Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Top 30 albums of 2010
1- Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers
Mount Kimbie had already established themselves as an inventive and exciting act with their two superb 2009 EPs, Maybes and Sketch On Glass. Crooks & Lovers saw them conquer the full-length format with tunes that ranged from the glitchy, trippy funk of 'Before I Move Off' to the mournful ambience of 'Ode To Bear' to the pulsing, bass-driven 'Blind Night Errand'. A sublime record.
Mount Kimbie - Carbonated by subraw
2 - Sun Araw - On Patrol
One of the most unique, brain-frying releases of 2010. Drawing comparison to stuff like Spiritualized, Sun Ra (naturally), Lee Scratch Perry or Fela Kuti, it's an intoxicating, swampy brew of dub textures, slow hypnotic guitar riffs, stoned grooves, tribalistic conga-led percussion and reverbed, chant-like vocals that float in and out of the mix.
3 - The Redneck Manifesto - Friendship
On tracks like 'Smile More' and 'Rubber Up', the group exhibit an almost-ADD approach to their craft, nailing a bass or guitar-led groove and running with it for a while, before stretching out, changing the tempo, setting some atmosphere, and then again hitting on a groove that sends the tune down another alley. It's as enjoyable as it is impressive, and that's why the Rednecks are so feted: it's a considerable achievement to make complex, multi-layered instrumental music that courses with vitality and demands your attention to the extent that Friendship does. - (Ragged Words)
4 - Jogging - Minutes
Was there a better opening track on an album this year than the amazing 'Threadbare'? That killer tempo change halfway through = a thing of beauty. Fans of Dischord Records or the late Giveamanakick found much to love on this frenetic, pulverising collection; driving riffs and powerhouse drumming met irresistible hooks and unstoppable tunes.
5 - Demdike Stare - Voices Of Dust
The third and final part of a trilogy of albums released in 2010 by Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty, it's a dark, sinister-sounding trip, taking in unsettling drones, tribalistic drums and chants, techno-tinged electronics and deep, cavernous (The) Bug-like bass ('Desert Ascetic'). Haunted and haunting.
Desert Ascetic by modernlove
6 - Sleigh Bells - Treats
Described as a pop Times New Viking and compared to The Go! Team, Sleigh Bells mixed speaker-destroying in-the-red production with irresistible pop hooks. There's no denying the direct, straight-for-the-jugular thrills of Treats.
Crown On The Ground by Sleigh Bells
7 - Nouveaunoise - Paraphrase Accolade
Invigorating, fluid electronic music, the default comparison was Four Tet, but this west-of-Ireland based duo also called to mind artists like Flying Lotus with their mellow, layered tunes. Be it the hazy 'Giron', the subtly propulsive 'Cinnte', the shimmering soundscapes of 'Panaka' or the exuberant 'Psychasonic', this was a record to lose yourself in.
8 - Scuba - Triangulation
Founder of the influential Hotflush Recordings, London-based Paul Rose followed up his Sub:stance mix - release early 2010 - with the second Scuba long-player, Triangulation. Dark, cavernous and atmospheric, it combined techno, ambient, dubstep and house influences. Standouts include the skittering 2-step percussion and coldly pulsing rhythms of 'Latch', the trip-hop-inflected 'Before' with its cut-up soul vocals and the bass-driven subterranean vibe of 'Minerals'. Essential.
9 - Women - Public Strain
"...a record that’s every bit as coherent as it is compelling, and as fine an example as you’re likely to find of a band taking things to the next level... its overall sound and aesthetic is murky, distorted, and abrasive, and at times it sounds like they’re using the same guitar tunings as SST-era Sonic Youth. The knockout one-two punch of ‘Untogether’ and ‘Drag Open’, in particular, utilise the kind of harsh, scratchy tones and driving rhythms that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Confusion Is Sex. Standout track ’China Steps’, meanwhile, lays down a motorik-like rhythm before puncturing it with piercing guitar stabs to create an anxious but undeniable groove..." - (Ragged Words - http://www.raggedwords.com/reviews/album-reviews/women-public-strain)
Women - Eyesore by Ragged Words
10 - Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
There's not much higher praise I can give an album than saying it reminds me of The Blue Album. Astro Coast reminds me of The Blue Album, from the slacker/geek vibes to the irresistible indie-before-it-was-a-bad-word hooks to the fact that almost every track is as strong as the one before. Despite what you might have heard, 'Swim' is actually about the sixth-best song on the record: there's also the attitude-drenched 'Harmonix', the sweeping rush of 'Fast Jabroni' and the utterly wondrous (as in listen to it right now) 'Anchorage'. I don't want to spin my wheels, I ain't got no wheels to spin.
Surfer Blood - Anchorage by user8317739
11 - Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Environmental woes may have influenced the thematic concept of Plastic Beach, the third Gorillaz album, but if the earth really is dying you wouldn't be able to tell from the vibrancy of their music: with stellar guest spots from Gruff Rhys, De La Soul, Mos Def, Bobby Womack, Little Dragon and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Plastic Beach is the strongest Gorillaz record yet.
12 - Owen Pallett - Heartland
He may have changed his Final Fantasy moniker, but Pallett's latest effort - a concept album about an ultra-violent farmer under the command of an all-powerful narrator - was as striking and impressive as what had come before. His ornate, string-led compositions were remarkably rich in their attention to detail, but what really stood out was the dramatic and tuneful sweep of tracks like 'Lewis Takes Action', 'Keep The Dog Quiet' and 'Tryst With Mephistophelis'. A masterful arranger and musician at work.
