Nov 28, 2014

2013 Year In Review Part V: The Singles

Continuing with the 2013 wrap-up, here are my favorite 100 singles of said year.

100. "Graceless" - The National
99. "Down the Deep River" - Okkervil River
98. "Whoa" - Earl Sweatshirt f. Tyler, the Creator
97. "Entertainment!" - Phoenix
96. "Story of My Life" - One Direction
95. "Lord Summerisle" - Blood Ceremony
94. "Bugs Don't Buzz" - Majical Cloudz
93. "Lecce, Leaving" - Lee Ranaldo & The Dust
92. "Wake Me Up" - Avicii f. Aloe Blacc
91. "F For You" - Disclosure
90. "God is Dead?" - Black Sabbath
89. "The Oil Slick" - Frightened Rabbit
88. "Versace" - Migos
87. "Fall Back" - Factory Floor
86. "Hannah Hunt" - Vampire Weekend
85. "The Long Road Home" - Inter Arma
84. "A Body Shrouded" - Altar of Plagues
83. "Berzerk" - Eminem
82. "Where Are We Now" - David Bowie
81. "Strandbar (disko)" - Todd Terje
80. "Hesperus" - Wold People
79. "Vino Verso" - Oranssi Pazuzu
78. "Royals" - Lorde
77. "Hush Hush" - Pistol Annies
76. "Days Are Gone" - Haim
75. "She Will" - Savages
74. "Orchard" - Windhand
73. "It Starts and Ends With You" - Suede
72. "Hood Pope" - A$AP Ferg
71. "Diane Young" - Vampire Weekend
70. "Nobody Asked Me (If I Was OK)" - Sky Ferreria
69. "Pink Slips" - Okkervil River
68. "I Appear Missing" - Queens of the Stone Age
67. "The Only Shrine I've Seen" - Darkside
66. "Brighter!" - Cass McCombs f. Karen Black
65. "Come Walk With Me" - M.I.A.
64. "Reflektor" - Arcade Fire
63. "Brainfreeze" - Fuck Buttons
62. "Pretty Boy (Peaking Lights Remix)" - Young Galaxy
61. "Sleeper" - Ty Segall
60. "Pallid Hands" - In Solitude
59. "PrimeTime" - Janelle Monae f. Miguel
58. "My Number" - Foals
57. "Shabba" - A$AP Ferg f. A$AP Rocky
56. "I Wanna Be Yours" - Arctic Monkeys
55. "All You're Waiting For" - Classixx f. Nancy Whang
54. "Song For Zula" - Phosphorescent
53. "86" - Dawn Richard
52. "Hello Stranger" - Julia Holter
51. "Kush Coma" - Danny Brown
50. "Come Back Haunted" - Nine Inch Nails
49. "Monomania" - Deerhunter
48. "Dance Apocalyptic" - Janelle Monae
47. "Ohm" - Yo La Tengo
46. "Goldtone" - Kurt Vile
45. "Do I Wanna Know?" - Arctic Monkeys
44. "Full of Fire" - The Knife
43. "The Mother We Share" - Chvrches
42. "Merry Go 'Round" - Kacey Musgraves
41. "So Far..." - Eminem
40. "Captive Bolt Pistol" - Carcass
39. "Chain Smoker" - Chance the Rapper
38. "#Beautiful" - Mariah Carey f. Miguel
37. "Avocado Baby" - Los Campesinos
36. "Bound 2" - Kanye West
35. "Waking On A Pretty Day" - Kurt Vile
34. "Elephant" - Jason Isbell
33. "Me and You and Jackie Mittoo" - Superchunk
32. "Banana Clipper" - Run the Jewels f. Big Boi
31. "I Blame Myself" - Sky Ferreria
30. "Falling" - Haim
29. "Karate Chop" - Future f. Casino
28. "Rival Dealer" - Burial
27. "Love is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy)" - David Bowie
26. "Need U (100%)" - Duke Damont f. A*M*E
25. "Partition" - Beyonce
24. "Small Plane" - Bill Callahan
23. "Dream House" - Deafheaven
22. "Weight" - Mikal Cronin
21. "Feds Watching" - 2 Chainz
20. "Q.U.E.E.N." - Janelle Monae f. Erykah Badu
19. "Wrecking Ball" - Miley Cyrus
18. "Leave No Cross Unturned" - Darkthrone
17. "Bugati" - Ace Hood f. Future & Rick Ross
16. "Nosetalgia" - Pusha T & Kendrick Lamar
15. "XO" - Beyonce
14. "Toe Cutter - Thumb Buster" - Thee Oh Sees
13. "Follow Your Arrow" - Kacey Musgraves
12. "Roar" - Katy Perry
11. "Latch" - Discolsure

