Top Ranking Albums of December 2012

[Click on the album covers to listen to some samples or to purchase the album]

Samuel YirgaGuzo [Real World Records 2012]

Various ArtistsDjango Unchained [Universal Republic 2012]

Jah CureWorld Cry [SoBe Entertainment 2012]

Various ArtistsStrictly the Best, Vol. 46 [VP Records 2012]

Various ArtistsStrictly the Best, Vol. 47 [VP Records 2012]

Cypress Hill & RuskoCypress Hill X Rusko [EP] [Cooperative Music 2012]

Jah 9Mr. Right [Rorystonelove 2012]

Jah 9Jungle [Rorystonelove 2012]

Damien JuradoMaraqopa [Secretly Canadian 2012]

Irie LoveThis Is Irie Love [Irie Aloha Records 2012]

Wayne WonderMy Way [Singso Music 2012]

Morgan HeritageThe Return EP [VP Records 2012]

J BoogSmoke Bomb Bud [Washhouse Hawaii 2012]

Amy WinehouseAt the BBC [Universal Republic 2012]

Benjamin SchoolsChina Man Vs China Girl [Freaksville 2012]

Kelan Philip Cohran & the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Kelan Philip Cohran & the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble [Honest Jon’s Records 2012]

The Cactus ChannelThe Haptics [Hope Street Recordings 2012]

Big BoiViscous Lies and Dangerous Rumors [Def Jam 2012]

Skillin JahSkillmatic [GanJah Records 2012]

SerynThis Is Where We Are [Seryn 2011]

Buddy Miller and Jim LauderdaleBuddy and Jim [New West 2012]

Kendrick Lamargood kid, m.A.A.d. city [Aftermath 2012]

The MaldivesMuscle for the Wing [Spark and Shine 2012]

WaxahatcheeAmerican Weekend [Don Giovanni 2012]

Matthew DearBeams [Ghostly International 2012]

Public EnemyThe Evil Empire of Everything [King Midas 2012]

Top Ranking Albums of December 2012

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2011 – Friday

The 10th Anniversary of the Austin City Limits Festival brought together a diversified lineup from dubstep deejay Skrillex to bluegrass angel Alison Krauss to motown king Stevie Wonder to west Texas songsmith Ryan Bingham. As always I began my first day with the western swing revivalists Asleep at the Wheel. They opened with “Miles and Miles of Texas.” Ray Benson and his band of accomplished musicians played Bob Wills standards like “New San Antonio Rose” and songs about Bob like the Waylon Jennings classic “Bob Wills Is Still The King.” The Wheel played their hit “Hot Rod Lincoln” and a new song originally performed with Willie Nelson called “Hesitation Blues.” On the set list appeared “Get Your Kicks on Route 66,” “Bump Bounce Boogie,” and “Boogie Back to Texas.” The Wheel brought the sounds of western swing alive.

I caught the end of the Theophilus London set. Banging beats, fresh rhymes, and creative samples impressed this particular listener. For example, London looped a sample of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” over a fat beat dropping science in the rain. London also played his hit “Love Is Real.” The juxtaposition of hip hop with the sweet sounds of the Secret Sisters, in my opinion, is the beauty of a good festival. Diversity is essential.

The Secret Sisters played their hit song “Tennessee Me,” but it was their song selections from past country legends Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, the Everly Brothers, and Patsy Cline that really hit the spot. Take for example, their cover of “Why Baby Why,” which was soft and pure sweetness. These sisters from Muscle Shoals, Alabama strike a sentimental chord in me. The Southern ladies also played the Rufus Wainwright tune “Do You Love An Apple.”

We followed Secret Sisters with the electronic soul man James Blake. The Englishman opened with “Unluck” and “Give Me My Month.” For the most part the talented composer form London stuck with songs from his debut album James Blake, including the tracksI Never Learnt To Share,” “Lindisfarne I,”and “Lindisfarne II.” I especially liked his Fiest cover Limit To Your Love.” And, he spaced out “The Wilhelm Scream,” which concluded a nice set.

Big Boi from the Outkast crew brought Dirty South bounce and swagger into Zilker Park. Unlike many of the recent hip hop shows I’ve seen lately, Big Boi’s flow was exquisite and the sound clear. The set included tracks “General Patton” and “Follow Us” from the new album Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son Of Chico Dusty. But the afternoon also saw a fair share of classics like the “cooler than a polar bear’s toenail” track “ATLiens” and the harmonica banger “Rosa Parks.” Big Boi proved he had a deep catalog with crowd pleasers “So Fresh, So Clean” and “Ms. Jackson.” He also brought rock and roll rap fusion with the protest song “B.O.B.” And, I was very pleased that the Atlanta native unleashed my personal favorite Outkast gem “The Way You Move.”  Nas & Damian Marley followed the Atlanta native rapper making this a lively stage.

Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley entered the stage as the flag bearing the red, gold, and green and the Lion of Judah flew. “As We Enter” kicked off the set. One of my favorite things to do is to see a Marley brother in Austin. Mr. Marley brought the reggae magic while the rhyme-smith Nas dropped serious science. In reality both of these cats are amazing lyricists and when done in tag-team fashion over dope beats booties commence to shake. “As We Enter” the lead track off the excellent Distant Relatives album is a great example of the combination of danceable sounds spiced with tangling hip hop and patois rhymes. The hard-hitting “Nah Mean” kept the vibe alive displaying the perfect marriage of reggae dancehall, African culture, and American rap.

Then Nas unleashed one of my favorite old school rap gems “If I Ruled The World (imagine that).” Following on the heels of the rap standard the Africanized “Dispear” brought down the house. Rebellion drips from this tune. I love it. The fevered pitch of the pounding “Dispear” was cooled off nicely by the roots reggae jam “Land Of Promise.” This Dennis Brown infused track is modern reggae at its best. Positive messages entwined with earth crushing roots reggae sounds made for a perfect evening. Jr. Gong’s “More Justice” from 2001’s Halfway Tree kept the show on this track.

Marley played several songs from his popular album Welcome to Jamrock. “Move!” sampled Bob Marley’s “Exodus” merging classic reggae and new ragamuffin styles and phrasings. Similarly the title track “Welcome To Jamrock” mixes Ini Kamoze’s “out in the street they call it murder” sample and a riddim straight from Kamoze’s “World A Music” into the biggest reggae hit of the 2000s. Marley and Nas then displayed their skills on the “Road To Zion,” which I believe  set the original mood for the Distant Relatives collaboration. They closed with the Bob Marley smash hit “Could You Be Loved.”

Mavis Staples performed under the tent producing a revivalist feeling in the middle of Zilker Park. Civil Rights, spiritualism, and good music swirled under the tent, take for example, the songs “Freedom Highway” and “Creep Along Moses.” Staples made everyone dance and sing to the soul classic “I’ll Take You There.” To experience the best of soul music and to get a taste of what soul music was like in the 1970s go see Mavis Staples. The energy is extraordinary! We concluded the evening with the English rock group Coldplay. “The Scientist” and “Clocks” made the set list, while an Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” set up a very nice “Fix You.”

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2011 – Friday

The Best Albums of July 2010

Street Songs Of Love

July Music

  1. Alejandro EscovedoStreet Songs Of Love [Fantasy 2010]
  2. GyptianHold You [VP Records 2010]
  3. Various ArtistsReggae Gold 2010 [VP Records 2010]
  4. Ernie SmithThe Best of Ernie Smith – Original Masters [VP Records 2010]
  5. Mike StensonThe Jukebox In Your Heart [STAG 2010]
  6. M.I.A.Maya [N.E.E.T./Interscope 2010]
  7. Sleigh BellsTreats [Mom & Pop Music 2010]
  8. Gary P. NunnTaking Texas To The Country [Guacamole/Campfire Records 2010]
  9. Big Boi Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son Of Chico Dusty [Def Jam 2010]
  10. Jah Mason Keep Ya Head Up [Rastar Records 2010]
  11. The RootsHow I Got Over [Explicit][Def Jam 2010]
  12. Clinton Fearon Mi Deh Yah [Makasound 2010]
  13. Scissor Sisters Night Work [Downton 2010]
  14. EminemRecovery [Aftermath 2010]
  15. Various ArtistsThe Definitive Collection of Federal Records, 1964-1982 [VP Records 2010]
  16. LucianoUnited States of Africa [VP Records 2010]
  17. Lincoln DurhamEP [Lincoln Durham 2010]
  18. Various Artists Bobo Revolution 2 [Greensleeves 2010]
  19. Jimmy Vaughan Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites [Shout Factory 2010]
  20. Various ArtistsFoundation Dub [Trojan 2010]
  21. Walt Wilkins & the MystiquerosAgave [Blue Boot Records 2010]

The Best of Ernie Smith - Original Masters

Jimmie Vaughan-Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites

Trojan Dub-Foundation Dub

The Best Albums of July 2010

The Top Albums of June 2010

Big Red And Barbacoa

The Top 40 Albums of June 2010

This month has offered a wide variety of musical formats. The selector dug into Navajo, Reggae, Rap, Rock, Roots, Electronica, Dancehall, and Jam Band music. June’s selection of reggae music includes the smooth dancehall vibes of Tippa Irie & The Far East Band,  Jamaican sensation Rootz Underground, the positive message laden Mishka, the one drop oriented Romain Virgo, and the prolific singjay Capleton. Plus there has been recently released a reggae celebration of The Who called Out Here in the Fields – Legends of Reggae Celebrate the Who featuring artists like Chalice, Toots & The Maytals, The Mighty Diamonds, Luciano, and Gregory Isaacs.

