The Best New Music of 2010 – RS

Right, so I’m last off the mark with this, and to be honest that reflects the difficulty I’ve had in arriving at a list of 10 albums from this year that I’d really feel any conviction in recommending unreservedly. Perhaps I’ve just been distracted by the mores of life this year, but 2010 hasn’t struck me as being a particularly strong year of releases.

Although I’ve ordered these in the conventional 1-10 placings, I’m not sur ethat I’d really defend the placings, this is really just more a list of the albums that I most enjoyed. I’ve picked up a couple of things from the other lists which I intend to follow up (The Tallest Man on Earth being the most obvious), and I also feel bad that I haven’t spent enough time listening to John Grant to know whether he merits a spot here, but there we go, I’m sure he won’t care all that much.

1. LCD Soundsystem – ‘This Is Happening’: Possibly a slightly disappointing album from LCD, but even a slightly off colour album from them is better than a good album from most. ‘Drunk Girls’ was a weak opening single, and I’m not convinced that overall the album has tracks as strong as its predecessors. That said, still a lot of fun, and they were great live.

2. Deerhunter – ‘Halcyon Digest’: Probably a sign of how much I struggled as opposed to how good the album is. A bit of an odds and sods assortment from Deerhunter, but I really just like their sounds, and the construction of the songs. I hope for better from them in future though.

3. Sleigh Bells – ‘Treats’: It may be a sign of age, or of time mis-spent when I was a bit younger, but I like this because it reminds me of The Revolting Cocks. Not a link that I’ve read anyone make, but it just does. For this alone, Sleigh Bells deserve a place in the 10 for this year.

4. The National – ‘High Violet’: As with LCD, not their strongest work, but still good. I’m not sure that we’ll see anything as strong as ‘Alligator’ from them again, but this was a good recovery from the (for me anyway) disappointing ‘Boxer’.

5. The Walkmen – ‘Lisbon’: I like the walkmen, very strong frontman, well written songs, thoughfully produced album. Everyone should buy at least one of their albums, as they deserve to be bigger than they currently are.

6. Iron and Wine – ‘Kiss Each Other Clean’: I’m cheating a bit here, as I’ve only had this for a few days, but I pretty much always like Sam Beam’s work, and this is (so far at least) no exception. He expands his sound a bit every time too, and it is impressive to compare the musical and lyrical range of this with ‘The Creek Drank the Cradle’.

7. Four Tet – ‘There Is Love In You’: Always imaginative, Hebden has produced another strong set, and I’ve managed to put something at least nominally dancey in my top 10. I’d have gone for Caribou, but I really didn’t get on all that well with ‘Swim’, though I must, to be fair, give it another chance.

8. Sun Kill Moon – ‘Admiral Fell Promises’: I like Kozelek a lot, and although you could easily feel that he’s been treading water for a decade, the guitar playing on this is adventurous and impressive, which I enjoyed. He always seems in a good mood when he plays London too, in stark contrast to his Dublin outings, which is curious.

9. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and the Cairo Gang – ‘Wonder Show of the World’: I think we’re in one of the prolific Oldham’s good periods. From time to time he goes off the boil, and you end up with disappointments like Superwolf (even more of a shame given Matt Sweeney’s involvement). Anyhow, I like this, all the characteristics of good Will, and fun to listen to.

10. Ali ‘Farka’ Toure and Toumani Diabate – ‘Ali and Toumani’: Probably not the strongest album that either of these African music legends have been involved with, but given that it’s sadly posthumous from Toure, and that Diabate’s playing is as crisp and imaginative as ever, I wanted to give it some mention. If you’ve never listened to either, I’d strongly recommend them both, it’s world music without being too Peter Gabriel about it.

Hmm, looking at that list, I’m disappointed with how few new artists there are in there. Again, this may be more reflective of me than of the actual year of music we’ve seen. I’ve left out some albums that could arguably have mad eit in:

Arcade Fire – ‘The Suburbs’: This is a perfectly adequate album, no more, no less. Arguably you could say the same about the efforts from LCD and The National this year, but they irritate me a bit with how seriously they take themselves, and ther ewas some awful nonsense written about how it would be the album of the decade. Blame the silly journalist, I know, but, well, I’m contrary about these things.

