Wednesday, December 15, 2010

[BEST OF 2010] TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2010

blog 2010/12/15 - [BEST OF 2010] MY 10 FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2010


After this I'll drop down some holiday music treats, and then I'm going to take a break until 2011, and there's nothing short of buying me a whole bunch of art books that can stop me! (because really, I couldn't say no then)

As everyone else on the internet cobbles their list together, I should remind you that my lists represent my tastes only. There are HUGE gaps in my top 50 versus anyone else's. But don't chalk it up to me just missing albums. Yes, I heard Ariel Pink and Deerhunter and I was bored and unengaged. etc etc. If you like that, cool!

But these are the 10 jewels in the crown that was 2010. They all tug at me in all sorts of squishy-special ways, and hopefully you can find a place for them in your life as well.
As always, if you have trouble finding a place that sells them, let me know and I'll link you up. Buy the albums, go see the live shows, buy their swag!


Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate - Ali & Toumani
Bonobo - Black Sands
Four Tet - There Is Love In You
Frightened Rabbit - The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me
The National - High Violet
Owen Pallett - Heartland
Sam Amidon - I See The Sign
Saycet - Through The Window
Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate - Ali & Toumani

Songs written by Toure. Songs written by Diabate. Traditional works arranged by Toure. Traditional works arrange by Diabate. And of course a traditional work arranged by them together. It is pretty much the perfect balance. The final post-humous release from Toure, this is a document of 2 masters at the top of their game. I know you like your Dragonforce and your prog, but this here is mastery that is unparalled. I don't know what's in the water in Mali, but the quality of their musical superstars that cross the pond and find their way to my ears is huge.

Bonobo - Black Sands

We had great albums from Bernocchi, from Mount Kimbe and others, but Bonobo released the greatest album of breakbeats by far. This veteran exists comfortably in the post-dubstep world, flipping up contemporary shifting rhythms with modern compressor warfare, and then easily sliding back in to downtempo soul that seems fresh for 2010 somehow. Producers everywhere still have a lot to learn from this master of the beats bin. He makes it seem all so easy, but as the last few years of amateur beatmakers have demonstrated, it seldom is.

Four Tet - There Is Love In You

Kieran Hebden has a love-on for Steve Reich, and we are all better off for it. Taking the ecstasies of grinding minimalism to a funky dancefloor deepness, Four Tet has evolved in to an entirely unique sonic world. The remixes of the past few years have been flying out at a frantic rate, and they are unmistakabley Four Tet. Likewise, you'll never mistake this album for anyone else. Sure, you can mix it with minimal techy deep house whatever, but it rises above the genre aesthetics that dictate much of the morose Beatport genre pits.

Frightened Rabbit - The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

Am I a sucker for the accent? It's undeniably delicious, but it's stadium-sized guitars and impassioned song writing that gets me the most. Beautifully recorded, epicly presented, and fun to boot. Probably my favourite long-distance driving album of 2010.

Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me

On her first album, Newsom was a pixie to me, weaving curious and playful spells. On her album Ys she was a prog god, letting thunder rain with extended compositions. With Have One On Me, I can't help but see her as a sorceress that has mastered her control over the universe as well as the cunning to manipulate and interact with the mortals and mundanes. The album is 2 full length CDs worht of material, but it is split across 3 discs to give you some breathing room and conceptual stop/start points. It's one of the few times where I'd argue such extra packaging is rather necessary. The sound is slowly woven, each song entirely purposeful and building. This album is a day lost to daydreaming and half-remembered mornings, and one of the most startling achievements in both fantastical incanctation and modern music.

The National - High Violet

Part pall-bearer, part lullaby, part bar room crooner, the voice of The National is more haunting and poignant and rich than ever. With not a poor song on the album, High Violet is a snapshot of a band at a high watermark for both themselves and their genres. This album will romance you and buy you flowers and will hold your shoulders while you cry when you both know it won't work out. It is an intense friendship that will always be so much more. And it is without a doubt one of the greatest, if not the singularly greatest, album of the year.

