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December 10th, 2010
Hey this is Cam from the New.Music.Live. team. Year-end listmaking is a habitual tradition of mine every December. In fact, it’s reached a point where I could clinically be deemed in need of some serious help (well, at least according to friends of mine).
The process begins usually around June, when I start keeping track of what the key releases of the year have been. From there it’s a matter of keeping an eye on things until mid-November when I open up a blank Word document, dump all of my considerations in and then just begin the process of elimination.
And so, I am proud to give you my ten favourite albums of 2010. I’ve cried, sweated and even bled (papercut, but still) over this list to narrow it down to the ten records I loved most.
10. Titus Andronicus The Monitor (XL)
I feel like I’ve forgotten anything I ever learned about American history. Thanks to New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus though, I was able to relive those Civil War lessons through their second album, a concept album loosely based on the great 19th Century battle. Okay, so it’s all fiction, but it does feature real historical figures playing roles in these epic, raucous, Springsteenian rock tunes. When am I really gonna need to know about U.S. history anyway?
9. LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening (DFA)
James Murphy isn’t afraid to admit he’s an old man living in a young person’s world. That doesn’t matter to him, because it’s pretty obvious he’s cooler than any of us will ever be. This is reportedly his last album, which is a bloody shame because nobody encapsulates post-punk, electro, disco and pop music the way this aging hipster has for the last decade.
8. The Drums The Drums (Moshi Moshi)
Behold, the greatest British indie pop album ever made by a band made of members from Florida and Brooklyn. Morrissey is a fan, so that makes it alright.
7. Emeralds Does It Look Like I’m Here (Editions Mego)
I believe I’ve said this before, but the easiest way to sum up Emeralds’ latest is to imagine Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, but without the vocals, the shuffling rhythms and all those juicy hooks. So what’s left? Well, all sorts of arpeggiating synth runs, mind-melting drones and shimmering prog delight. Umm, yum!
6. Big Boi Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)
I for one have always sided with Big Boi. Andre 3000? He’s got all the looks and style, but where’s his album? Exactly. While it may not have turned out exactly the way he wanted it to, Big Boi’s long overdue solo album was a slick collection of multifarious styles all blended up and served as the craziest Southern hip-hop since, well, OutKast. Most of all, it demonstrated that Antwan is as much a showman as his lesser half.
5. Best Coast Crazy For You (Mexican Summer)
Forget the weed references or the lazy Beach Boys comparisons, Best Coast won everyone over because their hazy, sunkissed pop songs mostly dealt with the simplest subject in music: love. Well, Bethany Cosentino’s lovesickness over some boy, to be precise. The fact that she managed to sneak in a verse about her kitty though, made it the, well, the cat’s pyjamas.
4. Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam)
Is it really necessary to explain this one? Yeezy called it in “Power” when he spat, “I’m killin’ this s**t,
I know damn well y’all feelin’ this s**t.” No argument there.
3. Beach House Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
Baltimore’s dream pop team of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally were always a critical favourite, but with Teen Dream they outdid themselves with an album full of elegant textures, divine pop hooks and flawless arrangements. And if anyone in their camp was worried about the album being mistaken for Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, well, all you have to do is look at the majority of year-end lists and you’ll see who the clear winner of 2010 was.
2. Robyn Body Talk (Konichiwa)
Forget about comparing Robyn to anyone, she’s an anomaly not just in pop music but also in the music industry. She may have that sugary-sweet sheen to her music, but this Swede is a spunky self-made star who just so happens to make some of the most inventive music around. Also, did anyone have three better singles than “Dancing On My Own,” “Hang With Me” and “Indestructible”? Okay, anyone whose name doesn’t rhyme with Spanye Nest?
1. Deerhunter Halcyon Digest (4AD)
In a way, it isn’t fair. Every year Deerhunter put out a record I pick it as my favourite, it’s just meant to be. You can accuse me of favouritism, and you’d be right, but more so it’s that this Atlanta band are masters of crafting songs that contain both loose experimentalism and concise pop songwriting. (That’s the stuff I eat up.) The fact that each album since 2007’s Cryptograms has seen them grow and improve bodes well not just for their future but also the future of my year-end lists.