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.