The Best Music of 2010
One of the coolest things about having a blog is the illusion that people give a shit about your opinions. Since there’s not much wakeboarding going on right now and because I love making lists more than pretty much anything else on Earth, I’ve taken the liberty of gathering what I feel has been the Best Stuff of 2010 and I’ll be posting them here throughout the rest of the year.
Up first is the Best Music of 2010. Fair warning: this is undoubtedly the longest post in the history of Teleprompted Anthems. There are some pictures, but it’s mostly words. Check it out and maybe you’ll find a few new bands that you’re into. Of course, you might find a bunch of bands that you can’t stand, but I can’t be held responsible for your lousy taste in music. Check out the full list after the jump…
TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2010
Pitchfork gave this record a perfect 10, and while I think that’s going a tad overboard, it’s by far my favorite Kanye West record. The production is top notch and there’s a nice mix of booming party jams and really cinematic, epic moments. And I swear to God that there are a ton of Black Sabbath/Ozzy references throughout the record. The opening synth in Hell of a Life sounds kind of like the Paranoid riff and the chorus to the same song features the same melody as Iron Man. Also, on All of the Lights, the chick who’s singing (Alicia Keys maybe?) does the “aye aye aye” thing from Crazy Train. I’m not making this up.
I admit that this record’s a bit uneven, but the high points are so good, there’s no way it wasn’t making the list. It’s kind of weird and kind of hard to follow sometimes, but before you know it, you notice that there’s a really nice pop song going on in the middle of all the weirdness. This one was in heavy rotation for most of last winter/spring. Wakeboarders might recognize these guys from the movie Slick City, which featured the song 2080 off their last record, All Hour Cymbals.
I have no idea how old these guys are or what they look like, but every time I hear this record, I picture a band made up of big, long-haired Viking looking dudes who are hovering around 40 years old. This is HOF’s best album yet; it has a little bit of everything on it and they mix it all up enough that it never gets boring. Sludgy stoner metal, 80’s style thrash, really tech guitar solos; if you’re a fan of any kind of heavy music, there’s something in here for you. This is definitely the go-to album of 2010 for when you want to dust off your sleeveless denim jacket with the Pantera back patch and drink some Natty Light while you’re driving your Trans Am to the titty bar in Jacksonville.
A year ago, I definitely would have thought this would have at least been in the top three, but it didn’t quite deliver what I was expecting. Regardless, it’s still better than most of the stuff I heard this year, so take that criticism with a grain of salt. The bottom line is that if you liked any of the band’s other releases, you’ll be pumped on this one, too. It proves once again that there are few bands on Earth that can pull off those grand, epic moments as well as Arcade Fire. I feel like this is their most accessible album yet and I’ve been really pumped to see a good band get the attention they deserve from people who don’t read Pitchfork every day. Here’s how well things are going for Arcade Fire: A few weeks ago on an episode of The Office, Jim and Pam’s baby was wearing an Arcade Fire t-shirt. That’s success, people.
When a band includes an exclamation mark in their name, it should probably tell you something, right? There are eight people in the band, and when you’re listening, you can really hear everyone playing/singing/shouting. If I had to sum it up in one word, I would use “big;” it seems like there are a million different things consistently going on throughout the record, but it really works the whole way through and never gets too overwhelming for the listener. And plus, when was the last time you heard an awesome band with a full time glockenspiel player?
These guys really impressed me last year with their Static Tensions record, and I was surprised to see them with a new album so soon afterwards. I honestly didn’t expect too much, but I was blown away with Spiral Shadow; most bands don’t put out two albums this good their entire career, never mind putting them out within 18 months of each other. They do the whole southern melodic prog-metal thing better than pretty much anyone, with the exception of Baroness. And yes, I just made up that completely asinine genre of music because I have no other way of classifying it. Once you hear it, you’ll totally get what I’m saying. Trust me.
The story goes something like this: after breaking up with his band and girlfriend, Stuart McLamb recorded a stripped down, lo-fi folk record in his living room and it was released under the title The Love Language. Subsequently, a band was formed to play live shows and was eventually picked up by indie rock hit factory Merge Records. In 2010, Stuart actually went into a recording studio with other musicians and ended up coming out with an absolutely massive sounding rock record. There’s still some toe-tappin’ front porch music on here that sounds like last year’s release, but the production is so dead on that even the quiet stuff sounds huge. The opening track, Pedals, is officially my favorite song of 2010.
A virtual shoe-in for the top three, this was by far my most anticipated record of the year. It’s seriously the loudest record I’ve ever heard and it was pretty much the soundtrack to my entire summer. If I had to come up with criticisms, the only one I could think of was that a bunch of the songs were on their demo from last year. But they all sound way better on Treats, so that’s not even a big deal. As a general rule, I really don’t like girl singers very much, but this stuff is way too awesome to let silly ol’ generalizations get in the way. I was going to say something about this record making you want to dance and smash something all at the same time, but I decided that would just sound too dumb, so I’ll just tell you give it a listen. It also helps that I’m madly in love with the singer. She gives me that old fashioned romantic feeling.
