Sunday, January 2, 2011

Albums Of The Year

I've had this list done for a week now but laziness prevented me from putting it up here. Better late than ever. So, like the song list for the most part this list is very interchangeable. I read top 100 album lists and can't fathom how someone puts it into order. I have 15 albums with some honorable mentions. It is important to note that some of these albums are obvious but that my favorite album made hardly any lists this year. Music is exceptionally personal and can speak in many different ways. The live experience alone can take an album to new heights, something that happened me this year with many albums. It was a very good year  for music and with 2011 hopefully bringing a new Radiohead masterpiece to the world it looks like the good times are going to keep rolling.

Honorable Mention
Working For A Nuclear Free City - Jojo Burger Tempest
Stars - The Five Ghosts
Superpitcher - Kilimanjaro
Xiu Xiu - Dear God I Hate Myself

15. Beach House - Teen Dream

Beach House - NORWAY

I got into this album late in the year after so many people suggested it to me. I wish I listened more this summer because the lush vocals and arrangement are really bright and complex. Polished from start to finish. This album will take Beach House from opener to headliner in 2011.

14. Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise

Pantha Du Prince - STICK TO MY SIDE

I had to put an album full of the techno sound on my year end list. The turntables might be gathering dust and I don't hit the tiles like I once did but forever dance music, dark clubs, and hours rocking out to DJ's will be part of my life. I loved this album because it incorporates the minimal techno I've grown to love (thanks to the label - Kompakt)  but more than that it blends the classic techno sound with house music and layers upon layers of melodic strings and synths. An album that will appeal to a wider audience, and so it should. Fantastic.

13. The National - High Violet

The National - CONVERSATION 16

Lots of my friends don't understand why I don't LOVE The National. It can get annoying, and while I shouldn't take it out on the band it does at times make me not want to like The National. So in all honesty I listened to this album through a lot over the last few weeks to really give it a true opinion and the truth that I found was solid. Its a very good album and very immediate. One listen and the songs make sense and are memorable. The album is stripped bare and disjointed yet is huge in production. Infectious hooks are layered over thundering drums, sweet strings and keys, and the vocals carry it all. Matt Berninger does melancholy very well, his baritone lending itself to this style. But he can still come across warm and very sincere. I've read that he is America's Morrissey, a comparison I disagree with but I can see his uniqueness and even appreciate it. That said, The National will never be a favorite band of mine. The music reminds me of Coldplay in many ways. I can see The National continuing to make bigger sounding music and reaching stadium levels.  

12. The Radio Dept. - Clinging To A Scheme

The Radio Dept. - HEAVENS ON FIRE

A straight up romantic, bittersweet pop record. I never got bored of it and the twists and turns in music style kept me going back. Not to mention the lyrics which run like a social commentary on the loss of communication and increased corporate control laced with hypocrisy. The Swedes have been churning out fantastic music over the last few years and long may it last.

11. Glasser - Ring

Glasser - APPLY

Just like the first time I listened to Bat For Lashes, Glasser immediately made me stop what ever I was doing, take a deep breath and the find out more.  I listened to Ring straight through and loved it. There are no bad moments on the album. Tribal drums, chanting, swirling pads, and a magical vocal. The music is mysterious and for me very uplifting. A beautiful record.

10. Warpaint - The Fool

Warpaint - COMPOSURE

Apparently this band has been around for a long time but this is their first full length. The Exquisite Corpse EP had some highlights and I imagined that they had a few starters prior to that, I was wrong. I guess it was worth the wait however because The Fool is magnificent. I was hypnotized by the song Undertow when I listened to it on a blog a little while ago. I downloaded it and swiftly followed up with the album (who says blogs don't encourage the purchase of music?) The vocals are haunting and the music infectious. Mesmerizing.

09. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Arcade Fire - SPRAWL II

I really like the highlights on this album and only because they are so good does the album sit in the top 10. I believe that they could have removed 4 or 5 filler tracks and still got the concept/theme across in a more concise and immediate manner. When the British journos tried to tell me that this album was better than OK Computer I nearly lost it. In fact the suburban sprawl imagery with subdivisions and malls was already covered in the Ok Computer accompanying EP Airbag - How Am I Driving.  The theme is where the comparisons need to stop. Anyway, the album is still very good. I loved some of the songs and I get it, everyone will. This is a brilliant and very talented band that keep it real. Epic live show and to produce when the expectations are so great is a true testament to the song writing.

08. Four Tet - There Is Love In You


One of my most listened to albums this year. Kieran Hebden stripped his sound down, keeps the jazzy drum loops low and layers repetitive vocals and synths on top. He simplified the music and delivered for me an album that I can listen to while killing myself during a bike workout or while drinking a beer in a dark room. The production crisp and polished. The songs swirl and carry the mood. Even if house music is not your thing this album will strike a chord because it has so much more to it. You'll forget the mundane and travel to a place much more colorful.

 07. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

LCD Soundsystem - I CAN CHANGE

The last release by LCD Soundsystem so James Murphy decided to go out on a very high note. One of my big regrets was missing this album tour. Dates didn't work out but I imagine the performance was mighty. The opening track, my favorite Dance Yrself Clean encompasses the best of LCD Soundsystem, soft vocals roll along until a synth is looped in and the song turns into a rave. From here the album rolls along with highlight after highlight. It is very sad if this is indeed the last we'll see of LCD Soundsystem but if it is we have been left with great memories, and a final release thats simply a class apart.  