The Black Keys – ‘Brothers’: I like this, and am a bit unsure as to why I didn’t stick it in the top 10. Entertaining without taking itself too seriously. I’d like to see them live.

Endless Boogie – ‘Full House Head’: These guys sound like they have a ball recording their stuff. I think ‘Focus Level’ may be  a more immediately listenable album, but if you’r elooking for some unsophisticated but good fun riffing, with odd ranting and mumbling over the top, then this is an album you’ll enjoy a lot!

Erykah Badu – ‘New Amerikah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)’: Obviously.

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5 replies »

  1. I think we’d have to say, all in all, not a great year for music. you generally get a couple of albums from new people who you’d say have real potential (before they release a dodgy second album!) but that wasn’t the case really this year. It feels odd going back to average albums by the national for near the top of the list.
    Good to see Endless Boogie get a mention. They’re lots of fun live anyway.

    I actually haven’t heard the new Iron and Wine album, but I think I might have reached my limit with them. Not sure I’d get that excited about a new one.

    Is that the same Toure who plays in midfield for city?

  2. Agree not an overly inspiring year in music. And like Morgan says, another iron and wine album feels one too many to get excited by… and that’s how I felt about the national and arcade fire and although excited about the lcd release I was ultimately disappointed … all in all an odd year.

    Nice to see four tet and sun kill moon also in roughans top 10… Morgan youve got to give that more goes!

    Now that I think about it, I did really enjoy the twin shadow record and that is a totally new voice…

    Also I notice none of us mentioned ariel pink 🙂

  3. yeah, ariel pink never happened for me, which is odd. I quite liked it when i heard it first, and then i never went back to listen to it again for whatever reason.

    anyone listen to glasser? a lot getting excited about that one. I liked the Gil Scott Heron one also, but only in parts, and it was very short also.

    disappointing releases from dan le sac, bands of horses, frightened rabbits, caribou (was expecting more really) and a few others.

    Just looking back at last year, they had a good animal collective album, grizzly bear (a classic), dan deacon, dirty projectors and st. vincent etc, I gues the main difference is that there’s a clear winner in grizzly bear, whereas this year there isn’t!

  4. Ali Farka is Kolo’s Dad, obviously, he played for West Brom in the early ’80s.

    I thought I’d like Ariel Pink more than I actually do, if that makes sense. Gave it a couple of listens, then as with Morgs, never really went back to it. Odd, but sometimes happens.

    I haven’t listened to Glasser, but will. Similar feelings on Gil Scott, very nice, but very short.

    I may have more patience with Iron and Wine than they deserve, but I guess I’ve enjoyed them live a few times, and that tends to jaundice my view somewhat (although this worked in the opposite direction for Caribou, as it happens).

    There are a lot of pretty average albums in my top 10, and I guess in each of them, and that’s a disappointment. A Grizzly Bear would certainly have helped. No particularly notable loud albums either. I’d like an Enablers album next year, just in case you guys can sort that out.

    As for Endless Boogie, yeah, more of a live experience, but the albums are good too, though they don’t break new musical ground or anything.

    On a different note, how funny would it be if Benitez ended up back at ‘pool?!

  5. I think I remember Toure playing for the Brom, now that you mention it!

    I’ll give Ariel Pink another listen at some stage, but I think that strong 80’s feel to the full year started to annoy me at some point. Its the same with Beach House in truth, but I let them away with it for whatever reason. I think someone needs to start making John Hughes movies again, just to make it really the 80’s!

    I put a Glasser thing up a few weeks ago i think, They’re nice and inventive and would be good live I’d say. Not sure about the album, but will give it a listen.

    Iron and wine started to be like tindersticks a while back for me, with a pretty drastic law of diminishing returns invoked! They’re lovely, but I’ve heard it all before I guess.

    I think the main problem is that nothing stood out this year. There was no album on my list that i’d consider a classic, or something i’d imagine i’ll be listening to in five years time. A few good ones, but nothing more. Musics report for this year reads “Could do better”!

    Rafa won’t go back to the pool, as the media would eat him alive if he did. Maybe in a few years, if the chance turns up again, but I think its too soon. He’d be made to take it, and they’d be mad to offer it to him! Still, Woy is rubbish…

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