So it is that time of the year again. We evaluate and reevaluate all the music that we have consumed in the last 12 months, and then we try to put an arbitrary order to it. It seems to me that each year seems to get harder for me. It may not be that there was that much more great music per se, but that with this new technology around us that we have so much more exposure to different music. My list isn’t necessarily a list of the “Best” music, because it is too subjective. These are my favourite albums. These are the albums that soundtracked my life for the year of 2010. Albums that connected to me at the right time. Some took a long time to get to know, others where quick loves that faded away, and others were classics that will likely remain in my playlist for years to come.
As with Kris, I will be splitting them up for easy consumption. Unlike Kris I will be starting with Albums instead of Songs. So here are the first 20 albums of my favourite 60. Yes 60!!!! Look for the next 20 to arrive tomorrow.
60 – Sufjan Stevens – Age of Adz
This was one of my most anticipated albums of the year. I put it on and immediately fell for the opening track “Futile Devices”. This was what I had been waiting for. And then that track faded out, and in came some gurgling electronics and weird noises. I was confused. But the more listens I gave it, the further up it crept into my head, and onto this list. It may end up deserving a place further up, but this is where is lies today.
59 – Delorean – Subiza
This album is full of poppy dance/electronic songs that is great for a summer chill session or to listen to when you want to maintain that good mood. Sounds like what I think summer in Southern Europe would feel like. This album just beat out CEO for this spot, so be sure to check them out if you like this sound.
58 – Kylesa – Spiral Shadow
A year in which I re-explored the darker side and listened to a lot more Black Metal and Heavy music. Kylesa ended up winning the battle for me with this fall release. Although this is far from Black Metal, It was the perfect harmony of melody, angst, chugging rhythms, and mostly comprehensible lyrics. If you get a chance you should also check out the releases by Nachtmystium and the body.
57 – Maximum Balloon – Maximum Balloon
When this first released I anticipated it to be way further up the list, but here it sits. David Sitek’s (Tv on the Radio) solo release with loads of guests is immediately grabbing. It is loaded with great songs, but I just found myself listening to it less and less in the winter making me think its a summer album. Guests include Karen O, and David Byrne.
56 – Surfer Blood – Astrocoast
Kris mentioned this band to me in November and it turned out I already knew their song “Swim” from a compilation. So I checked out the rest of this great album and was pleasantly surprised. I anticipate this to be much further up Kris’ list, and I expect I will agree even more with him later on. Reminds me of a Vampire Weekend/Beach Boys Hybrid, but better than that sounds.
55 – The Roots – How I got over
This year the Roots put out a great album that I found myself listening to a lot more than it’s predecessors. Lots of great guests and great songs lead to a great album. Proving they are more than just the “Best band in Late night”.
54 – She & Him – Volume Two
She & Him are Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. They put out pretty retro songs. This album is full of them. It is not groundbreaking. But like Zooey herself, it has this unknown charm that drags you in. It is just a lovely album of originals and covers that sounds like the good old days I wasn’t around for.
53 – Axiomatik – Ripped Apart… Or So She Seems
The only local band on my list this year. This is an album that had me singing along on first listen because I recognized them from the live shows. Tangible melodies, clever writing and a sound that is neither boring nor offensive. Lead singer Shawn Lamble’s voice also reminds me of the lead singer of the Bluetones, so be sure to check them out as well if you like. Be sure to check out one of their local gigs in Edmonton, they put on a great show and like to mix things up a bit.
52 – Horse Feathers – Thistled Spring
One of 2 bands from Portland on the list, this album is the perfect accompaniment to a great book, a couch, and a sun filled window. It has flourishes of strings, jangly piano bits, lovely banjo rolls, and poetic lyrics. A beautiful album.
51 – Cee Lo green – The Lady Killer
Another highly anticipated album that seemed to disappoint yet managed to stay on the list. Following the release/leak of 2 songs from the album, I expected this to be up in the top 5 perhaps. However, there is too much filler to allow it to reside in the upper echelon of the list. Luckily there are way too many great songs on here to not have it place. “F*$k you” and the great cover “No One’s gonna Love you” are some of the best of the best pop tracks released this year.
50 – Nico Muhly – I Drank the Air Before Me
Nico is one amazingly talented man. Whether he is helping create pop masterpieces that grace this years and last years list, scoring a a film, dance or theatre piece, or creating complex classical compositions he hits the mark every time. “I drank the air before me” is one of two release by him this year on the Decca label. This album is complex, dark and moody, flitting, and pure genius. Put this on when you have a chance to appreciate everything it offers.
49 – Seabear – We built a fire
Seabear is an icelandic group that creates luscious multi-instument pop. One of the bands we were looking forward to in Iceland, they did not disappoint. Lion face boy is a gem, filled with horns, hushed vocals, and nice violin lines, and the rest of the album follows along in a similar vein.
48 – Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
Gil returns with a modern day classic. His first album since 1994 is a combination of classic soul backing with a spoken word quality stream of thoughts and prose put to a unique style of song. Just don’t let the melodies and rhythms distract you from the words, as he has a to say that is worth listening to.
47 – Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
Sludgy and epic. Two words that seemingly don’t belong together. But they describe this album perfectly. With 4 songs out of nine clocking in at over 7 minutes this is a an album that warrants your attention for a long period of time. This is not an album you throw on during a dinner party. Titus Andronicus combines elements of punk, classic rock, sludge, americana, and Bruce Springsteen. The Monitor is an album that deserves your attention. Especially tracks like “A Pot in which to piss” and “A more perfect Union”
46 – Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
Third album from this English “band” that continues in the same style of his previous releases. Combing folktronica with new elements and clever compositions this album is a standard progression of sound, and one that keeps things fresh yet familiar.
45 – Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
A fantastic electronic album. Any album that samples Sigur Ros deserves to be on this list, but this album is all over the place in a good way. Filled with dancefloor anthems, experiments, ambient, and pop tracks this is one album that does not disappoint on the variety scale. Check out “Year of Silence” (feat sigur Ros), Celestica, or their new hit “Not in Love” with Robert Smith.
44 – The Mynabirds – What we lose in the fire we gain in the flood
As featured earlier on the blog, “what we lose…” is a folky album that harkens the sounds of classic 70’s folk pop of neil young and others of that ilk. Perfect music for a rainy day.
43 – Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid
This is a strong debut for this eclectic R&B singer. With varied production and guests this is an album that fuses the different generations of soul music and pushes things forward more than most current R&B Artists, yet pays homage to the originators. One of the more funky pop albums of the year. Also be sure to check out her performance of “Let’s go Crazy” at the BET Awards show.
42 – Reflection Eternal – Revolutions per Minute
This Collab between Talib Kwelli and Hi-Tek is the first release in 9 years and is just as good as their release in 2001. One of the best hip hop albums of the year, they rarely miss on this 17 track album. Clever and meaningful rhymes, excellent production, and hooks galore.
41 – Hot Chip – One Life Stand
This new release from Hot Chip is a slight departure from their great 2008 release. But it does not disappoint. Half of the album is overtly dancey while the other tracks are of the mellower brit pop variety. A good combination of paces to keep things interesting. The addition of Steel Drums is an interesting texture for the album as well. “I feel better” is a dominant standout with a fantastic video” and “One life stand” is an album definer.
Stay tuned for Part II