Key Tracks: Boyfriend, When I’m With You, Crazy For You
Sounds Like: The Ronettes, Hipster Beach Music
The Skinny: Like it or not, 2010 will be remembered as the year that the term “chillwave” invaded our collective lexicon as a music genre. While we may not be in love with that cringe worthy term, we did fall for the music of Best Coast. Fronted by Bethany Cosentino, the LA-based act’s debut album filters the sometimes hazy sounds of ’90s lo-fi rock, through Phil Spector’s 1960s Wall Of Sound girl-groups and healthy dose of sunny surf-pop the ends up sounding something like the 21st century’s version of The Ronettes.
Key Tracks: Can’t Stand Still, Idea
Sounds Like: Some of the best studio material from the Phish camp since Story of the Ghost
The Skinny: Brimming with an aura of experimentation on tunes like Spiral and The Void, while capturing some of his most vibrant, danceable pop in material like Can’t Stand Still, Fire From a Stick and Idea, Mike Gordon’s latest solo project fires on on all cylinders. It’s easy to hear the flexing of creative muscles on this project where old tidbits become songs; found instruments play as much a role as the traditional; and ultimately, the players do what Phish often struggles so mightily to do on their own albums, jam.
Key Tracks: Compared to What, I Can’t Write Left Handed
Sounds Like: Seventies soul meets intelligent hip hop
The Skinny: The Roots continue to prove why they’re America’s most versatile hip-hop-soul-funk-rock powerhouse, accompanied on this disc by smooth soul singer John Legend on a set of covers that allow this collaboration to shine. The Roots are using their Fallon-era expanded lineup to its fullest, providing deep grooves behind Legend’s embattled crooning. This record, born out of the tumultuous and ultimately uplifting presidential election, is at its best an example of how organic and fulfilling high-profile collaborations can be with the right material. Compared to What is treated to a pocket not found on the brilliant rollicking version Tower of Power made famous, while I Can’t Write Left Handed has the band delving into full-on rock band mode for an extended guitar workout in the middle.
Key Tracks: It’s Working, Congratulations
Sounds Like: David Bowie singing over Echoes-era Floyd
The Skinny: As much we all loved the rave ups from Oracular Spectucular, MGMT deserves lofty praise for taking a stand and bucking the pressure to create a radio-ready sophomore effort. Opting for artistic integrity and avoiding anything remotely resembling a hit like Kids or Time To Pretend, MGMT crafted a heady psych-pop album that demands more from its fans than a just a knack for catchy hooks. Not everybody embraced the detour, but MGMT proved at a critical time in their careers that they are not playing anyone’s game but their own.
Come back tomorrow for #20-15.