Posted by: Jeff | July 12, 2010

Music Midterms

We’re just over halfway through the year, so here’s another look back at the best music releases of 2010 thus far.

Top 10 Albums

10. Vampire Weekend – Contra
9. She & Him – Vol. 2
8. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
7. Robyn – Body Talk Pt. 1
6. The New Pornographers – Together
5. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
4. Sleigh Bells  – Treats
3. The National – High Violet
2. Beach House – Teen Dream
1. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening!

Favorite songs (and concerts) below the fold! 

Top 10 Songs

10. Yeasayer – O.N.E.

To me, this track perfects the Animal Collective sound from last year – it’s psychedelic, bubbling, and full of arpeggios.  But unlike anything off Merriweather Post Pavilion, Yeasayer has managed translate those sounds into a pretty solid pop cut as well.

9. Vampire Weekend – White Sky

From the twinkly guitar at the beginning to the full-throated arpeggios in the chorus, this song just exudes summer fun.  And it was released in January.

8. Goldfrapp – Rocket

Put simply, the best disco song released so far this decade.  Goldfrapp has put out a number of awesome dance tracks in the past, but this is the first that reaches beyond the glam for a singalong pop chorus.

7. Sleigh Bells – Tell Em

One of the truly unique releases of the year, Sleigh Bells’ Treats album features screeching blasts of guitar with sugar-coated cooing.  Tell Em, the first track on the album, sets the tone by showcasing all of Sleigh Bells’ tricks on one nifty track.

6. She & Him – Thieves

Zooey Deschanel is the complete package – big blue eyes, hula hoops, and a voice made to serenade.  This is a retro folksy track with a bit of twang, making me realize what a missed opportunity casting June Carter in Walk the Line really was.

5. Robyn – Dancing On My Own

Don’t let Lady Gaga fool you – Robyn is the best female pop star recording today.  And on this track, which balances pure danceability with agonizingly heartbreaking lyrics, Robyn performs a lyrical tightrope act worthy of a true artist.  And as good as the original is, the acoustic take is even more heartfelt.

4. Gorillaz – On Melancholy Hill

This track is something of an exception to most of the music previously released by Gorillaz – there’s no vocal distortion, no rap, no big beat.  In fact, it’s basically a synth-pop number.  But it is so exquisitely done that without even trying, Gorillaz released one of the best tracks in the genre in a long time.  And just when you start wondering whether this is actually a Gorillaz song, they release a cartoon music video the clears it all up.

3. The Morning Benders – Excuses

This is a beautifully done throwback reminiscent of 50’s lounge acts.  The haunting guitar and soaring violins paint a picture of a time long ago, but the lyrics are just edgy enough to root the song in the present.  It’s a great song utilizing an array of sounds not typically heard in a modern pop song.

2. The National – Conversation 16

It’s a haunting track – I mean, it references zombies, brains, and evil desires.  But it is such an arresting and beautiful vignette of a man so afraid to enter a relationship for fear of eventually inflicting hurt and pain.  The lyrics are brutally honest if over the top, and the instrumental arrangement is a perfect balance of atmospheric and melodic.  A stunning track.

1. LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change / Home / All I Want / Dance Yrself Clean

Put this album on shuffle and pick one.  Seriously – this album is so full of gems that the top three songs on this list could all come from the pen of James Murphy.  “All I Want” is a wonderful hybrid of vintage David Bowie or David Byrne, with the heartfelt honesty of Murphy’s past efforts like “All My Friends”.  But as artful as that track is, the one that follows it – “I Can Change” – is a towering example of heartfelt balladry meeting 80’s synthpop.  Never before have dance tunes felt less cheesy and more earnest.  “Home” is another awesome example of the amazingness of Murphy’s song-writing.  It’s a disco beat, with the arpeggio synths circling around a funky bassline.  But again Murphy comes through with an exceptional vocal performance.  His voice isn’t pretty by any means, but it is so… right.  As for “Dance Yrself Clean”… well… I just wish every listen could be like my first listen when the bass finally drops.

Top 10 Live Shows

10. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart/Surfer Blood
9. Florence + The Machine
8. Miike Snow
7. The New Pornographers
6. Beach House
5. The xx
4. Spoon
3. Thievery Corporation
2. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
1. The National

Five Albums I’m Still Looking Forward to in 2010

5. Best Coast
4. Maximum Balloon
3. Interpol
2. Arcade Fire
1. Radiohead

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Responses

  1. Totally agree with the Beach House being in there as well as Best Coast for up and coming but are you really that hyped about Robyn and LCD?


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