As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything to this blog in a while. Several other projects have been getting my attention. Once things slow down, posts will hopefully pick up again. In the meantime, enjoy the archives. I also share plenty of music and art related things on my Tumblr, The Cover Down and you can keep up with my personal work on my website. I’ll probably have some new mixes to post soon as well. See you soon…

Top 10 Albums of ’10

2010 seemed like a good year for music. It had plenty of new artists and a few long-awaited returns. But I feel like my year-end list isn’t as strong as it could have been for a few reasons. This year I spent a lot of time digging through my collection and re-listening to older albums. Also, the number of albums I’ve bought this year is probably smaller since a few local music stores shut down. So I haven’t had chance to hear some albums, like Jneiro Jarel’s Fauna, Nottz’s You Need This Music or Laetitia Sadier’s Trip. But I still managed to pick up some highlights. They are…

  • 10. Das RacistSit Down, ManAt first, I couldn’t take Das Racist seriously.  I still don’t take them too seriously. That’s part of the fun. Yes,  they could be considered “joke-rap”. But this is joke-rap done well. A few great guest features helps. At a time where I’m overwhelmed by free hip-hop mixtape downloads, this one was very refreshing. They also won me over pretty easily with the Dwight Schrute reference.
  • 9. Squarepusher Shobaleader One: d’DemonstratorAs soon as this album was announced, it was released. I didn’t have much time to anticipate it. Suddenly Jenkinson has a band wearing Daft Punk-style helmets and releasing music on Ed Banger. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the album is oddly addictive. I could play “Abstract Lover” on repeat for hours. It will be interesting to see what he follows this up with.
  • 8. Project DolphinSilvergunA few months ago I noticed some amazing music being played in the background of a Street Fighter combo video. It was like jazz-fusion pulled from a racing game circa 1996. Thankfully, the Youtuber gave credit. I  immediately bought their EP,  inspired by Japanese jazz-fusion and video game soundtracks. Their covers are great, but their own compositions show even more potential.
  • 7. Four TetThere Is Love In YouThis album was released very early in the year but it managed to stick with me throughout. “Focused” is the word that comes to mind when I listen to this. No filler. No gimmicks. Just great Four Tet tracks. It’s too solid not to make my top 10.
  • 6. The Roots – How I Got Over / Dilla Joints / Late Night With The Roots / LNJF SandwichesIt’s another great Roots album. Not very surprising. I don’t have much else to say about How I Got Over, but I will say that I appreciate all the free music The Roots put out this year. Dilla Joints was so good that I would have paid money for it if I had to. But no! It was free! The Roots covering Dilla beats. What could be better? Well…
  • 5. Kanye WestMy Beautiful Dark FantasyI wasn’t going to buy this album. My girlfriend gave it to me as a gift. I wanted to avoid all the hype, drama, hilarious Illuminati rumors, etc. After listening to it, it’s hard to ignore. For all the hate Kanye gets, I think he really puts a lot of heart and effort into his music. No matter how arrogant he seems, on this album he comes off as imperfect and fragile. He knows he’s a jerk. That’s why I like this album.
  • 4. DimlitePrismic TopsI discovered Dimlite through Prefuse 73 years ago, downloading a few tracks but never seriously digging into his catalog. I’m glad Now-Again released Prismic Tops so I could give him a second chance. Now that I have, I hold him at about the same level as Flying Lotus in terms of beatmakers, and that’s saying a lot. The album is amazing. Hopefully he’ll put out a new full album soon. I also heavily recommend Runbox Weathers and This Is Embracing.
  • 3. ShigetoFull Circle / What We Hold On To / Semi CircleI first heard Shigeto on one of ISO50’s free MP3 EPs. His remix of Astrud Gilberto’s “Berimbau” was amazing. His Semi-Circle EP was amazing. His (free!) What We Hold On To EP was amazing. His album Full Circle is really amazing. Even his proposal to his wife was cool. All of that adds up to Shigeto being one of my favorite artists this year.
  • 2. Miguel-Atwood FergusonTimeless: Suite For Ma DukesLast year’s Suite For Ma Dukes EP was beautiful, but it’s length only made me want more. Mochilla fixed that by releasing the Timeless box set and including MP3 downloads of each concert. Arthur Verocai and Mulatu Asatke’s performances were fantastic, but Miguel-Atwood Ferguson’s was the highlight. It’s amazing how well he translated Dilla’s beats into emotional orchestral compositions. The follow-up live performances with the likes of Flying Lotus and Bilal are also very impressive.
  • 1. Flying LotusCosmogramma Do I really have to explain this one? I had been waiting to hear this album since I heard Los Angeles. This album has set the bar very high for the current electronic beat scene and Flying Lotus is probably the only person who can top it. Like my top album last year (Shafiq Husayn’s Shafiq En’ A Free Ka) Cosmogramma is a collaborative effort between FlyLo and several other great aritists, including Miguel-Atwood Ferguson, Thundercat, Dorian Concept, Laura Darlington… Even Radiohead’s Thom Yorke showed up for the party. It’s all brain-meltingly good. I’ll be listening to this album for a long time… At least until his next album.

