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Eric’s Favorites for 2010

January 6, 2011
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Wow, 2010, you were a quick one. It feels like I was just saying goodbye to 2009, and now here we are! Woo, crazy! Well, this year music was released! I know! Crazy! Other websites are listing their lists for this year, hoping to really surprise their readers. If my Top Ten list for this year was predictable it would be as predictable as Katy Perry having something come out of her breasts in a music video! Whipped cream and fireworks ftw!

Honorable mention: Plastic Beach by Gorillaz, Go by Jonsi, The Agreement by Lakes, The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monae,  S/T by Bad Books, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West, I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone by Crime in Stereo, Transference by Spoon.

In alphabetical order…

Arcade FireThe Suburbs

What more can be said about Arcade Fire? Funeral and Neon Bible are some of the most acclaimed records to come from Canada in some time. Their consistency thus far has been legendary. It one hears of anything new coming from Arcade Fire they know that they are in for a real treat. These guys make it look easy, but in all reality they are one of the hardest working bands in the industry today. And this tradition is more than continued with their newest record, The Suburbs. Turning their artistic lens to their childhood has helped the band produce one of the finest songs of their career [“Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”] and another sure winner in “We Used to Wait”. This is an album that is well anchored in the artistic mastery of these musicians. While it is a grower, when it finally gets to you it has your ears in a loving embrace that is sure to delight any music enthusiast.

Key Tracks: “Empty Room”, “We Used to Wait”, “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

Beach HouseTeen Dream

When it comes to great surprises, Beach House‘s Teen Dream takes the award for 2010. It was earlier in the year and I was in the market for some new music. On a whim, swung over by reviews on a couple of music sites, I purchased this and Owen Pallet’s Heartland (a great record). To be honest, I was taken aback by this record. The album art was a pink zebra design that is barely visible, I have heard nothing about this band before, and they made ten odd music videos for the ten songs on the record on a DVD which came with the CD. But after getting over my initial buyer’s remorse, I actually started to listen to the record. And much to my surprise, this was great music. Music that I couldn’t really stop listening to. It was catchy, moody, and great! And seeing them play the songs live at Coachella help to solidify this album’s place in my favorites for 2010. This is a great album for long drives through the country, reading books, writing papers, or thinking. It is an album that calmly leads one down a sonic path into contentment. A surprising hit.

Key tracks: “Zebra”, “Norway”

Belle and SebastianBelle and Sebastian Write About Love

This is a great album, plain and simple. Every song has its place on the record and it is the kind of album that doesn’t come out of left field. It is Belle and Sebastian playing to their strengths, which are considerable. The guest performances add to the overall feel to the music, with Carey Mulligan’s particularly charming.

Key Tracks: “I Want the World to Stop”, “The Ghost of Rockschool”

The Black KeysBrothers

A later addition to the albums I have found to be great this year, The Black Keys’s Brothers is a heavy hitter. Boasting some of the catchiest rock songs I have heard all year, this is not an album to overlook. It is strong throughout and boasts some great songs. Don’t let the hype about this album turn you off to it!

Key Tracks: “Next Girl”, “She’s Long Gone”

LCD SoundsystemThis is Happening

When it comes to explaining why this album is on my list for the best of 2010 one needs to understand how personal this album has become for me. This past semester at school has become known to me as a semester of intense writing. I had three papers a week, and when it came to writing them I would turn to this album to help me through them. It never became boring and every song was a welcome listen, even “Drunk Girls”, the divisive single. From “Dance Yrself Clean”‘s minimalist introduction into a layered masterpiece to the magnum opus “I Can Change” this is a very suburb album that makes the news that this may be the last LCD Soundsystem album very somber news indeed. This is how one goes out on the highest note possible!

Key Tracks: “Dance Yrself Clean”, “One Touch”, “I Can Change”

Local NativesGorilla Manor

I definitely bought into the hype with this one, but who can blame me? The layered vocal harmonies and percussive sound is one of the most welcoming and unique sounds of 2010. And seeing them at Coachella was just the icing on the cake. This is one of the best debut albums of all time and it shows that Local Natives have a very promising career ahead of them, whether it is in this band or in any other. The discipline that this band has is phenomenal, from their record to their live shows. Pick up this record and try your best to see them in concert!

Key Tracks: “Sun Hands”, “World Time”, “Camera Talk”


Steel TrainSteel Train

This was one of three bands that I was unaware of coming into 2010 that appear on this list, but of the three, this album has proven to be the most lasting and endearing. Found within this album are songs written about break-up, but the usual pain and betrayal are not seen. Instead one finds the emotion that rises up in the weeks after the event. There is an acceptance of what has happened and what has had to happen. There is the idea that things will always be better in the end, because that is exactly what the writer is working towards. He sends well wishes to the one who has dumped him (“You and I Undercover”), expresses doubt (“Turnpike Ghost”), and nostalgia with an awareness of growth [“Children of the 90’s” (I’m Not the Same)]. This album contains songs that are written from the perspective of time past, a looking back. And it is damn catchy.

Key Tracks: “Turnpike Ghost”, “You and I Undercover”

Tame ImpalaInnerspeaker

This album is a trip. Fun stuff.

Key Track: “Lucidity”

Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

This is the only way Sufjan Stevens could ever break his word to do the 50 States albums. In a way so grandiose, so impassioned, so emotional, and so amazing. This is what it sounds like to be inside of someone’s head. This is one of the most honest records every made, and it was made perfectly. There are those who find it to be abrasive, and to them I say, “Well, let’s hear your inner thoughts, then.” Fantastic album.

Key Track: “Impossible Soul”

and… Eric’s favorite album of 2010 is…

The National – High Violet

If asked what my favorite band is I always have difficultly not answering immediately with, “The National“. This band has captured my brain with their ingenious guitar playing and catchy drumming. Matt Berninger’s distinctive croon is one that has proven to be extremely divisive among the friends I have introduced this band to, and it is at its worst on their newest albumHigh Violet. Gone is the studio magic that gave his baritone a depth that was endless and enveloping. Instead, one finds more of a sound that is found in the live setting, with Berninger struggling to give his limited range the wings it has on the albums. But this is The National‘s true face. It isn’t polished to perfection, instead it is the emotional mess that the songs describe and the songs on this album are absolutely perfect. The tortured sound of “Anyone’s Ghost” is perfectly juxtaposed with the unspeakable beauty of the opening piano chords in “England”. The single, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, is the definitive single that we have been waiting for; it is the catchiest song they have ever written. High Violet‘s only weakness is that it comes after Boxer, an album which finds the band at its subtlest beauty. But it is a weakness that High Violet is aware of, and they do not try to mask the ugliness inside. Instead it is up in the air for all to see, and that is the way that they want it to be. It is not difficult to award this album the honor of being one of the best releases of 2010.

Key Tracks: The entire album.

 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. musingsofamusiclover permalink
    January 6, 2011 3:16 PM

    I’m so happy to see Arcade Fire and The Black Keys on so many of these lists. They really deserve it.

  2. January 8, 2011 11:18 AM

    Hey, great post. Great blog. It is fresh and to the point. I just read literally dozens of blogs, because I can’t sleep, and yours is by far the best quality. You know it is rare to find decent content on these things… Most of them are cheap and spammy.

  3. January 9, 2011 12:25 AM

    Didn’t you use that katy perry joke last year?

  4. Chris permalink
    January 25, 2011 1:46 AM

    The only bad thing about joining this blog is the realization that there is SO MUCH MUSIC. Thankfully, we’re in this together. Great post, brother. Excellently written. You have given me many hours of music to sift through. Thanks a lot…

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