50. THE RAVEONETTES- IN AND OUT OF CONTROL
Buy Amazon In & Out of Control
This is the fourth full length from the Danish duo- guitarist/vocalist Sune Rose Wagner and and bassist/vocalist Sharin Foo and it marks yet another slight tweak from their original formula which blended fifties rock and Jesus & Mary Chain style noise-pop. “In and Out of Control” has a darker, less glossy sound than the Raveonettes two previous albums and they are better for it . The band is always good in my opinion for at least one massive single per album and in this case they have at least two (and neither have even been released as singles yet to my knowledge).
Buy “Breaking Into Cars”
Buy “Heart of Stone”
49. ROBERT FRANCIS- BEFORE NIGHTFALL
Buy AmazonBefore Nightfall
“Before Nightfall” is twenty-one year old singer-songwriter Robert Francis’s second album release and his major label debut. The album is solid from start to finish and spectacular at times. Francis has an amazing voice that sounds very lived in and belies his youth- it’s an instrument that you would expect from someone twice his age. He sings mostly in a smoky lower register but goes into a beautiful and effective falsetto on several choruses. He is a very promising young singer and I hope we hear more great stuff from him the future.
48. FUTURE OF THE LEFT- TRAVELS WITH MYSELF AND ANOTHER
Buy AmazonTravels With Myself And Another
“Travels” is the second album release from the Welsh post hard-core band Future of the Left, three quarters of whom appeared in the awesome indie-punk band McLusky. The music is both guitar and keyboard driven-it’s angry and full of stops and starts. The vocals are shouted. Other than the aforementioned McLusky, FOTL recalls the righteous anger of Fugazi as well as the humor and driving riffs of Les Savy Fav.
Buy “Drink Nike”
Buy “Arming Eritrea”
47. FREDDIE GIBBS- MIDWESTGANGSTABOXFRAMECADILLACMUZIK (MIXTAPE)
Gibbs is an unsigned rapper out of Gary, Indiana. He is being touted as the future of rap and even garnered a spread in The New Yorker magazine a few months ago. Though this mixtape lags a bit in the middle it both starts and finishes strongly. Gibbs’s subject matter is straight up gangsta-rap. He is a former drug dealer that hasn’t yet worked his way out of the ghetto. He knows his beats and is also has incredibly versatile flow which will likely enable him to he successful at different styles in the future. He also did another mixtape in 2009 (The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs). If you combine the best of both mixtapes you get one standout album.
* Mixtapes and below tracks available as free downloads
“Murda On My Mind”
“Just Tryin’ Ta Make It”
Sunset Rubdown is led by vocalist/keyboardist Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes and Swan Lake. He’s likely the most prolific guy in indie-rock. “Dragonslayer” is SR’s third and most accessible album. Though almost every song runs over five minutes, including the ten + minute finale, the tracks are hookier and poppier than on SR’s two previous releases despite their still complex arrangements. The lyrics are more escapist fantasy than the more grounded in the real world Wolf Parade, Krug’s most popular band.
Buy “Idiot Heart”
Buy “Silver Moons”
45. PAOLO NUTINI- SUNNY SIDE UP
Buy AmazonSunny Side Up
“Sunny Side Up” is quite a stylistic change for this twenty two year old Scottish singer-songwriter, whose first album (released in 2006) was a bit more traditional modern “singer-songwriter” based and a huge hit in the U.K. “Sunny Side Up” brings to mind old Atlantic Records soul music and also incorporates elements of ska, reggae, calypso & traditional Scottish folk. Nutini recorded and produced much of this album himself and though his debut album was very promising, “Sunny Side Up” is much more artistically unique and successful, and honestly almost unrecognizable from his previous work. The whole album is very good and smooth flowing despite all of the genre-hopping. I know this may sound like blasphemy but his vocals even sometimes remind me of that bastion of soul music Otis Redding. It’s well worth checking out this still relatively unknown young artist.
44. JAY-Z- THE BLUEPRINT 3
Buy AmazonThe Blueprint 3 [Explicit]
“The Blueprint 3” is another certified hit album for this fourteen year industry vet and #1 most famous rapper in the world. Though it may not be up to par with “The Blueprint” or “The Black Album”, 3 has plenty of fantastic moments including Jay’s first #1 hit single “Empire State of Mind” – one of THE greatest jams of 2009- rap or otherwise. There are also hit singles “Run This Town” with Rihanna, “D.O.A.” & “On to the Next One”. The first half of the album feels like the making of a classic though the second half tends to not be as consistent. Overall an album worthy of Jay-Z’s name if not quite reaching the impossibly high standards always associated with his album releases.
Buy “Empire State of Mind (Feat. Alicia Keys)”
Buy “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)”
43. DAN DEACON- BROMST
Buy Amazon Bromst
Spazzy and hyperactive techno music from this chunky & balding Baltimore, MD conservatory trained electronic music composer. “Bromst” is a bit more cerebral than Deacon’s first release, 2007’s “Spiderman of the Rings”, which was full of frenetic, cartoonish energy- perfect for the dance floor. You can shake it to “Bromst” as well but it’s probably more likely to bend your mind than your body.
Buy “Paddling Ghost”
42. MAXWELL- BLACKSUMMERS’ NIGHT
Buy Amazon BLACKsummers’night
“BLACKsummers’ Night” is Maxwell’s triumphant return after an eight year absence and part one of a planned trilogy. Maxwell was one of the leaders of the late nineties neo-soul movement (along with D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill & Erykah Badu) and an artist that I have admittedly slept on until now. After hearing this album I am anxious to check out the rest of his stuff. Maxwell’s music barely touches on the sounds of hip hop or modern R&B. His music is organic and structurally ambitious- it’s full blown soul music without being a sixties soul music throwback like Sharon Jones or Raphael Saadiq- not there is anything wrong with either of those wonderful artists.
Buy “Bad Habits”
Buy “Help Somebody”
41. M. WARD- HOLD TIME
Buy Amazon Hold Time
“Hold Time”, M. Ward’s fifth proper album, is a typical low key offering from the Portland, Oregon based singer-songwriter even after his profile was raised rather significantly in 2008 by one of his other projects as one half of She & Him. Actress Zooey DeShanel (the She to M. Ward’s Him) does appear on two tracks on “Hold Time” including a great slowed down cover of Buddy Holly’s “Rave On”. “Hold Time” has a timeless quality to it- if could have been made in any decade since the sixties and is also not wildly different from the rest of M. Ward’s output.
Buy “For Beginners”