I usually have to spend some time with new music to decide if I like it or not. I need to hear it a few times, feel it out for while, really get to know it. Not the case with In Evening Air; I was halfway through my first listen when I predicted to myself that this was going to be my favorite album of the year. It didn’t quite make it to the top spot, but I honestly can’t figure out a way to explain how good this record is. The best way I can sum it up is this: imagine someone took a really poppy, dancy band like Passion Pit, threw them in a dark room, fed them a bunch of whiskey, and told them to play at 1/3 their normal speed. It’s a really catchy, moody, weirdly relaxing kind of music. The band is just a guy on bass, a guy on keyboards/drum machine, and an absolute madman on vocals who goes completely apeshit on stage and puts on an incredible live show. Even though it’s not number one, I seriously cannot recommend this band and record enough.
I just want to get it out in the open right now that I feel almost guilty including this at the number one spot. I can only imagine that my man/bandmate/partner in crime DJ SK is reading this right now with a disappointed look on his face, wondering what I was thinking. I realize it just came out a week ago and that mashups are so 2006 and they don’t take any musical ability, etc… but what the f__k ever because this stuff gets me so pumped, there was no way it wasn’t going to be the number one pick. And I don’t care what anyone says; all that stuff about musical ability is moot because it takes some serious skill to be able to take all these different elements and turn it into something that sounds as good as this does. I’ll put it this way; I’ve got a gnarly scar on my left big toe that I got on Labor Day because I was going off too hard on my pier. Guess what music I was going off to? You got it: Girl Talk. There isn’t another band/musician on Earth that can say they have caused me to bleed. Girl Talk can. End of story.
- The Morning Benders – “Big Echo”
- Kids and Explosions – “Shit Computer”
- Against Me! – “White Crosses”
- The Melvins – “The Bride Screamed Murder”
- Les Savy Fav – “Root for Ruin”
- Jesu – “Heart Ache and Dethroned”
TOP 5 EP’s OF 2010
After Raekwon’s 2009 banger Only Built for Cuban Links: Part 2, this was nice little EP to tide Wu-Tang fans over until Ghostface drops his next LP this month. I highly recommend that everyone “like” the Wu-Tang Clan on Facebook; they consistently have the most awesome status updates in the history of the internet.
I’m including this as one entry even though it was made up of four 7” EP’s. The band recorded one of their first shows after a three-year hiatus, and as cheesy as it sounds, they really come across as a bunch of guys having the time of their lives. I saw them play in Orlando on this same tour and it was hands down the best show I’ve ever seen in my life.
Big ups to Dallas Blake Saunders for telling me about these guys. I must have played the song Colours 1,000 times after I first heard it this spring; it’s one of the few songs that I’ve literally listened to three or four times in a row on multiple occasions. I can’t wait to hear what these guys come up with for a debut full length.
Over the summer, Kanye released a new free song each week, some of which were rerecorded and showed up on his new LP. Some were definitely better than others, but the good stuff remains some of the best rap I heard all year. I will never understand why the song Good Friday didn’t make it onto My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy.
My only complaint is that it’s too short. Torche has been my favorite band of the last few years, and they manage to constantly mix things up with each release without moving too far from their roots. My fingers are crossed for a full-length in 2011.
TOP 3 LIVE SHOWS OF 2010
Did I mention that I want impregnate and live happily ever after with the singer? Well, I do.
A major bucket list item was checked off that night. High schools should take field trips to Slayer shows just to make sure that everyone sees this band in their lifetime.
The band pulled out all the stops for their hometown crowd in Greenville and the result was a blurry, sweaty, loud evening and the best show I’ve sen on NC soil in a very long while. Absolutely go see this band if they come within three hours of you. The lead singer goes absolutely bananas on stage. Very entertaining.
GUILTY PLEASURE OF 2010
Actually, you know what, f__k that; this isn’t a guilty pleasure at all. I just had to invent a new category so this song could make the list somehow. My friend Annie told me to listen to it over the summer and ever since then, every time this song comes on and I hear those five pulsing beats and the guy yelling “DJ KHALED!” I feel like Rudy getting ready to take the field at Notre Dame. I’d be willing to bet that there are at least ten people who in the past six months have gotten a text message from me at 4 in the morning containing nothing but lyrics from this song. Just typing about it gets me all amped. I seriously feel like I could shotgun a beer and fight somebody right now. God I love this song.
So that’s it: the best music of 2010. Hope you saw/heard something that you’ll be into. Stay tuned for the rest of the lists over the next few weeks…