Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Best Of The Rest Of Ten

As the year teeters on its fulcrum point, here's some stuff that almost made my Top Ten from last year and that you might have missed. For your listening pleasure, check out the Best Of The Rest Of Ten playlist at

Of all the albums that did not make it on to my Top Ten for 2010, I probably spent the most time with Heligoland by Massive Attack. This was new proof that they are the best at what they do - mean moodscapes you can dance to. And the remixes are nonpareil - shell out for the deluxe version.

Post-Punk is Dead--Long Live Post-Punk
A combined 60 years of blistering history led to Red Barked Tree from  Wire and Killing Joke's  Absolute Dissent. Both are strong enough that I can say "Start Here" if you are new to either band.

Kosmische Dancers
Deutsche Elektronische Musik is a fantastic collection from Soul Jazz of Krautrock that's not Kraftwerk. And it's not all electronic - check out This Morning by Gila for some primo lysergic folk. If you like your motorik beat wedded to hypnotic guitars, look no further than Vol. 2 from Wooden Shjips.

Ancient To The Future
Nas and Damian Marley take the diaspora back to it's roots on Distant Relatives. Get this almost great record to hear Nas tells Damian: "My man'll speak patois/And I can speak rap star" over a mesmerizing Mulatu Astatke groove. Speaking of Mulatu, fresh off their collabo with the man himself, The Heliocentrics have joined forces with Lloyd Miller, to cook up some deep if meandering jams on, yes, Lloyd Miller and The Heliocentrics. For another unusual blend, try Mochilla Presents Timeless: Suite For Ma Dukes, which features a 60 piece orchestra playing music of the late, great J Dilla. It's devastating in more ways than one. Big Boi's Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty is filled with witty grooves and salacious verse. It's your party tape in a neat package. Seek out the leaked tracks with Andre 3000 to counteract Jive records jive.

Edwyn Collins finally returned from a couple of near death experiences with the energetic and tuneful Losing Sleep, which has a wonderfully tossed off quality that belies how high the stakes were. The Clientele's unexpected Minotaur found them at the top of their form. Jerry, in particular, has an epic construction that could only be the result of Alisdair MacLean's ever-growing mastery of songcraft. Heralded by the arrival of the brilliant I Want The World To Stop (and it's accompanying film), I expected great things from Belle and Sebastian Write About Love. However, there were two or three sub par tracks (Norah Jones? I mean, really) that dragged the album down. The good stuff is still good, however.

Reissue, Repackage
The always fascinating Numero Group outdid themselves with the towering Syl Johnson collection, Complete Mythology. His searing Is It Because I'm Black? album predated What's Going On and other conscious soul records and deserves to be in their company. And there is much more to discover beyond those 10 cuts. The Jimi Hendrix reissue game redeemed itself with West Coast Seattle Boy, a beautifully assembled collection that was filled with startling sounds and hidden gems. Essential. Kill City has always been one of my favorite post-Stooges Iggy Pop efforts and it sounds better than ever now. If you buy only one dub collection from 2010, make it Sound System Scratch, an astonishing compilation of Lee Perry 12" produced for sound system use only. Can't wait to hear The Return Of Sound System Scratch.

Brooklyn Rider, the genre-hopping string quartet, followed up their debut with Dominant Curve featuring a sublime Debussy alongside compositions and arrangements by members of the group. Bryan Ferry's Olympia got a lot of attention. Fortunately, it was damned good. His voice sounds great and the grooves are multilayered (three bass players? Well, OK). Finally, Autechre, one of the most accomplished electronic groups of all time, released Move Of Ten, featuring some of their dirtiest music yet. 

If any of this music seems obscure, you  chance to change that by buying it and trumpeting your pleasure to the world!

Coming soon - VERY soon - The Best of 11 (So Far). Until then...