Maybe chronological, definitely incomplete list of the good stuff I listened to in 2010. Albums are included if the whole thing’s worth a listen.
• Miike Snow, “Cult Logic” from Miike Snow — In the interest of things coming full circle (yay, symmetry!), I listened to this song first thing after waking up last New Year’s Day — dry-mouthed, disoriented and wondering what to make of the night before. Mr. Snow had all the answers.
• Beach House, “Walk in the Park” from Teen Dream (actually released in 2009 and not to be confused with Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, which I was also briefly obsessed with) — I was never impressed with Beach House until PopWreck gave me this album to review. This song made me respect them.
• Wildbirds and Peacedrums, “My Heart” — Blown away by this tune/band when they opened for St. Vincent in February in Lawrence. See also, St. Vincent, who didn’t make the list but is equally amazing.
• Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, “40 Day Dream” — Oh my, hippie love.
• Tegan and Sara, “Alligator” from Sainthood — Tegan and Sara keep getting better. Most reviews of this album used the word “mature” a lot, but “Alligator” is just for fun.
• Vampire Weekend, “Giving Up the Gun” from Contra — My friend asked me if I had listened to Contra yet. I nodded yes. He asked me if I’d checked out “Giving Up the Gun” and then turned it up on his massive speakers until the floor shook. Turns out I hadn’t really listened until that moment.
• The Black Keys, “Howlin’ for You” from Brothers — Sometimes you just feel bluesy.
• The Notorious B.I.G vs. Miley Cyrus, “Party and Bullshit in the USA” — Whatever I just said about Hood Internet’s mash-ups, this one’s better: No. 1, gold standard, king of all mash-ups. These two have been harmonizing — for real or in my head — during every awesome moment of 2010. Kirksville bar nights, road-trip sing-alongs and that time an ambulance guided us to Hy-Vee in Minnesota.
• LCD Soundsystem, “Dance Yrself Clean” from This Is Happening — In need of a go-to party album that also gets you through morning cleanup?? Here.
• The xx, “Crystalised” from The xx — So sexy. Remember that summer night we listened to this on vinyl in my apartment before watching vampire movies? I do.
• Freelance Whales, “Hannah” from Weathervanes — Wake up to this album every day if you’re vaguely attracted to rooftops.
• Sleigh Bells, “Infinity Guitars” from Treats — Sometimes you just feel angry (and loud).
• Local Natives, “Who Know Who Cares” from Gorilla Manor — Dreamy respite from that Sleigh Bells album.
• Broken Bells, “October” from Broken Bells — Danger Mouse + James Mercer create something so far beyond any of the Shins’ (still great) albums.
• The National, “Afraid of Everyone” from High Violet — It was going to be hard for the National to beat Boxer, their last album, so they brought in the big guns: Sufjan Stevens (who contributes the background oohs and aahs). High Violet wins.
• Arcade Fire, “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” from The Suburbs — Funeral killed me, Neon Bible was disappointingly meh, but Arcade Fire returns to top form (and then some) with The Suburbs. This is the soundtrack to what my life has been and what I want it to be.
• Sufjan Stevens, “Vesuvius” from The Age of Adz — Sufjan got really weird in 2010 in a really epic and ultimately beautiful way. A strange journey that started in late August with the All Delighted People EP, led through his first fully formed album in 5 years, and eventually to a plush theater in Minneapolis full of awful back-up dancers and UFOs. Whatever, Sufjan. You’re great.
• Kanye West, “All of the Lights” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — Whatever, Kanye. You’re great.
“What makes Kanye West interesting and feel so relevant is that he’s got bravado mixed with a very current, generational need to be liked. … He doesn’t know he’s the best, he thinks he’s the best, and the difference between that drives his furious creative output. He possesses a mixture of perfectionism and egotism that leads him to agonize and second-guess himself until he produces something he is convinced nobody can beat.” — Stereogum