Honerable Mentions

BilalAirtight’s Revenge
Big BoiSir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Black Milk – Album of The Year
BonoboBlack Sands
Dela – The Robert Glasper Beat Tape
Erykah BaduNew Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)
Esperanza SpaldingChamber Music Society
GonjasufiA Sufi & A Killer
MadlibMadlib Medicine Show

Covercast #7: Kaidan

I posted this mix on my personal blog back in October for Halloween but never bothered to post it here. Well, now I am for those that missed it. I also put together one other mix featuring music pulled from my Sega Saturn game collection which I also neglected to post about.

Download: ♪ CoverCast #7: Kaiden

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For my seventh CoverCast I wanted to do something for Halloween. 怪談 (Kaidan) essentially means “ghost story”, so I pulled together a few of the darkest music I had  along with clips from  horror films and tv shows. Play it at your Halloween party or something! There’s a few minutes that are actually danceable. People will love it, maybe. Warning, there is some strong language.

  1. Haiku D’Etat – Westside Slip N’ Slide
  2. Oscar McClure – Kitchen Scraps (Baths’ Otalgia Mix)
  3. s.maharba – The Look
  4. Gonjasufi – Untitled
  5. Jneiro Jarel – Shadoze
  6. Alain Goraguer – L’Oiseau
  7. The Gaslamp Killer – Shattering Inner Journeys (Featuring Computer Jay & Mike Burnham)
  8. Guilty Simpson – Coroner’s Music
  9. Tony Williams – Once I Loved
  10. Dem Hunger – Mosque Vibrations
  11. Shining – Goretex Weather Report
  12. Company Flow – Blind
  13. JD & The Evil’s Dynamite Band – The Evil D’s
  14. Broadcast & The Focus Group – A Seancing Song
  15. James Pants – I Promise I Lied
  16. Flying Lotus – I Feel Like Dying
  17. Ras G – Discipline09-4
  18. King Midas Sound – Miles & Miles
  19. Jogger – Nephicide

Flying Lotus – Pattern+Grid World

This is the kind of news that makes my day! Warp Records is releasing a new EP by Flying Lotus in September called Pattern+Grid World, a collection of new tracks coming just months after his last full-length, Cosmogramma (probably my favorite album this year). If Reset is any indication, he is no slouch on his EPs so I’m really looking forward to this. Included with the album is a poster by Portland-based artist Theo Ellsworth (below).

I’m not familiar with Ellsworth, but he has a Flickr account packed with his work which is all pretty fantastic and surreal. A great match for Lotus’ sound, I think. Here’s another piece below that I liked, similar to the format of the poster, along with some amazing woodcut characters.

While I’m not sure what the rest of the album is going to sound like, I do know this (below) is the beat that Mike Bigga (aka Killer Mike) used for “Swimming” on Adult Swim’s recent Singles Program (also below). I want to hear more southern rappers over tracks like this.

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Download: ♪ Mike Bigga – “Swimming”

Update: As Judge Mental from Vinyl Meltdown pointed out in the comments, Ellsworth also illustrated this great cover for Ramona Fall’s album Intuit.

Flying Lotus
Theo Ellsworth
Theo Ellsworth @ Flickr
Warp Records: New EP Pattern+Grid World – out 20/21 September 2010
Adult Swim Singles Program
Ramona Fall

Madlib – Madlib Medicine Show #7: High Jazz

The “Madlib Invazion” has been going on for a long time, but this year Madlib is working extra hard to get as much money from my wallet as possible. The Madlib Medicine Show is a monthly series of albums all by Madlib. Odd months are original material, even are mixes. July’s release, High Jazz, is a compilation of new and unreleased tracks from the Yesterdays Universe collective. And by collective, I mean imaginary musicians that Madlib uses as a mask, bringing some friends like Karriem Riggins and Ivan Conti along the way.

The album is in much the same spirit as Yesterdays Universe, which I wrote about back in 2007. Each track is supposedly taken from rare records in Madlib’s giant collection, going as far as having Jeff Jank create covers for each, same as he did for Yesterdays Universe. The Blue Note/Reid Miles influence on the front cover is obvious. The other covers may be less so.

As with all odd month Medicine Shows (like #1), a 3 LP limited edition vinyl version (above) with covers screen-printed by the Hit + Run Crew was released. Of course it’s sold out now, but it looked very attractive. I also wanted to share what will soon be the cover of the next album in the series, Advanced Jazz. See how many jazz musicians you can identify crossing the Hudson.

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Download: ♪ Generation Match – “Electronic Dimension”

Jeff Jank
Hit + Run Crew

Jihae – Succubus

DeviantART has a reputation of being a bottomless pit of amateur anime doodles and lazy photography. But really, there are a lot of great artists there (Jasinski, for example), though you may have to dig for them. One of those artists is ~trance-orange, aka Lala aka Lauren Albert. As soon as I came across her profile I was amazed by the colorful, distorted, twisted, at times multi-limbed/eyed figures that occupy her work.

She recently posted the piece up top, a cover for experimental pop artist Jihae’s single “Succubus”. This is actually a variant of what was actually used for the cover, which has a warmer orange and green color scheme. Above are two similar pieces from her portfolio. Also, an animation! Featuring music by The Knife.

~trance-orange @ DeviantART
The Knife

The Cover Down Resurrection

To accompany The Cover Up’s new home, I’ve also begun migrating posts from my other album cover blog, The Cover Down, into a Tumblr page. After I’ve finished moving the old posts I’ll start scanning new covers from my collection. Yes, this is a Blogger exodus.