Over the past two weeks I’ve tried to attack this “best of” thing from a number of traditional angles, and I’ve failed in each attempt. I change my mind a lot, I get obsessive, and I get moody, three things that do not lend themselves to constructing a professional year end list. However, I’m not a professional, so here are a handful of records that I loved this year and I feel like writing about. Today.
Lower Dens – Twin-Hand Movement
There’s a lot of dreamy pop music floating around these days, and a lot of it is great. Beach House and Wild Nothing spring to mind immediately when considering great dream pop records of 2010, but my favorite of the year comes from Jana Hunter’s Lower Dens; there’s a momentum that stretches across the entire length of Twin-Hand Movement that just begs for repeat listens. Loping bass lines and ear-twistingly simple drum patterns give a complexity that I can’t escape.
Harlem – Hippies
A friend visited just after I first heard this record. I used an internet jukebox to pick out the catchiest tracks for him to hear at the pool hall we occasionally frequent; by the time I was done, I had shuffled out twelve of the album’s sixteen songs. Unabashedly ramshackle and sugar-sweet in equal measure, it’s a scream-along record for the best summer drives.
Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
On some long albums, the filler is just filler. Part of me thinks Have One On Me would be much better if thirty minutes were trimmed from its length, but another part sees a necessary ebb and flow to keep ears at attention for the really important parts. Really great drumming, too. At very least, the fact that I listened to the entire thing at least ten times the week it came out before I started zeroing in on the really good stuff is a testament to how interesting Miss Newsom can be.
Best album of the year: Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
I’ve had a soft spot for Titus Andronicus since I saw them open for a band who shall remain nameless at Cat’s Cradle a couple of years ago, and today I still think they’re currently the best live band in America. While their debut album displayed their passion to a certain extent, and definitely displayed their songwriting prowess, The Monitor lays out the full TA experience: sweat, blood, and the ability to hold attention through not one, but FIVE songs of more than seven minutes in length. With any other band, that would be indulgent. In truth, it still is, but I’m too enthralled to care. That being said…
Favorite album of the year: Best Coast – Crazy For You
I won’t pretend that Crazy For You is musically superior to the other albums listed here, let alone another dozen that I greatly enjoyed but failed to mention here. However, it’s right in my wheelhouse. Lonely love songs over simple guitars with harmonized “ooh-oohs” sung by a pretty girl. I’ve practically worn out my vinyl copy, and I’m still not tired of it. Yes, there are many records released in 2010 that are empirically better than Best Coast’s debut. So what?
I also like these, but not enough to write more than a sentence:
Invisible Hand – Sinister Hand – “Four Seasons” is still the best guitar song of the year.
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest – Less enjoyable than the last one. Better cover.
Tame Impala – Innerspeaker – A really great Dungen ripoff.
LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening – Motherfucker did it again.
There are more, probably.
– brian shaw