December 15, 2010

Top 50 Albums of 2010: 21-30

Gold Panda
"Lucky Shiner" (Ghostly)

I can’t think of an album that has been more divisive in the electronic scene this year than this Ghostly newcomer. With a sound like a lighter fusion of Fourtet and Apparat, British producer Gold Panda seems to have pushed everybody’s buttons one way or the other. Both warm and immediate, it is one of the most blissful electronic albums of the year.

"Does It Look Like I'm Here?" (Editions Mego)

Emeralds are a trio from Cleveland, Ohio who, for the past half-decade has been blending dark ambient, kosmische and improvisation. They successfully fuse minimal guitar melodies with swirling synths and washes of ambient noise. Does it Look Like I’m Here? is their fourth official release and their best to date.

Woima Collective
"Tezeta" (Kindred Spirits)

Woima Collective is a heavily Ethio-inspired Afro-Jazz band led by Poets Of Rhythm saxophonist Johannes Schleiermacher, who became inspired by African rhythms after visiting Morocco and meeting Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke. Tezeta features heavy, tight, funky grooves that will appeal to Budos and Ethiopiques aficionados.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
"I Learned The Hard Way" (Daptone)

Sharon Jones worked as a corrections officer and a security guard before being discovered by Gabriel Roth and becoming the first artist released on Daptone. This marks her fourth full-length release with The Dap-Kings and is yet another slice of gorgeous soul revivalism of the quality you'd expect from Jones and the Daptone label.

Mice Parade
"What It Means To Be Left-Handed" (FatCat)

Mice Parade is the project (and anagram of) Adam Pierce, a New Yorker now based in Portugal. Releasing a bunch of highly underrated albums for over a decade now, What It Means To Be Left-Handed is among his best. Drum-heavy and optimistic, Mice Parade blends African music, indie-folk and post-rock creating a seamless, unique sound.

"Public Strain" (Jagjaguwar)

There’s a rumour circulating that Calgary’s Women recently split up. Unfortunate that a band this good only reached the two album mark. Blending krautrock rhythm with bittersweet melody and angular Polvo-esue guitar riffs, they remind me of another underrated band who have been ominously quiet of late, New Zealand’s Shocking Pinks.

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba
"I Speak Fula" (Sub Pop)

For a country of 14 million, Mali produces more than its fair share of fantastic music. Kouyaté, a veteran player in Toumani Diabaté’s orchestra takes the stage with his sophomore solo release. I Speak Fula is dominated by the sound of the ngoni, the African ancestor of the American banjo, and heart-stopping vocal harmonies.

Holy Fuck
"Latin" (Young Turks)

Toronto’s Holy Fuck makes a mockery of the ‘difficult third album’ syndrome, releasing their strongest and most coherent work to date. Their distinctive style and energy that have always made them so appealing, especially live, are ever-present but Latin is less improvisational than their previous releases and is all the stronger for it.

Roots Manuva Meets Wrong Tom
"Duppy Writer" (Big Dada)

London-based DJ/producer Wrong Tom selects tracks spanning Roots Manuva’s career so far and gives them new life as dance-able summer dubs. Making inventive use of Smith’s vocal tracks, Tom builds brand new tracks around the Stockwell rapper’s best rhymes, while lightening the mood considerably to create an immensely fun album that goes far beyond the remix.

Nina Nastasia
"Outlaster" (FatCat)

Sometimes you want artists to mix things up and push in a new direction on every release, other times their formula is so compelling that you just don’t want new tricks. Nastasia has, with Tortoise's Jeff Parker on guitar and Steve Albini in the sound booth, created another gorgeous collection of her intense brand of indie-folk, this time leaning slightly more to the gypsy side.