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...

Robyn: Body Talk Pt. 2


RIYL: Kylie Minogue, The Cardigans, Little Boots

body-talk-2-robyn[1] No, you’re not remembering it wrong — Body Talk Pt. 1 really did arrive less than three months ago. Robyn took five years between her last two releases, but the long downtime had more to do with label machinations than lapsed creativity — and she proves it with Body Talk Pt. 2, which trades its predecessor’s frantic experimentation for a more traditional — and laser-focused — eight-song set.

Robyn’s best work has always rubbed at the sweet spot between machine-controlled pop and raw emotional power, and Body Talk Pt. 2 finds her right in her wheelhouse, from opening track “In My Eyes” (which opens with a quick callback to “Konichiwa Bitches”) through the thrilling six-song run that opens the album. The soaring melody and artificially sweetened harmonies of “Eyes” yield smoothly to the stomping, sparkling “Include Me Out,” which is followed by the crown jewel of the set, “Hang With Me.” Recorded as a ballad for Body Talk Pt. 1, it’s recast here as a surging ode to no-strings-attached romance that swaps out the original’s mournful tone for pure pop seduction. “I know what’s on your mind / There will be time for that too,” she promises over a plangent synth figure, cautioning “Just don’t fall recklessly, headlessly in love with me / ‘Cause it’s gonna be all heartbreak / Blissfully painful insanity.” You know she means it, but with hooks like these, who can resist falling in love?

The set’s weak link is undoubtedly the Snoop-assisted “U Should Know Better” — its cheap boasts would be funnier if they had a stronger song backing them up — but that’s a small complaint for an album with a batting average this high, especially in light of how quickly Pt. 2 is following Pt. 1. And she isn’t done yet: Robyn plans to release another Body Talk record before the year is out. Hang with her. (Universal/Konichiwa 2010)

Robyn MySpace page

  

Robyn: Body Talk Pt. 1


RIYL: ABBA, Annie, Goldfrapp

No one in mainstream pop blends cutting-edge production flourishes with devastating hooks better than Robyn. You want to know what’s wrong with the major record labels in 2010? Don’t look at illegal file sharing, look at the fact that not one of them was able to turn her into a dancefloor-ruling superstar after her debut. More power to Robyn that she’s releasing her music on her own imprint and her own terms, but in the old days, talent like this was locked up, placed in indentured servitude, and used to make tons and tons of money. When Christina Aguilera recorded her silly Bionic, she wanted to be as cool as Robyn.

Robyn

Compare Bionic with Body Talk Pt. 1 – supposedly the first of three Robyn releases this year – and you’ll hear how far Aguilera, and everyone else on the American pop scene, has to go. At just a blonde hair over half an hour, Body Talk covers more ground than most dance-pop singers manage to stake out in a career, from the trippy, spoken-murmured opener “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do” to the closing number, the Swedish traditional song “Jag Vet En Dejilg Rosa.” In between, you get the delicious champagne fizz of “Fembot” and the prom-theme-in-waiting “Cry When You Get Older” (suck it, Vitamin C!), plus a moody dance track (“Dancing on My Own”), a chilly slice of synth reggae (“Dance Hall Queen”), a space-age Röyksopp collaboration (“None of Dem”) and even a piano ballad for good measure (“Hang with Me”).

It’s smart, instantly addictive, and it’s over before it gets anywhere near wearing out its welcome. While Robyn’s imitators are busy copping her sound, they’re all missing the important part – it’s the songwriting, stupid – and if you aren’t a fan yet, then you’re missing out too. Time to correct the error of your ways. (Cherrytree/InterscopeKonichiwa 2010)

Robyn MySpace page