10. The Roots – How I Got Over

Between ?uestlove’s weekly DJ-ing at the Brooklyn Bowl and the band’s new day job, it’s a wonder we haven’t drowned in the Roots deluge.  And while I’m not crazy about their role as Fallon’s house band, I’d be a fool to claim that their more recent releases have been anything but spectacular.  Teaming up with an eclectic and impressive collaborating crew including Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman, Monsters of Folk, Joanna Newsom, Phonte, and John Legend, the Philadelphia group further enkindles the old school soul spirit they first revived in 1993.

Pivotal to the retro ambience is Dice Raw, who lends his sagacious lyrical advice to the album’s best two tracks, “Walk Alone” and “Radio Daze.”  Black Thought (Tariq Trotter), meanwhile, holds his own as the group’s verbal frontman, and executive producer Richard Nichols makes fine use of the stellar supporting cast, whose talents might well have been fumbled in less skillful hands.

A day may come when a Roots album fails to deliver, when they replace authentic beats with cheap hip-hop trash.  But it is not this day. – JP

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9. Kanye West – My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy

A best-of-2010 forum that ignores My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a biased one, even though I would love to omit the loud-mouthed, fragile ego of an insecure jackass in stunner shades and mink fur who has somehow successfully debased 20th century paragons of virtue like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali by egregiously equating his lavish self-absorption to something as righteous as social activism. All revolutionaries are divisive people, but not all divisive people are revolutionaries. Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Matt Lauer are by no means comparable to loathsome white supremacists or an intolerant U.S. military. Nonetheless, Kanye executed an excellent rope-a-dope to cap off the PR firestorm that defined his past year. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the unfortunate magnum opus that perfectly captures his detestable existence. It pains me to say it, but this…album…is…really…gooooowerfvcxswerfvcxs. – RW

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8. Grinderman – Grinderman 2

Nick Cave has long been England’s most venerable badass.  If you’re asking for proof, then obviously you have neither seen his moustache nor heard his music.  He used a real wolf for his last video, for Christ’s sake.  And if he is capable of creating bad music, he has shown us little evidence.  Take Grinderman, Cave’s new band longtime band mates Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey, and Jim Sclavunos.  With two self-titled albums under their belt, they have climbed new musical mountains with the same unapologetically weird brashness that made the Bad Seeds famous.  And Grinderman 2 is assuredly the bolder of the two. – JP

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7. The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt

In 2010 Kristian Matsson finally got the hype he deserved, but The Wild Hunt’s April release date destined it to severe neglect from the music community.  Spinning lustrous yarns from his taffeta-twined poetical brain, the Tallest Man delivers an even more impressive record than his 2008 debut.  Broader instrumentation provide a slightly more expansive experience, and Matsson is as gravelly as ever, belting out the longing “You’re Going Back” and the resplendent “Love is All” before taking a seat at a solemn piano for “Kids on the Run.”  And who can forget the charm of “King of Spain”?  Doing more than justice to its magnificent mythical namesake, the album omits the horrific images that usually accompany it. – JP

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6. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding

“Can we all take a minute,” pleaded IF’s Conor Berigan in his review for Superchunk’s first album in nine long years, “to mount Falcor the Luckdragon and strap in with the warm feeling of apple pie settling in our tummies and love that only a bedtime story from Jerry Garcia can provide?  Here we stand, about to embark on an epic saga of nostalgia, anxiety, and heartaches.  In Majesty Shredding one can feel the authenticity of the music, and honesty in the words that can only be mustered from genuine experience.”

Well said, my friend.  Few bands are more capable at stripping us of our inhibitions making us wish the 90s had lasted forever.  Just add this to the long list of brilliant accomplishments, which includes eight other fine albums and a little record label called Merge.  The Superchunks are now old timers, but they will never cease to be young. – JP

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Comments ( 1 Comment )

DA: Just a little note for anyone using the “Breakfast” link to sample Pilot Talk I, that’s the original mixtape version without co-production by Ski Beatz. The album version takes the sample loop and asks a live band to replay it, as well as extending the trumpet/saxophone and bass playing across the whole verse rather than a simple 4 bar loop. Some people prefer the original version linked here, I personally prefer the remix by a whole lot. Both are great, though, and the lyrics don’t change.

Nodima added these pithy words on Jan 30 11 at 9:50 pm

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