. . . and the 10 Best
Bebel Gilberto, Tanto Tempo (Six Degrees) A bossa nova legend's daughter goes clubbing and brings some producer friends (Suba, Amon Tobin, Thievery Corporation) back to her dad's place. They spend the next afternoon strumming his old guitar and, sobering up, realize they're on to something graceful, subtle, and right up to date. At least that's how I imagine it.
Outkast, Stankonia (Arista/LaFace) P-Funk reincarnates several thousand miles to the South. Even more amazing than the chameleonic production is the way Dre and Big Boi explode almost every cheesy Dirty South cliché from the inside, and knock out a half-dozen singles in the process.
Raymond Scott, Manhattan Research, Inc. (Basta) Bandleader and composer Raymond Scott spent the '60s creating out-of-this-world electronic music for profit and his own curiosity. This elaborately packaged two-disc collects a trove of rare and previously unreleased Scott jingles and experiments; cracking it open is like finding a working jet pack in your grandma's garage.
Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek, Reflection Eternal (Priority/Rawkus) Pound for pound, Kweli is the heavyweight rhyme champion of the year.
Suba, São Paulo Confessions (Six Degrees) A Serb living in Brazil introduces house beats and electronic airs to samba grooves and bossa nova languor for a sweeping, atmospheric travelogue of his adopted hometown.
Yo La Tengo, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (Matador) Emo as made by married people in their late 30s. And yes, that means better songs.
Jill Scott, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 (Epic/Hidden Beach) An around-the-way girl from Philly with a thing for poetry slams and hip-hop remakes Anita Baker's Rapture.
Mouse on Mars, Niun Niggung (Thrill Jockey) Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma have always been among the warmest and fuzziest electronic knob-twisters. Here they add guitars, horns, strings, and an ever-more obvious sense of play and pop for another triumph of German engineering.
The Handsome Family, In the Air(Carrot Top) Brett and Rennie Sparks are obsessed with the poetic Gothic darkness of Appalachian music and the miserablism of drunken romance, but that doesn't begin to encompass the ground they cover on this odd but transcendent breakthrough disc. Here's a hint: The title makes it a concept record.
The Year In Tracks (12/15/2009)
. . . just in the case the album really is dead.
The Year in News (12/9/2009)
The Year in Movies (12/9/2009)
The Lady Vanishes (8/4/2010)
Meet Henrietta Vinton Davis-one of the most amazing women you've probably never heard of
Blaster Master (7/14/2010)
Landis Expandis can't live without his radios
The Black Box (6/16/2010)
Baltimore's African-American indie filmmakers search for an audience
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