Ten in 2010: I casually asked a few associates for their best albums of the year, “10 or so with words or without.” No rules really. These compiled lists provide genuine fodder for my website during the holiday lull. They will go up when I get them, till the end of the year; which started with mine. Enjoy. (click the tag at bottom of article to read all entries).
GRINDERMAN – 2 (mute/anti-)
Ever since a friend of mine dubbed a tape of The Birthday Party’s Hits collection for me in high school, I have been a devout follower of Nick Cave’s career. Cave has been on an unreal hot streak since The Bad Seeds’ 2004’s Abatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus double album. Abatoir, along with the first Ginderman LP and 09’s Dig Lazarus Dig, showcase Cave and co. coming into a new, raucous sound, unlike the majority of their mopey balladeer records (which I also love) of the late 90s and early 00’s. I can’t help but think this is due to Blixa Bergarald’s departure, and the heightened roll of Warren Ellis. Ellis, a true freak and sonic wizard, seems to have also replaced Mick Harvey as Cave’s right hand man. Grinderman 2 is more expansive and psychedelic than Grinderman’s largely direct debut – and it’s a welcomed turn. Great production and performances, witty lyrics, and a large dose of raw sexuality from middle aged men, give us a record far more savage than anything younger artists produced in 2010. Grinderman also holds the place for the best live show of 2010 – a tie with Willie Nelson.
NO AGE – Everything In Between (sub pop)
My favorite hometown band continues to expand their sound and get better with each release. Much of this record has a darker, more melancholy feel to it compared to No Age’s previous releases, however, it has some of their most shredding and upbeat material yet, like the Ramones meets jack-hammer assault of “Fever Dreaming.” Everything In Between is another empowering and inspiring record from No Age.
NEIL YOUNG – Le Noise (reprise)
This is Neil’s most interesting record in some time. Le Noise is an album of solo live in studio performances of Neil Young by himself, alone with a guitar (both electric and acoustic), manipulated to bloody hell by Daniel Lanois. I would have preferred a Brian Eno produced Neil Young record (that maybe a cheap comparison, but so what?), however this is a great display of Neil’s core essence. When I want to listen to Neil Young, I probably won’t reach for this record first, but Le Noise is a great work by my favorite recording artist of all time.
DEERHUNTER – Halcyon Digest (4ad)
I liked the last Atlas Sound record more than this, but nonetheless, another great record from Deerhunter.
MINI MANSIONS – S/T (rekords/ipecac)
Mini Mansions are on their own trip – they don’t really sound like anything going on right now. If Magical Mystery Tour was a really dark record – like if Christian Death covered Magical Mystery Tour while smoking bongloads of Salvia – it just might sound like this…. Probably not though.
The BLACK KEYS – Brothers (nonesuch)
Never been much of a Black Keys fan until now. I wrote them off as another “white boy blues duo.” This album is full of jams, and the production is amazing. In some ways, it’s my favorite sounding record of the year in terms of production. It’s warm, it’s fuzzy, it’s soulful, it grooves, it’s sexual, and it’s heavy. Brothers is well worth all the attention it has garnished. The Black Keys made a wonderful record.
OFF! – First Four Eps (vice)
2010 gave us yet another display of veterans doing it right. I grew up skateboarding and playing punk rock in the San Fernando Valley. I think it goes without saying that I am a huge fan of Keith Morris and his work with Circle Jerks and Black Flag. The rest of OFF!’s track record aint to shabby either – Red Kross, Burning Brides, Hot Snakes, Rocket From The Crypt, etc. I remember a year or so ago Keith was telling me about his new band, and how excited he was about it. I knew it was going be good, but I couldn’t have imagined it was going to be this good! This shit is savage. If you love classic so cal hardcore punk, you will love this. If you never got it, you never will.
SUPERHUMANOIDS – Urgency EP (hit city usa)
Boy / Girl new wavey synth pop from LA. Bedroom produced, but doesn’t sound like it. Super catchy – and the grooves are deep. I’m sure you’ll hear more about this band next year. They smoke a lot of pot.
LIARS – Sisterworld (mute)
I love Liars for many reasons. Each record they put out is a step in a different direction, yet it always sounds like Liars. They show no fear, always willing to do something new and different. Sisterworld has some of Liars most beautiful material to date, along with some of their most deranged. In a time where many underground, or dare I say “punk,” bands use music to escape the evil of this world playing sunny, careless, pop music – its nice to see a band acknowledge the not-so-pretty realities of the world we live in.
KANYE WEST – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (roc-a-fella)
Kanye’s a fuckin weirdo.