It has been quite a hiatus. I can’t be certain, but I smell a celestial rat. The unlikely confluence of gainful employment, continuing optical issues, and internet connectivity issues have rendered this blog dormant for quite some time. Needless to say, it is nice to be listening to and writing about music again, although I suspect that the format and length of my posts will need to change to accommodate a life that has been robbed of blissful idleness and free time. As I’ve said before, lists are fuuun! And end of year favorite lists are particularly fun! So here goes…My Top 15 Albums of 2010. Apologies for the video links that force you to go off site….not my fault!
1) Artist: Wait What Album:The Notorious XX
Wait What’s amazing mashup album is still on heavy rotation on my ipod…and its been almost a year. Can’t argue with that.
2) Artist: The Arcade Fire Album: The Suburbs
Engaging, challenging, ambitious, emotive, nostalgic, and oh so catchy. I was never a big fan of The Arcade Fire. I am now. I feel like such an indie whore…this is in everyone’s top 10.
3) Artist: The National Album: High Violet
Nobody does sorrowful rock like The National. That deep baritone, that combination of musical restraint and pent up energy is….cathartic.
4) Artist: Hot Chip Album: One Life Stand
Just one of the most fun, grooving, dancefloor ready albums I’ve heard in a while. Makes you want to get a fixie bike and dress like an 80’s douchebag….nice.
5) Artist: Big Boi Album: Sir Luscious Left Foot….
As I said before…it is incredible that someone can be at the top of their game for almost two decades. Younger MC’s should be ashamed that the best and most innovative hip hop album comes from such a seasoned veteran.
6) Artist: Vampire Weekend Album: Contra
A fantastic sophomore effort, showcasing the band’s unique sound while also expanding their boundaries and taking some chances.
7) Artist: These New Puritans Album: Hidden
Perhaps the least widely accessible album on this list, These New Puritans are definitely an acquired taste. But patience pays off. Dark, innovative, and beautifully textured, Hidden is worth the effort.
8) Artist: The Roots Album: How I Got Over
What can I say? The Roots to Rule
9) Artist: LCD Soundsystem Album: This is Happening
LCD Soundystem’s final album is a sprawling sonic journey. Flush with the characteristic humor, varied musical influences, and countless twists and turns (sometimes in the same song), This is Happening is an unpolished gem, but a gem nonetheless.
10) Artist: Jonsi Album: Go
Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi’s debut album is more accessible and optimistic than the work he has done with his group. While it might be a little less ambitious and more conventional, it remains a beautiful and rewarding body of work in its own right.
11) Artist: MIA Album: MAYA
MIA’s third solo album was highly anticipated but its reception was lukewarm from critics. As I’ve written before, I attribute this more to the fact that MIA wont play nice and fit into the predefined genre boxes (c’mon MAYA, be ethnic and funky!) that critics love. She also finally became a superstar, and was thus no longer the exotic underground darling of the indie world. The album is pretty damn good though. Trust.
12) Artist: Foals Album: Total Life Forever
Another album eschewed by indie critics, perhaps because Foals’ angular dance rock style was the big thing a couple of years ago…so obviously it isn’t worthy of a mention now. But seriously,Total Life Forever is both more accessible and more enjoyable than Antidotes. They’ve added desperately needed emotion, melody, and balance to their original sound, which all too often sounded mechanical and aloof.
13) Artist: The Black Keys Album: Brothers
The Blues rock duo continue to evolve their sound. As with their previous album Attack & Release, Brothers reflects a desire to infuse greater depth as well as a wider set of influences into their work, and clearly the production sounds like it is a considerably more complicated process than the intentionally raw, sparse and largely orthodox rhythmic blues sound of their earlier work. The guys have managed to capture a wider audience (nobody would have picked these guys to get a grammy nomination a few years ago) while still holding the respect and interest of their core fans. I’m a bit pissed at them for cancelling their aussie tour though!
14) Artist: Maximum Balloon Album: Maximum Balloon
Maximum Balloon is basically a solo side project by TV on The Radio guitarist Dave Sitek. The album is a complete genre jumble, featuring a diverse guest appearance list that makes it difficult to get a sense of continuity or flow to the album, but at an individual level almost every song is interesting, and above all, fun. Maximum Balloon is at its core a dance friendly electropop album, but one with an indie aesthetic with divergent influences and a bit of total weirdness to make things interesting.
15) Artist: Broken Bells Album: Broken Bells
Broken Bells is a collaboration between Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse and James Mercer (from The Shins). As you may expect from the nature of the collaboration, Broken Bells splits the difference between indie rock and indie pop. Melody is a clear winner in this rather radio friendly release, and songs like The High Road and The Ghost inside will linger in your consciousness with their surprisingly simple yet infectious character. All in all, Broken Bells is more about great execution than significant innovation, an that’s ok.
Honorable Mentions: Teen Dream by Beach House, My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West, Album of the Year by Black Milk, Plastic Beach by Gorillaz