10. "Step" - Vampire Weekend
With their surprisingly solid third record, Vampire Weekend cemented their reputation as one of indie rock's more consistent acts right now. It was easy to think, even after 2010's Contra, that these guys might just be destined for flash-in-the-pan status. But Modern Vampires of the City showed a band growing in all the right ways, never more than on "Step", one of the album's two advance singles. It's a lush production making nice use of the harpsichord, a near ballad with a chorus not likely to leave your head anytime soon.

9. "Black Skinhead" - Kanye West
It took me a long time to crack the code to Yeezus, at least to fully enjoying it, but this was the song that finally helped me to find the way in. The production, with a little help from everyone's favorite helmeted robots, was noisy, unsettling and insidiously ingratiating, getting under your skin even when you didn't want it to. Lyrically, it is as messy as Yeezus is throughout, but Kanye sounds more ferocious and rabid than he ever has before. Even if Yeezus as a whole wasn't a success, credit to Kanye for spinning out.

8. "Get Lucky" - Daft Punk
The most inescapable tune of 2013, but at least it was a damn good one for once. The Nile Rodgers funk guitar is the icing on the cake, what hooked me from the first time I watched the commercial from Coachella in advance of the single's full release. In a year when Kanye went full-on abrasive and a young girl from Australia brought us her brand of goth-pop, it was nice to hear such an unabashedly joyous pop song all over the radio.

7. "Imagine It Was Us" - Jessie Ware
This was a later UK single that was appended to the end of the North American version of Devotion, but it ended up being one of my favorite tracks on her debut. While I liked "Wildest Moments" and "110%" well enough, this 80s synth-pop song was the one that fully won me over. The beat, courtesy of Julio Bashmore, thumps much harder than I anticipate and pairs nicely with Ware's sweaty delivery. For me, this was the album's liveliest track.

6. "Lanzarote" - Lindstrom & Todd Terje
Todd Terje has had quite a great few years, kicking off with 2012's fantastic "Inspector Norse" and it's parent It's the Arps EP. Continuing the lead-up to his long gestating debut studio album, he released the also fantastic single "Strandbar"and this brilliant collaboration with Hans-Peter Lindstrom. Lindstrom brings his climactic space-disco to the party and it pairs extremely well with Terje's melodic instincts. I'd love a full album-length collaboration between these two.

5. "Stoned and Starving" - Parquet Courts
"Stoned and Starving" was the longest track and statement of intent on Parquet Courts breakthrough second record, Light Up Gold. Stretching their slacker indie rock out with multiple guitar solos that allow the song to ebb and flow like waves washing across the floor of your local dive bar. There's a line here that can be traced through The Velvet Underground, Tom Verlaine and Pavement, that Parquet Courts have picked up and run with. But, true to their punk spirit, this is really just a song about being stoned and starving.

4. "Doin' It Right" - Daft Punk f. Panda Bear
In an album filled with some unexpected collaborations, pulling in Animal Collective's Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) was probably the most surprising. And, with some time and distance, arguably the most successful. Noah's chilled out vocals mesh really well with the groovy simplicity of one of the more minimal tracks on Random Access Memories. It adds a life-affirming, buoyant tone to the end of a diverse record, rounding things out on a hopeful note.

3. "New Slaves" - Kanye West
Like "Black Skinhead", Kanye West unleashed "New Slaves" on an unsuspecting SNL audience in advance of the album's full release. This is the even fiercer, less cohesive of the two - structured more as one of his trademark rants than a typical verse-chorus-verse rap song. West unleashes a tirade that (ridiculously enough) conflates his attempts to break into the high fashion world with the history of the black struggle in America. It feels personally intense and intensely personal, giving white America the most haunting version of Kanye West they could imagine. Even more so when he projected this on the side of a few buildings around the world in a PR stunt. The first truly punk rock moment Kanye has pulled off.

