Nothing glamorous today, folks! I just thought I’d give you a long overdue (read: belated cause I’m a lazy fuck) list of some of my favourite things that came into existence over the last year. THAT’S RIGHT! A 2010 “Best Of” list from Grub Street! You feel that? That ‘s what it feels like… when dreams come true…
So here you are, just some humble and innocuous opinions on the year that was. Enjoy, and please, feel free to share your opinions as well.
Top Five Albums of 2010 (With respects to Rob from High Fidelity)
Odd Blood – Yeasayer
This was a bold new direction for me; coming from strict indie-rock backgrounds and having certain, chaotic psych-rock expectations from their first album. But I was absolutely blown away by the relatable pop-influenced rhythms and serious, impressive lyricism. Honestly, the album embodies everything I’ve ever want from pop music: I can finally talk about the amazing addiction of certain hooks without being down-trodden about the terrible lyrics therein. It reminds me of the sound that Radiohead used for In Rainbows, but more up-tempo, and with many of the same themes. It was a wonderfully mature follow-up to their first album; it seems they were able to focus each track to produce the highest quality pop-rock they could.
Congratulations – MGMT
I’d argue that the exact opposite is true of MGMT’s second album, in which the band decided to stray as far away from melodic riffs and simple hooks as they could, instead opting for a more sprawling-psychedelic sound. It sounds awful doesn’t it? This is the band that made Time To Pretend and Kids, two of the most unapologetic rock-anthems of the decade! But I wasn’t disappointed for one moment listening to this record, the mixing was marvelous and every track was sophisticated and dense enough to keep me intrigued. Also, there was just enough pop-catch-a-long tunes to connect it to what drew me to MGMT in the first place. A major depart from Oracular Spectacular but nonetheless an enthralling and worthy follow-up.
The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
Giving French Canadians a reason to live since Funeral, Arcade Fire again fails to disappoint with their third album, a record that weaves its themes seamlessly through every track. It’s exactly what you want from the band, confident anti-anthems for rock, including massive, orchestral, wall-of-sound songs that are driven by heartbreak and pounding piano rhythms evoking a need to run, just run. These songs have the amazing ability to make you feel powerfully for the subject matter as well as bring specific emotions out in you – meaning you both sing and cry along to the sounds and concepts.
Brothers – The Black Keys
I always insist on calling it “This is an album by THE BLACK KEYS the name of the album is BROTHERS.” I always miss The Black Keys when I don’t get enough of them, and what might be their best record to date really hit the spot the minute I laid ears upon it. It’s got those power-hungry riffs and blood-thirsty beats that define the duo, as well as the ever-lovable throwback to blues-rock before blues and rock had ever met and fallen in love. They never shy away from head-banging riffs, and the ease in which they gargle classic blues-rocker lines makes the album a classic. Also, it never hurts to have your album stinking of the funk. Definitely a record for the ages.
Heaven is Whenever – The Hold Steady
Admittedly not the band’s best album, it still struck a powerful chord through my music library in typical Hold Steady fashion. Espousing tunes about drugs and religion and musical misadventures, the hyper-literal lyrics and Springsteen-esque rock power shine through gloriously and glamorously, like always. Typical motifs return, and a few characters some fans might recognize poke their heads in, but their is a distinct, more focused difference in the album. Most songs follow rigid structures, leaving less room for the improvised rock-feel that characterized earlier records. The keyboardist left the band before this album which is a major disappointment, but what remains in his wake is still a heavy-hitting and soulful addition to the catalogue. If you liked any Hold Steady song or album before, this record will fulfill that feeling again, so enjoy.