Now we can move forward…
15. Of Montreal, False Priest (Polyvinyl)
Crazy, crazy shit. Of Montreal’s latest album sounds like “Sign o’ the Times”-era Prince meeting Frank Zappa in a dark alley and taking lots and lots (and lots) of drugs. With assistance from left-leaning R&B vocalists like Solange and Janelle Monae, the indie-rock collective made 2010′s most delightfully eclectic album. Synthesizers, live drums, guitars, Jon Brion…Kevin Barnes has put together some unbelievable stuff.
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14. Cee-Lo Green, The Lady Killer (Atlantic)
I’m almost tempted to move The Lady Killer up a few places, seeing as it’s been in near-constant rotation on my iPod for the past several days. Hell, I’m not even thinking of calling this a definitive list anyway. Nevertheless, while “Fuck You” was the attention-grabber here (something gimmicky and well-crafted, who knew?), it was merely one of several extraordinary tracks on the Goodie Mob/Gnarls Barkley frontman’s third solo album. Cee-Lo has the most powerful singing voice in popular music right now, he’s an exemplary lyricist, and he made an incredible record despite not showing off his strongest artistic quality (his superhuman rap skills).
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13. B.o.B., The Adventures of Bobby Ray (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
Mainstream hip-hop’s most talented newcomers of 2010 (Drake and B.o.B.) both bucked trends that have somewhat incorrectly (and also somewhat sadly) come to define the genre over the past decade or so. Despite Drake not being an MVP-caliber emcee, the man knows how to craft songs, and the same could be said for Atlanta B.o.B, while also adding in superior musicianship (an element that’s certainly been lacking in the genre) and a fearless eclecticism. How many other times will you hear T.I. and Rivers Cuomo on the same album?
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12. Big Boi, Sir Luscious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)
Nearly twenty years in the game, and OutKast’s less noticeable half is just now on the top of his game. Plagued by numerous delays, Leftfoot was thankfully picked up by Def Jam, the label run by OutKast’s original benefactor, L.A. Reid. Despite record label politrics keeping Andre 3000 from making a vocal appearance, Big’s debut solo joint didn’t suffer from his partner’s absence. Witty lyrics (might Big make a ten most underrated emcees list?) and head-nodding production that guaranteed an hour of continuous head-nodding, Big Boi’s debut was the funkiest hour of music released in the past twelve months.
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(I just noticed that the last three albums come from Atlanta-based artists. Holy shit-I need to move.)
11. Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs, God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise (RCA)
As a native New Yorker, it seems a little strange that two of my Top 15 albums have songs that reference being “killed” by the city of my birth…eh, maybe not so much when you consider that I could’ve written a song with the same title at the same time that I broke north. Anyway, I digress. My favorite singer/songwriter-in-need-of-a-hug got funky (“Repo Man” was an uncharacteristically James Brown-esque left turn for the crooner) and proved that he don’t need no stinkin’ outside producer with his excellent fourth album.
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