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Friday, December 30, 2011

My Top 40 Albums of the Year (6-10)

If you missed the first 2 installments of my top 40 albums, you can check out albums 21-40 and 11-20. And now onto the first half of the top 10.

10) Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
I wrote about this album almost a year ago in one of my first posts on the blog here. Really not much has changed since then. As I noted before, the album is a bit of a deviation from his normal hushed, acoustic style, but in my opinion the change is welcome and really well executed. I listened to the album a lot more in the first few months of the year than I have lately, but it is still a very enjoyable listen when I do get around to it.

9) Explosions in the Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Explosions in the Sky is another band I have previously covered here. This time it was due to their name's tie to the Fourth of July, rather than to talk about their new album however. That being said, there isn't a whole lot new to be said about the album (at least by me). If you're familiar with their instrumental post-rock style, you won't be too surprised by anything on the album. It's just another great addition to their catalog. When discussing The Antlers' "Burst Apart," I said that they would be first or second on a list of the best artist albums to lose yourself in while listening on headphones. This Explosions in the Sky album would take the other one of those top two spots.

8) Childish Gambino - Camp
Childish Gambino is the hip hop altar ego of actor/writer/comedian/all-around extraordinaire Donald Glover. Allegedly he came up with the name using a Wu-Tang Clan name generator, which if true, is wonderful. If you've read entries 40 through 9 on this list, you can tell I don't listen to a ton of hip hop, but Donald Glover brings something different that I find myself enjoying. He's not Will Smith, he still swears and boasts about his sexual conquests, but he also uses lines like "No live shows cause I can't find sponsors for the only black kid at a Sufjan concert" and "I ain't Mumford, I ain't tryin to have sons." References like that as well as his general wit and humor separate him from other artists for me. I still didn't expect to enjoy the album as much as I have, but I've found myself returning to it quite a bit over the last month or so, especially when I need something to pump while driving alone.

7) Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde
This is the second album by Smith Westerns, but it is the first one to come across my radar. It is a slight deviation from the type of music I prefer (classified on Wikipedia as glam rock), but the guitar riff that kicks off the album on "Weekend" is one of my favorite album intros of the year. I'm really not sure I can add much of value to any discussion about this album. I enjoy the guitar play and find the songs to be catchy, but that's just me. And like I said, I know nothing about this mysterious genre of glam rock. So my advice is to check it out. Maybe you'll like it. Maybe you won't.

6) Wilco - The Whole Love
Wilco has been making albums since 1995, and this album ranks among their best. The album kicks off with "Art of Almost," an over 7 minute long track that ends with a pretty rockin' guitar solo that showcases Nels Cline's fantastic abilities. If you get a chance to see the band live, his guitar playing along with Jeff Tweedy's singing and stage banter are more than worth the price of admission. The album is bookended by another long track, the 12 minute long "One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)," another favorite off the album, and a more sweet sounding track than the dissonant opener. The albums most immediately accessible track is likely the first single, "I Might," which can be listened to below and comes in at a less time-consuming 4 minutes. I've enjoyed each of the last couple Wilco records, but all in all "The Whole Love" is a nice return to previous form and a really excellent record.

Below are three of my favorite tracks from these 5 records.

"Walking Far From Home" by Iron & Wine

Weird video but great song. "Weekend" by Smith Westerns

"I Might" by Wilco
Wilco - I Might by antirecords

Tomorrow I'll have my top 5 albums of the year, and I hope to have a miscellaneous round-up posted on New Years day or shortly after along with a look ahead to 2012.

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