Au Revoir, 2010!
Despite the things I could say about it in other arenas, 2010 was a pretty fantastic year for music. It's no surprise that I was absent from blogging more this year than ever before, but that hardly means I wasn't listening. My intake of new records this year wasn't all that terribly steep and so I expected to have a fairly easy time getting my favorites together in some semblance of an order—certainly not the case. That is why I decided to forgo a numbering system this year. These are my favorite records of 2010. Most of these should not come as any kind of shock if you even have the slightest of ideas of how things tend to go around here. Should you happen to be unfamiliar with any of them you can only assume that I VERY HIGHLY RECOMMEND them! Onward! Onward!
Art Fag Recordings
[MP3]: Las Robertas "In Between Buses"
It was probably about halfway through the Summer that I realized Las Robertas' as-catchy-as-it-is-fuzzy debut record just had to be the greatest thing I had been feeding my ears all year. Cry Out Loud is a full 30 minutes of no-skip fuzzpop gems. The guitars fuzz and buzz to what literally sounds like amp-blowing levels while the drums explode all over everything else, leaving just enough sonic real estate to take in the girls' beautifully crafted vocal melodies. Watch the gorgeous video for slow-burning fuzzfest "V For You" here.
[MP3]: The Radio Dept. "The Video Dept."
Clinging To A Scheme was one of my most eagerly awaited releases this year. My expectations were beyond high and somehow this record still managed to exceed them. There are too many total jams on here to name and each one served me a different purpose. As a whole you can really sink into it, but you can also pull out songs like "The Video Dept." or "Heaven's On Fire" and take those right on down to the dancefloor—and that's the special thing about The Radio Dept. Oh, also, thumbs up on that production, guys.
Fortuna Pop! Records
[MP3]: Allo Darlin' "If Loneliness Was Art"
The best purely, fantastically, charming indiepop record made in years. Indiepop, as a genre (especially in a hyper-contemporary sense), has a well-known knack for being quick and dirty. The songs show up or are dug up in a wide array of forms and qualities—the internets being first and foremost responsible—and we suck them down as fast as we can, running off that jangly, saccharine rush until, ultimately, we spit it out and pop another. It is, then, an increasingly rare occurrence, especially personally, that something sticks in the way that Allo Darlin' have. Whatever it is, and I am truly not sure what it is, they've got it, probably in spades. This record will (and certainly should) likely be remembered alongside some of the greatest indiepop records of the 90s that we all treasure so dearly. They just don't make em, except occasionally, like they used to.
What's Your Rupture?
[MP3]: Cinema Red and Blue "Melanie Down"
Super groups, while, you know, seemingly super, almost always tend to end up being quite the miserable situation; a bit masturbatory, kind of like an inside joke that a few friends tell right in front of you—they're having a blast, but you're a bit less than amused. Sometimes, though, they're actually pretty damn great. Every time I listened to Cinema Red and Blue, which features members of Comet Gain and Crystal Stilts, as well as occasional appearances from Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor), Hamish Kilgour (The Clean), and Linton(The Aislers Set), I would hear something new that would stick to me. It's the endless supply of unofrtunately-relevant lines like this one that kept this album on my mind: "Listening to records that nobody wants, dreaming of moments that nobody's had..." Thanks, Feck, why don't you twist it a bit more while you're in there? No, really.
[MP3]: Wild Nothing "Chinatown"
I'm glad I got over myself and decided that this record was irresistible, because it would have been a real shame if I thought I was too cool for what turned out to be one of the most endlessly enjoyable records of the year for me. Gemini, in addition to the equally great Golden Haze EP, have been absolute staples in my daily listening ever since the temperatures began to drop back in mid-September. Mr. Tatum's got all this Summer imagery floating around, but I refuse to buy it. This, for me, is cold weather music through and through. Even "Summer Holiday" sounds better with the windows open and the heat on. P.S. It should also be noted that despite this record being a solo effort, Jack Tatum and his merry band of players put on quite the impressive live show and should most certainly not be missed.
