Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Top Ten List

1) This is Happening, LCD Soundsystem
Summer officially started 3:06 into “Dance Yourself Clean” when the volume surges and handclapping gives way to a monster bass line. Finally, I can see the appeal of driving a boom car where the bass rattles all the windows in the neighborhood.

2) The Suburbs, Arcade Fire
This album could have been a load of pretentious crap, filled with clichés about the sterility and open-aired claustrophobia of suburban life. Thankfully, The Suburbs (for the most part) avoids those pitfalls and delivers a meditation on the emotional pull of a place you once called home. And the importance and inevitability of leaving that place.

3) Halcyon Digest, Deerhunter
The album is shot through with lyrics that twist in upon themselves, contradicting lines of optimism, then providing grace notes to the bleakest lines. One of the more poignant tracks, “Helicoptor,” imagines the last moments of Dima, a Russian male escort, before he is thrown off a helicopter. That strange unidentifiable percussive sound is the blade of the helicopter, heard through a drug-addled haze.

4) My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West
In an album filled with diverse musical styles, samples from all over, guest stars and a wide-ranging inventiveness, West still manages to find space to wedge in all of his ego and all of his doubts.

5) Together, The New Pornographers
Not as propulsive as Twin Cinema or as hauntingly lovely as Challengers, Together is still sublime pop.

6) The Lady Killer, Cee Lo Green
This album is much more than the ubiquitous kiss-off single with the Motown bounce. Cee Lo obviously loves the soul stylings of the sixties and seventies and does an inspired take on them.

7) The ArchAndroid, Janelle Monáe
A remarkable debut album, switching between music genres with more dexterity and poise than most veterans could manage. She also seemed to be everywhere at once as a guest artist—appearing on albums by B.o.B., Big Boi and Of Montreal. And she brings it live. Even hampered with a muddy sound mix at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre, she put on a jaw-dropping performance.

8) High Violet, The National
Not the high water mark of Boxer or Alligator, perhaps because what they are writing about is more elusive. Instead of the bipolar extremes of male extended adolescence, with its dizzying self-regard (“All the Wine”) or its groveling lows (“Slow Show”), High Violet is trying to capture something else, that imperceptible slide into adulthood.

9) The Fool, Warpaint
The first full-length album by this LA all-female quartet is hypnotic. Lots of space in these songs to get lost in.

10) Crazy for You, Best Coast
Sunny pop songs about AWOL boyfriends who disappear with the weed.

Lots of Happy Listenings:

The Five Ghosts, Stars

False Priest, Of Montreal

Forgiveness Rock Record, Broken Social Scene

Broken Bells, Broken Bells

Broken Dreams Club, Girls

Astro Coast, Surfer Blood

You Are Not Alone, Mavis Staples

New Amerykah Part Two, Erykah Badu

Their fifteen minutes are over: Sleigh Bells