In case you’ve been sleepin’ (part 2)

I’ve already listed 12 of the 25 albums from 2010 that iTunes tells me I listen to a lot, but read on. The best is yet to come. This week, as promised, some new classics, some classics with new stuff, and a disc that manages to be both at the same time.

Odd Blood Yeasayer
Odd Blood
All that dark, neck break, down temp shit that you used to love from Massive Attack (a band who attempted a comeback with remarkably shitty record this year) is oddly contained in the opening of Yeasayer’s superb second record, Odd Blood. “Ambling Alp” gets all the love, and that’s cool, because it’s a real swinger, but digital dancer “Rome” as well as the sitar-mindbender “Strange Reunions” show the band is capable of more, and, thankfully, they indulge their musical appetites.
Valleys of Neptune Jimi Hendrix
Valleys of Neptune
To understand Hendrix’s music is to see beyond his fretboard firestorm; it’s about the expression in sound he accomplishes, as well as his ability to experiment without coming off as a some sort of jamband jerkoff. The rendition of “Hear My Train A Comin” is an undeniable affector.
Compass Jamie Lidell
Lidell is an embodiment of soulful experimentation, and he’s getting better with every record. With production from Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor and Beck, there’s a decidedly more rich sound. There’s brokenhearted croons, near gospel yelps, and a few certified slow jams, including the illustrious “She Needs Me.” The funkiest cuts are “I Wanna Be Your Telephone” and “Gypsy Blood.”
In Evening Air Future Islands
In Evening Air
I totally get if you hate this band, if you can’t get past that the singer sometimes sounds like Jack Black doing some impassioned Joy Division thing at Millionaire Karaoke. They go for affect, and when they play live, they go for it all. If you like their previous stuff you’ll love the opener, “Walking Through That Door.” It’s all fairly good, but a part of me wonders if this wouldn’t have been a better EP as I’m not convinced there’s an album’s worth of music here.
Broken Bells Broken Bells
Broken Bells
Until further notice, the Shins are on hold and any future James Mercer music will be made with dorm room DJ-turned-Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist and producer Burton, who first crept into the scene as Danger Mouse. Together, the pair comprises Broken Bells, a dreamy, almost downtempo effort of pop done darkly. Broken Bells is wrought with therapy pop. Digable downtempo beats are matched with loopy melodies set to weary stanzas. These guys are working shit out together. You’ve heard the jams, I’m sure. I dig it. Notable was “The Ghost Inside.
LP4 Ratatat
Recently, “Drugs” has been a go-to song for just about any occasion. In the car, at work, making an omelet, mowing the lawn, it’s an incredible soundtrack for any occasion. The record as whole doesn’t disappoint. In delivering sequential quirky, funk blips and bombs.
Treats Sleigh Bells
All I know of this band, I know from only a few songs—namely “Infinity Guitars” and “Rill Rill.” I love to rock this shit though. Simple. Punchy. Sexy.
Sir Luscious Left Foot Big Boi
Sir Lucious Leftfoot
Andre gets all the shine. Outkast will forever be the most enticing rap duo on the planet for as long as they’re living and creating, but why is it that people don’t give Big Boi his due praise? Sure, Speakerboxxx wasn’t The Love Below, but still? Lovers and haters alike best get their ears occupied with some Sir Lucious Leftfoot. I’d call it “hot fire,” but then I’d be dating myself.
High Violet The National
High Violet
This record’s dark, ponderous, and really fucking good. If you’re into brooding and baritone grown men breaking your heart, get involved.
Stray Bullets Cee Lo Greene
Stray Bullets
As expected, Cee Lo delivers psych-funk and hip-hop pop that spans genre and temperament. His singular and wickedly weird voice can grate or serenade. To get a feel, listen to “Cho Ca The Cat” an odd bird featuring the B-52s and back it up with the Goodie Mob marauder “Night Train.”
Wait, What? XX & Notorious BIG
Wait, What?
I like The XX alright, but I can’t seem listen to more than two consecutive songs without feeling like it’s nap time. And that’s just too regressive. I’m sucking my thumb by the album’s end. Throw some Biggie on those tracks, however, and it becomes a whole other beast. Not only does this mashup work, but it’s a real treat to hear Christopher Wallace’s voice come through without all the lush pump of mid-’90s rapstrumentals.
Dark Night of the Soul Sparklehorse
Dark Night of the Soul
Produced by Danger Mouse and written and arranged by Mark Linkous — the late songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who made music under the name Sparklehorse — Dark Night of the Soul features cameo voices from the likes of David Lynch, Julien Casablancas, Wayne Coyne, Nina Pearson, Vic Chestnutt and more. It’s a sad record, and given that Linkous took his life this past March, the record will surely take on heavier connotations. But without the added drama, the record is full of superb performance and poetry.
I Learned It the Hard Way Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
I Learned The Hard Way
Hard Way is also the group’s fullest, slowest and most evolved record to date, evident from note one. The music is a sonic thread held together with strings and stinging horns that provide a cinematic feel. Hard Way offers more soul and noticeably less funk than its predecessors. Also more apparent on this release are the dynamic female backing vocals. Those songs sometimes sound as attitudinal as the Staples Singers, with Sharon filling in adeptly for Mavis, but delivered more akin to “the Motown sound” in that they’re tight and vibrant, in direct contrast to the instrumentation which is thick and fertile. I Learned the Hard Way contains several would-be hits, including the dramatic opener “The Game Gets Old,” a funky woman-scorned anthem in “Better Things,” the super-groovy “She Ain’t a Child No More,” and the slow jamming “I’ll Still Be True.” Every one of those tracks would surely chart—in 1968.

Travis R. Wright is arts & culture editor at Metro Times (

2 Responses to “In case you’ve been sleepin’ (part 2)”
  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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