Fatal Omissions: 2010
The music industry is a battlefield.
I realize that’s an easy metaphor to pull out of your back pocket, but it’s more true than ever. However, it’s no longer the sort of battlefield where two opposing armies walk toward each other until they are close enough to swing swords. No, this battlefield is the kind where it’s every man for himself, armed with whatever weapons he/she can lay a hand on. The democratization of the music biz has simultaneously made it easier and harder to be “discovered”. Some bands are scraping by on MySpace plays and Facebook fans. Others are hitting the tour circuit harder than Sonny Liston. No matter what your favorite band has been up to in 2010, it’s safe to say that they’ve been fighting hard to put together the best record they can.
Our 2010 coverage began earlier this week; that was a warning shot. The real battle starts now. Who will reign victorious as 2010’s best album-maker?
Hundreds of bands and artists enter. Only one leaves.
Ready – FIGHT!
Here are today’s categories…
HONORABLE MENTION: Number 11 through 15 on my top ten list, in alphabetical order. These albums are given the same full review as the top ten (coming soon!).
WORTH NOTICING: A list of albums worth checking out, reviewed in tweets. I posted them on my Twitter in rapid succession, and now they’re here!
MORE OF THE SAME IS SOMETIMES LESS: I almost wrote a complete post about this a couple of weeks ago – it seems like in 2010, there were a lot of albums where bands showed absolutely no growth or changes. These albums are good, but they’re mildly disappointing. They’d be a lot better if the artists took some risks.
REAL DISAPPOINTMENTS: There was a lot of great music this year. There was also a lot that should have been greater.
GREAT MOMENTS IN AUTOTUNE: Yeah, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t need further explanation.
THE JURY IS STILL OUT: For whatever reason, I didn’t listen to these albums enough to rate them. I think they’re probably worth listening to, but I’m not sure how they’d it into the rest of my list.
Belle and Sebastian – Write About Love
I tend to remember big-time music purchase days. I don’t know why this is. For some reason, I will always remember that I bought Five Iron Frenzy’s Upbeats and Beatdowns on the same day as Ghoti Hook’s Banana Man. I bought Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends together with Something Corporate’s Leaving Through The Window. And this year, I bought Write About Love on the same day as Sufjan Stevens’ The Age of Adz. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I bought it on the same day as the new Sufjan record or something about the record itself, but this album seems to escape my mind. I loved it when I first bought it and stuck it on my top 10 list, but I haven’t listened to it as much as I’d expect. In the end, it’s still one of Belle and Sebastian’s better records. I rank it third, after If You’re Feeling Sinister and Dear Catastrophe Waitress. I just didn’t keep coming back to it for some reason. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! 2006 me would have LOVED this record.
MUST HEAR: “I Didn’t See It Coming“, “I Want The World to Stop”
Girl Talk – All Day
If Gregg Gillis wanted to name his newest album after a cliche movie line, it would have been called, That Idea’s So Crazy, It Just Might Work! instead of All Day. I admire Gillis’ work for a lot of reasons, but I think that one of the biggest reasons is that he wants to revolutionize the way the music industry works. In an increasingly single-driven business (thanks iTunes), Gillis has created a new album that must be listened to in its entirety – as an album. And he does it by cutting up more than 300 other songs and pasting them together in tiny, seemingly incongruous segments. And if all of that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s what I wrote about Feed The Animals last year. It’s true of this record as well. Gillis’ albums all sound the same, but they’re all a blast.
MUST HEAR: The album is intended to be listened to as a whole. It’s also a free download. Get the party started!
LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening
2010 was the year I kissed and made up with LCD Soundsystem (except for that whole kissing thing). I gave Sound of Silver another chance and loved it. I saw them live at Sasquatch! and really enjoyed their set. So, it makes sense that This is Happening would be up for consideration for my top 10 list. Ultimately, certain tracks drag a little too much for the record to make the top 10 (“Drunk Girls”, “Somebody’s Calling Me”), but it’s a welcome addition to my unofficial list of albums I really enjoy. Welcome back, LCD Soundsystem. I’ve missed you.
MUST HEAR: “You Wanted a Hit“, “Dance Yrself Clean”
The National – High Violet
In 2007, The National’s Boxer didn’t make my top 10 list. I was young and foolish then. When we revisited each list of the decade, it ended up taking the #1 spot for that year. In fact, I named it the 10th-best record of the decade. So, after making such a great album, what could The National do to live up to that standard? As it turns out, the answer was, “make a weaker album that everyone loves.” Critics tend to agree that High Violet is weaker than its predecessor, but numbers don’t lie. The record has already sold 400,000 copies, even in this age of weakened purchases. Boxer has still only sold 300,000. My take? High Violet is a great intro to The National. After falling in love with this record, new fans will be absolutely blown away when they discover Boxer.
MUST HEAR: “Bloodbuzz Ohio“, “Afraid of Everyone”
Yeasayer – Odd Blood
After releasing what I once said was the best album of 2007, how was Yeasayer supposed to respond? The answer: deconstructionism. They’ve taken all of the elements that made All Hour Cymbals great, broken them down, and thrown away everything that wasn’t essential. Then, they filled in the gaps with the exact opposite of AHC: driving beats, electronics, aggression. What they came up with was a fun (though uneven) listen, and “O.N.E” may just be the best song of the year.