From San Antonio, Texas Hacienda makes original music on their summer friendly Big Red And Barbacoa. The Houston-based Geto Boys member Scarface dropped another hard hitting gangsta rap album. And the Texas country artists Jason Boland & The Stragglers released the full length LP High In The Rockies and  Cory Morrowreleased an EP entitled Ramblin’ Man.

The psychadelic country rock of Phosphorescent recalls the best of The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Byrds. While jam-band staple Widespread Panic released another listener friendly studio album titled Dirty Side Down, which is a rare feet among jam bands. And on a side note this June the selector heard for the first time the amazing vocal stylings of Navajo musical artist Radmilla Cody. Cody should be an American legend!

Finally for some rap check out the female Baltimore duo the Get ‘Em Mamis and Atlanta-based Outkast sensation Big Boi‘s new single Shutterbugg. Take a wild ride with the dub reggae infused electronica of Heyoka and feel the rollicking  jazz of drummer Mike Reed’s People Places & Things. And just in time for summer flip-flop rockers Jack Johnson, Xavier Rudd, and Citizen Cope all released new albums

  1. Rootz UndergroundGravity [M’A Prod 2010]
  2. HaciendaBig Red And Barbacoa [Alive Naturalsound 2010]
  3. Various ArtistsOut Here in the Fields – Legends of Reggae Celebrate the Who [Red Hillz Music 2010]
  4. Big BoiShutterbugg [Def Jam 2010]
  5. MishkaTalk About [J.K. Livin Records 2010]
  6. PhosphorescentHere’s To Taking It Easy [Dead Oceans 2010]
  7. Widespread PanicDirty Side Down [ATO 2010]
  8. Truth and Salvage Co. – Truth & Salvage Co. [Silver Arrow/Megaforce 2010]
  9. HeyokaMarklar [Muti Music 2010]
  10. Romain VirgoRomain Virgo [VP Records 2010]
  11. Jack JohnsonTo The Sea [Jack Johnson 2010]
  12. Radmilla CodySeed Of Life: Traditional Songs Of The Navajo[Canyon 2002]
  13. CapletonI-Ternal Fire [VP Records 2010]
  14. Xavier RuddKoonyum Sun [Xavier Rudd 2010]
  15. Citizen CopeThe Rainwater LP [Rainwater Recordings 2010]
  16. ScarfaceDopeman Music [Facemob Music 2010]
  17. The Get ‘Em Mamis Pop Rocks and Soda [2010]
  18. Mike Reed’s People Places & ThingsStories and Negotiations [482 Music 2010]
  19. Tippa Irie & The Far East Band Stick to my Roots [Lockdown Productions 2010]
  20. Jason Boland & The StragglersHigh In The Rockies [Apex Music 2010]
  21. Talib Kweli & Hi-TekRevolutions Per Minute [Warner Brothers 2010]
  22. Robert Randolph & The Family Band We Walk This Road [Warner Brothers 2010]
  23. John Butler TrioApril Uprising [ATO Records 2010]
  24. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Mojo [Reprise 2010]
  25. Janelle MonáeThe ArchAndroid [Atlantic 2010]
  26. Super Chron Fly Brothers – Cape Verde [Backwoodz Studioz 2010]
  27. JavelinNo Más [Luaka Pop 2010]
  28. The Glitch MobDrink The Sea [Glass Air 2010]
  29. ApproachAloe Park [Clear Label 2010]
  30. ShigetoSemi Circle EP [Ghostly International 2010]
  31. Ja PrawnEverybody [vosotros 2010]
  32. PeasClarity Lost [Kanpai Records 2010]
  33. RJD2The Colossus [RJ’s Electrical Connections 2010]
  34. David Karsten Daniels and Fight the Big BullI Mean to Live Here Still [Fat Cat Records 2010]
  35. Homeboy SandmanThe Good Sun [High Water Music 2010]
  36. Crystal CastlesCrystal Castles ( II ) [Polydor 2010]
  37. Steve Miller BandBingo! [Roadrunner 2010]
  38. RhymefestEl Che [Rosehip Records 2010]
  39. KuruptStreetlights [Penagon 2010]
  40. Stone Temple PilotsStone Temple Pilots [Atlantic 2010]
  41. Macy GrayThe Sellout [Concord 2010]
  42. Dirty Side Down

Out Here in the Fields - Legends of Reggae Celebrate the Who
The Top Albums of June 2010