page 25, Best cont’d
5. Mandolin Orange — Haste Make
Haste Make has its feet planted in the realm of traditional bluegrass while taking cues from indie folk on a tin can and string. You can tell where Andrew Marlin’s heart lies, but it’s clear that he doesn’t want this project relegated to the same class and more traditional string music. Here, he gets his wish.
6. Toro Y Moi — Underneath the Pine
If the only songs you heard off of Chaz
Bundick’s second album Underneath the Pine were “Still Sound” and “New Beat,” you’d likely have a highly favorable, though not altogether accurate opinion of it. As funky as the two singles are, the album’s best quality is its monolithic analog warmth.
7. Phonte — Charity Starts at Home
As great a singer as Phonte Coleman has shown himself to be with the Foreign Exchange, his solo debut is the album that rap purists have been waiting for since the dissolution of Little Brother. Here, he offers a bitter slice of reality couched in cool beats and biting wit.
8. J. Cole — Cole World: The Sideline Story
First impressions of J. Cole’s long, long, long awaited proper debut can be deceiving; once past the fluffy tracks that feel like they were signed off by Roc Nation’s marketing director, J. Cole pairs beats of the highest caliber with sincere revelations about how he’s coped with his prodigal stardom.
9. Nikki Lane — Walk of Shame
ville might disqualify her from the canon of of some, but it’s time to accept that Music City Granted, Lane’s current residence in Nash- North and South Carolina artists in the minds is the Cayman Islands of artist warehousing.
ville might disqualify her from the canon of of some, but it’s time to accept that Music City North and South Carolina artists in the minds is the Cayman Islands of artist warehousing.
of some, but it’s time to accept that Music City is the Cayman Islands of artist warehousing. No one really “lives” there. The Greenville, SC-born-and-bred country songwriter’s debut nonetheless is rife with beer-soaked toe-tappers and dark, Patsy Cline-inspired balladry.
10. Love Craft — Future Selves
For all the love that Future Islands got for On the Water, Love Craft had essentially already explored many of those same ideas earlier in the year with Future Selves. Recorded entirely with equipment culled from the ’80s, Future Selves is a propulsive bit of post-punk and alter- native dance that’s more thoughtfully executed than most new wave transmutations.
11. Sinful Savage Tigers — Last Night of the Revels
With a revamped lineup, excellent playing, guest spots galore and copious amounts of dry
wit define the second album led by Chapel Hill songwriter Seth Martin.
12. John Howie, Jr. & the Rosewood Bluff — Leavin’ Yesterday
what’s John Howie, Jr.’s best record yet, he invokes his punk roots and
ups the tempo considerably for a record that would have made Eddy
Arnold and Billy Joe Shaver proud.
13. Wesley Wolfe — Cynics Need Love Too
records have the ability to make their listeners reckon with a side of
themselves they might not want to acknowledge and through pessimistic
humor and often self-deprecating ramblings, Carrboro songwriter Wesley
Wolfe throws a rock through that pane of the Johari Window.
14. Eric Church — Chief
okay. I truly didn’t expect any other writer to nominate Granite Falls’
most famous son for a top album. Pop country is, after all anathema to
the music geek. Church’s self- conceit and tendency to namedrop country
legends has been a major turn-off since his first release, but in an
epically awful year for mainstream country music, Chief is an uncom- mon bright spot for the lengths it went to buck country conventions.
15. Dexter Romweber — Is That You In the Blue?
Romweber is, without qualification, a genius songwriter and Is That You In the Blue? finds
him knee deep in an album that plays like a great book of pulp fiction
reads. The charac- ters and settings in his songs are lurid and the with
16. Porter Robinson — Spitfire
album’s sinister musicality shades their motives After slaying huge crowds opening for with registration black.
16. Porter Robinson — Spitfire
After slaying huge crowds opening for
16. Porter Robinson — Spitfire
slaying huge crowds opening for Tiesto, it’s only a matter of time
before Chapel Hill native Porter Robinson finds himself ranked among the
top 100 DJs in the world. His first album offering is a bit pastiche in
that it draws from so many
schools of electronic, but it’s likely that it will be looked back upon
as a touchstone in a new era of electronica.
17. Bruce Piephoff —
Still Looking Up At the Stars
albums and Bruce Piephoff still doesn’t get his due. The
singer-songwriter latest album is imbued with plenty of his sage-like
wisdom, profound introspection and great bluesy playing by Scott Sawyer.
18. Estrangers — Black Ballroom
Hazy power pop rare sounds as sweet and sincere as it does on Estrangers’ debut release.
Hints of the Love Language and the Apples In Stereo dot the EP’s eight tracks that seem to dart past with guileless charm.
19. Young Prince — War
an artist with little under his belt at the time of this release,
Guilford College-via-DC rapper Young Prince sports highly evolved rhymes
over some vintage Brenton Duvall beats.
20. Whatever Brains — self titled
thing about the first track on Whatever Brains’ self-titled release;
repeated replays of this stomping garage monster may make it a while
before the rest of this excellent debut get heard.
21. Naked Gods — No Jams
Despite what Boone prog-pop quintet Naked Gods’ latest album implies, it kinda does jam.
do it with tongues in their cheeks and one hand with fingers crossed
behind their backs on woozy folk trips and Malkmus-y wonks.
22. Braveyoung — We Are Lonely Animals
After tossing an entire recording session, We Are Lonely Animals is the album that nearly wasn’t. The
Greensboro drone quartet go far away from their doomy, lead-heavy
beginnings that focuses on spatial awareness and creating evocative,
moody music heavily dependent upon resonance and reverb.
23. Melanaster — Comfort’s Curse
the year of hip-hop DJs coming out as IDM yogis, prolific Asheville
producer Marley Carroll is no exception. The Mr. Invisible wheelman’s
chameleonic ways led him to cre- Yorke experimentalism as it does the
beautiful ate an EP that owes as much to glitchy Thom haze of ‘90s
24. The Leeves — self titled
Yorke experimentalism as it does the beautiful haze of ‘90s shoegaze.
24. The Leeves — self titled 24. The Leeves — self titled
the most affecting records are the ones that touch the nerve center of a
very specific demographic, and that undoubtedly holds true for
Greensboro post-punk revivalists the Leeves. Some of the best moments on
their self-titled debut album are inspired by the more subversive
elements of their hometown and as such, their neighbors might be the
only ones to really embrace the understated brilliance.
25. Illpo — Classic
Illpo’s run of mixtapes and EPs up until now have mostly referenced their indomitable work ethic and poise, but early 2011’s Classic simply finds them looking at their own work in awe.
rawest hip-hop duo scaled back the thump with a minimalist production
ethos, but verses shot straight from the hip fill the empty spaces.