Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Music: Best of 2010

Best Albums 
(included streams/downloads aren't necessarily my favorite tracks from the records, just the ones I could find hosted online)
1. Titus Andronicus "The Monitor" A
Titus Andronicus "Four Score and Seven (Part 2)"
2. Deerhunter "Halcyon Digest" A-
3. Surfer Blood "Astro Coast" A-
4. Beach House "Teen Dream" A-
5. Kanye West "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" A-
6. Black Keys "Brothers" B+
7. The Walkmen "Lisbon" B+

8. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti "Before Today" B+
9. Sleigh Bells "Treats" B+
10. Tame Impala "Innerspeaker" B
11. Avi Buffalo "Avi Buffalo" B 
Avi Buffalo "What's in it for?"
12. LCD Soundsystem "This is Happening" B
13. Spoon "Transference" B
14. Arcade Fire "The Suburbs" B
Win is still riding on the coattails of "Funeral." Honestly, if this was anyone else do you think this record would make the top of any best-of lists?15. Teenage Fanclub "Shadows" B

Warpaint "The Fool" B
Male Bonding "Nothing Hurts" B
Male Bonding "Year's Not Long"
Jaill "That's How We Burn" B
Jaill "Everyone's Hip"
The Hold Steady "Heaven is Whenever" B
The National "High Violet" B
The National "Bloodbuzz Ohio"
Dr. Dog "Shame Shame" B-
Yeasayer "Odd Blood" (the first half, at least) B-
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings "I Learned the Hard Way" B-
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings "I Learned the Hard Way"
Harlem "Hippies" B-
Wavves "King of the Beach" B-
No Age "Everything in Between" B-
No Age "Fever Dreaming"
The Vaselines "Sex with an X" B-
The Vaselines "Sex with an X"

The Morning Benders "Big Echo" B-
The Brooklyn via San Fran group led off its second album with perhaps the song of the year, "Excuses," a glorious amalgamation of glee-club harmonies, bluesy strings and soaring melodies, but then let Chris Taylor's (Grizzly Bear) production drag the following nine tracks through the tasteful, reverbed sludge that makes Taylor's outfit so damn boring. Only the occasionally fuzzed-out guitar struts through the languid, hung-over drapery, heard on the second track on the top-loaded record.
Listen (at least to "Excuses,") here:

She & Him "Vol. 2" C-
Everything M. Ward does deserves a listen. At a certain point, though, even if I recognize something as quality work (mostly the production and instrumentation) doesn't mean I have to like it, or force myself to listen to it on the reg. I just don't see the point of She & Him. Zooey doesn't write quite good enough songs, they are pleasant enough, but I'd rather just go dig up some old records.

Foals - Total Life Forever C

Robyn "Body Talk Pt. 1"
Robyn is terrible and I'm tired of all these hipsters saying otherwise.
AV Club and Pitchfork readers who like Robyn, for the most part, talk shit about American pop music, meaning either A.) they would also like American pop music if it wasn't popular, or B.) force themselves to like Robyn instead because she is not a house hold name here (and therefor "cool"), and that's pathetic.
For those who like Robyn and also like American pop music, that's fine, you're honest with your tastes and I don't dislike you, I just dislike your music. 

Janelle Monae "The ArchAndroid"
I don't like modern RnB, even modern RnB with touchstones in classic soul, and thematic inspiration in Fritz Lang's dystopian masterpiece Metropolis. Janelle's got style, enthusiasm and a fantastic stage presence, but I find her voice thin, her melodies less-than-memorable and the production sterile. I'll pass. Give me Sharon Jones any day.

Best Coast "Crazy for You"
At first I thought, 'maybe there is more to this if I keep listening.' After several spins, the melodies were finally in my head and I liked her voice, so I posted a stream of the album on this site, and kept listening, hoping I would form some sort of summer bond with the record. Shortly after that near honeymoon, it hit me that, nope, there is nothing more and my first instinct was absolutely correct. She sings about her cat, getting high, and boys. There's nothing here to warrant multiple listens, praise or scorn. It's jangly pop, and it's borrrrrrring as fuck.

Vampire Weekend "Contra" C
I think yr a contra. NO! yr a contra ... this album stinks.
Wolf Parade "Expo 86" C
Broken Bells "Broken Bells" C-
M.I.A. "Maya"
The Thermals "Personal Life" C-

Like, but haven't listened to enough of yet
Gorillaz "Plastic Beach"
Pomegrantes "One of Us"
Dum Dum Girls "I Will Be"
Broken Social Scene "Forgiveness Rock Record"
The Tallest Man on Earth "The Wild Hunt"

Did not hear
New Pornographers "Together"
Band of Horses "Infinite Arms"
MGMT "Congratulations"
Joanna Newsom "Have One on Me"
... and thousands more



Anonymous said...

Awesome. I love these lists, especially the movie ones cause I really need the guidance there.

I think this is the most in sync I've ever been with you music wise, it's been a pretty good year.


bahler said...

Possible subconscious slip calling "Odd Blood" by Yeasayer "Ambling Alp" instead? I can thank R.E.M. for not releasing an album this year, so I can focus on other music. You can guess Best Coast will be higher in my list. It was, however, a year of front-loaded records from Spoon to Kanye, which makes me want to write a piece questioning if they're really front-loaded or we just pay attention to the first half more.

And I have to disagree on your Arcade Fire position. Few albums strike me on first listen as that good, and I'm not really attached to the idea of Win Butler and Co. being saviors of music, so it doesn't matter who made that album. I'd love it even if Phil Collins put it out, although Phil is getting a lot of love these days...

