Throughout the month of December we’ll be posting lists of the best music of the year as determined by the volunteers that make CHIRP what it is. Today’s is from CHIRP DJ, Mike Scales.
Baroness – Blue Record (Relapse)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
First in a trilogy of Georgian metal acts on this list, Baroness breathed energetic new life into their signature roar and dizzying riffage on this year’s Blue Record. Fine-tuned, dynamic arrangements and soulful acoustic passages make for an instantly classic and cohesive feel to the work as a whole. I’m beginning to expect nothing but the best from this band.
Blakroc – s/t (V2)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Blues-based, ass shakin’ beats courtesy of the Black Keys with off-the-cuff rap performances by the likes of Wu-Tang’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Raekwon & RZA, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Ludacris, Q-Tip, etc. What more could you ask for?
Eyedea & Abilities – By The Throat (Rhymesayers)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
This record from the veteran Rhymesayers Entertainment emcee/DJ duo took me a couple listens to get into. But once the noisy, distorted rock guitars and half-sung songs sunk in, I was hooked. By the Throat is a grand testament to the power of innovative indie hip-hop; can’t wait to hear what these guys do next.
Kylesa – Static Tensions (Prosthetic)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Georgian sludge maidens Kylesa have really come into their own with Static Tensions; their signature co-ed vocals and dual-drummer attack more melodically and structurally sound than ever. And, truth be told, I just can’t get enough of sultry guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants. She simply rules.
Mariachi El Bronx – s/t (Swami)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
L.A.’s punk rock scorchers the Bronx strip-down and suit-up for their new project: a traditional, full-blown, honest-a-god Mariachi band! Cowbells, mandolins, horns and all! It is simply awesome! Do yourself a solid and also download their version of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U.” It’s a shame it wasn’t included on the album, might just leave you speechless.
Mastodon – Crack the Skye (Reprise)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
One of the biggest buzz bands of the metal community and beyond this year, Mastodon has proven themselves truly epic and progressive better than any of their prior output. A record inspired by personal tragedy, out-of-body travel through space and time and good ol’ Rasputin, Crack the Skye can and will be studied on many levels by heavy music aficionados for a long time to come.
Mayer Hawthorne – A Strange Arrangement (Stones Throw)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
True old-timey soul revival in its purest form. Well, as pure and true as a 30-year old white dude from Ann Arbor, MI, can get at least. Hawthorne wrote, arranged, produced and played most of the instruments on this heck-of-an album for the Stones Throw label. Listen to “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” now!
Priestess – Prior to the Fire (TeePee)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
I simply cannot say enough about Montreal’s hard rock/metal masters Priestess! The band churns out tunes with the kind of wide-open, barnstorming rock riffs and old school metal swagger that will instantly have you singing along and banging your head in delight. Prior to the Fire may just be near-perfect record #2 for these guys.
Serengeti & Polyphonic – Terradactyl (Anticon)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
With his genre-defying funny/strange flows, one of the most unique and prolific unsung heroes of Chicago hip-hop, Serengeti, is an emcee in a world of his own. And yet somehow dude found and equally eccentric producer in Polyphonic to perfectly compliment his style. Their second full-length together, Terradactyl, is also some of the best left-field hip-hop to come out of the Anticon label in years.
Slayer – World Painted Blood (American)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
What can I say? I have to give love in 2009 to thrash titans/Hot Topic whores Slayer for proving once and for all that reuniting with original drummer Dave Lombardo and putting out a beast as badass as 2006’s Christ Illusion was no mere fluke. The righteous riffage of World Painted Blood is as uncompromising as any of Slayer’s last 20 years of work and, lyrically, these old ass dudes are still as pissed off as ever. Hail.