MUST HEAR: “O.N.E“, “Ambling Alp“, “Madder Red” (I’m not sure which of these videos is the most bizarre, but just realize that you’re in for some weirdness if you choose to watch them)
Anberlin – Dark is the Way, Light is a Place: Another solid modern rock album from this crew. Not exceptional, but supremely decent.
Broken Bells – Broken Bells: I wanted a new Shins album and a new Danger Mouse project. I got this, which is pretty much what I asked for.
Caribou – Swim: A little dancy, a little repetitive, a lot less fun than their live show.
Christina Aguilera – Bionic: A robo-pop album that was supposed to mimic MIA. Surprisingly dirty in places. Still the best voice in pop.
Chromeo – Business Casual: The 1980s are back! Okay, not really, but Chromeo seems to think so.
David Byrne w/Fatboy Slim – Here Lies Love: Concept album centered around Imelda Marcos. As weird as you think, with some stellar moments.
The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards: Raw rock. Was two albums in two years too many for The Dead Weather? Possibly.
Dirty Projectors w/Bjork – Mount Wittenberg Orca: A nice little album. Bjork and DP are a natural fit. Hear “When The World Comes to an End”
Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame: I put this album on my Worth Noticing list and then forgot everything about it. I’m guessing that’s not a good sign.
Freelance Whales – Weathervanes: In 2006, this would have been my #1 album. Banjos, acoustics, hushed vocals, twee.
Free Energy – Stuck on Nothing: “Late 90s/early-2000s Christian alternative band Bleach? Is that you?”
Jack Johnson – To The Sea: The least-objectionable record of 2010. Recommended for fans of The Beatles.
Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me: CKTK’s most-dissected album doesn’t live up to my early review.
Jonsi – Go: Sigur Ros’ singer experiments with pop music, singing in English, and experiencing positive emotions.
Kele – The Boxer: Solo debut from the Bloc Party singer grabs hold of you brusquely, but then lets go.
Laura Veirs – July Flame: Solid all-around, but doesn’t have the charm of 2007’s “Saltbreakers”.
Los Campesinos! – Romance is Boring: Another band who can do amazing things, but seems obsessed with releasing every song ASAP.
Mates of State – Crushes: The Covers Mixtape: I love covers as much as the next guy. Some fun WTF choices here. The Mars Volta?
Maximum Balloon – Maximum Balloon: “Dear Science” Lite.
MGMT – Congratulations: I still don’t know what to think of this one. Which is probably just how MGMT likes it.
Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back: COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS COVERS
Phantogram – Eyelid Movies: The best record of the year for waking up in a tent and then making breakfast at an outdoor concert festival.
Ra Ra Riot – The Orchard: It sucks that their newfound maturity is probably due to the death of their drummer.
Robyn – Body Talk: Release strategy hurt this one. 2 EPs, most of which ended up on the album. Fun, but I can’t decide which to listen to.
The Roots – How I Got Over: Most notable for Joanna Newsom and Monsters of Folk collabs. Otherwise, decent at best.
She & Him – Volume Two: I was amazed at how great their live show was. Nobody talks about it! Five stars, would see again.
The Thermals – Personal Life: Sorry, Dead Weather. THIS is the best straight-up rock record of 2010.
“Twilight: Eclipse” soundtrack: The best soundtrack of the year is from a series my hypothetical future daughter will never read or watch. Ugh.
Vedera – Stages: Fell in love with them at a fun. show. The record doesn’t live up to it, but quenches a certain musical thirst.
Weezer – Hurley: This is certainly a new Weezer album. Everyone except me likes it more than Raditude.
The White Stripes – Under Great White Northern Lights: Oh yeah! THAT’S why I love The White Stripes! 2011: I can haz new White Stripes, plz?
Wolf Parade – Expo 86: The search for a Wolf Parade album that lives up to their debut continues.
The Young Veins – Take a Vacation!: Post-Panic! project peeks past past… Peers passed post-Panic project’s prominence/posture.
MORE OF THE SAME IS SOMETIMES LESS
Against Me! – White Crosses
Alkaline Trio – This Addiction
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Band of Horses – Infinite Arms
Brandon Flowers – Flamingo
Coheed and Cambria – Year of the Black Rainbow
Girl Talk – All Day
The Hold Steady – Heaven is Whenever
Travie McCoy – Lazarus
Motion City Soundtrack – My Dinosaur Life
The Rocket Summer – Of Men and Angels
Shout Out Louds – Work
Spoon – Transference
Wale – More About Nothing mixtape
THE JURY IS STILL OUT
The Acorn – No Ghost
Animal Collective – ODDSAC (visual album)
Annuals – Sweet Sister (EP)
ceo – White Magic
Dinosaur Feathers – Fantasy Memorial
Games – That We Can Play
Michael Jackson – Michael
My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
Plants and Animals – La La Land
Rihanna – Loud
TV Girl – s/t EP
Weekend – Sports
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