Warped Coasters said...

Ah yes, Bahler, thanks for the typo catch on Yeasayer, it's fixed now. And yeah, that was definitely my subconscience wishing the rest of the album was as good as that song.

You may have a point on the front-loaded albums having more to do with our attention spans than anything else, but I typically beat records to death and don't skip around, so I dunno.

Warped Coasters said...

Re: Arcade Fire. The title track is absolutely amazing, as are about 3 other songs.
There are maybe 3 others that I like and 8 tracks of filler, me thinks.

Anonymous said...

What ye say about the Phil, Eddie?


Warped Coasters said...

I remember Yeezy talking up The Phil before 808s and Heartbreak, what exactly he said, I couldn't say.

Steven (formerly A Mixed Tape) said...

For some reason I just never got that into Titus, it was just too all over the place, and maybe a little too thematic. However, I do respect it.

I dug Deerhunter, but it didn't make my top 15 (which you'll see below).

Well sure enough, Surfer Blood was able to stand out the whole year!

Beach House was way too dreamy for me, however I think if I go back now and re-listen I'd probably like it more. The song Zebra came on my shuffle the other day and I was like "this song is awesome"!

Haven't heard the Kanye yet, but everyone seems to like it, so why not. Nor have I heard Tame Impala, Avi Buffalo, Teenage Fanclub, Warpaint, Male Bonding, The Hold Steady, Vaselines, Robyn, Wolf Parade, Broken Bells, Thermals.

Brothers has a bunch of really great songs on it, but I didn't think it flowed well as an album, so it didn't make my list either.

The Walkmen lacked any punch or sugar to hook me, though it is a pretty good album.

And I don't know why, but Ariel Pink's album never once tasted good.

Sleigh Bells' album is much like Brothers (see above).

LCD and Spoon both fell into the same boat, not having enough intricacies to maintain my attention for too long.

And I think Arcade Fire is pretty good, but again, not an album, just a collection of songs. And it's mammoth, that's why it's making lists, but you're probably right.

Jaill's album really grew on me, I was surprised. The National and Dr. Dog really continued their legacy of legittedness.

I hated Wavves album last year, but found myself really digging this one. For me Harlem ended up being a few stellar tracks and some garage filler, Sharon still doing that same old thing, and Yeasyaer would probably be on my disappointment list if I had one, Ambling Alp was so good! No Age was just too noisy for me I think.

Morning Benders just shot their load with the first couple of tracks, like Foreign Born did last year.

I've been thinking a lot about She & Him, how did you feel about their first album, I feel like this one is much more catchier and poppier than Vol 1, but it's not getting much attention, even from me.

Janelle Monae is pretty much awful, and I can't believe how many people rave about "Tightrope". Big Boi's last rhyme in that song is just worthless. Will we (I mean they actually) ever look back and wonder what we (they, again) were thinking?

There isn't much point to investigate the albums on your haven't heard list. Band of Horses is an over-produced disappointment. It's almost like the Pornographers don't ahve it anymore, what with this and Challengers. MGMT banked a little too much on the success of their previous record and went a little too far, much like Midlake.
And Joanna Newsome is like three hours long, and it's like one continuous song.

(drum roll) here's my list:

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
The Head and The Heart - s/t
Toro y Moi - Causers of This
Gayngs - Relayted
The Heligoats - Goodness Gracious
Free Energy - Stuck On Nothing
Wild Nothing - Gemini
Girl Talk - All Day
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Jonsi - Go
Andrew Collberg - On The Wreath
Eagle Seagull - The Year of the How-To Book
Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
The Mynabirds - What We Lose In The Fire We Gain in the Flood
Wavves - King of the Beach
Surferblood - Astrocoast

They aren't in any actual order, cept for #1 is a tie between Sufjan and TH&TH.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Warped Coasters said...

Beach House is definitely worth a re-listen.

It took me quite a while to warm up to Ariel Pink. Though I did immediately like "Bright Lit Blue Skies" and "Round and Round"

I like a couple songs on the new No Age a lot, but overall, I prolly need to move it down to "disappointments." It's noisy, but the noise isn't really that interesting or novel.

She & Him just don't have the songs. I find it really, really boring, both records.

Thank god you agree on Janelle Monae. It is just not that good. I really don't understand the praise.

I heard one or two songs off the new Band of Horses and had the same reaction you describe. I didn't see the need to hear the rest.

I bought the new Sufjan Stevens, but haven't listened to it probably more than 2 or 3 times.
I forgot to add it to the "didn't listen to enough." At this point it's in the disappointment category, but like I said that's a premature evaluation. My first thoughts were that his melodies were whiny and didn't hit me emotionally and immediately like "Illinois" did.

Ah I liked Free Energy, and they were good live. I need to add that to the list. Prolly somewhere around 20 on the list.
And Girl Talk, I liked that as well, forgot about it. It seems weird to put it on a best-of-the-year list, being that it's a mash-up and all. But that's a whole different conversation.

I haven't heard of The Head and The Heart, Andrew Collberg or Eagle Seagull.

I've heard of Toro y Moi, Gayngs, The Heligoats, Wild Nothing and Jonsi, but haven't gotten to it yet.

I did listen to a few Local Natives songs but it didn't grab me. But I didn't especially dislike it either.

The only Mynabirds song I heard I really liked after a few listens, I'll have to get the rest of it.
Thanks for the recommendations, I'll have to check them out.