David's Top 10 Songs of the Year by Local Artists
I've always had a slight aversion to year-end lists, especially when it comes to music. There's just so much out there that it's impossible to hear everything, even if you limit yourself to the local scene. And there's simply no getting around the fact that personal taste plays a huge role in deciding what gets included. That said, here are 10 songs relased by local artists in 2005 that received plenty of iPod love from me this year. I've included a link to an MP3 for every song from either the band or label Web sites so you can take a listen for yourself. I'd love to hear some other opinions on the best of the local scene, so feel free to share.
Alcian Blue -- "You Just Disappear"
No band in the area -- and perhaps the country -- creates haunting, immaculate soundscapes like this quartet. The group can create guitar squall with the best of them, but on this track it's atmospheric keyboard that takes center stage. Fans of My Bloody Valentine owe it to themselves to check this band out.
Child Ballads -- "Cheekbones (White Chocolate Tea)"
Back in the late-'90s I was a huge fan of organ-fueled rockers Jonathan Fire*Eater. Three members of JF*E went on to find "O.C."-endorsed success with the Walkmen, but lead singer Stewart Lupton finally resurfaced with this trio. There's no album yet -- this lone song made its way onto MP3 blogs over the summer, and it's simple, ragged folk sound combined with Lupton's poetic lyrics have me eagerly awaiting the full-length.
Head-Roc -- "Cris Columbus"
"In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Um, not quite. D.C.'s most outspoken and political rapper has a different take. "Cris Columbus, a man of his time/Slaughtered Arawak natives to further his kind," is how this track from Head's excellent "Negrophobia!" album begins. Why he hasn't received more attention, especially with the "conscious" hip-hop movement becoming bigger, is a mystery. But we're just happy he keeps cranking out memorable tunes like this.
Kev Brown -- "Work in Progress"
Finally emerging from behind the soundboard, the noted hip-hop producer and Landover native dropped his debut full-length, "I Do What I Do" a few months ago. His production skills are readily apparent as every sound and beat is perfectly placed, and as he proves on this lead single, he's certainly no slouch on the mic.
Manhunter -- "She Came Home" (link goes to demo version of song)
Get your dancing shoes on and make sure the soles are in good shape, because this is one song that will keep you on the floor. This duo doesn't create cheesy trance -- this is hard-hitting techno that takes cues from the best of the '80s Detroit innovators.
Meredith Bragg -- "Work and Winter"
Anyone who thinks that "Either/Or" is the best Elliott Smith album should check out the debut album from our former Post.com colleague. Like Smith, Bragg excels at creating sad songs that are so beautiful that they still manage to be uplifting, and this one is a perfect example.
Metropolitan -- "Here or There" (link goes to Metropolitan's MySpace page, where song is available for listening)
Probably the best pure indie rock band in the area, this trio takes cues from all the right bands: Pavement, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., etc. This lead track from the group's third album, "The Lines They Get Broken," is a driving, almost anthemic rocker and features some of the best fuzzed bass you'll ever hear.
Nethers -- "O The Deed"
This list isn't in any particular order (actually, it's alphabetical), but if it was, this is the song that would be at the top. It's a delightful acoustic-guitar driven indie-folk romp with an almost nursery-rhyme vocal melody in the chorus that will be stuck in your head for days. Imagine "Village Green Preservation Society"-era Kinks except with pretty female vocals and you'll be close.
Raheem DeVaughn -- "Guess Who Loves You More?" (link goes to DeVaughn's Web site, which features this song on its media player)
"The Love Experience," the long-awaited debut album from D.C.'s "R&B neo-soul rock star" is a lot to digest in one sitting, but when everything clicks, as it does on this tune, the results are sublime. DeVaughn exudes such supreme confidence that comparisons to Prince and Marvin Gaye are well-earned. Hey guys, if there's a lady you're courting ... mixtape alert!
(the Sounds of) Kaleidoscope -- "Certain Colour Sky"
The local psych-rockers delivered a consistently excellent album with "From Where You Were to How You Got There," and this track is representative in that it will make your head spin with its swirling guitars, but is still catchy enough to hum along to.
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