Here we go! My TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2014. Always a tough list to compile being I’m not fond of Top anything lists. My views always change and then I end up regretting or forgetting a title. An example being Liam Bailey’s Definitely Now album, which should have easily been in my Top 3. No question. But Im sitting in the airport and figured I have some time to do my annual justification of each record. Okay. Live from Terminal 1 Gate 11. Lets do this! Your feedback is welcomed! @AnthonyValadez.
Nick Hakim – Where Will We Go (Pt 1 and 2)
Okay, easily a cheater, 2 EP’s formed into an album. I had Nick Hakim on my podcast and we talked about this coming out at a full LP so technically this isn’t cheating. Maybe I am a bit biased being that I spent way too much time at dog parks and dealing with a few changes and these two EP’s where there and hit me in a way that music has not in a few years. It’s a journey with instrumentation on point. Nick’s voice is also a notable stand out that compliments the chords and guitar licks.
Fatima – Yellow Memories
“Do Better“ was the first cut that hip to this record by blog darling Fatima. Fatima has been on my radar thanks in part to the UK support via radio and blog postings. But it was finally nice to hear a full LP from her in addition to remixes and singles. The album allowed the songstress to shine and show her depth from the villa-esque “Technology” to the playful “Biggest Joke Of All“
Majid Jordan- A Place Like This
Another EP cheater. But hey! It’s so good! I mentioned these guys at the start of 2014 on WBUR’s Here And Now and was hoping that at some point the duo would get some stateside love. Still too early to tell but they rose to fame as featured on Drakes “Hold On, We’re Going Home“. It’s dark, soulful but the beats and sample flips are so on point!
Oceaan – The Oceaan EP/The Grip
Following in the same steps as Majid Jordan w/ a twist of electronic blips, samples and chaos is Manchester’s Oceaan! Big thanks to Blah Blah Blah Science for passing me his work early on. Oceaan’s sounds at times become a little messy and somehow it’s perfectly mixed and easy on the ears. Think of a plane with massive turbulence then out of nowhere, easy sailing with a perfect landing. But not all tracks are this chaotic. Oceaan pieces it all together with his sultry falsetto. Peep below!
Les Sins – Michael
I’m biased. Anything Toro Y Moi related gets automatic antvala love. But lets clear, Im also objective and really not that fond of putting an ably of 4 on the floor albums on this list. I can only tolerate so many minutes of boom boom boom boom before Im like “next”. Chaz Bundick aka Toro aka Les Sins masterfully adds the right amount of “umph” and synths to make it all work. But the track’s stand out single “Why” has been in my head nonstop upon first listening. And still my jam!
Silk Rhodes – Silk Rhodes
You know an amazing song based on if you can remember where you were when you first heard it. I can still recall getting this cut from PB Wolf and just hitting repeat about 19 times. When I heard the rest of the album not really sure of what to expect, well, it was a wrap! Musically all over the place. I dig that about this band! And how amazing is this video below?
Daedelus – The Light Brigade
When Daedelus drops a records I’m not sure if it’s going to be an electronic record that explores various bpm’s and time signatures. But being a fan of his work as “The Long Lost” it’s nice to hear him return to guitar driven ballads and the mellow mind state wit this album!
Dilated Peoples – Directors Of Photography
Having taken some time off with their own adventures, it was nice to see the super trio regroup for a releases on indie Rhymesayers. Dilated continued right where they left off. Content on point and the packaging was simply creative and well put together. If you have listened to my show or even live sets, odds are you might have heard “Let Your Thought’s Fly Away” somewhere tucked into the mix.
Clap! Clap! – Tayi Bebba
Italian band “Clap! Clap! drop crazy dance floor heat, samples, in your face drums and bass on this. Just when you think you have this group figured out, in comes the slow melodies and ethnic chants that makes you think “is this a world album?” Clap! Clap! challenges me as a listener with this record.
Meshell Ndegeocello – Comet, Come to Me
Anything this woman drops is always music to my ears! Well, not everything but 90% of what she drops is flawless. Maybe 95%? Another example of an artist that you as a listener are never really sure of what you might get. This album is a bit of a return to “Bitter” and a few other recent releases. And how awesome is that Whodini cover of “Friends?”
Here it is! My top 10 albums of 2013 pulled from the KCRW site! I wanted to go a little deeper and reflect as to why these albums made my list. Some of these might not have had major impact on radio or sales but they survived the test of time in my car and headphones. These albums moved me all year and stayed in nonstop rotation on my radio show or simply while doing my every day errands. These lists are always are always hard to compile but It’s great to see Chance The Rapper drop a free album and make the list. I’m also glad to see indie artists like Sango and Skin Town make music that is not flavor of the moment but rather albums that make me excited about music again. Okay! The List!
1. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
I can tell you the exact moment I popped this cd in and hit play. I was en route to grab dinner and track after track I was moved by every song! I made it to track 6 before grabbing food then jumped back in the car and continued through the rest of the album. Toro Y Moi kills with the drums and synths on Anything In Return even bringing in piano rave elements with vocals. One of the best elements in this album is hearing it explore different feelings and textures. It does not remain in anyone one element or genre. It travels! “Cola” is one of my favorite tracks! Its a free download!
2. Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
Many years in the game since his days with the Clipse and still sounding hungry as ever! Something happens to rappers and lyricists when they grow a little older. We hear the hunger fade. Pusha T sounds fresh and displays skills in top form! Tracks like “Numbers On the Board”, “Nosetalgia” and “King Push” hit me in a place unlike most artists. Production is tight as well that allow Pusha to breathe and deliver each rhyme with ease.
3. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath The Moon
Real talk. I was not feeling this album upon first listening other than Neptune Estate. After a few late night listens after dj gigs this album began to sink in. Soon the guitars began to connect with me and Archie’s hieroglyphic lyrics began to parallel a mood or feeling I was experiencing. And soon I could not wait to take those long late night drives with 6 Feet Beneath The Moon on play. It’s a wonderful album with guitars being super lush with massive reverb over vocals and instruments that take you into another world.
4. Jose James – No Beginning No End
With Jose you never know if your going to get a straight up jazz album, an electronic fused record or a soul cut. This is one of the qualities that I love about his appreciation for the wide musical spectrum! This time around Jose James steps up the plate and hits it out of the park with amazing musicianship backing him up. With hint’s of D’Angelo’s Voodoo blended into the mix fused with Jose’s wonderful voice it’s super easy to throw this one in my top 10 of 2013
5. Chance The Rapper
Fresh out of Chi Town Chance drops this self release with out the backing of a record company. It’s a free download that is not your average album. It pushes elements of Juke/footwork while letting Chance be free of the constraints of most rappers. Production if flawless and lets discuss Chance’s unique flow and vocal delivery!? In some ways he has drawn comparisons to the likes of The Pharcyde and it’s a valid point. But it’s 2013 when an single emcee can bridge 1993 and 2013 and own it then he get’s my kudos!
6. Maylee Todd – Escapology
I have been a fan of this artist’s work for some time now and it totally messed with my head when I found out in September that she had released this amazing record in April! Once I saw it, I grabbed it, hit play and bumped it nonstop! “Baby’s Got It” fuses that hard 4 on the floor channeling her inner Donna Summers but it’s “I Can’t Stand It” that haunt me every time I hit play. This album is a musical journey and perfect for a long drive. Maylee Todd was also a guest on my podcast. Get to know her!
7. Skin Town – The Room
Another previous guest on my podcast! I saw them when opening up for Tiny Hearts and fell in love with their sound. Heavy synths and drum patterns that accompany Grace’s vocals. Tracks like “Ride” and “Ice Crystal Palace” hit hard but the stand out track for me is “Midnight Lover” that is one of my favorite songs of the year. Excellent melodies and production from Nick Turco (Zola Jesus) that channel the 1990’s R&B, The Weeknd, The Dream but in a form that is it’s own.
8. Sango – North
North is a journey! It’s what I call a mood record. Vocals come in when they need to. Grooves pop on the next track that let you digest what you just heard. It’s a well sequenced record from start to finish and the most mature records on the Soulection label that will stand the test of time. Sango swung by the basement for a chat and it was great to learn the process of creating this wonderful album. “Middle Of Things, Beautiful Wife” is still one of the best songs I have heard in the past 5 years.
9. John Wizards – John Wizards
This album is one of those obscure records that you can’t help bobbing your head to. Cape Town goes electronica on this self titled release. It’s a timeless record that explores many sounds. John Wizards is almost like Vampire Weekend making love to Four Tet while in the Jacuzzi! Word is bond.
10. Bonobo – The North Borders
It’s Bonobo! Another artist who’s wide range of aresnal on the musical front is unlike no other! This album was on repeat at the station and especially on my show which is perfect after midnight record to drop anytime during my dj sets. Even in the clubs I had folks asking for the new Bonobo! I got to chat with Bonobo at SXSW earlier in the year and we discussed the process of making this record. Black Sands (his previous release) was a bit hard to top but somehow he pulls it off with tracks such as “Emkay”, “Cirrus” and “Heaven For the Sinner”