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2010 – The Records

January 5, 2011

If I’m to pick ten records for 2010, it’ll be these. It has to be stated, however, that the deliberation could have gone on, and this list could have been longer. I can’t think of another year in which music was quite so plentiful at all times, and I’ve still not heard everything worth hearing, I’m sure. But, for brevity’s sake, the list stays at ten, with a handful of mentions.

In no particular order:

High Places – High Places vs. Mankind (Thrill Jockey)

A move into more poppy territory worked out really well for this group. A nice mix of catchy and weird, this, with layers to explore.

• Video for “The Longest Shadows.”

Mi Ami – Steal Your Face (Thrill Jockey)

An intense follow-up to one of last year’s best records, Steal Your Face ends up marking the end of Mi Ami as they were. A few months after the record was released, bassist Jacob Long left the band and the remaining two guys have taken things in a more electronic direction. They’ve got a release planned for 2011, and it remains to be seen where they’ll go, but, as they were here, they were quite something.

• Gunshy review.

• Live video of “Harmonics (Genius of Love).”

Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal (Editions Mego)

Daniel Lopatin emerged on mass radar with last year’s three-album Rifts collection. He released Returnal, a more easily-approachable record, to a growing audience this year. It touches on many of the things he’s built his sound on, and also on some new things as well.

• Gunshy review.

Title track on Youtube.

Small Black – New Chain (Jagjaguwar)

The debut LP by this group offers up some really great synth pop. Some of the tunes are stronger than others in the end, but, the first four tracks alone are better than what a lot of groups did this year.

• Video for “Photojournalist” on Youtube.

No Age – Everything in Between (Sub Pop)

These guys displayed some great songwriting and attention to texture here, and made a record that’s not only unique, but, one that everyone seems to like as well. Can’t go wrong with this one.

• “Glitter” on Youtube.

Play Guitar – Shields/Don’t Worry About Death (Noyes)

This anticipated debut didn’t disappoint. Great record by a talented band.

• Gunshy review.

• An acoustic version of “Cold Crystal Shield” performed in a minivan.

Games – That We Can Play (Hippos in Tanks)

Having made a name for themselves online through mixtapes and self-released tracks, Games were both praised and maligned in this year’s genre wars, but, this record will still be good when everyone’s done complaining about chillwave.

• “Midi Drift” on Youtube.

Radio Dept. – Clinging to a Scheme (Labrador)

This band did it better than they’ve ever done here. Excellent stuff.

• Gunshy review.

• “Domestic Scene” on Youtube.

Erykah Badu – New Amerykah 2 (Return of the Ankh) (Motown)

The follow-up to 2008’s New Amerykah Part One (Fourth World War). It’s an accomplished collection of songs by an undeniable talent.

• The controversial video for “Window Seat.”

Women – Public Strain (Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar)

Total excellence. And then they broke up.

• Gunshy review.

• Live performance of “Can’t You See & China Steps.”

***

Worth mention:

Disappears – Lux: A rumbling, echo-y rock album that really stood out.

The Drums – The Drums: Most of the best songs on this were previously released, and not all of the new ones stacked up, so, it’s a bit uneven, but, even still, a good bunch of songs.

Dungen – Skit i Allt: A modern pop record fully infused with sixties sounds, this band’s specialty.

A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Autumn Again: The follow up to Ashes Grammar, an album that made a lot of year-end lists in 2009. They have a sound, they do it well, and this is perhaps their best effort yet.

Intronaut – Valley of Smoke: A unique album by a band exploring the boundaries of metal.

Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest: A couple of really great songs, and some others that don’t stand out as much.

Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be: Sixties pop via punk. Simple, catchy stuff.

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