2. "Still Into You" - Paramore
After an acrimonious split (as detailed in several of the other songs on their self-titled fourth album) with the Farro brothers, the remaining founding members (Hayley Williams and Jeremy Davis) forged forward with the bands most unabashedly pop, and greatest, album yet. And "Still Into You" is their greatest album's greatest song, a sugar-sweet pop metal ballad that should have soundtracked a thousand proms. 

1. "The Wire" - Haim
When it came time to pick my favorite single of 2013, it was really a no-brainer. This was the song I played most throughout the year, the one I used to convert as many other people as possible to the cult of Haim. "The Wire" is textbook perfect pop as far as I'm concerned, a guided tour through the last forty years of popular music, from the folk influenced vocal melodies to the Fleetwood Mac polish and snap to the Mutt Lange arena guitar touches. Wonderful.

Nov 27, 2014

2013 Year In Review Part IV: The Live Albums

Now my ten favorite live releases of 2013...

10. Rush - Clockwork Angels Tour (Anthem/Roadrunner)
A new Rush live album is always cause for celebration, especially when the current album they are touring behind is as strong as Clockwork Angels was. In addition to the current album material, there are some really well-chosen dips into the band's 80s catalog.

9. The Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania Live in NYC (Universal)
As much as the Pumpkins Mk II frustrates the living hell out of me, Oceania was a decent album and this live document was probably as good as we could hope for from the band at this point. The back half is, naturally, my favorite, as they dip back into the classic catalog, but the new stuff doesn't sound half bad on stage either.

8. Fuzz - Live in San Francisco (Castle Face)
Ty Segall's band, Fuzz, was, like pretty much everything else he does, another thrilling entry in an increasingly impressive catalog. Thankfully, someone was smart enough to capture a live set recorded on Ty's birthday, the results we have here. As fuzzed out, chaotic and thrilling as you'd expect from anything with Segall's name on it.

7. Iron Maiden - Maiden England '88 (EMI)
An archival live release from the band's Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour back in, well, 1988, this captures a killer live band at one of their several killer live peaks. The tracklist is basically a 1980s greatest hits package, which basically means the greatest of the band's greatest, although there are a few surprising detours.

6. Anathema - Untouchable (Kscope)
Considering their genesis as a doom band signed to Peaceville records, this band's evolution into a top-notch prog rock band has been pretty fascinating to hear, even if it alienated many of their early fans. This set was recorded during the tour for 2012's excellent Weather Systems album, when they were backed during a one-off in an ancient Roman theater by the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra. It takes Weather Systems' already emotional rock to a whole new level.

5. Grateful Dead - Sunshine Daydream (Rhino)
This has always been a well regarded classic Dead performance, recorded on a sunny day in Oregon back in 1972, thanks to the bootleg tapes and the documentary film that was recorded of the day. But it's nice to have a nice and shiny official release to treasure, and what a day it must have been for Deadheads. The first set is a thrill, but it never gets better than the half hour "Dark Star" from the second set.

4. High On Fire - Spitting Fire Live Vol. 1 & 2 (E1)
Considering that I've been fortunate enough to catch them live twice, I can absolutely confirm that High On Fire slays live.  For those that have never seen them on stage, or for those fans like me that want to relive the intensity, the band finally released two discs of amazing live material (though the band's decision to issue them as two full-price separate discs still irks me) to help fill the void. The two discs span their entire career, reinforcing the idea that they haven't slowed down a bit and only continue to grow as a band.

3. Neil Young - Live at the Cellar Door (Reprise)
Seeing as how it seems increasingly unlikely that we will ever see the next volume in the Archives series (at least, probably not on any format we'll ever actually use), us Neil Young fans will have to content ourselves with these sporadic live releases. This pulls from six 1970 performances that Neil gave at Washington D.C.'s Cellar Door. This is solo Neil, so expect his trademark acoustic work, but the surprise here is the time he spends at the piano, reinventing a few of his well-known tracks.

2. Miles Davis Quintet - Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 2 (Legacy)
Much like Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series, the one recently begun for Mile Davis is giving fans a fantastic look at live performances that might have otherwise stayed out of the hands of the less intense collector. This set features Miles' third great quintet (the "lost" band - Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Wayne Shorter) during a 1969 trip through Europe. It's a fascinating trip through a compelling period, as Miles was preparing to go even further in a rock fusion direction.