Cosy Recordings/Lo and Behold Recordings
[MP3]: Tiger Tape "Let's Work Things Out"
In which a band called Moofish Catfish gets a much, much better name and then truly makes one of the best records of the year. I Woke Up In Hökarängen's guitars sparkle and snarl and it's rhythms seem turn corners on a dime, but Agnes' vocals—the backbone of the record, for certain—remain beautiful and soaring, always commanding, yet never overarching.
Happy Happy Birthday To Me
[MP3]: Sourpatch "Same Street"
Sourpatch are a band I've been following pretty ardently for a few years now, so the arrival of their debut LP was a joyous occasion, indeed. They are, techinically, my ideal band. Fast, punky pop songs played with loads of energy and loads of fun. Leads and harmonies fly in from every angle and every song offers a new opportunity to dance like a fool. I've loved Sourpatch's songs since I very first heard them, but it was on Crushin' that they finally got the production they needed. The reverbed vocals call from the back of the room while the instruments fight for the spotlight up front and that's exactly how I wanted to hear them.
Killer Pimp Records
[MP3]: Ceremony "Marianne"
Rocket Fire is a tremendous record. Tremendously dark, tremendously loud, and tremendously grooving. Yes, grooving. The majority of it's running time ranges from noisy to noisy as hell, but amidst all the fuzz, feedback, and crashing of digital drums are some some seriously smart melodies and that’s exactly why this record shines so much brighter than so many like it. If you’re gonna make a shoegaze record you’d better make damn sure you have the pop-chops to keep up with all that noise.
[MP3]: Le Futur Pompiste "Five Hundred Heartbeats"
This, Le Futur Pompiste's first new record since 2004's Your Stories and Your Thoughts, is as a fine a testament as any to why it's always best to do these sorts of lists as late in the year as possible. I could have waited even longer, but Unless something amazing flies in out of nowhere, at this point I think I'm okay. Those of you unfamiliar may be quite pleased to find out that the Le Futur Pompiste stars the lovely voice of Jessika Rapo, whom you will likely recognize from her other band, Burning Hearts. Throughout the entirety of what basically sounds like a brilliant picnic in outer space, Jessika reveals line after beautiful line of some of the finest vocal melodies to hit my ears this year. Look no further than the stunning chorus of "My Trophy" and you'll begin to fall in love.
[MP3]: Weekend "End Times"
Weekend's extremely confident, extremely good—and extremely difficult to google—debut Sports was another that I had been eagerly anticipating for quite some time this year. It's post-punk songwriting with shoegaze pedal boards, but then it's not. It's The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa with Andy McCluskey on bass, but then it's not. It's a lot of different things at once, but still, somehow, it manages to behave like an unbelievably cohesive record, one that is even greater than the sum of it's parts (which do function pretty fucking well on their own, see "End Times"). The ridiculous amount of times I've sat through the almost six minutes of "Veil", just for that ever-rewarding, never-as-long-as-I-wish-it-was coda, should be pretty telling of Sports' excellence.
That's all she wrote, folks. Since I would hate to not mention a handful of other fantastic records that for one reason or another didn't end up in my top ten, here are the albums that would fill out my hypothetical 11 to 20 slots:
SAMBASSADEUR // EUROPEAN
MIGHTY CLOUDS // SELF TITLED
GIGI // MAINTENTANT
SERENA-MANEESH // NO 2: ABYSS IN B MINOR
CLUB 8 // THE PEOPLE'S RECORD
FRANKIE ROSE AND THE OUTS // SELF TITLED
GRASS WIDOW // PAST TIME
SHRAG // LIFE! DEATH! PRIZES!
CROCODILES // SLEEP FOREVER
THE SOFT CITY // SELF TITLED
Coming up in the next couple days: Favorite EPs/Singles of 2010!
Coming up after that: Two-volume 'Favorite songs of 2010' mix! Stumble It!