15. Murs Murs For President
Member of seminal hip hop group Living Legends and one half of L.A./Minneapolis act Felt, Murs has been a big figure in underground L.A. hip hop for some time now. I should note for those of you who aren't familiar with a lot of rap that this isn't like the stuff you see on MTV. 'Murs for President' (along with the other hip hop records on this list) isn't about "bling and bitches". Its intelligent rap ("The Science" is fantastic urban social commentary) with creative beats and rhymes. This is Murs first record on a big label. I don't think it made as big of a splash as it should have.
dig: "The Science"
14. Black Kids Partie Traumatic
Black Kids became an indie sensation with their first EP 'Wizard of Ahhs ...' which was only available on MySpace and at their live shows. For this, their label debut, the ditched the lo-fi experimental sounds of the EP and polished up their tunes to attempt some pop success. What followed was an unfair online backlash particularly from music site Pitchfork who was among the first to champion them (although it did land at #4 on The New York Post's Year End List). I dig the record, not as much as the EP, but there are some good retro pop tunes here with interesting lyrics.
dig: "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You", "Love Me Already", "Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo)"
13. Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
In contrast, Fleet Foxes' debut has been the subject of media praise landing them #1 on lists from Stereogum and Pitchfork. There are few albums you will hear more glowing reviews about. I like the record. The ethereal vocals and folk-ish melodies are nice although I think some are a bit over-impressed by the harmonies. My biggest gripe? No groove, baby.
dig: "White Winter Hymnal"
12. No Age Nouns
No Age are indie-media darlings as well. They are an experimental punk drum/guitar duo from L.A. who have crafted an original sound around the scene at downtown club The Smell. I appreciate the record like a work from a modern sculptor. Fascinating in its artistic endeavor but nothing I'd want to listen to or look at every day.
11. Rachael Yamagata Elephants ... Teeth Sinking In To Heart
Yamagata's sophomore record is more subdued and maudlin than her first, but the melodies and songwriting are good enough to ensure that the slow tempos and mood don't make everything sound the same. There's a great duet with Ray LaMontagne.
dig: "What if I Leave", "Over and Over"
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