My favorite music of 2010

It is that time of year again to review the music of the year. Now, I’ll remind you of my usual disclaimer: I make no claim to know what is good music, but I know what I like, so you’ll have to live with that.

So, without much further ado, here is 2010 in Review (curious what 2008 or 2009 looked like?)

Some honorable mentions that just missed: Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; Typhoon’s Hunger and Thrist; Caribou’s Swim; Vampire Weekend’s Contra and Robyn’s Body Talk. Kanye always impresses me at first but I’ve been burned by the staying power of his stuff. Caribou released what I had hoped that Hot Chip’s One Life Stand was while Robyn’s inclusion is highly weighted by what might be my single of the year “Dancing on my Own“.

20. Dealing in Antiques by Cats on Fire – Sure, might be rarities/demos but I love this band.
19. Surf Noir EP by Beat Connection
18. Magic Chairs by Efterklang – More Scandinavians. Sorry.
17. Fur Dich Immer Noch Fanta Sie by Die Fantastichen Vier – Quickly, they’re becoming, in my mind, the most important non-English-speaking act out there.
16. Fight Softly by the Ruby Suns
15. II by Crystal Castles – Shouting and synths. I still follow that siren song.
14. Halycon Digest by Deerhunter – Many people will gasp, but dang it if Deerhunter is still uneven.
13. High Violet by the National – In a sense, the opposite of Deerhunter: too even.
12. Trans-Continental Hustle by Gogol Bordello
11. Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager by Kid Cudi – After Lupe Fiasco, probably the most daring mainstream rapper out there (Sorry, Kanye and Jay-Z)

10. Hidden by These New Puritans – Like the Horrors in 2009, These New Puritans’ sophomore album annihilates their so-so debut.

9. Transference by Spoon – This might be the first time Spoon has ever made one of my “best of” lists. I have honestly no idea what this Spoon album clicked with me while every other one hasn’t.

8. Memphis by Magic Kids – Sorry, it is sticky sweet, like XTC 2.0, but better and much much younger than they should be.

7. All Day by Girl Talk – I still can’t shake the feeling that Girl Talk doesn’t deserve to be this high, but you have to acknowledge the fact that I can’t stop listening. I still feel dirty in a postmodern way.

Check out the mashup deconstruction of All Day.

6. Grinderman II by Grinderman – I know some like the mellower side of Nick Cave, but I do appreciate the badass side, too.

5. My Best Friend is You by Kate Nash – Honestly, she should be one of the Doctor’s companions, right? Right?! (Steven Moffatt, I hope you’re listening).

4. The Suburbs by the Arcade Fire – They’re R.E.M. or something now. You might have heard of them.

3. Lisbon by the Walkmen – Sometimes I think the Walkmen are the best true rock band in existence. Maybe that is why I would have been a poor music director at a radio station and a much better petrologist.

2. Treats by Sleigh Bells – Back in the mid ’90s, I proclaimed that Atari Teenage Riot was ahead of its time. I think time has caught up.

1. This is Happening by LCD Soundsystem – I’m not 100% sure, but I think James Murphy’s albums topped my lists every year he released one. Bastard. Honestly, “Dance Yrself Clean” is absolutely monumental, like the Colossus of Rhodes but extant.

There you go … now have it.


The Best of the ’00s Part 10: #10-1

My favorite of the decade! Thanks for memories!

10 The Blow – Paper Television (2006) (left) – Maybe I’m just fond of synth pop, but when Mikhaela and Jona decided to write pop songs, the result was 10 songs of perfection. This is what happens when a band decides that all the dabbling and wandering in music noise just isn’t working, so maybe writing songs that go somewhere is the way to go.

9 The White Stripes – White Blood Cells (2001) – It made the White Stripes huge, it brought the so-called “garage sound” to the forefront and still sounds as fresh as it did when it came out.

8 Ted Leo/Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak (2003) – If there is anything I am susceptible to, musically, beyond the usual synth pop, it is power pop. The ’90s was dominated by the likes of Matthew Sweet, but if anyone took the baton of power pop rock, it was Ted Leo. Hearts of Oak a few of the most epic pop songs of the decade, including “The Ballad of the Sin Eater” and “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?” Every decade needs someone who knows how to (a) rock and (b) do it with style.

7 Bright Eyes – Lifted (2002) – It might not be the most polished of Conor’s efforts, it might not be the most raw of his oeuvre, but the Lifted was the the most satisfying of the bunch. I mean, Conor was really prolific over the last 10 years, with his ups and downs, but really, like Alex Rodriguez, he’s still only 29 with an amazing track record. Who knows where his career might go in the teens.

6 Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003) – OK, so he didn’t retire like he said. However, he did put the energy you might expect from someone trying to leave on top of his game into The Black Album, leaving pretty much every other rapper in the dust. However, like MJ or the Rocket, Jay-Z couldn’t stay away (to mixed results).

