Friday, December 24, 2010

Joe's best of 2010

Greetings, all! Joe the bass player here, making a once-in-a-while posting here on the IWTDI blog! And it's all in the name of hopefully turning some of you fine folks on to some of the new records I enjoyed this year. While I can't agree with John that 2009 was a musical wasteland (some of my favorites from the decade came out last year) I definitely echo his sentiments that 2010 was one of the best years for new records in a very long time. I've got my top fifteen for you here, narrowed down from no fewer than forty outstanding releases I picked up and spun into oblivion over the past 12 months. There is some overlap between my list and John's, but any record from which he posted a song I have posted a different one, so listen away!

But first, a few notables that won't be on the master list below:
Honorable mentions: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - The Brutalist Bricks, Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me, The National - High Violet, The Damned Things - Ironiclast, Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise
Best split album: Balance and Composure/Tigers Jaw
Best live show: Autolux
Best free offering: Girl Talk - All Day
Best hidden gem: Museum Mouth - Tears In My Beer
Best soundtrack: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network
Best reissue: Weezer - Pinkerton (Deluxe Edition)
Best local release: Free Electric State - Caress

Joe's top 15 records of 2010 located after the jump:

Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life

The fourth full length from the pride of Minnesota, and their first with a major label, Motion City Soundtrack's newest has every bit as much momentum as the gems from their Epitaph days. This is power-pop done about as well as anyone could hope to.

The Flatliners - Cavalcade

Toronto's Flatliners have gone from playing ska with hardly a hook in sight to writing one of the most anthemic records of the year. It's hard to use the word "promising" when referring to a band that has been around for eight years, but considering the monumental improvement this band shows between records one could only hope it continues. That said, it'd be a feat to top the versatile sonic offering on Cavalcade.

Mogwai - Special Moves

Mogwai's Special Moves package features a crushing 17-song live album, and a DVD of "Burning", which is one of the best concert films I've ever seen. Couple the formidable "best-of" style setlist with excellent production and you have hands down the best live album of the year. An absolute essential for fans of the genre.

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

A friend of mine said that Kanye West is redefining what it means to be a celebrity. Well, he's redefining a lot of things with this record including but certainly not limited to what can be done with a rap album. This one is unlike any other, in a very good way, and all the naysayers out there just seem afraid to admit that this is some real groundbreaking, next-level hip-hop.

Autolux - Transit Transit

This was by far my most anticipated album of the year. As the long overdue followup to 2004's Future Perfect, there was almost no way this album was ever going to meet my expectations. That said, it comes pretty close. In addition to being some of the most gifted sonic architects in modern music, Autolux also get the distinct honor (or dishonor) of having the year's most under-rated record. I haven't seen this record on any other end-of-year lists, and that my friends is a sad, sad thing.
There weren't any quality uploads from the record on YouTube, so here's a live video of "Supertoys".

The Joy Formidable - A Balloon Called Moaning

While apparently making quite a splash in Europe, The Joy Formidable have somehow managed to stay relatively under-the-radar here in the states. Shocking when you consider A Balloon Called Moaning. To call the record disappointingly short is only a testament to the virtue of it's content.

Foals - Total Life Forever

The newest from Foals sees the band moving away from their more dancy moments and focusing on creating the math-tinged atmospheres (mathmospheres?) at which they excel. Doing "a lot with a little" takes new meaning within the Oxford quintet's sonic landscapes. Foals maintains a sound that is definitively their own without releasing the same record twice.

The Posies - Blood/Candy

To say that a band has released their best record 23 years into their career seems strange, but Blood/Candy is at least as good as anything The Posies have done before. Excellent hooks and tasteful flourishes seem effortless to this band.

Jukebox the Ghost - Everything Under the Sun

As the followup to 2008's insurmountable Let Live and Let Ghosts, the DC trio offers another batch of pop gold. Having two songwriters with very distinct but complimentary styles works in the band's favor once again, and keeps every song sounding fresh when listening to the album straight through. Guaranteed to make even your hipest friends bob their heads, the chram of this band is undeniable.

Such Gold - Pedestals

With Pedestals, Such Gold treads new ground both for themselves and for modern hardcore. It almost seems like a bid to become LESS accessible, favoring musical innovation over time-tested method. Shockingly, it actually suits them well.

The Depreciation Guild - Spirit Youth

On Spirit Youth, The Depreciation Guild actually chose to rely less on the lo-fi instrumental hooks and 8-bit sequences that gave their debut its signature sound. The more straight-forward shoegaze mentality employed this time around works within the framework of their songwriting in a beautiful way. The lack of buzz surrounding this record is surprising when you consider how many hit albums this year have sounded like Spirit Youth without being nearly as well written.

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

While I agree that everyone is entitled to their opinions, Pitchfork really shafted these guys by sticking them in the "Honorable Mentions" for their end of the year list. To say that there were fifty better records this year than Astro Coast is simply factual error.

Periphery - Periphery

In a year without a Darkest Hour album, metalcore bands are lucky they have Periphery to make them all look like musically inept rookies. Periphery's triple-guitar attack and mind-flaying, asymmetrical rhythms give them a distinct edge even over their more "progressive" brethren. Periphery is compressed into oblivion, and absolutely exhausting to listen to; what more could you ask for?

Four Year Strong - Enemy Of the World

As a bid to appeal to both pop-punk fans and hardcore purists, Four Year Strong offer Enemy of the World. Some moments feel a little contrived, as the crystal clear production and studio magic hardly lend themselves to the group's self-assured grit. That fact aside, the overall listenability and youthful energy of this record make it a joy even after innumerable listens.

Conditions - Fluorescent Youth

Let us be honest with each other for a moment and admit that most of the bands that identify with modern emo are garbage. Richmond, VA's Conditions would have been able to separate themselves from their peers simply putting out an album that WASN'T amazingly terrible. What they did however was record a debut full of structurally sound pop with amazing melodies, heartfelt lyrics, and interesting vocal interplay. Heavier and catchier than the competition, Conditions are the forerunners of their craft, and they're doing a damn fine job of showing their more famous counterparts how it should be done.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Joe, for your list and insights. Hope you and IWTDI have a great 2011.

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