It's that time of year where i am laying in bed with the Flu, contemplating my favourite 10 albums of the year. I've changed it about 10 times as i felt i had to be honest as to which i really did enjoy the most and not just putting in which i think 'should' be there. Thats why i have added the honourable mentions at the end, but i suggest if you haven't, you should check out these albums:
10.Wild Nothing - Gemini
This was a nice surprise. I bought this on recommendation and i kind of dismissed it at first, but it was actually my friend Josh (boyfriend of Laura Groves) who simply would not let me pull the plug on it. And you know what, he was right. It's a great collection of songs which has clear influence from bands like The Cure for example with is chorus drenched guitars and reverb covered vocals. A great album.
Favourite Track: Live In Dreams
9. Napoleon IIIrd - Christiania
You may think i'm biased as it is no secret that Nappy plays in my band. But you must remember that the people i choose to participate in Lone Wolf, i choose because they are ace! In Napoleon IIIrd's case, that was based on his first record and his last EP.
This album sees him finding a much larger, digital sound with nods to the likes of Animal Collective. The choruses are of such power that i'm sure that if i concentrated hard enough i coulad actually hear them being chanted from Christiania itself! A wonderful record. Let's all go to Christiania.
Favourite Track: This Town
8. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Well this was a shock i can tell you that! I didn't think i'd even want to like a record by someone who barges on stage and ruins someone's award moment. But that's the beauty of being able to separate one's personal issues from the music emanating from the speakers. We've all heard rappers describing how great they are and how much money they have, but on this record Kanye genuinely sounds pissed off with the world and he conveys it in a very believable manner over well chosen samples from the likes of King Crimson and collaborations with many folks including Bon Iver! Definitely worth checking out even if you have never really been into what he has done in the past.
Favourite Track: Gorgeous
7. Edwyn Collins - Losing Sleep
For a man that has been through a living hell that not many of us will ever even begin to understand, to make a record this good on your return is simply astonishing. Although saying that, it would have been great regardless of any back story. The collaborations between Collins and Ryan Jarman, The Drums, Franz Ferdinand and Johnny Marr are all excellent. It is on my favourite track "I Still Believe In You" when you hear Collins really sound deep and defiant.
Favourite Track: I Still Believe In You
6. Menomena - Mines
This is a really intriguing record that i discovered quite late this year. It's kind of like a blend between TV on the Radio and Why?. The songs are often heavily layers with fuzzy bass and nice synths. The production is outstandingly well put together. This is the record that i'm struggling to write about in a short paragraph because it's just so varied.
It's just ace!!
Favourite Track: Tithe
5. John Grant - Queen Of Denmark
This is a record that took it's time with me. But Jesus (JC) am i glad i persevered. I had the privilege of playing along side John this summer and it really brought alive what this record is all about. This man has had a tough life and whilst some of us (myself included) choose to look back and feel down about things and maybe record music that sounds as down as the emotions you are feeling, he has managed to make a wonderful, tongue in cheek account of his experiences full of black humour and sarcasm. His voice is stunning and he just has a truly magnificent musical persona.
Favourite Track: Chicken Bones
4. Beach House - Teen Dream
Beach House come back proving that the 'difficult' third album is really just a myth. Saying that, i don't know how difficult it was for them to put together, but to this listener it certainly sounds effortless and magnificent. This record just has an air of confidence about it that the previous two didn't lack as such, but maybe didn't display in as vast quantity as this one. I love the way that Victoria Legrand can just take the simplest of lyrics and make them sound heart wrenching. An example would be on the album closer where over and over she simply sings "I'll take care of you, if you ask me to". It brings tears to my eyes and i believe her. A potential future wedding song for me and my missus i think.
Favourite Track: Norway
3. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
What an amazing record this is. Arcade Fire have pulled themselves back from the opinion dividing 'Neon Bible' (I actually really liked it) with a record of extreme magnitude. As soon as opener 'The Suburbs' starts you know that Arcade Fire have maybe gone through some kind of revision. A little less Springsteen and a bit more Neil Young maybe? Either way, it works and just demonstrates the versatility of the song writing. On this record you hear more in the way of synths, processed beats here and there and in general just rather ambitious in places, notably 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)' which nods more towards 'The Knife' in it's influence. Genius. The top 3 for me this year has been hard to place.
Favourite Track: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
2. The National - High Violet
When i first heard 'Terrible Love' i thought, 'right, thats The National again alright'. A little dismissal as maybe I just thought it was them doing the same thing again. How wrong i was. I liked the album, i listened again, I really liked the album, I listened again, I loved the album, i listened again i really loved the album etc.
The songs on this record are heart achingly beautiful. They have a way of just getting better with every listen, to the point where you actually wonder if this band are capable of writing a bad song! The lyrics are poetic as ever, "What makes you think i'm enjoying being lead to the flood?" (Runaway), and the melodies just build using such beautiful subtle means. A triumph and a close fight for the top spot.
Favourite Track: Runaway
1. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
What can i say about this wonderful, intriguing, masterful record! I first heard Ariel Pink in a record shop (it was his Scared Famous album) in Greenwich and it was one of those situations where i had to ask the guy behind the counter "ere mate! Who's this you're playing??". That was when he was still using (what sounds like) paper to record on. Extremely lo-fi, distorted recordings, but underneath i just knew this guy had 'something'. This album is living proof. There is not a single track on this album that i dislike. The whole thing sounds wonderful and just makes you think of summer in Los Angeles in a strange 1970's style 2010. I could write a whole blog on this record so i'll just leave it there and say please, please just listen to and love this record. It's an absolute gem.
Favourite Track(s): Fright Night, Round & Round
Honourable mentions which are basically albums that were on the list, then off, then on then off in a sea of indescision:
Pulled Apart By Horses - Self Titled
Gayngs - Relayted
Perfume Genius - Learning
Sufjan Stevens - The Age Of Adz
Badly Drawn Boy - This Is What I'm Thinking Pt1: Photographing Snowflakes
Benoit Piolard - Lasted
Field Music - Measure
And many more!
But there you go! Thats my 2010 faves. What about yours? Comment and let me know! What have i missed?
Take care all and Merry, Merry Christmas! See you all in 2011.