song's a spaced-out, guitar-driven good time. some still weren't convinced, so Sa-Ra came in and worked their magic with a remix. either version will do.
KOUSHIK - "Be With" [Stones Throw]
some focus on the brilliance of Madlib to the extent of overlooking the rest of Stones Throw's roster. if you do, you'll miss out on great artists like Koushik. "Be With" brings the harmonies of '60s psychedelic rock into hip-hop's playground. gorgeous doesn't even begin to describe it...
LITTLE BROTHER - "Lovin' It (feat. Joe Scudda) [ABB]
Phonte Coleman, Big Pooh, and 9th Wonder just kept bringing it to us. This single from their major label debut The Minstrel Show is essential head nod material.
M.E.D. - "Nightlife" [Stones Throw]
produced by Madlib for the Push Comes To Shove album, this joint should've been stamped heavy rotation on mainstream urban radio stations across the country. M.E.D. sounds great on this one and the beat compliments him nicely.
OUT HUD - "One Life To Leave (A Requiem)" [Kranky]
featuring members of !!!, this was the rockin' rumpshaker of the year. slinky synths, killer female vocals, and a bassline that kept you movin'. hearing this was all you needed to hear to know that the album was gonna be the bomb.
click here to download or stream an alternate version of this song...
TV ON THE RADIO - "Dry Drunk Emperor" [MP3]
between the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, TVOTR was given plenty to write about. and it all came out in one brilliant composition. blazing guitars, vocal harmonies that evoked pain, anger, and even a glimmer of hope. just...plain...beautiful.
click here to download or stream this song...
Z-TRIP - "Breakfast Club (feat. Murs and Supernatural)" [Hollywood]
taken from Z-Trip's debut album - a reminder that rap joints are supposed to be fun. smiles are Kool-Aid wide when this one's on the soundsystem. rhymin' about breakfast cereals and saturday morning cartoons...now, that's what i'm talkin' about...
click here to download or stream this song...