1. Blunderbuss- Jack White Jack White’s first solo album was more than just successful, it is essential and I find myself coming back to it time and time again. It’s everything a rock/folk/country album should be: easy listening, profound lyrics that make you think, catchy guitar riffs, melodious depth and character. I feel like I know this guy when I listen to this album and I can relate. Jack White doesn’t have to give interviews about his personal life, just listen to the lyrics on this album and you’ll gain a better understanding of the man living in a beautiful yet twisted blunderbuss. His lyrics are dark, yet playful and meaningful; characteristics that embody Jack White at his core. He is quoted as saying, “I’ve put off making records under my own name for a long time but these songs feel like they could only be presented under my name. These songs were written from scratch, had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own expression, my own colors on my own canvas.” The songs are superficially lighthearted but when you dedicate yourself to sitting down and giving the album your undivided attention, you realize this is no fairytale album. Jack White is showing you who he is: a romantic driven by emotion, passion, and turmoil. (Favorite Song: Hypocritical Kiss) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-28JBTLhToQ
2. Happy Body Music-Monkey Safari The first full-length album from the German duo is nothing short of brilliant. Their ability to transcend genres and create a dynamic dance album with such tropical flair and fun sounds is outrageously creative and truly inspiring. Effortlessly merging genres ranging from tech house and breaks to hip-hop and funk, the album is happy from beginning to end; the title says it all. Warning to all future listeners: you will dance, this is some serious monkey business! (Favorite Song: Talking Mama) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXh7Zm216tg
3. Popup Cinema- Tropics This smooth track is a baby maker. The sexy r-n-b vocals (kind of sound like Alicia Keyes?) are so sultry and feel like aural velvet running through my eardrums. And the lyrics? Are few but still heartbreaking in the best possible way. The emotion-filled song is just a taste of what to come from the radiant producer Chris Ward. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmYQJmAjlDQ
4. Kindred EP-Burial I heard this EP and instantly purchased it. What a killer EP! Now here is a man that is making dubstep that flirts with ambient house—it’s an unbeatable combination when done correctly, and Burial has just raised the bar. The tracks say so little yet make you feel so much. The sparse vocals speak volumes and leave you mesmerized. The earthiness obtained in the sounds created on this EP is memorable and haunting. I feel grounded, yet in space at the same time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wC16FJTI6XM
5. The Face EP- Disclosure The duo from Leeds UK are breakout stars of the year. They are singlehandedly changing the landscape of dance music, by creating this bass-heavy house music smeared with airy r-n-b vocals, whimsical soul and not to mention the occasional porn sample (Oh!). Their music appeals to not only the underground resistance but to the mainstreamers as well. They are providing a foundation to bridge the gap between these two groups and are doing one hell of a job. (Favorite song: What’s in Your Head) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AvpBWu7PKE
6. Paranoid Funk- Alex Niggemann 26 year-old Alex Niggemann wasn’t always making funky house music, the Berlin-based music producer used to be a classical pianist before he traversed a more technological path. For his debut album, Alex had one goal in mind: “to create an album which is different to typical club or listening albums…. where songs fit together (even when having different styles) without being too similar.” Alex not only accomplished his goal but also created an album full of sounds that are edgy, sexy, and at times dark yet always funky and fresh. Paranoid Funk is an entertaining “funkoction” made up of seductive club bangers and contemplative tunes. Alex planned it this way; he wanted the album to reflect the social aspect of his music and its twofold function as a dance record and the soundtrack to everyday life. (Favorite Song: Sweetest Thing) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXOqmEHKaRo
7. Until the Quiet Comes- Flying Lotus Damn, does this man ever put out any BAD music? Not a chance and his latest release is bulletproof. With a collaborative effort from the likes of Thom Yorke, Erykah Badu, and others, Flylo has put together an album that gives direct insight to his colorful imagination. This album is just like a dream, someone pinch me…please?
8. TNGHT- TNGHT This record is the first of its kind, where UK garage finally meets hip hop and conceives a child titled TNGHT. Hudson Mohawke and Lunice are the men behind this moniker and have the dancefloor credentials to make such a stunner. This album is the future of hip-hop in my opinion and this duo will be doing great things in the coming year—you can count on it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygKLQ1ItVGY
9. Get Free ft. Amber Coffman- Diplo Nominated for a Grammy in the category of best non-classical producer, Diplo has had one hell of a year. And amidst his booty-bumping remixes and collaborations is this gem of a song. Easily one of my favorite songs of the year, Get Free features the celestial vocals of Amber Coffman from the Dirty Projectors and eclectic beats that cater to a wide audience. Everyone I’ve played to this song becomes instantly addicted—it’s just that good. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI3shBXlqsw
10. Break it Yourself- Andrew Bird This is a romantic-filled album with a combination of Bird’s soothing vocals, his trademark violin-picking technique, guitar skills, glockenspiel and perfect-pitch whistling. His use of old instrumentation provides depth and soul to folk rock. This album is perfect for cold winter nights, rainy days with a loved one or even a picnic on a sunny day. To sum it up, it’s everything you have come to expect from this amazingly talented multi-instrumentalist.(Favorite Track: Give it Away) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p80TKl5WR1I
11. KENDRICK LAMAR- Good kidd, m.A.A.d city
Easily gets my #1 hip-hop album of the year. Incredible story and poetic lyrics. The beats are incredible, produced by Dr. Dre, Just Blaze and Pharrell. Incredible and inspiring album with hits that will be played for a lifetime to come. Yes, it’s that good.