Owen Pallett - Heartland

This complex virtuoso work is jaw-droppingly incredible. At first listen, there are many incredible songs that will weave a spell around you with their lush orchestral strings and fascinating narrative voice. But after loving the music to bits, you get to the lyrics, which after a few listens you should really open up and read along as you listen to it. When you start reading the songs as they are performed, you realize it's all a giant opera or musical about farmer Lewis and the God Owen, and then you just fall in love with it all over again. All of the epic trappings of the best of 70s prog are here, like the epic scope, the song structures, the love of apeggiators and massive string sections. This albums works both for it's fabulous singles, and as a successful whole work from a staggering musical imagination. Seriously, sit down with the lyrics and enjoy the show.

Sam Amidon - I See The Sign

If you took the hypnotic monotone folk of Bill Callahan and fused it with the Christian spiritual ballads of pre-"too much studio time" Sufjan Stevens, you'd be close to Sam Amidon. His voice is tender and distant simultaneously. His focus seems ethereal and when he sings of life and gods you feel as though he is tranced out and connected to a higher power. Far be it from me to listen to Jesusey music, you just can't resist the charm of Appalachian folk music. His theology bleeds like unconscious honesty, not like obligation or chore. You can't help but feel like you're getting sucked in to an alien cult as the music hypnotises you and pulls at your emotions without you realizing it, but you can't turn away and can't turn it off.

Saycet - Through The Window

Saycet blends all of the greatest bits of my nostalgia for late-90s/early-aughts IDM. The lush keys of Isan, the BOC atmospheres, the Ulrich chugging beats, and the so-delicate-they-might-shatter vocals of Mum. Like the Sharon Jones album, you hear this album and love it right away and exclaim, "my god, I'm so happy people are still making music like this!" And that doesn't mean it's derivative, it means they've been getter better while we haven't been paying attention.

Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

The is so much adolescent affliction going on here, it oozes rage and hormones as much as the first Violent Femmes album. Loosely based off some Civil War (must be a USA thing, they always think they're the only ones with a Civil War), this album is an epic journey of pain and bile and rock n fuckin roll. The 5 best songs average 9 minutes in length each, but like a Joanna Newsom ballad, time just flies by and you are hanging on to each and every riff. The vocals are whined and spat and growled and puked and you can feel every saliva droplet of emotion, rage, frustration and despair. You wonder how unsanitary his beard is, but don't worry about it, you're not here to make out with him. The whole album is a rock storybook that will leave you exhausted, satisfied, and ready to rewind the whole thing and start again.


Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate - Machengoidi
Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate - Ruby
Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate - Warbé
Bonobo - All In Forms
Bonobo - Eyesdown ft Andreya Triana
Bonobo - Kiara
Four Tet - Angel Echoes
Four Tet - Love Cry
Four Tet - This Unfolds
Frightened Rabbit - Nothing Like You
Frightened Rabbit - Skip The Youth
Frightened Rabbit - Swim Until You Can't See Land
Joanna Newsom - Good Intentions Paving Company
Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me
Joanna Newsom - Kingfisher
Owen Pallett - Oh Heartland, Up Yours!
Owen Pallett - The Great Elsewhere
Owen Pallett - Tryst With Mephistopheles
Sam Amidon - Pretty Fair Damsel
Sam Amidon - Relief
Sam Amidon - Way Go Lily
Saycet - Kien-Lang
Saycet - Opal
Saycet - Through The Window (2010)
Saycet - We Walk Fast
The National - Afraid of Everyone
The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
The National - Conversation 16
Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union; Titus Andronicus Forever
Titus Andronicus - Four Score And Seven
Titus Andronicus - To Old Friends And New


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1 comment:

  1. Great stuff! Love the blog, everything you post here is absolutely fantastic.