06. Interpol - Interpol

Interpol - ALL OF THE WAYS

This was a very unheralded release and I have no idea why. Maybe I love Paul Banks voice and it blinds me from the rest of the music. But that can't be it because I love the music, the arrangement, the lead guitar  and the dark swirling sounds.  This album explores those dark sounds better than the last release and harks back to the amazing first album. We are brought on a melodic journey through orchestral crescendos and hypnotic, looping lyrics. Moody rock music that lifts me up. And while I thought by now that Interpol would be huge it seems like Paul is content with their popularity.  His live performances were magical this year and he was more playful to the crowd than I'd seen on any of the previous album tours. I think this record should have fared a lot better.

05. Future Islands - In Evening Air

Future Islands - INCH OF DUST

This is from-the-heart post nu wave pop music at its very best. Despite the strong influence of 80's sounds this band has delivered a unique and very fresh record. Sam Herring has one of the original stand alone voices in pop music today. He cuts up the post wave synths with everything from heartfelt whispering to all out thunderous wailing. Emotive and inspiring this album may encourage dancing or thinking but for sure will encourage repeat plays.

04. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles 2

Crystal Castles - NOT IN LOVE

They might be difficult, they may have an unusual relationship with fans, and they may have been too lazy to name the second album but I don't care. In fact I am not sure where they will go next because they have mastered the 8-bit sound and at times on this album I can't imagine it getting any better. The sound of Alice Glass shrieking over pulsating synths and drums makes me so happy. And especially on songs like "Not In Love", we are seeing more of the vocal side of Alice Glass and it gives me hope that there is an evolving sound. Whether the sound be ferocious or deeply emotional it belongs to Crystal Castles, there is simply no one like them.  They have their style and its magic.

03. Twin Shadow - Forget

Twin Shadow - FORGET

This album took me by surprise. I never heard of Twin Shadow but read that it captures the nostalgia of the 80's high school dance better than M83's Saturday = Youth did. Big claims. So I listened and fell in love. There is certainly a part of me that regrets not listening to more music when I was growing up. Obviously I was too young to appreciate the 80's but by the time I got into music it was the Rave sound or Brit Pop. However, a lot of that music has become dull and I love the wave of 80's inspired music that has been hitting the shelves over the last few years. While many albums have hit the spot, this has hit the bullseye. Twin Shadow is George Lewis Jr. and he uses a difficult childhood and his inspirations from 80's nu wave pioneers to create his masterpiece. Because of how catchy the songs are its easy to overlook the depth of lyrics but don't. They are honest and very telling. He is the breakout star of 2010. Someone on a blog somewhere said this needs to be a soundtrack to a Brett Eston Ellis book, and I couldn't agree more.

02. Jonsi - Go


As each of the Sigur Ros albums evolved, more color was added. Its almost like Jonsi deliberately penned the albums in this way. Med Sud introduced the most color, it was Sigur Ros summertime album.  And then when it couldn't possibly get any sweeter Jonsi gave us this. To appreciate this album you have to let your guard down and accept that Jonsi does moody atmospherics brilliantly and does up beat, overly happy brilliantly as well. He literally tied a knot around the sun and brought it a little closer. However to further appreciate the album one needed to see the live concert. I was fortunate enough to witness the magic on 2 occasions. Coupled with the B-Sides Go is a collection of work that truly inspires. The tears of joy could be seen all throughout Terminal 5 in New York by the end of the show. I know that at times there is almost a cheesy element to the album, Animal Arithmetic for example, but thats ok. The album is supposed to be happy. Even on the atmospheric tracks, bliss over powers darkness. Everyone needs a little color and happiness. I certainly did and I found it here. I'm ready for some new Sigur Ros, but 2010 was the year of Go.

01. Wolf Parade - Expo 86

Another album that didn't make any of the lists I read and enjoy so much. I tend to become obsessive about bands and albums. I try to go to as many shows as I can and I listen relentlessly if it hits the spot. Wolf Parade were that band this year. I was lucky to see them in concert 7 times and I will forever regret missing the opportunity to sit on the tour bus and travel from Austin to Dallas to see them again.
Expo 86 is not a flawless album it just happens to be the album I listened to more than any other this year and the highlights are exceptional. The concept of the band is difficult with 2 singer/songwriters splitting up the duties. I prefer everything Spencer Krug does and on Expo 86 its no different. However, Dan's songs on the record are really strong too which gives the album a more complete feel. Wolf Parade embrace the big sound and it really packs a punch from start to finish. It's most likely not everyones cup of tea. Spencer takes a different approach to song writing with obscure lyrics and lots of layers that build and build, along with his wailing voice. Dan on the other hand builds his songs around infectious hooks and the songs play like straight forward rock songs. Together however it seems to work, at least for me it does. In a live setting its really joyful and they play off each other really positively. Expo 86 is catchy, extravagant, dancy, and full of drama. A listen straight through will leave you needing a nap. Much like the live shows they pour their heart and soul into the performance. So much emotion and power. One of the most underrated bands on the planet.


  1. TPS and I are right there with you with ranking Expo 86 as #1 album of the year. I was suprised it didn't make any of the big top albums of the year lists, at least any of the ones I read. At least there are a few of us out there giving Wolf Parade some love.

  2. Yes indeed! We will fly the flag. Great Q&A with Spencer on the site!

  3. Inch of Dust. Class. Just listening to this for the first time man. Your 2010 music is my 2011 stuff. Love it. LRBM

  4. Walking Through That Door...even better