1. Goat - Live Ballroom Ritual (Rocket Recordings)
Fitting that my favorite record of 2012 would lead to my favorite live record of 2013. But, truth be told, I was always a little unsure about how well this Swedish experimental fusion band's sound would translate to the live stage, so it was great to hear that it worked even better than I could have imagined. This live ritual was captured on the eve of their Glastonbury performance in front of just over 1,000 rabid fans, understandably entranced by the sound whipped up by this intriguing group.

2013 Year In Review Part III: The Reissues/Compilations

Continuing on with the 2013 wrap-up, here are my favorite reissues and compilations of the year.

10. King Crimson - Red [2013 Reissue] (DGM)
I've been slowly dipping my toes into King Crimson, ever since someone uploaded three excellently curated discs to a message board I frequent a few years ago. Combine this with my love of all things Steven Wilson and I was thrilled to see the reissue of this record in a 2-disc version, complete with some bonus live material and a Steven Wilson remix of the entire record. This marked the end of the 70s era, as Robert Fripp would disband this version shortly after Red came out. I'm not well versed enough to know how this slots into their overall career arc, but it should a markedly different version of the band than I was used to hearing.

9. Thee Oh Sees - Singles Collection Vol. 3 (Castle Face)
As it says on the tin, this is volume three in the ongoing attempt to capture all of the singles, one-offs, covers and rarities from Thee Oh Sees, this time encompassing 2011-2013. The twenty minutes worth of live material at the end is the obvious highlight, but I also really fell for their Sonic Youth and Mr. Quintron covers, "Burning Spear" and "FBI2" respectively.

8. Rodan - Fifteen Quiet Years (Quarterstick)
Though I knew they also released an EP and a handful of other stray tracks, Rodan, for me, was always one of those bands that released one perfect record, Rusty in this case, before disappearing completely. So I was thankful for this chance to grab some of their scattered compilation appearances and Peel sessions, especially considering the bonus digital download of ten live tracks. Rodan played a key part in the development of a certain strain of 90s indie rock, leading as they did to bands like Shipping News, June of 44 and Rachel's, among others. This is a great chance to understand that the fuss extended well beyond just Rusty.

7. Rilo Kiley - Rkives (Little Record Company)
While it wasn't until 2014 when Jenny Lewis made it pretty much official, everyone had pretty much assumed that Rilo Kiley was gone for good before that. So those of us fans were really happy to hear about this posthumous collection of scraps and B-sides. Given the wide scope, this actually plays pretty damn well as some sort of "lost" Rilo Kiley record, weaving in their growth from a hushed indie rock band to the full-blown pop stars they aimed to become with their major label bow. I've loved all of Jenny's solo work enough not to be terribly brokenhearted, but I will miss her interactions with Blake Sennett. Still not sure about that Too $hort remix though.

6. Mad Season - Above [Deluxe Edition] (Columbia)
This was a seminal record for me back in college. And, no, that isn't hyperbole. I must have listened to this at least 200 times in the first six months after it was released. At the time I was a huge grunge guy and I loved how it bled out into blues lethargy and an almost jazz-like feel. A lot of people wrote this off as a Layne Staley vanity project, but each of the four members (five when you count Mark Lanegan's contributions) played a very important part. This reissue adds as bonus tracks the only other five songs they ever officially released (including a John Lennon cover) as well as an audio version of the Live at the Moore performance (which I originally owned on VHS, I was really hardcore about these dudes at one time).

5. Killing Joke - The Singles Collection 1979-2012 (Spinefarm)
Killing Joke were a weird band, a constantly evolving unit that was difficult to pin down and always fascinating to hear evolve. This 2-disc collection of their singles tries really hard to form a cohesive narrative. While I'm not sure it ever does, this band is so hard to distill, it does make for a great listen. From their earliest punk days to the goth-rock years to the synth-pop experiments to industrial, it's all here and accounted for. The best advice I can give is to just dive in with both feet and find out which eras appeal first.

4. The Smashing Pumpkins - The Aeroplane Flies High [Reissue] (EMI)
As a longtime Smashing Pumpkins fan, though let's not talk about whatever that current incarnation is, I've been a huge fan of this extensive reissue campaign. I was really surprised to hear that they were even going all out with The Aeroplane Flies High, considering its original incarnation was itself a clearinghouse for B-sides and demos. But they managed to jam pack 6 discs with a whole boatload of MCIS era demos, live tracks and all manner of ephemera. Plus, a live DVD from France. The only drawback is that the box is nowhere near as cool as that 45 box that the original version came in.

