Music! I listen to it constantly. I’m listening to it right now. I listened to around 250 albums released in 2010 and I’ve decided upon my twenty-one favorites. Feel free to listen to a sample track beneath each one and make fun of me in the comments.
Honorable Mention. Two Birds – SEAMONSTER
Honorable mention only because it’s an EP and not a full-length, but it’s still one of the best pieces of music released in 2010.
20. Gemini – WILD NOTHING
Virginia represent! This hazy, sunny pop is the closest we got to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart this year and that’s exactly what I’m on the look out for. I’ve lived by the beach my whole life so driving with the windows down to songs like this is in my blood.
19. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – KANYE WEST
Might seem like a low placement for somebody who put 808s and Heartbreak at number one in 2008, but this one just doesn’t work 100% for me. When it hits, it kills but it’s a bit too inconsistent. I appreciate Kanye throwing every idea he’s got into one crazy stew, White Album style, but there’s no excuse for that weird Chris Rock bit.
18. Homeland – LAURIE ANDERSON
Laurie Anderson is kind of a psychopath. Her spoken word poetry over atmospheric instrumentation is not going to be for everyone, but I can not stop listening to it. Particularly one eleven minute track where she speaks in a digitally-altered man’s voice, given a face by her insane album cover. But the track below is just devastatingly beautiful.
17. Loveshines But the Moon is Shining Too – SUNSET
About a year and a half ago I became obsessed with a late 60’s record called “The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas” by Nick Garrie, which is commonly described as “baroque pop.” That’s as good a description as any for this stuff from Sunset, only with a more contemporary slant.
16. Astro Coast – SURFER BLOOD
The first great album I heard in 2010 and it’s still going strong. “Swim” is a contender for song of the year and this is the type of pop music that should be ruling the Billboard chart but is somehow still skirting the fringes. Aaron Katz knows what I’m talking about.
15. Innerspeaker – TAME IMPALA
The official website calls this psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock music and who am I to argue? The key word is groove as the album coasts along gracefully, becoming one of the easiest listens and re-listens of the year.
14. Ring – GLASSER
It’s too bad not everybody has the chance to see Glasser live with a synchronized performance by the Body City dance troupe like I did, because that’s why I fell in love with her. Putting out a great record only cemented that love.
13. Clinging to a Scheme – THE RADIO DEPT.
Jessica Skinner hooked me up with the track below on a mix towards the end of 2009 and it was an instant stand-out. The rest of the album is equally warm and crisp, which is what you expect from Swedish bands at this point.
12. Ugly Side of Love – MALACHAI
British psych/rock as sinister and wild as the album cover suggests. I really got a kick out of the hard hitting stuff on this album, especially the track below, which was my official anthem before soccer games.
11. Before Today – ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI
“Round and Round” is a top notch song and these guys were one of my favorite live experiences of the year, but not every song really does it for me here. Hence a spot just outside the top 10. But seriously, “Round and Round” is song of the year.
10. Swung From the Branches – FOXES IN FICTION
There’s always room in my library for some ambient shoegaze and it was a toss-up between this or Infinite Body for my favorite. Foxes in Fiction gets the nod for being a bit more adventurous in their loops and arrangements. Achingly gorgeous stuff.
9. Teen Dream – BEACH HOUSE
Everybody likes this record. Nothing to say other than, if you haven’t heard it, you are dumb.
8. Halcyon Digest – DEERHUNTER
Despite the super weird album cover, this is easily Deerhunter’s most accessible work and is as easy a listen as you’re likely to get from them. Even still, their penchant for interesting songwriting and out-of-the-box melodies have not been sacrificed.
7. Crazy for You – BEST COAST
Beach. Swimming. Music. Beers. Friends. Love. Fireworks. Skin. Make outs. Yes, please.
6. In Evening Air – FUTURE ISLANDS
I saw these guys open for Dan Deacon in 2009 and liked them enough to buy their previous album, which didn’t really capture what I liked about them live. This new record, however, does and then some. If Morrissey and Tom Waits fucked and had a kid that only listened to New Order, you’d have this bad boy.
5. Cerulean – BATHS
I’m fairly new to the Low End Theory scene and not all of it is registering with me. For every Gonjasufi that sounds exciting and new, there’s a Nosaj Thing, which I can’t really get. But this album connects with me 100% and makes me feel things that no other record on this list can.
4. Big Echo – THE MORNING BENDERS
Keegan DeWitt had been talking these guys up and so we went and saw them at SXSW, but we were tired and wound up sitting on the grass near the back and talking with friends. When they started playing this song, I had to stop and pay attention. I’ve been hooked since. Anything that sounds remotely like The Beach Boys is a keeper in my book.
3. Libraries – THE LOVE LANGUAGE
The Love Language had my second favorite album of last year and if they can remain this prolific and consistent, it will make me very happy indeed. Again, this stuff is written specifically to please mass audiences and is begging to be a hit. Get on board, America!
2. Black City – MATTHEW DEAR
I’ve seen Matthew Dear play three times now and each experience is better and better. Mostly because his songs are getting better and better, experimenting with more unorthodox instruments, bleaker material and harsher arrangements. Somehow, it’s still danceable though.
1. The Wild Hunt – THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH
Even as my overall taste continues to drift towards fuzzy, layered, dense, psych, dance, shoegaze, etc., the album that stood out over any other was a Swedish dude and his guitar. I mean, who has the balls to sound so much like Bob Dylan and embrace it rather than downplay it? Nobody else understood the beauty of minimalism as much as Kristian Matsson this year and the fact that he released an equally as good EP as a companion is just the icing on the cake.
There it is. Not satisfied? How about twenty more hot tracks from albums that didn’t make the cut. I would feel terrible leaving them out entirely so why not post? Who cares if it makes this page impossibly slow to load? Not me. I serve the people.
I Really Need Love – THE BEES (Effortlessly retro. Could be from 1967)
Lady Daydream – TWIN SISTER
You Make it So Good – ERIC & MAGILL
What’s in it For? – AVI BUFFALO
Caesar – TY SEGALL
Oh, Naoko – SUN AIRWAY
Hearts Beat Loud – KEEGAN DEWITT
Come With Me – CEO (Cheesy in all the right ways)
He Was Worse Than the Needle He Gave You – THE DELTA MIRROR
I Have Been Awake – SECRET MOUNTAINS
The Jingle – BIGOTT (Gypsy jam)
Little Fly – JENNY AND JOHNNY
What We Know – PILL WONDER
Slacker – SECRET CITIES
Your Song – WET & RECKLESS (Sorry guys, this is my song)
Soak it Up – HOUSES
Paul Blart and the Death of Art – HERZOG (Wishin’ it was ’96)
Silver Knife – MONSTER MOVIE
Tropical Birds – MINIATURE TIGERS
Lately – MEMORYHOUSE (Sample of the year)
Phew! Not a lot of hip hop did it for me this year. Am I getting old and whiter?
One more order of business, my favorite music video of the year. I made three of my own, which I’m super proud of, but didn’t watch a whole ton of others. Still, it doesn’t matter. This one’s the best. And you’ve probably already known that.