So it’s about this time, well, in theory I’m a week or two late, that people start knocking up their Best of the Year lists.
I haven’t really got one for this year as while I did listen to as many new albums as possible, not many of them really impressed me to the point that I could make a top 10 or top 15… more a summary of likes…
I will say that, without wanting to appear as if I’m jumping on the bandwagon, Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs was a good addition to my collection. It was a good move forward after Neon Bible fell flat after a play and a half, The Suburbs still offers some pretty good rewards on repeated listens. I’d proffer up the usual DL link but good luck finding one with their record labels attention to these things. There’s plenty to enjoy on it but I still really like the punch of Empty Room, just over two and a half minutes of high energy music breaking out of strings that feel lifted from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (the second Summer movement to be a douche like matter-of-factionist about it). Given the sprawl you’d expect from their first album, this is a good thing.
I also enjoyed Album Leaf’s Chorus of Storytellers, with a big thanks to my amigo Scott (don’t expect anything new there though) for hooking me up with it. Lovely, beautiful music. The same can be said of Amiina’s Puzzle – gorgeous stuff.
Other new albums… Band of Horses’ Infinite Arms, good couple of tracks but haven’t listened to it all the way through more than once. Broken Social Scene’s Forgiveness Rock Record (can you tell I’m going through my iTunes?) was… so so and I wouldn’t put it in a Top 10 list.
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billie’s The Wonder Show of the World would probably reach the list, just. I simply felt a little uncomfortable listening to it. Don’t know why but it hasn’t really been played all that much.
The National’s High Violet has appeared on a lot of end of year lists from various sites. I have it, it’s in my cd collection but is rarely played on my iPod. I like it, I do, there’s some very good stuff on there , there’s also a little too much so-so. The same could be said for Weezer’s two offerings of the year. Between Hurley (daft bloody title, stupid fucking cover) and Death to False Metal there’s one bloody good album.
Someone else who dropped two albums that found their way to my collection was Mr E, or Eels as he likes to call himself. Both were pretty good though Tomorrow Morning remains my favourite (though the song End Times in itself is bloody great). Probably as I went to see him on this tour and have the Tomorrow… shirt in regular rotation so the memory, concert etc add to it for me.
I did really enjoy Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s Kollaps Tradixionales too. This wasn’t a surprise as I love everything in the Godspeed lineage. One of the albums I listened to a lot this year (though during the last quarter) was Slow Riot.. simply as I only have it on LP and I love that I have to change the belt setting on my turntable depending on which side I’m listening to. Kollaps Tradixionales, however, is well worth a listen. As is Gold Panda’s Lucky Shiner – has accompanied me on many a walk to work this year.
One more new album that I gave a lot of listening and love to was the new Last Days of April album Gooey. Anyone that reads this blog will have expected this to crop up and Gooey is well worth a shout out. It shoes a real move forward for Mr Larsson and Forget About It found itself on repeat a lot.
I know there were new albums from many bands on my usual list – Interpol, Jimmy Eat World, Spoon – I just didn’t enjoy them as much as I hoped to. The same could be said for Johnny Cash’s Ain’t No Grave. I’m sorry to say that there is and I don’t think this stuff should’ve been released. Let the man rest – dragging the American series out even past IV risks tarring the legacy. I doubt Mr Cash would’ve wanted the music on VI released. While I’m on a moaning bend, I’ll do Tim Kasher the justice deserved of Cursive by not mentioning his solo album or, specifically, my thoughts on it. Hey, I’m not criticising overly – I know they’ve put out better stuff than I could and I’m in no real place to judge (except as that appointed to me as listener and consumer) but this is my blog and my opinions.
Though it’s a re-release, the music on it isn’t and one of the things I’ve been listening to, watching and delving into like the dedicated fan I am is The Promise – The Darkness On The Edge of Town box set that Linda gave me for my birthday. There’s some real gems on here, the DVDs offer some real insight (not to mention amusement at Bruce’s afro hair) and there’s been so much detail put into the whole thing that it warrants a day of exploration.
While live albums don’t count – I not long ago got my hands on Regina Spektor’s Live in London album. It goes without saying that it’s good but it brings a lot of great memories back and for that reason is one of my favourite albums that dropped in 2010.
Older music is one of the reasons I haven’t really listened to new music. Don’t get me wrong I gave albums by Titus Andronicus, Surfer Blood (actually not too bad), Beach House, Wolf Parade and even bloody Ariel Pink a fair chance too.
But, one of the biggest things for me in music this year isn’t from the ‘new in 2010’ box. Having started getting into the films of Emir Kusturica, I’ve been loving the Balkan music that he fills his films with. I’ve had the man’s own live album on in the home (ask me if you really want), car and office (much to the bemusement of my colleagues), and cannot get enough of the Black Cat White Cat Soundtrack – no DL link, get it from iTunes and will be looking to take every opportunity to hear more of this Unza Unza music. It’s delivered with more heart and passion than most things I’ve heard this year.
On the foreign culture front, I fell in love with the movie Subway this year and eventually tracked down a copy of the soundtrack (in Paris of course) and it, too, has been played a lot this year. It’s perfectly in keeping of the film and, I gather, the zeitgeist at the time. There’s a couple of tracks on it I can’t get enough of one of which is in the video below. If you haven’t seen the film the soundtrack might not stand up but it’s definitely worth checking out (just don’t get the dubbed version).
You may also recall that I got into The American Dollar this year. New to me, so it’s on the list.
2011 is already looking promising for new music. There’s the new Mogwai (well, it’s already here, kinda 😉 ), new albums from Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket (rumoured), Nicole Atkins, Iron & Wine, M83, Radiohead (we’ll see), The Shins and possible rumblings about an Explosions in the Sky and there’s still mutterings about a new Buffalo Tom album (though I think I might be one of very few who care about that). There’s practically a Top Ten there if they happen. There’s also the whole Pearl Jam 20 thing going on – plenty for me there.
That being said, the most important thing in 2011 for me is that I’m getting married this year to Linda. Though that’s another blog.
As to0 are my thoughts on books and movies of 2010. If anyone’s still reading.