Lewis Takes Action by DominoRecordCo
13 - Caribou - Swim
Dan Snaith spoke of Swim as being an attempt to make 'dance music that sounds like it's been made out of water', and the hypnotic, swirling, shape-shifting textures of the album reflected this. The frequent lyrical references to disintegrating relationships lent the record a melancholy tone, with the narrators sounding almost helpless at times, drowning not waving. Boasting endless sonic detail and danceable, entrancing rhythms, these waters ran deep.
Bowls by Caribouband
14 - Teebs - Ardour
"For just under an hour, Teebs sustains a vibrant mood of contemplative bliss, the only sense of tension coming between the airy arrangements and patches of plodding trunk rattle. It’s all that keeps a few of these tracks from floating away... More direct than FlyLo and earthier than Lorn, Teebs’ sound is set on the present. He matches precisely offbeat flourishes with a delicate beauty. Tones gleam and drift like a river at daybreak, as drum patterns switch course or gradually stall...Teebs gets his synthesizers to act like seagulls on “My Whole Life” and the soaring textures reach new altitudes. This is no street level shot; it’s a rooftop view..." - (Dusted - http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/6046)
Teebs - 'Arthur's Birds' by BRAINFEEDER
15 - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
"Whereas Worn Copy and House Arrest buried their 70s and 80s soft-rock lineage under a blur of hiss and noise, Before Today presents them with laser-disc clarity; listen no further than single "Round and Round," with its Police-style verse and gigantic, Peter Gabriel-esque chorus...Before Today finds Pink and crew oscillating between a bounty of influences..."Menstrual Man" walks a taut line borrowed from "Psycho Killer" and embellishments on loan from Thriller..."Beverly Kills" and "Fright Night (Nevermore)" mine 80s R&B veins with buttery synths coursing beneath Pink's echoed, muffled melodies." - (Tiny Mix Tapes - http://www.tinymixtapes.com/music-review/ariel-pinks-haunted-graffiti-today)
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Round and Round by theharro
16 - Teeth Of The Sea - Your Mercury
"a dark, dense record, a steamy, light-starved jungle of tangled electronics and feral distortion occasionally punctuated by startlingly lucid bottom end...the bulk of Your Mercury probably should be viewed as one seamless unit, something huge but sleek, technological but organic, laced with murmurs of human voices, fleeting passages of birdsong and those celestial peals of trumpet, set against machine tones, both dissonant and driving." - (Drowned In Sound - http://drownedinsound.com/releases/15833/reviews/4141602)
17 - Actress - Splazsh
"It’s a common aesthetic theme that runs through the album, this corrupted techno picking up transmissions from other places, melodies being tuned in on some occult radio. It feels like you can zoom in forever on fine-grained sonic details – like when the vocal samples get stretched into some grey, rainy haze before the beat comes in, mechanical limbs perforating the track with holes that blister with noise." - (OneThirtyBPM - http://onethirtybpm.com/2010/05/27/album-review-actress-splazsh/)
Actress - Lost by subraw
18 - Solar Bears - She Was Coloured In
"She Was Coloured In is a stunningly accomplished work, and in these times of attention deficit and free mp3s it’s important to stress that this is an album in the truest sense: from the kaleidoscopic opening track ‘Forest of Fountains’ to the ambient, pastoral strains of closer ‘Perpetual Meadow’, the listener is taken on a sonic journey that never stalls too long in any one place...The peak is reached late on: the superb ‘Dolls’ carefully and gradually layers instrument upon instrument, including some solemn choir vocals, to create a dramatic climax that skilfully avoids bombast; it’s followed by ‘Neon Colony’ which sounds like a post-battle victory march for the sci-fi film of your wildest dreams." (State - http://www.state.ie/album-reviews/23493-solar-bears-%E2%80%93-she-was-coloured-in)
Solar Bears - Crystalline (be again) by Soundsgoodtometoo
19 - Grimes - Geidi Primes
"...a Montreal-based musician and visual artist...who makes music out of all sorts of unwieldy found and original sounds, rendering them into creepy, otherworldly mid-tempo weirdo-pop that takes on a lot but manages to pull its own weight...The winding melodies and slightly off-kilter samples play off of one another to create eerily beautiful popscapes. The vocals come straight through the nose, the beats alternately scritch and stomp, and the delay sounds like it’s coming out of a wet cave, with occasional stalactitic arms of blatant electronicism reaching down and wobbling the otherwise steady-going shuffle." - (Cokemachineglow - http://www.cokemachineglow.com/record_review/5348/grimes-geidiprimes-2010)
20 - Autre Ne Veut - Autre Ne Veut
"While drawing on numerous sources for inspiration, ANV handles each of them in a seemingly un-ironic way, retaining a sense of innocent mischief which ensures that each song is as unpredictable as it is enjoyable. A perfect example is ‘Drama Cum Drama’, which announces itself with pleading moans over sparse beats before ascending into a mumbled Prince-influenced ballad, while recent single ‘Wake Up’ sees him melting down the spirit of ’90s slow jams into a puddle of analogue bubbles over which his heartfelt screeches are allowed to roam unrestrainedly." - (FACT - http://www.factmag.com/2010/10/08/autre-ne-veut-autre-ne-veut/
Autre Ne Veut - Two Days Of Rain by ashesofcolor
21 - The Ruby Suns - Fight Softly
The Ruby Suns - Cinco by therubysuns
22 - Mountain Man - Made The Harbour
Mountain Man - Animal Tracks by Bella Union
23 - U.S. Girls - Go Grey
24 - Worrier - Source Error Spells
25 - No Age - Everything In Between
26 - Emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here?
Emeralds. candy shoppe by sleepsleepers
27 - Thread Pulls - New Thoughts
Weight by thread pulls
28 - Starkey - Ear Drums And Black Holes
29 - Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
30 - Glasser - Ring