KTUH DJs weigh in on the best tunes of the year that was

And look forward to the sounds of 2011

Barb Forsyth

MANOA—With 2010 well behind us, we’re left to reflect on music that made it through our headsets in the year that was. All manners of musical recaps can be found on various blogs and websites. (A particularly good distillation of the year, in this editor’s view, is Ken Tucker’s list of the year’s 10 best albums. It has a pop bent to it, but he ferrets out some unlikely suspects. Definitely worth a look-see.)

But the question remains: What is the local take on 2010’s best material? I put the question out to the folks at KTUH, who do a great job of playing quality music not heard elsewhere on the island. The following are top picks with explanations in their own words, from five KTUH DJs, representing an array of genres, including some local talent.

DJ G-Spot, who hosts The Underground Sound Show, was decisive in his selection: “By far the #1 musical highlight for me of 2010 was the Release of Soldier of Love by Sade. After waiting over 10 years for a new album from her, this one did not disappoint.

DJ Manny Dread is an apprentice dj, but has been on Hawaii’s underground reggae music scene for about six years. The following three songs are his picks of the year, all performed by local musicians.

Permanent Holiday by Mike Love— “This track is truly amazing!” DJ Manny Dread says. “I don’t know how he does it, but Mike Love is one person, who sounds like 10. He single-handedly plays over five instruments in this track alone, and layers the track in the bridge with a complexity that I’ve never heard in any other song ... Also, the lyrics are inspiring and unforgettable.”

High Tide or Low Tide by Paula Fuga ft. Ziggy Marley— “Paula Fuga is a truly amazing singer/songwriter/musician,” DJ Manny Dread says. “This is a cover-song of a classic Bob Marley hit, and Paula is joined on the track by the Legend’s first-born son David [‘Ziggy’]. Paula has a captivating voice that gives me ‘goosebumps’ whenever I hear her sing live, all 5 tracks on her new album Misery’s End are note-worthy, but this track is an instant classic that makes you want to be with loved ones.”

Find more artists like Dubkonscious at Myspace Music

Step Lightly by Dubkonscious—“This track is a bit of an enigma,” DJ Manny Dread says. “By far the most popular of all Dubkonscious tracks, ‘Step Lightly’ is one of the hardest to get a hold of. Dubkonscious is one of the most well-rehearsed bands on the island, and it’s definitely apparent in this song, from the vocals, to the keys, to the horns. Prophetic in nature, hearing this song for the first time is a life-changing experience.”

KTUH DJ Steve Stoddard hosts “Something Blue” on Thursday mornings, providing a great change of pace with his relatively “old fashioned” style of programming. Here are his three favorite albums from the year.

My Turn by Kirk Fletcher—Kirk Fletcher is one of the most talented young guitarists today,” Stoddard says. “He’s equally expressive with the West Coast Swing, Chicago Style Blues, Funk, Rock, and the last track (Continent’s End) on ‘My Turn’ is the closest thing to Jimi Hendrix you’re gonna hear in this day and age. This is only his third release as a bandleader, but he has learned from, and has extensive experience playing with, the best players in Southern California. This is a guitarist to watch—and listen to. Check him out.”

Road Songs by Derek Trucks—“Derek Trucks is one of the greatest musicians playing any instrument in any genre right now,” Stoddard says. “I’ve been listening to him since 1997, when he was only 18-years-old, and it seems that the sky is the limit for this young man. His slide playing skills have often been compared to Duane Allman, but he’s already had a longer career than ‘The Sky Man’ who unfortunately died much too young. Derek is married to the beautiful and talented Susan Tedeschi. His latest CD, Road Songs, actually signals the end of this particular group after eight years, but Susan and he have a brand new band. I can’t wait to hear what they’ll have to offer in 2011.”

West Coast Seattle Boy (Box Set) by Jimi Hendrix—“West Coast Seattle Boy was released in November 2010, 40 years after Jimi Hendrix’s untimely demise,” Stoddard says. “There was another entirely different four-disc box set released 10 years ago, but evidently Jimi taped virtually every note he played. Considering how many remixes, alternate takes and live tracks have already been released by various and numerous record companies, it’s amazing that they still somehow manage to find enough gems previously unheard by even the most avid Jimi Hendrix fans to fill four more discs. Jimi Hendrix’s genius stands the test of time.”

DJ Azul plays lounge-ish world music on Saturday mornings and posts to a terrific blog. Her suggestions are bound to get you out of your music rut.

Nubes de Papel by DePedro (Spain)—“A little melancholy, great strumming, and terribly catchy,” DJ Azul says. “I’ve turned it into my new ringtone. The whole album is amazing.”

Um Vento Bom by Luísa Maita (Brasil)— “It’s sultry, smooth, and perfect for a balmy summer day in Hawaii,” DJ Azul says. “Imagine swinging in a hammock, listening to the waves, the sun’s starting to go down ...NPR did a great piece on her in August.”

Serpentea El Tren by Axel Krygier (Argentina)— “First of all, I love the lyrics,” DJ Azul says. “But then the string instruments and drumming are totally bluegrass—it’s Argentinean Bluegrass!”

Finally, in the alternative/indy genre, Djane was kind enough to respond from her vacation in Kauai. Those who have listened to her “Love Show” can expect her selection of sexy and groovy tracks.

Pink Graffiti pt.2 by Secret Cities

Swimmers by Broken Social Scene

To preview Cella’s Walk, click here
Cella’s Walk by Jimi Tenor and Tony Allen

Like a G6 by Far East Movement

KTUH is a student-run noncommercial radio station broadcasting from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Since 1969, KTUH has provided the community with diverse on-air programming and offered UHM students a practical chance to learn about radio broadcasting. Tune in on your radios at 90.3 FM in Honolulu, 89.9 FM on the Windward side, 91.3 FM on the North Shore, Digital Cable channel 866, or online at ktuh.org.

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