Because I needed to fly across the country to attend my grandmother's funeral service, and drive back with a generous, unexpected gift from my parents, I was out of town until just before Christmas. Even though I had started compiling this list prior to my trip, I still needed some extra time to put the finishing touches on it. After a few days of working on this, I am now ready to present my picks for the "Best albums of 2010", but first I would like to reflect back on the year in music.
I seemed to buy more new music this year than the past 5 years combined, and I believe this is due to the resurgence of more artists releasing their music on vinyl with a free mp3 download of the entire album. This is important to me, because I love having access to a portable format of the music, as well as having the warm sound of crackling vinyl spinning in my living room.
One of the only people who ever seems to comment on here said that he didn't think 2010 was the best year for music. If I was basing my assessment on the music that the majority of blogs herald as the best, I would probably have to agree with him on this point. With this not being the case, I believe that 2010 was a fantastic year for new musical discoveries as well as new albums from veteran artists that I have featured on Eclectic Grooves in the past.
Blogs that I turn to every year when I am compiling my own list are
Raven Sings the Blues, The Decibel Tolls, Impose and Rate your Music. They tend to lean towards more outsider/experimental music, but there are plenty of bands featured on there that would be familiar to many readers of Eclectic Grooves.
My overall assessment of the year is that there was plenty of great music that was released this year that simply flew under the radar of the general public. In order to find this music, the listener has to be willing to put in some serious time to search for it, and not everyone has this time. That's where I come in. Hopefully by visiting my blog and checking out my picks for the Best Music of 2010, you will find something that you haven't been exposed to yet. Since this list is fairly long, I am going to present it in two parts.
Without further ado, I present to you in no particular order, my picks for the Best Music of 2010.
2) Benoit Pioulard- Lasted- Dream-like songs that float by with an air of mystery and melancholy. Ethereal vocal melodies complement the dark musical accompaniment for a sound that perfectly evokes the rainy Pacific Northwest landscape.
8) Dum Dum Girls- I Will Be- Arsenic and honey-dipped vocals combine with hazy guitars and a lo-fi production, creating songs that you will ultimately be humming for days.
10) The Fall- Your Future Our Clutter- Since the last couple records by the Fall have left a little bit to be desired, I was skeptical that this one would measure up to the hype surrounding it. I was happily surprised that this one literally floored me upon first listen, and continues to astound me after each repeated listen. Those of you who are fans of the Fall's early classics like Hex Enduction Hour and Dragnet will find plenty to dig into here. Mind-blowing stuff.
11) Kemialliset Ystavat- Ullakkopalo- the latest from these Finnish experimenters finds them utilizing samples to augment thir hodgepodge tape-collage sound into a living, breathing avant-electro-psych behemoth. One of the most ground-breaking albums I have heard in recent memory.
12) Elephant9- Walk the Nile- The cover art to this one would lead you to beleive that you are about to delve into something along the lines of Autechre or Aphex Twin. Instead, this is hyperspeed prog-fusion of the highest order. Make sure that you are not driving an automobile when listening to this, as I can't be responsible for what happens to you.
13) Woima Collective- Tezeta- Since most of the living Ethiopiques players are no longer making music that sounds as good as this, you need to add this to your listening repertoire. Fascinating, alluring songs that evoke feelings of hanging out in an opium den in the middle of Egypt after midnight.
14) Effi Briest- Rhizomes- This was one of my favorite new discoveries of the year. Expansive, epic songs that unfold into psychedelic sound worlds, while keeping the listenener's attention with bold, in your-face rhythms.
15) Jack Rose- Luck in the Valley- In light of Jack Rose's passing last Christmas, I feel that it is fitting to pay tribute to his legacy by featuring this posthumous record on my list for this year. He is one of the greatest fingerstyle guitarists to ever play the instrument, and this is a perfect album to showcase his talents. Absolutely mesmerizing!
16) Mountain Man- Made the Harbor- Another one of those misleading monikers such as "The Ten Thousand Maniacs", as their are no men in this band, but three female singers singing some of the most beautiful melodies ever recorded. This is perfect music for a lazy Sunday morning, where the sun hasn't quite come out, and your eyelids are still a bit heavy.
17) Hayvanlar Alemi- Guarano Superpower- another fantastic release from the Sublime Frequencies label run by the Sun City Girls and Hisham Mayet. Face-melting Turkish instrumental psych-rock for the people who like their music rough around the edges.
18) Beach Fossils- S/T- lo-fi surf jangle with intoxicating melodies that will stick in your head forever. Nothing revolutionary here- just feel-good music to take with you on your life adventures.
19) Lower Dens- Twin-Hand Movement- this album sneaks up on you when you least expect it to, as upon first listen it seems like a fairly straightforward record. Repeated listens reveal a full-fledged masterpiece of moody dream-pop, with little parts of brilliance in practically every song. Slow and moody on some songs, and fast and heavy on others- this album has something for everyone.
20) White Fence- S-T- This is the side project of one of the members of the Strange Boys, and it is an absolute game-changer. Lo-fi psychedelia filtered through the lens of a fuzzy scope, with melodies that imprint themselves on your brain. People who like Skip Spence, Sic Alps and Amen Dunes will definitely dig this. If you don't know any of those artists, you should check them out as well.