3. Nirvana - In Utero [20th Anniversary Reissue] (DGC)
While not nearly as extensive or wide-reaching as the Smashing Pumpkins reissue campaign, mostly because Cobain was not nearly as obsessive about recording every stray thought as Billy Corgan was, this is still a really well done reissue of a seminal grunge era record. I loved this when it came out, most days I think this is actually my favorite Nirvana record, and it's nice to have the era's B-sides and demos all in one place.


2. Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) (Columbia)
The years encompassed by the latest entry in the always excellent Bootleg Series were strange ones for Dylan, leading to two 1970 albums that weren't originally well received and marked an interesting turn in his career. These two discs do a great job of allowing us to reevaluate this era, while making the case that Dylan's songwriting was as strong as ever, even if it was branching out into unexpected directions. The alternate versions of the New Morning and Self Portrait tracks also make a case for those records being a lot better than you probably remember.

1. Various Artists - Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound (Numero Group)
Leave it to the good folks at Numero Group to unearth another stellar collection of songs that highlight another unexpected corner of the musical universe - this time the rock, soul and funk hybrid that bubbled up in the 1970s and early 80s that paved the way for one Prince Rogers Nelson to take the world by storm. Admittedly, this type of music isn't something I reach for often, but I think that says something about how overjoyed I am whenever I listen to these tracks. The names aren't familiar, but there are some stone cold classic tunes buried within.

2013 Year In Review Part II: The EPs

As I continue with the via//chicago review of the year in music for 2013, I've decided to break things down into individual posts rather than combining the non albums and singles list into one catch-all. Trying to list the EPs, reissues and live albums all in one post last year felt a little rushed and not well thought out, so let's give them each a little breathing room. To start with, my ten favorite EPs from 2013.

10. Vasaeleth - All Uproarious Darkness (Profound Lore)
I have always been able to count on Profound Lore to bring killer new metal bands to my attention, as was the case with the second EP from the Georgia/Colorado death metal duo Vasaeleth. All Uproarious Darkness tears by in a tight 20 minutes, with each song clocking in just under four minutes, meaning each song gets in and gets out without ever overstaying its welcome. The perfect taster for wherever they may end up on their eventual sophomore full-length. I'll certainly be paying attention.

9. Demon Eye - Shades of Black (Self-Released)
This North Carolina heavy metal band made a hell of an impression on me with this self-released debut EP (as any good band named after a Deep Purple song should). Apparently I wasn't the only one, as they were quickly snatched up by Soulseller Records for the 2014 follow-up full-length. This is fairly traditionally minded heavy metal/hard rock with a healthy does of occult influence, but that doesn't mean this isn't fresh or exciting. They mix their razor sharp riffs with even sharper pop hooks, reminding me at times of Thin Lizzy.

8. Deceptor - Chains of Delusion (Shadow Kingdom)
Two things sold me on this British thrash metal band's second EP - the fact that it was released on Shadow Kingdom and the fantastic Judas Priest inspired cover art. Fortunately, the music within nicely lives up the high expectations set in my mind by that robot dragon. They stir together the best parts of thrash, power and speed metal to make a pretty interesting racket topped off by Dickinsonian vocals. I really hope these guys have a full-length in them soon.

7. Whirr - Around (Graveface)
Around was Bay Area shoegaze band Whirr's stop-gap EP between their two full-length albums, it was also where I jumped on as a fan. Modern day shoegaze can be a really hit-or-miss preposition, but these guys are much more hit than miss to my ears. I think what helps is the metal and Northern California alt-rock influences. The former makes a lot of sense, considering the guitarist used to be in Deafheaven, and the latter feels like a bit of Deftones in the mix. Not everyone's cup of tea, to be sure, but it brought me on board.

6. Wild Nothing - Empty Estate (Captured Tracks)
Especially in 2013, Captured Tracks was, much like Profound Lore was to metal, a label that I could really count on to give me some really good young indie rock bands to be excited about (as few and far between as those are these days). Empty Estate followed closely on the heels of the excellent 2012 album, Nocturne, and found Jack Tatum pushing his sound further into 80s derived electro-pop territory.

