#1 Album of 2010: White Hinterland ‘Kairos’

Two words: Creative masterpiece.

My #1 Album of 2010 is going to leave a few of you scratching your heads. However, this choice, was a very personal one for me.

Music is my biggest passion. When an album or song strikes an emotional chord in my life, it’s a great album. I’m never preoccupied with what tops everyone else’s lists at the end of the year. I create my annual list based on the albums that made me feel unexplainable joy, pain, or comfort. In 2010, I needed comfort and White Hinterland’s ‘Kairos’ made me feel comfortable more than anyone else.

Portland-based Casey Dienel is the brains behind White Hinterland and creativity is something Casey possesses in spades. One only has to follow her on Twitter to realize that fact: She’s quite the avid cook and loves to pass on all sorts of fun recipes for all of us to try. But, obviously, I’m not here to promote Casey as a cook….I’m here to help expose you to her criminally underexposed album, Kairos.

I purchased Kairos last Winter after hearing her song ‘No Logic’ on another blog and haven’t looked back since. The album has received no less than 3 full spins per week on my iTunes, thanks to its unique blend of trip-hop, jazz, R&B, tribal beats, and lounge music. Casey lyrics are sung beautifully and with conviction; which is something I always look for in an artist.

The first time I listened to the album with headphones on, I knew I was listening to something special. Every song is full of layers, interesting sounds, low-fi beats and lyrics like this one from Moon Jam: ‘I am afraid of so many things, but I do not fear the future.’ Might sound simple to many of you, but on a personal level that one line sums up my 2010.

Personally I burned through so many demons this year and I remember listening to that lyric when I first bought the album back in February. It was an emotional time for me and I remember thinking to myself ‘I wish I could stop being scared and look forward to the future.’ Upon hearing that lyric, I made it my goal to try and feel excited for the rest of my life. Well here we are at the end of 2010, and I’m finally on that path. As I said before, I was searching for comfort and that lyric motivated me to find it.

So, while ‘Kairos’ may not be for all of you, I do highly recommend it to fans of creative, chill, thought provoking music. The album continues to reward more and more with every listen. I’ve now played the album close to 200 times this year, so I should know.

If you don’t buy the whole album, Download these: Icarus, Moon Jam, No Logic, Cataract, Huron

Bonus: Download White Hinterland’s angelic cover of Monica’s ‘Don’t Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days)’

White Hinterland “No Logic” from Batteryfire on Vimeo.


#2 Album of 2010: Gypsy & The Cat ‘Gilgamesh’

After vacillating for days between whether or not Gypsy & The Cat’s debut album would be my #1 or #2 album of 2010, I have decided to give them the #2 spot..However, if I were making a list of albums that I think my readers would love the most, I would’ve made ‘Gilgamesh’ the Album of the Year. This album has become such a big part of my life that I feel guilty having relegated it to the #2 spot on my countdown.

It was a very close call mostly because I think this album is the best debut album by a band in years and I wholeheartedly mean that. Gypsy & The Cat are a London based Australian DJ duo whose sound is equal parts Fleetwood Mac and Beach Boys, but still very much their own. They are somehow able to sound derivative and original at the same time. However, what I think I appreciate the most about Gilgamesh, is the albums ability to allow one to daydream at any given moment during the 24 hours in a day..I can wake up and play the album to start my day just as easily as I can listen to it before I go to bed.

The album crosses through many genres, but always stays nice and comfy in a place where pop, rock, electronic music, and country collide. How often can you really say that about any album? Bands work for years and years to achieve what Gypsy & The Cat have done on their first album. Please, please, please buy this album and see for yourself. I promise that just about each and every one of you that decides to take the plunge and buy ‘Gilgamesh’ will have it on repeat for months. I know I have. Check out the cute video below for lead single, Time To Wander.

#3 Album of 2010: Nina Kinert ‘Red Leader Dream’

We’re almost to the end of my list..My top 3 albums were so difficult to rank, because all 3 of them are amazing in their own right..#3 is the latest album from (ridiculously beautiful) Swedish songstress, Nina Kinert..Never heard of her? Neither had I.

‘Red Leader Dream’ is Nina’s fourth album and I can honestly say that I’ve never even heard the other three..The story behind her latest album is admittedly a little strange..Nina was in a very serious accident and was forced to have metal rails placed in her back..While she was in the hospital, she watched nothing but Star Wars..and, believe it or not, the rest is history..Nina’s inspiration behind Red Leader Dream is, indeed, Star Wars and she describes the album as ‘a true science fiction epic about love, hope and adventure viewed through a fantasy filter.’ If that sounds weird, that’s because it is. However, don’t let that dissuade you from listening to the epic beauty that is Red Leader Dream. Those who know me well, know that I hate sci-fi anything, but Nina’s voice is pure magic and up there with the best voices I’ve ever heard. Luckily, her lyrics are incredibly versatile and can be applied to everyday life just as much as..umm..the next Star Wars movie.

Her sound reminds me of everything from a darker, more talented version of Lykke Li, to Julia Fordham, to even possibly a very tiny slice of Siouxsie & The Banshees. The musicianship on the album is superb; every song has a ton of layers. Between that, her angelic voice, and some high quality headphones, you will be transported to her own self-described fantasy world. Oh and just in case you had any doubt about her credentials as an artist, she wrote, recorded, produced, and released the entire album all on her own. She describes the whole process as exhausting and sometimes lonely, but luckily she has channeled every emotion into her own ethereal masterpiece with Red Leader Dream.

It’s impossible to pick and choose which songs to download off the album but, since you’re all so fucking picky, download these: Play The World, Down On Heaven, Push It, My Girl, Original Sin, and (my favorite) 25.


#4 Album of 2010: Beach House ‘Teen Dream’

Beach House, Beach House, Beach House..Ok, so first off, I must warn you: Beach House is not a band you will be tempted to listen to on the beach. Think rainy days, before bedtime, and when you need a good cry.

For the record, I love all three of those things and Beach House’s 3rd album, Teen Dream, brought out the tears in me the first few hundred times I listened to it. I was going through heartbreak at the time and this album got me through the worst of it.

The music reminds me of everything from Mazzy Star to Nico to Marianne Faithfull. Their music is categorized as ‘dream pop’ which I suppose is accurate, but I feel as though that term doesn’t imply as much depth in the music as it should. This is deep, heavy, emotional, reflective stuff. It’s actually difficult for me to write about the music without getting somewhat emotional..To me, that’s that mark of an epic album: One that can take you back to an emotional time, whether happy or sad, and make you feel it all over again.

Before I begin to sob, haha, take a look at the fan-made music video for one of my favorite songs ever recorded, ‘Real Love’.

You should download the entire album, but if you’re going to be picky, pick these: Norway, Used To Be, Lover Of Mine, Real Love, and Take Care.

BEACH HOUSE: REAL LOVE from matt amato on Vimeo.

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