to eleven

Top best music of 2010 by Jayson

This year it seems to be decided that the idea of the Top 10 List induces the douche chills. I am cleverly avoiding this by calling my list “Top best music” despite there actually only being about 10 LPs I really liked. That’s what this list is. It’s the stuff I was wowed by, or couldn’t stop listening to, or kept coming back to, or all of that. The rules here are that the list is compiled from stuff I actually own. So if I loved your album in a review, but it was streamed and I didn’t buy it (yet) or you didn’t give it to me, I didn’t count it. That’s just how it is, gotta have some kinda rules. List ain’t in no specific order.

No Age – Everything in Between
I found out about this band because of a graphic design article about their logo. I guess one or both of these dudes went to art school or was in a design program (I only skimmed the article.) I was also told by someone that the kids are really into this. That surprises me because Everything in Between sounds like a great New Wave record and I thought the kids weren’t into that now/again. There is this raw-polished-raw thing going on with the sound that I really like. This is one of those albums where all the songs but maybe one are good, those are special. Also, nice CD packaging. Go design school/programs.

Murder by Death – Good Morning, Magpie
I was gushing about this album when it came out. Now that I’ve lived with it for some months, I will honestly say there are a number of songs on here that are really corny and I don’t like; On the Dark Streets Below and You Don’t Miss Twice (When You’re Shavin’ With a Knife) specifically. That being said, I still stand by calling this the Great American Album though, maybe more so with some things that don’t work. The other songs on here are fantastic. It’s still a major step of artistic progression for the band and the fact that most of it works says a lot about how talented MBD are (very). As Long As There Is Whiskey In the World, Piece by Piece and Foxglove are instant sentimental favorites, and the remainder of the songs are just simply damn good.

wait what – The Notorious XX
Albums like The Notorious XX are the reason we take mash up artists as serious as any other recording artists. This album completely recontexrualizes Biggie. Mixing The Notorious B.I.G. with the XX transforms him from a typical, if talented, rapper bragging about himself and relating pretty typical hood drama to a a tragic figure of almost literary proportion. It’s an amazing thing to listen to because you know Biggie. You know him and wait what manages to completely change the way you hear his words. This is really an album that is far, far greater than the sum of it’s parts. Compelling. In a related note, this caused me to go back the XX album. Mash ups should be fair use, no question.

Eleh – Location Momentum
Eleh make the list for putting out the most extreme album of the year. This is only album here I can’t say ‘Run out and get this!’ about. It would bore nearly everyone. A lot of people would not take it seriously. Still, that’s why it’s here. Location Momentum is my first brush with Eleh’s music, but I can’t think of a single greater example of someone (or someone(s)? Eleh is hell of mysterious) challenging the definition of what music is and creating that music in a space that is almost completely devoid of context or precedence outside Eleh’s previous work. Extreme music doesn’t have to be loud.

Chief – Modern Rituals
Chief make great music. When I first heard Night & Day, I can honestly say I fell in love with the song. Chief are doing really timeless mellow rock.  Chief are a California band. They don’t name drop their state, their music manages to capture an intrinsic Californianess. Regardless of what you think of the state, it’s a good thingl it works. This is one of those things that’s a thing. Listen to them and you’ll know what I mean. What the band is doing doesn’t have anything to do with any current trend or scene I can identify. I really appreciate that. It sounds like great music being made by dudes who love great music and decided to make some.

The Walkmen – Lisbon
When this came out, I was upset because it wasn’t You & Me pt. 2; especially since the advance track could have come off of said previous album. I got over that. I like Hamilton’s voice, always have. I like the way the band sounds, they still sound like that. Warm tones. I like the lyrics. I like every song on this album.

Andrew WK – Close Calls With Brick Walls
I keep listening to this. Over and over.

Soul Khan – Soul Like Khan
Whenever I talk about the old school, I see the words of noted music commentator and all around rad dude Sgt. D righteously dismissing old people. So when I talk about the old school, I have to remind myself that: 1) that ship sailed a long time ago for me. and 2) old school doesn’t mean stylistically out of date, it means an expression of the valued elements of a bygone era. So when I reviewed this album, I talked about Khan’s old school flavor. I stand by that. You could certainly get down Soul Like Khan at the club or the party, in fact, I think you should, but the lyrical prowess of Khan and his crew combined with the beats and arrangements have me saying ‘ooooolllld schoooooool.’ Soul Like Khan takes me back to the era in the mid 90s when I first got into hip-hop. Music like Khan’s is the kind of music that made me love hip-hop.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Let It Sway
There was a point compiling this list where I was really trying to find some metal to put on it and was really reluctant to add this album. Being honest with myself, there wasn’t a standout metal album for me at all this year, where I listened to Let It Sway about a hojillion times. This is nerdy indie pop. The singer is doing kind of indie-vocals/falsetto but not quite, maybe. I don’t think there are electric guitars in this, but there is electric piano. I am now left credless, but these are goooooooood songs. This is a genre I own two albums in. This is one. You cannot deny a good pop song, much less a whole album of them. Nor should you.

