Best of 2010
8 January, 2011, 12:16 pm
Filed under: Music

Like the list I did in 2008 (‘totally slept on a 2009 list…), I make no claim to having any critical acumen when it comes to talking about the “BEST” records of the year. What follows is a conversation about the albums that I enjoyed the most this year.

Eluvium - Similies

10. Eluvium – Similies
Master instrumental composer Matthew Cooper mixes things up a bit and releases a record of songs that prominently feature vocals. The gamble turns out to be some of his most beautiful and haunting work. The vocal performances become another layer of his compositions and in no way subtract from the atmosphere he so excellently crafts.

Balmorhea - Constellations

9. Balmorhea – Constellations
A bit more of a hushed affair compared to their previous release, “All is Wild, All is Silent”, but just as equally captivating – if not more. Using strings, banjos, pianos and stomping percussion, the band creates fantastic passages of contemplative beauty. Not necessarily an immediate listen… but careful attention will reward the listener. Catching the band live this year was an added bonus.

8. Aloha – Home Acres
After the excellent “Light Works” EP, fans of Aloha became very eager for the full length that was rumored to follow. Three years later proved to be well worth the wait. Possibly Aloha’s finest moment in their 13 year career. All enclosed in beautiful artwork by Daniel Danger.

7. Kenseth Thibideau – Repetition
Pinback/ Sleeping People/ Tarentel/ etc member Kenseth Thibideau releases his first solo album of summertime krautrock-inspired jams. Half the disc is peppered with breezy vocals that lend a carefree 60/70’s pop vibe to the record. Put this in your car stereo and cruise around as summer days turn into night.

6. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding
Superchunk is easily a band I should have been listening to a long time ago. I have no idea why I didn’t listen to them before they broke their 9-year silence and released this gem. Immediately catchy rock and roll songs that just get better with every listen. As a bonus, go here and check out this excellent cover of The Cure’s “In Between Days.”

5. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
I think this is another choice influenced by seeing the band live this year. I also think it’s pretty freaking awesome that an independent band topped the Billboard charts. Oh yeah, the record’s about growing up in the suburbs and stuff.

4. The Octopus Project – Hexadecagon
Intended as a document of shows the band played earlier in the year, where the band played in the round and the audience was then surrounded by speakers and video screens. Naturally, the listening experience wouldn’t be the same on a conventional stereo… but still, at the heart of listening is what’s being listened to (i.e. the content). TOP get their Steve Reich on and compose 8 pieces of swirling melodic gorgeousness. You’ll be a better person for just having listened to the third and fourth tracks.

3. Pomegranates – One Of Us
For such a young band, Poms show a lot of growth on their third full length. One of Us is choc full of catchy, dreamy anthems. The contrast between the tenor of one vocalist to the deeper voice of another broadens the pallet with which this band paints its songs that seem to incorporate many influences. Yet, this record marks their most cohesive statement.

2. Shipping News – One Less Heartless To Fear
This was a strong contender for number one. Shipping News have been a favorite for some time. Born out of other faves, June of 44 and Rodan, this band is equally essential. A couple of factors make this album so compelling. 1. The band have traded in their usual long, slower-paced songs for short bursts of controlled chaos. 2. This is a live recording. An illness in the band forced plans for a studio album to be scrapped. This in no way detracts from the quality of One Less Heartless… If anything, it speaks to the band’s strength as a tight, cohesive unit. The energy contained within the recording is invigorating and only serves to compliment the shift in sound.

1. The Besnard Lakes – Are The Roaring Night
Most pleasant surprise of 2010. Yes, their last record was good, but this one is GREAT. Song for song, listen for listen, this record just kept finding its way into the speakers at work, in the car and on the home stereo. Not a weak moment. Each listen revealed more. Songs would mysteriously appear, lodged in my brain, when not actually listening to the record. Mixing elements of shoegaze, Beach Boys-inspired melodies and straight up rock-and-roll, Are The Roaring Night is quite something to behold. The opening two tracks alone are worthy of a record called “The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night.” Lyrics about trains to Chicago don’t hurt either.


Parlour – Simulacrenfield – Awesome jams by Louisville instrumental vets.
Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin – Another “come back” record that sounds like the band’s best.
Mark McGuire – Living With Yourself – No, not the baseball player.
Medications – Completely Removed – DC band changes it up a bit and writes their best record.

Arcade Fire at Verizon Amphitheater
Tortoise at The Earl
Balmorhea at The Earl
All Tiny Creatures at 529

Collections of Colonies of Bees
All Tiny Creatures
Rival Schools (yup… been waiting since my 2008 list for this)
The Appleseed Cast

Click HERE to download a .zip file containing a mix of songs from this list.


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[…] Critic Brett Andrew Miotti raves. […]

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