Published Dec 07, 2010This year's top ten list for Exclaim!'s Groove section swings from Afrobeat to sparse electronics, but is truly a testament to the big year for American R&B/soul. Seven of the ten list-making artists draw from the many strains of soul music and combine them in wildly individual ways.
Variety is a common denominator throughout all the records on this list, and nowhere is it better expressed than on Janelle Monáe's grandiose The ArchAndroid, Exclaim!'s top soul and R&B album of 2010. If you haven't heard it yet, The ArchAndroid, a record that will help define 2010 for years to come, can now be fully streamed in Canada on Exclaim.ca here.
Monáe's debut album updates the story of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, but explores parallels with class, race and gender issues in America. Musically, she incorporates progressive rock, jazz, hip-hop, classical, a little dancehall and whatever drugs Of Montreal are taking into her super-eclectic sound. She maintains her narrative while reeling off standalone singles, the mark of any classic concept album. The album's highlight is summertime smash "Tightrope," with its James Brown trappings sounding ever-fresh in these circumstances.
Elsewhere on Groove's year-end list, our writers placed the so-called retro-soul of Sharon Jones & the Dapkings and Aloe Blacc on the same list as Afro-futurists Bilal, Erykah Badu and even Bonjay. Looking closer at each of these records reveals a more dynamic exchange between past and future than perhaps ever before in soul music history, which has made for exciting music.
To see Exclaim!'s entire Soul and R&B Year in Review 2010 list, head here. And to check out all our Year in Review coverage, head here.
Monáe's The ArchAndroid will be streaming on Exclaim.ca until December 13.
Stay tuned for these future full-album streams on Exclaim.ca:
The Sadies Darker Circles December 14 to December 20
Torche Songs for Singles December 21 to December 27
Laurie Anderson Homeland December 28 to January 3
Shad T.S.O.L. January 4 to January 10
White Lung It's the Evil January 11 to January 17
Caribou Swim January 18 to January 24