Souvenir’s Young America – The Name of the Snake
My buddy Alec is able to give you an excellent read on any given artist or album by tell you whether or not is has soul. Post-rock as a genre is one of the most polarizing that I read opinions about. I love it and you all know that. Souvenir’s Young America are a post rock band. They’ve got so much soul. The harmonica, man. If there was ever an instrument with soul that is completely ignored by modern music. I won’t say that SYA is the harmonica playing, because good post rock songs are compositions and the songs on The Name of the Snake are that; the band is kickin’. I will say that the harmonica is what makes this outstanding.

Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart
Black Mountain are three for three now.

Some of the best stuff I heard this year didn’t constitute a whole standard full length release.

Collapse Under the Empire – The Siren’s Sound
This was some great post rock meets electronic action. This band is doing something I like, and doing it super well. This is one that I keep coming back to.

Phone Home – Phone Home
Phone Home make music that sounds really familiar in a good way. I don’t know why that is, because they’re not a derivative band at all, it’s just that they’re making great music with a lot of small nods to other great music. This is a great EP, it could have been album of the year if it was album length.

Regarding the metal.

This was the year that I had a break with the metal. That isn’t entirely true. I am still listening to Dismember and Toxic Holocaust all the time. Almost everything regarded as totally amazing and mind-blowing in the mainstream music press, The Shining, Behemoth and Slough Feg, off to the of the top of my head, I thought was really mediocre. I know my opinion about Behemoth has already resulted in scorn and derision, but hey.

There is what I thought was good in the world of metal, note that none of it was compelling enough to make the top list.

Wolvhammer – Black Marketeers of World War III
I loved this when it came out, but have cooled it on it significantly since. Dude singing sounds hell of like Dwid on Closure. Also sometimes when a band talks shit, it affects my opinion of them. These guys played some show with a some post-rock band and got mad when the people left for their set. One of them said something like ‘fuck you for being pussies’ or words to that effect. I’m sure that was it, I’m sure those people went ‘Oh my, this is just TOO MUCH for me! I have to run away.’ rather than ‘Forget this, let’s go to the bar.’

Thou – Summit
I liked this, but I think I like most of Thou’s other stuff more. Also it’s really easy to get burned out on Thou, since they’ve got a release of some kind dropping every week or two.

Coffinworm – When All Became None
This is that album you get that has a great single and the rest of it is just pretty good. Start Starving For Your Funeral just slays. The rest, is just pretty good.

CELESTE – Morte(s) Nee(s)
I actually love CELESTE’s sound but I made the mistake of reading an interview with them. Someone asked them what they write about and the reply was something to effect of ‘incest, pedophilia, nihilism.’ I know metal is lyrically dark, but their comments really made me think about the banality of evil and like… Ok, real talk. I ain’t like that kind of thing. I like some heavy sounds and whatnot, but I had a really bad reaction to that incorporating: I am not 14 and do not feel the need to shock people with controversial topics. I tend to take horrible things seriously, because they’re horrible. I ain’t doin’ that great myself you know, and need some more positive vibes.

– Jayson


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice list. I’m really digging both the new Walkmen and No Age albums.

Comment by Eli Gundry

Solid top ten, buddy. The Walkmen album has been a strange ghost in my own 2010 best – I feel like it’s a young wine that’s going to get damn-better with age. I’ll trade you a copy of any of my top albums for that No Age thang that I forgot to pick up! Post about your biggest disappointment(s) – Real Americans on the internets love poo-slinging!!!

Comment by Kevin

You’re dead on about Lisbon. Putting it on the list is a reflection of the time I spent listening to it between my review of it and writing the list. That was the aging process. It was hard for them to follow up what I think is the album of their career to date.

Comment by Jayson

[…] Top Best Music: To Eleven […]

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