Look What You Don't Know... 2010: The Year in Rear View - Top 20 album list and more.
It may shock some of you, this retro-fitted blogger partakes in music past the mid-90s. Plenty of it in fact, as evidenced by 2008 & 2009 year end rundowns. Much like those years, there was a modicum of challenge in tabulating twenty albums from this year that I felt truly enthusiastic about. As was the case with Passion Pit's stunning 2009 entry Manners, 2010 had a far and away front runner via Ben Folds collaborative LP with High Fidelity author Nick Hornby titledLonely Avenue. Hornby reportedly did all the lyrical legwork, while Ben masterminded the compositions, though you'd swear on a stack of bibles moon-high that the character sketches and oddball vignettes populating Lonely Avenue was the trademark prose of Ben himself. The album doesn't rest on the strength of the songwriting alone, rather Ben's sublime melodies bolster Avenue with a vitality that hasn't been so utterly consistent since the first two Ben Folds Five platters. And don't get me started on how viscerally intoxicating the ballads are.
Speaking of intoxicating, The Drums and Hooray for Earth gave us some slyly updated techno-pop, and it's damn shame that the buzz surrounding the first of those two outfits was so fleeting and ineffective. Adam Marsland's impromptu, banged-out-in-a-day Hello Cleveland was occasionally frivolous, but by and large packed some serious staying power. Killing Joke came through with their best album in some twenty years, and a reinvigorated Superchunk didn't miss a beat on Majesty Shredding, arguably outdoing some of their late '90s albums. Gavin Guss, formally of Tubetop issued his solo debut in 2010, Mercury Mine, and one of the only notable pure power-pop records on my list, slighty edging out a band he derived considerable inspiration from, The Posies. Amusement Parks on Fire continued their amped-out, post-punk onslaught on their third album, Road Eyes, with London's Male Bonding following suit. Once again, it was a real banner year for Sub Pop, who gave us LPs by Beach House, Retribution Gospel Choir, Happy Birthday, and the aforementioned Male Bonding...
...BUT what about a dozen of my once reliable standbys that released new albums year: The Thermals, Damien Jurado, Someone Still Loves Your Boris Yeltsin, Ted Leo, Rogue Wave, Band of Horses, Manic Street Preachers, Two Hours Traffic, Pete Yorn, Interpol, Rooney, and even Tobin Sprout? Yes, they all hit the shelves, but considerably shy of the dartboard as well. In years past most of the aforementioned would breeze into my top-20 album roll quick as an eyelash, but 2010 was the year I had to gauge otherwise. Though generally better than tolerable, the offerings from these once consistently satisfying crusaders were regrettably less than stimulating or outright sub-par...and by and large not even deserving of a worthy mention. These folks disappointed the hell out of me, and I hope they can rekindle some of their former moxie in the years to come. Ok, bitchfest over. Boy, that was cathartic
But wait, there's more! I've also tabulated a list of my favorite 20 songs of the year, though not necessarily ranked in order of preference. As with the albums, there was a glaringly obvious fave song of the year as well, courtesy of an upstart Perth, Australia duo, Tim & Jean. Presumed prodigies of Passion Pit, and with only a pair of publicly released tunes to their name (an album is to follow this year) Tim & Jean's "Come Around" is an immediate and mesmerising Casio-fueled blast, bearing an irresistible groove and a blue-eyed savviness beyond their years. A bit out of character for the music I pimp on Wilfully Obscure, but try it on for size and you'll become a convert. I won't be shocked if some of you want to hurl the book at me for some of my song picks, but then again I've never been one to cater to hipsters. There's a lot of overlap between my album and song lists, but that's often how it works out.
I haven't even had the chance to touch upon my suggested reissues for 2010, but when I can catch my next breath later this week I'll try to share some pertinent links and online reviews. Thank you class of '10.
Top 20 albums of 2010:
01. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby - Lonely Avenue (Nonesuch)
02. The Drums - s/t (Island)
03. Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life (Sony)
04. Adam Marsland - Hello Cleveland (Karma Frog)
05. Amusement Parks on Fire - Road Eyes (Filter)
06. Best Coast - Crazy for You (Mexican Summer)
07. Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts (Sub Pop)
08. Superchunk - Majesty Shredding (Merge)
09. Burning Hotels - Novels (Miss Press)
10. The National - High Violet (4AD)
11. Beach House - Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
12. Gavin Guss - Mercury Mine (self-released)
13. The Depreciation Guild - Spirit Youth (Kanine)
14. Killing Joke - Absolute Dissent (Spinefarm)
15. The Posies - Blood Candy (Ryko)
16. Hooray for Earth - Momo ep (Dovecote)
17. The Besnard Lakes - Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguar)
18. The Gamits - Parts (Suburban Home)
19. Joey Cape - Doesn't Play Well With Others (self-released, online)
20. Happy Birthday - s/t (Sub Pop)
The Ultimate Fakebook - Daydream Radio is Smiling Static
The Lives of Famous Men - Marigold Maxixe ep
Retribution Gospel Choir - 2 (Sub Pop)
Small Black - New Chain (Jagjaguar)
Rogue Wave - Permalight (Brushfire)
Robert Pollard - We All Got Out of the Army & Moses on a Snail Ghost Shirt - Domestique (Anyway)
Smith Westerns - s/t (Fat Possum)
Teenage Fanclub - Shadows (Merge)
15 Riveting Reissues (in no particular order)
Thrush Hermit - Complete Recordings box set
REM - Fables of the Reconstruction deluxe ed. (Capitol)
Weezer - Pinkerton deluxe ed. (Geffen)
Carnival Season - Misguided Promise: Carnival Season Complete (1984-89) (Arena Rock)
Kimberly Rew - The Bible of Bop
Finger - Still in Boxes (Second Motion)
Tommy Keene - You Hear Me - A Retrospective 1983-2009 (Second Motion)
Green - s/t (Lion)
Black Tambourine - s/t (Slumberland)
Bad Religion - LP disocography box set (Epitaph)
Power of Dreams - Immigrants, Emigrants and Me deluxe ed.
The Vaselines - Enter the Vaselines (Sub Pop)
The Nils - The Title is the Secret Song (Real Big North)
Steve Kilbey - Monsters 'n Mirages box (Second Motion)
The Bodines - Played (Cherry Red)
Top 20 singles/songs:(in no particular order, except the first five)
Tim & Jean - "Come Around"
NOFX - "Cokie the Clown"
Ben Folds & Nick Hornby "Belinda"
Drums - "Skippin' Town"
Japandroids - "Younger Us"
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists "Gimme the Wire"
Killing Joke "In Excelsis"
Project Film - "Kapture"
Hooray for Earth "Comfortable, Comparable"
Bad Religion "Avalon"
Apples in Stereo - "Hey Elevator"
Doleful Lions - "Deadbeat at Dawn"
Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Say No to Love"
Parachute Musical "No Comfort"
Kings of Leon "The Immortals"
Weezer - "Where's My Sex?"
Adam Marsland "The Night I Bought Mickey Dolenz a Beer"
Posies "The Glitter Prize"
The Lives of Famous Men "Cartographers of Little Renown"