Top Ten Albums of 2011: 7, 6, 5

7. Lykke Li, “Wounded Rhymes”

Only superficially recognizable from the woman who recorded Youth Novels, Ms. Li undergoes a striking transformation on her second album. Deepening her petite voice to an unanticipated degree, she matches the dark, aggressive, cavernous music full of upfront percussion and chilling atmosphere beat for clanging beat. She’s still pop (“Sadness is a Blessing” lies halfway between Phil Spector and The Jesus and Mary Chain) but far more profound that previously before.

Favorites: “Youth Knows No Pain”, “Sadness is a Blessing”, “Get Some”

6. Sam Phillips, “Solid State: Songs From The Long Play”

I haven’t written about Phillips’ subscription only project, The Long Play (5 EPs, 1 LP and extras for about $50) because although it’s for a good cause, it’s a lot to ask of a casual fan. Luckily, she’s made this 13-track selection of songs from it available to the public; since it’s a compilation, perhaps it doesn’t flow as well as Don’t Do Anything or Martinis and Bikinis, but her ingenuousness has not diminished; on the contrary, she’s embracing sunny retro pop more than she has since the ’90s, but with the intimate, homemade scope of her ’00s recordings.

Favorites: “Happy Mediums”, “Broken Circle”, “So Glad You’re Here”

5.  Raphael Saadiq, “Stone Rollin'”

Saadiq developed his skills as a member of ’90s R&B stalwarts Tony! Toni! Tone!, but he had fallen off my radar until I heard this album’s lead-off song, “Heart Attack” on WERS. It’s a hell of a “side one, track one” with its insistent, relentless beat. From there, Saadiq just gets crazier and more compelling as he crafts an idiosyncratic take on classic R&B that throws out all the rules. He titles a breathtaking love-will-keep-us-together lament “Go to Hell”, rather resembles a juiced-up Tracy Chapman (!) on the boogie-woogie shuffle “Day Dreams” and tonally runs the gamut from the simple, punky “Radio” to the ornately orchestrated “The Answer”.

Favorites: “Heart Attack”, “Movin’ Down the Line”, “Go To Hell”, “The Answer”

3 Responses to Top Ten Albums of 2011: 7, 6, 5

  1. Howard says:

    Damn! I forgot Sam did Solid State. I even consider the music for my list because I was doing Long Play and didn’t think it’d be available outside of that. I freakin’ love the last part of Long Play which was “Cameras In The Sky” which includes “Broken Circle,” “Happy Mediums,” and my favorite “When I’m A Camera.” The last was certainly the best. She’s supposedly working on a new album for public release.

    • ckriofske says:

      I agree that “Cameras In the Sky” was the best part of The Long Play. I wish “Solid State” had included “Memory Slope”, which was one of my favorite songs on the whole project. Looking forward to that new album.

  2. Howard says:

    Ooo, thanks for reintroducing Saadiq as well. He showed up on the Fitz Pandora channel. Cam & I were going to check him out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: