Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Monday, December 20, 2010

Top 10 Albums of 2010

Honorable Mention: Kyle Kinane - Death of the Party & Hannibal Buress - My Name is Hannibal

I always liked stand-up comedy but this was the year I fell in love with it. I have gotten more enjoyment out of these two records than maybe any other album on the below list.

10. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

Jesus, if I hear another person refer to Sufjan’s music (or anything twee/hip) as “precious” again, I am going to break their glasses (they probably wear glasses). The first 30 utterers can feel comfortable in calling themselves clever - EVERY ONE else was just being lazy and trite. Precious is the most precious adjective one could use in aesthetic criticism. It does not matter if it is a correct assessment, if the man can arrange choirs and 16 piece orchestras, then the listener should be able to come up with their own descriptive disparagement. The point is moot anyway, The Age of Adz is not THAT, it is glitchy, tense, and impassioned. It might still have a bit too much flute for my liking but there is some very personal songwriter at work and lots of cursing.

9. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record

How many Canadians does it take to make a great record? Apparently, the 17, or so, folks around to record with Broken Social Scene that day. I guess the too many cooks in the kitchen idiom doesn’t exist up north, as BSS has consistently released their own brand of sprawling yet focused, oddly sexy indie rock music. This is their decidedly most upbeat record and is from beginning to end great.

8. Vampire Weekend - Contra

When revisiting the early in the year released Contra it dawned on me that lead singer Ezra Koening Jewish upbringing completely changes my perception of the band. Since day one Vampire Weekend was being criticized for making music about the problems of being privileged from the perspective of the privileged. Upon reexamining I realized the songs are exploring the concept not reveling in it. The songs can be seen as an outsider trying to figure out how to reconcile himself with the world of which he is now a part. The bands self-titled debut was the most easy to like record of the last ten years and Contra is better; the melodies are tighter, the fast songs are more urgent, the slow songs are more resonate, their perspective is more clearly articulated. It is also nice to see them finally release themselves from the hype, backlash cycle - they are just an accepted great band now.

7. Suckers - Wild Smile

If the sound of white Brooklyn music was shoved into one band, I think they would sound kind of like Suckers. With so many varied influences, they end up on the other side sounding unique. The most exciting part is that this is their debut and if they are able to buckle down and focus, I expect something really special from this rag tag group.

6tie. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening & S. Carey - All We Grow

This is Happening is a record that has a lot of songs I love on it - where All We Grow is a record I love as a singular entity – they are tied. On the basis of style, tone, grandeur, cohesiveness the two records could not be more different. They are musical mirror opposites – though both use repition to great effect – that represent the vastness of the current musical landscape. I can imagine them reconciling their differences over a cup of coffee (to celebrate their Top 10 Rankings here, of course) and actually getting along famously. They would talk about Brian Eno.

5. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Brutalist Brick

This is not my favorite Ted Leo record ever; in fact it might be my least. Still, Mr. Leo and the RX is my favorite band so I end up loving somewhat down records anyway. He writes melodically dynamic, rhythmically urgent music that just gets to me. Take “Bartolomeo and The Buzzing of Bees” that mixes a Hall & Oats style 80’s pop song with a DC Punk edge to make a deceptively simple power-pop tune. It is songs like this that remind me why I love Ted Leo; his voice as a songwriter is completely unto itself.

4. The Walkmen - Lisbon

This record, which I see as their pound-for-pound/song-for-song best, helped me accept that they are not going to write “The Rat part deux”. By intentionally scaling back their instrumentation and production, The Walkmen's strengths – the voice, the drumming, the guitar – are up front at full display. More than anything, Lisbon is a showcase of the band’s meticulous and purposeful songwriting. There is no band on the planet that can make “All My Great Designs” work, let alone have it kick so much ass.

3. Hurray for the Riff Raff - Young Blood Blues

In a year where I moved to my 7th home and 5th city in the last 3.5 years, the music of Hurray for The Riff Raff seemed appropriate. Lead singer, Alynda Lee Segarra, is just a refreshingly intuitive songwriter who writes an alternative version of bluegrass that is filtered through her punk Bronx upbringing and nomadic young adulthood. She sings mostly about the earnestly sad triumvirate - loneliness, loss, and addiction – in a way that makes the well-worn themes seem fresh. The album is anchored by stripped-down titular song, in which she sings of the isolation that stems from her leaving home, and taking solace in the companionship of musicians living and dead. As casual as it is impassioned, it is a song that makes everything seem right in world for 6.5 minutes.

2. The National - High Violet

I remember very clearly the lead up to High Violet:

- They played “Terrible Love” on Fallon and I could not listen to anything else until…

- They released their first single, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, an exceedingly American song that will endure as the defining soundtrack of my trip to Buenos Aires.

- A month or so later the whole record was streaming on and I listened to it maybe four times a day.

- Then I bought the album the day it came out.

In certain circles this was this year’s event record. I became a fan in the time following Boxer, so this was the first record of their’s where I was part of the build up. This may be the reason it is my favorite of their catalogue. A second possible reason is it is incredible. It successfully blends the restraint and tension of Boxer and the catharsis and resolution of Alligator, all while being their most tuneful album. I remember I having to pull to the side of the road when I first noticed the high “oooOOOOOOO” harmony part of “Terrible Love” – few bands have the ability to make music that is both this subtle and this completely devastating at the same time.

1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

I have written a lot about Kanye West in the last few months:

My Review of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

My Review of the lead up to the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

I talk about his assistance in helping me DJ successfully

My Recap of his 35 minute long music video "Runaway"

My Comparison of Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry

My Top 5 Comments to his Tweet of a Van Gogh Painting

There really is not anything more for me to say about this record. So I decided to just print the lyrics to my favorite verse on the album (The 3rd of "Gorgeous").

"I need more drinks and less lights

And that American Apparel girl in just tights

She told the director she tryna get in a school

He said “take them glasses off and get in the pool”

It’s been a while since I watched the tube

Cause like a crip said: 'I got way too many blues for any more bad news'

I was looking at my resume feeling real fresh today

They rewrite history I don’t believe in yesterday

And what’s a black Beatle anyway, a fucking roach

I guess that's why they got me sitting in fucking coach

But God said I need a different approach

Cause people is looking at me like I’m sniffing coke

It ain't funny anymore try different jokes

Tell ‘em hug and kiss my ass, x and o

Kiss the ring while they at it, do my thing while I got it

Play strings for the dramatic

And end all of that wack shit

Act like I ain't had a belt in two classes

I ain't got it I’m going after whoever who has it

I’m coming after whoever. Who has it?

You blowing up, that’s good, fantastic

That y’all, its like that ya’ll

I don’t really give a fuck about it at all

Cause the same people that tried to black ball me

Forgot about two things, my black balls"

1 comment:

  1. MGMT - Congratulations
    Tame Impala - Innerspeaker

    where are they on this list? errrr