Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer Mike Heyliger’s picks

I seriously can’t remember the last time I’ve had to struggle with a list of my favorite music in a particular year. Actually, I can, so I should clarify: I seriously can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much good music to choose from when paring down my list of favorites for the year. Upon looking at my CD collection (yes, I’m one of those guys), I still see another 10 or 20 albums that could make the list if I listen more carefully. But without the benefit of the free time it would take to check those CDs out, here’s a list of the 20 best albums I’ve heard in 2010.

1. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
As much as Kanye’s childish tirades infuriate me, I’ll be damned if his music doesn’t always win me over. Fantasy is amazing from just about every facet: musically, lyrically, thematically. I’ll forgive ‘Ye for a million idiotic public statements if he keeps making music like this.

2. Gil Scott-Heron: I’m New Here
One of two albums in my Top 20 recorded by artists re-emerging after a 14-year absence, I’m New Here is a haunting listen. The ravages of time have wreaked havoc on Scott-Heron’s voice, but much like Bob Dylan’s most recent work, age has given the artist’s voice additional resonance.

3. The Black Keys: Brothers
Sometimes the album that breaks a band through to a mainstream audience is indeed their best work. That’s definitely the case with the Black Keys’ Brothers. Bluesy garage-rock with enough hooks to keep guys like me interested, I feel like this is the album Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney were aiming for with their Danger Mouse-helmed Attack & Release album. As it turned out, they didn’t (really) need Danger Mouse, anyway, just their bad selves and the ghosts of Muscle Schoals, Alabama.

4. The Roots: How I Got Over
Can someone give these guys a medal for the most consistently awesome act not only in hip-hop, but in music period? I feel like the Roots are incapable of making a bad album even if they tried to. Although I suppose if they replaced Black Thought with Jimmy Fallon…

5. Cee Lo Green: The Lady Killer
“Fuck You” (or “Forget You,” if you’re easily offended) was a gimmick single, sure. However, even gimmick singles can be genius, and what’s more is that the Goodie Mob/Gnarls Barkley frontman was able to back the promise of that song up with an incredible album. I wish he rapped more, but when you can outsing just about every artist in contemporary pop and R&B, I guess you can be excused.


Read the rest after the jump...

Mark Ronson: Record Collection


RIYL: Taking ’60s pop and hip hop and throwing them into a blender

As the DKNY poster boy and the It producer for nearly everything out of the UK since 2006 (Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Kaiser Chiefs, and Duran Duran’s upcoming album), Mark Ronson has reached Timbaland levels of productivity of late without suffering from Timbaland levels of overexposure. Granted, much of that is due to his work’s general lack of commercial crossover in the States – of all the pop artists he’s worked with, only his work with Winehouse has cracked the US Top 40 – but chart success or not, it stands to reason that someone with seven producer credits since the beginning of 2009 alone would need a break. Instead, Ronson has decided to release another solo album.

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Record Collection, Ronson’s third solo album and first since 2007’s all-covers project Version, sounds exactly like his other work; tasteful drum programs (the most organic drum machines you’ll ever hear), ’60s-style pop songwriting, a dash of early ’80s synth pop, some two-step, and lots and lots of guest performers, prodiminantly from the world of hip hop. Most of the time, Ronson matches song to singer (and/or rapper) quite well, particularly the hoppin’ leadoff track (and first single) “Bang Bang Bang” and “Somebody to Love Me,” which sports a haunting vocal from Boy George. Ronson splits vocal duties with Simon Le Bon on the dark wave title track, an amusing stab at the here-today-gone-today nature of the music business and the best song Le Bon’s sung in half a decade (“I made a mint in 1987, now I’m living in my parking space”).

There are times, though, when Record Collection could have benefited from a little less busyness. Did the Nuggets-riffing “The Bike Song” really need a rap break from Spank Rock? It’s great that Ronson loves ’60s pop and hip hop, but the two really have no business hooking up, and “The Bike Song” and “Lost It (In the End”) would have been better off if they hadn’t employed the kitchen sink approach. As it is, Record Collection, is one of the more diverse and hook-laden pop records you’ll hear this year. One wonders, though, if it could have reached instant classic status had Ronson reined things in a bit. (RCA 2010)

Mark Ronson MySpace
Click to buy Record Collection from Amazon

  

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