5 Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030 (2000) (right) – I might be just piled praise on The Black Album, but here I am ranking another hip-hop album higher. Why is that? Del the Funkee Homosapien, Dan the Automator and Damon Albarn put together what is possible the only hip-hop/electro space opera – all set in the year 3030. Is this a nerd’s dream come true? Yes, yes it is.

4 Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala (2007) – How does a Swedish singer make the best Afro-rock-pop album of the last decade? How does he inherit the Graceland gene from Paul Simon over 20 years after the fact? Beats me. However, there is so much to enjoy on Night Falls Over Kortedala, solid through-and-through. Over the last 5 years, “Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo” might have taken over for “You are the Light” as my most played song.

3 Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand (2004) – Did any debut album of the ’00s have the impact of Franz Ferdinand? If you’re looking for a candidate for the most complex and satisfying pop hit of the decade, you really don’t have to look further than “Take Me Out.” I think Pitchfork nailed it when they described it as a good Brit pop song that Franz Ferdinand found a great song inside.

2 Postal Service – Give Up (2003) – Alright, so maybe another debut had a bigger impact. Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard took synth pop to correspondence college and we ended up with the most slyly infectious album of the decade. Of course, the timing of Give Up‘s release seem to sync up with my life in the first half of the decade, leaving me turning to it for the extreme ups and downs that dominated the Corvallis/Seattle days. I’m not entirely sure how the Postal Service will be remembered – I think it is Sub Pop’s best selling album ever, beating out Nirvana’s Bleach, and we may never see another Postal Service album again, but the ’00s wouldn’t have been the same with it.

1 LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver/45:33 (2007) (left) – Really, was their any question (OK, maybe there was). James Murphy took electronic music, spun it around, dragged it kicking and screaming into the 21st century and produced what was the most nuanced and captivating album of the decade. He went from bombastic (“North American Scum”) to enthralling (“All My Friends”) to sardonic (“New York I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down”) to downright tender (“Someone Great”) – it was hard to find fault with Sound of Silver, it felt like an album that needed to be made. And we’re all better off because of it.

Here’s the iMix for #10-1.

See the rest of the Top 100.

And a happy 2010 to everyone!

The Best of the ’00s Part 8: #30-21

Almost there!

30 Die Fantastischen Vier – Fornika (2007) (left) – Yes, I did include a German hip-hop album on the list … and in the top 30 no less. And sure I maybe understand 4 words in the whole album, but Die Fantastischen Vier (the Fantastic Four) might have stumbled into the best “aging hip hop stars” album this side of The Black Album.

29 The Rapture – Echoes (2003) – Funny how a little DFA magic can take a good band and turn them into a great band. The opening half of the album is as epic as they come.

28 Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism (2003) – And on the flipside, the opening three tracks of Transatlanticism might be some of the bleakest of the decade. I really wasn’t an obsessive Death Cab fan like many of the rest of my friends, but it gnawed at me for months – all it needed was a good breakup to take over.

27 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell (2003) – There were an awful lot of “hype bands” over the decade – thank you NME – and lots didn’t come close to living up to it. However, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs might be one of the biggest exceptions. Any attempt to compile the best songs of the decade necessitates having “Maps” near the very top.

26 The Strokes – Is This It? (2001) – It is hard to remember now, but when Is This It? came out back in 2001, it was stunning. Music had become so bloated and pretentious that this album sounded like a game-changer (and it more or less was). You could almost believe that the album was recorded in a few days – a perfect pop record for a music scene in need of one.

25 LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (2005) (right) – It was only the beginning – and between James Murphy and Kanye West, Daft Punk has become more popular than ever.

24 TV on the Radio – Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (2004) – Right about now, many people are wondering how this list made it so far without any TV on the Radio. It is not that I don’t like the other TV on the Radio albums – I do – but they never really stuck with me like Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes did. Is it unfair to compare about the ouvre of the band? Yes. Does it happen anyway? Sure.

23 Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone (2004) – It is a little hard to come up with words for this short-lived band and this album: a fantastical indie rock epic into the land of wind and ghosts? That might be close enough.

22 Radiohead – Kid A (2000) – A lot of people didn’t like it when Radiohead decided to ditch the guitars for a while and become a synth/goth band, but I wasn’t one of them. Kid A is the most twisted album in the Radiohead lexicon, and that says something.

21 Islands – Return to the Sea (2006) (left) – After the Unicorns came the Islands, and Return to the Sea was so devilishly entertaining (and catchy) that you’d wish that they’d bothered to not get lost ever since. That and Islands introduced me to Busdriver.

Here is your iMix for #30-21.

And a recap: And if you missed them, here are #100-9190-8180-7170-6160-5150-41, 30-41.