Reader Best of 2010: K La Rock

by Winston "Stone" Ford

Location: Washington, DC
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Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid

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A modern-day classic. Janelle not only gave us one of the most daring, imaginative and genre-shattering albums of 2010, but crafted a new vision of blackness in the process. Her album smashed just about every boundary there is, all while sounding like the futuristic space party of our collective dreams. Cyborgs, saddle shoes and bouffants have never been so transgressive.

Best Coast – Crazy for You

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There’s been a spate of girl bands lately mining garage rock for fuzzy
lo-fi sounds like Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls. But Best Coast was my hands-down favorite this year because of all the infectious 60’s-inspired pop crammed into the band’s short but sweet
debut. Mindless lyrics, 3-minute-or-less songs, and sunny sing-along melodies made for the beach.

The Drums – The Drums

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Speaking of beaches…I fell for these guys after hearing the addictively bouncy first single “Let’s Go Surfing.” The rest of their debut album is decidedly more Smiths than Beach Boys, with lots of new wave touches and dark mournful lyrics. But the Drums have a way of making even the saddest songs sound like catchy hook-laden fun.

Phantogram – Eyelid Movies

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Critics and bloggers may have been falling over themselves to crown Sleigh Bells as the next big thing. But for my money, Phantogram was the girl-boy duo to watch in 2010. Where Sleigh Bells was all skronk and squawk, Phantogram pairs its post-rock guitars with gauzy beats that sound like they were visited by the ghosts of trip-hop past. Moody, atmospheric, and highly underrated

Quadron – Quadron

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I wasn’t expecting to love this album as much I did. I was ready to
brush off Quadron as another neo-soul/beat scene clone, but have been continually surprised by the group’s lush quirky soulfulness. Every time I listen to this, I discover something new. I wore OUT “Average Fruit” this year at my monthly DJ night. And you know what? I’m still not tired of it.