Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 50 of 2010

I actually contemplated not doing a top 50 this year. The last half of 2010 was a bit of a mess for me, and these disruptions had some effect on my listening pattern. Reasons for listening to music obviously change over time... and some of the choices below reflect both a long term sea change and a short term mind set. That said, good music is good music n'est-ce pas?

Some caveats: The Postdata record that made it to #1 below came out some time in 2009 (I think) although release info is pretty spotty.  I only heard it a couple of months into 2010 and loved its low key atmosphere and open mic / room sound recording.  When I began re-listening to it in late summer early fall it was the songs' focus that really hit home.  There were days I'd play it in the store 4-5 times back to back (which isn't hard given it's brief duration).

There are at least two albums that might have made it in to the list (and I'd thought about wedging them in somewhere on principle) and those were Joanna Newsom's Have One On Me and Sufjan Stevens' The Age of Adz.  The former sat like a brick in my iTunes all year long, constantly in that "I'll give it a good listen when I have the time" pile.  Apparently I never had the time because I've yet to listen to it all the way through.  The Sufjan album did get a few spins post release and initially I was really happy with it.  He seemed to have found a way to meld the quiet singer/songwriter side of his discography with the orchestral and ambitious side of things.  And the he added weird heavy keyboard to the mix on top of it all.  But with each new listen I got less and less certain about my feelings towards the album.  It had moments of pop hook nirvana that made me very happy... but they came a little gummed up by the blobular synthesizer sections that surrounded them.  I started asking the question to myself, "Are these songs actually good?"  That's the point I was at while making the list... so I decided to just leave it off until I'd answered that question to my satisfaction.

The rest of the list is the usual mix of long time favourites (Damien Jurado, Will Oldham, John Darnielle), new weird and daring directions that caught my ear (Emeralds, oOoOO, Oneohtrix Point Never).  There were good but not great albums by other favourites (Antony and the Johnsons, The National) and surprises by others that were better than expected (Superchunk, Arcade Fire).  I'm sure there are titles that some of you will argue for that I missed, that always happens, and some that might seem overly obscure and put on for their cool points... I hope this isn't true... but I can neither confirm nor deny.

I welcome debate, questions, insights... here in the comments, over on our Facebook page or live in person (even better)>

01 Postdata - S/T (Silly Old Songs)

02 Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest (4AD)

03 Sam Amidon - I See the Sign (Bedroom Community)

04 Beach House - Teen Dream (Sub Pop)

05 Extra Lens - The Undercard (Merge)

06 John Grant - The Queen of Denmark (Bella Union)
07 Superchunk - Majesty Shredding (Merge)

08 Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)

09 Mice Parade - What it Means to Be Left Handed (FatCat)

10 Damien Jurado - Saint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian)

11 Arcade Fire - Suburbs (Merge)

12 Woods - At Echo Lake (Woodsist)

13 Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and the Cairo Gang - The Wonder Show of the World (Drag City)

14 Oval - O (Thrill Jockey)

15 Gayngs - Relayted (Jagjaguwar)

16 Perfume Genius - Learning (Matador)

17 S. Carey - All We Grow (Jagjaguwar)

18 Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts (Sub Pop)

19 Megafaun - Heretofore (Hometapes)

20 Emeralds - Does it Look Like I'm Here? (eMego)

21 Tame Impala - Innerspeaker (Modular)

22 Scout Niblett - The Calcination of… (Drag City)

23 ANBB - Mimikry (Raster-Noton)

24 Gonjasufi - A Sufi and a Killer (Warp)

25 Warpaint- The Fool (Rough Trade)

26 Sun Kil Moon - Admiral Fell Promises (Caldo Verde)

27 The Books - The Way Out (Temporary Residence)

28 Black Angels - Phosphene Dream (Blue Horizon)

29 CocoRosie - Grey Oceans (Sub Pop)

30 Halves - It Goes, It Goes [Forever and Ever] (Hate is the Enemy)

31 A Silver Mt. Zion - Kollaps Tradixionales (Constellation)

32 Sylvain Chauveau - Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated) (Type)

33  The National - High Violet (4AD)

34 Felix - You Are the One I Pick (Kranky)

35 Women - Public Strain (Flemish Eye)

36 Walkmen - Lisbon (Fat Possum)

37 Sightings - City of Straw (Jagjaguwar)

38 Barn Owl - Ancestral Star (Thrill Jockey)

39 Local Natives - Gorilla Mansion (French Kiss)

40 Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM (Elektra)

41 Three Mile Pilot - The Inevitable Past is the Future Forgotten (Temporary Residence)

42 oOoOO - oOoOO (Tri-Angle)

43 Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal (eMego)

44 Adam Franklin and Bolts of Melody - I Could Sleep for a Thousand Years (Second Motion)

45 Ghostkeeper - S/T (Flemish Eye)

46 Laurie Anderson - Homeland (Nonesuch)

47 The Lower Dens - Twin Hand Movement (Gnomosong)

48 Antony and the Johnsons - Swanlights (Secretly Canadian)

49 Efterklang - Magic Chairs (4AD)

50 Play Guitar - S/T (Youth Club)

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