5. The Gates of Slumber - Stormcrow (Scion A/V)
It's kind of hard to write much about this EP, now that it has officially become the band's swan song following the 2013 departure of bassist Jason McCash, and more depressingly his 2014 overdose death. After five well received full-length albums, the band felt on the verge of breaking through to even bigger audiences when this was released. And for a free EP, it was a hell of a trip through the band's well-refined and spartan doom sound.

4. Killer Moon - Tunnel Vision (Self-Released)
 Although it was released in June of 2013, this EP became a late year discovery for me that I couldn't get enough of. Considering it clocks in at damn near 40-minutes, it's hard to believe this is "just" an EP, but that's what you get when you mess with long-winded psych rock bands. The Chicago trio self-defines as "twenty first century psychedelic rock band that sounds like Black Sabbath and the Doors have melted into one another", which feels pretty accurate - though I wouldn't let that Doors namedrop scare you off, there aren't any long-winded pieces of poetry here. This was an impressive discovery and I can't wait to hear what comes next.

3. The Flaming Lips - Peace Sword (Warner Bros.)
If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you won't be surprised to see The Flaming Lips appearing again on one of my lists. This was originally born out of the band being asked to soundtrack the long-gestating film adaptation of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, though only one of these songs ended up being accepted by the movie's producers. Not ones to hold anything back in the vaults, Wayne Coyne and his band officially released all of this material as an EP. A diversion from the outre and haunting work they've done on their recent full-lengths, this was more of a throwback to the uplifting anthems of the late 90s/early 00s.

2. Parquet Courts - Tally All the Things That You Broke (What's Your Rupture?)
I'm still not entirely sure what makes the releases under Parkay Quarts different from the ones under Parquet Courts, but rest assured that this won't be the bands only appearance on my 2013 lists. This was the year ending stop-gap EP that shows off a few slightly different flavors of the band's unique indie rock, including a slacker rap Beck homage about delivering weed via bicycle. Fear not, the other four songs fall more in like with the melodic, guitar centric Television inspired rock that they are better known for.

1. Thee Oh Sees - Moon Sick (Castle Face)
These four tracks were recorded during the same sessions that produced Floating Coffin, but there is nothing tossed-off or half-baked about any of these four tracks. The first three tracks are the kind of killer garage rock stompers that Thee Oh Sees are known for and each of them would have been just as fitting on any proper full-length. The finale is a mellower pop tune that brings you back down to earth nice and gentle.

2013 Year In Review Part I: The Introduction

Well, it's been only eight months since I've contributed anything at all to this blog. What better way to break my silence than by posting the eleven-month overdue recap for 2013? But, hey, points for me at least calling this one.

It's a little difficult to reflect on 2013 as a whole, sitting as I am on Thanksgiving Day of 2014, but I'll give it my best shot. 2013 was mostly about settling into the new house and watching my son continue growing and developing every day. Career wise, 2013 was pretty busy, with the renovation project at my alma mater causing more stress and gray hairs than I could've ever predicted (a project which is still going now, but finally at least moved into construction).

Musically, 2013 found me digging ever more deeply into metal, prog and stoner rock - especially sub genres that blurred the lines between all of the above. I fell further away from hip-hop and mainstream pop, but having a toddler that loves to listen to the radio in the car meant I heard more of the latter than I would in an average year. New discoveries felt a little fewer and farther between, more because of a lack of free time than anything else.

Over the next few posts, I'll be posting lists of my favorite music of 2013, so feel free to take a look.

Before we start, a look back...

Albums of the Year
2003: Outkast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
2004: Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News
2005: Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
2006: Mastodon - Blood Mountain
2007: Battles - Mirrored
2008: Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
2009: The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
2010: Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
2011: Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
2012: Goat - World Music

Singles of the Year
2003: "Hey Ya" - Outkast
2004: "Take Me Out" - Franz Ferdinand
2005: "Since U Been Gone" - Kelly Clarkson
2006: "When You Were Young" - The Killers
2007: "Stronger" - Kanye West
2008: "Time to Pretend" - MGMT
2009: "My Girls" - Animal Collective
2010: "Fuck You" - Cee-Lo Green
2011: "Super Bass" - Nikki Minaj
2012: "Bad Religion" - Frank Ocean