Thursday, November 19, 2009
The Black Album (Jay-Z) (2003):
having achieved all that he wanted to before, Jay now was intent on making statements and The Black Album was a sequential comparison to other mega-stars in popular culture. There was the braggadocio of Dirt off your Shoulder and the devilish rap of Lucifer, produced by Kanye West. This would signify Jay’s approach to hip/hop this decade: a pop-driven mash-up that produces stuff like 99 Problems, a track that had critics wetting their pants. This was, after-all, to be his final body of work before retiring and any producer that was hot game at the time produced something off it, from Timbaland to The Neptunes. The aim of this approach was no doubt to garner diversity but Jay is perhaps the only rapper currently thriving who has such juice naturally. As proved by My First Song, he needs no one to get down to basic rap and have it bouncing off the walls. A stunning album full of highs even though Justify My Thug should never have made it past the edit stage. ()
Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise (2005):
the most immediate thing about the album is the tender layers scaffolding tracks like Casimir Pulaski Day and the stately Come On! Feel the Illinoise. Other tracks like Decatur…name-drop famous Americans throughout what would continue his ambitious quest to represent every state in song. Of course, Stevens flourishes elsewhere Jacksonville is a luscious number replete with swirling guitars and faux vocals. Even when criticizing his subject material (John Wayne Gacy, Jr) Sufjan never comes across as preachy.
the penultimate batch...
Snake in the Grass (Thomas Function): the ultimate punk one-two punch song.
The Only Bones that Show (Baby Dee): the rasping, guttural longing of a man transfigured by pain.
Mykonos (Fleet Foxes): uprooted tenderness juxtaposed with immense hurt.
While You Wait for the Others (Grizzly Bear): a sickly-sweet psychedelic wonder.
Stay Loose (Belle and Sebastian): a sad pop caper that loses and regains hope with amazing speed.
The Sloganeer: Paradise (Meshell NdegeOcello): Fantastic jazz imprint. NdegeOcello continues to merge her expanded sense of melody with her forceful lyrical input and such a result is gorgeous as well as groovy.
Kidz Are So Small (Deerhoof): a blissful collage of Bjork-like childish admissions that work in an off-beat, simplistic manner. Witness how Satomi’s vocals concede ground to the bare essentials driving the tune and one realizes how nuanced her work has become.
Also Frightened (Animal Collective): dub-step meets persistent electronic waves of distortion; trust Animal Collective to unearth a sub-genre within their cadre of sound
Ring the Alarm (Beyonce): the first real vindictive twitch from the decade’s defining R&B self-made diva.
Almost Crimes (Broken Social Scene): a lovely, electro-dance mash-up of strife and tension.