It's that time of the year! Time for my annual Best Of lists.
Actually, it's been that time for several days now and my lazy butt is finally getting around to typing things up. I just hope I get through all three lists before the new year starts. I really don't have a whole heckuva lot of time, do I?
Well, I'm starting things off with the Kapgar Top 10 Albums of 2010. In reverse order from 10 to 1, we have:
10. School of Seven Bells - Disconnect From Desire
I have a thing for ethereal, almost haunted sounds in my music. I think it all stems back to a longtime love of Bjork and it was downhill from there. I'm not saying that School of Seven Bells is Bjork-like, but they are both kinda "out there" as it were and I sometimes find myself struggling to find the proper mood to be in to fully enjoy this album. But when I'm there, look out. I just love how refined their sound is and then the one-two attack of twin sisters, Claudia and Alehandra Deheza on vocals add something you rarely hear in any band. Definitely worth a listen.
Track It - "Camarilla" and "Dust Devil"
9. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
James Murphy, the mastermind behind LCD Soundsystem, proves that even the most unhip guy can surprise you. Seriously, check the dude out some time. You may not believe he's responsible for the electronic beats that have been released on the four albums that mark this career. I've been into LCD for a few albums now, thanks to my buddy Eric, and my love only gets deeper with this latest album.
Track It - "Drunk Girls" and "You Wanted a Hit"
8. Gord Downie and the Country of Miracles - The Grand Bounce
Nat was sending me lyrics for the Kapgar Photo Scavenger Hunt and she had a line from a song on this album to which she added the note "my album of the summer." I replied back saying that I'd never heard of him. She was shocked. And thus began my education. Gord Downie is the frontman of The Tragically Hip, a band I do know (I swear!), that is currently on hiatus. Although this is basically the same lineup as his regular solo band, Coke Machine Glow (a fantastic band name, BTW), he is now using the name The Country of Miracles. Dunno why. But what I do know is that this album is NOT available in either the iTunes Store or the Amazon MP3 Store and that is both tragic and unhip. I had to resort to alternative means to obtain it and I'm glad I did. To miss out on this album is wrong.
Track It - "Gone" and "Moon Over Glenora"
7. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Big Boi, one half of OutKast, releases his first full solo effort under one heckuvan interesting title. But, despite any headscratching you may do over the title, it's worth it. He spins a fantastic rhyme and proves that he's just as good without Andre 3000 as he is with him. Bear in mind, this is not the sort of album you want to spin around your parents. Me thinks this is the sort of album that Tipper Gore had in mind when she conceived of those God-forsaken Parental Advisory labels. Many people are raving about Eminem or Kanye West having the hip-hop album of the year. Clearly these people have not listened to Big Boi.
Track It - "Back Up Plan" and "Tangerine"
6. The National - High Violet
The first time I heard the deeply resonant vocals of Matt Berninger, I was sold. I went out and got both High Violet and The Boxer and both have been on heavy rotation ever since. When mixed with the master musicianship of the rest of the band, you've got a fantastic collection of songs that will shake you to the core.
Track It - "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and "Anyone's Ghost"
5. Spoon - Transference
One of the things I've learned about music from my friend Eric is that I should just trust him. Sometimes, he'll share an album or band with me that just doesn't catch right away, but, eventually, I will find something about them that just "takes" and I'll suddenly develop a love that I can't shake. Such is the case with Spoon. I've listened to albums from this band for years and, not to say I didn't like them, but I just never really cared much. And I really cannot explain why I felt this way. Then came Transference and my entire opinion of the band changed entirely. Now I'm listening to their library with a renewed appreciation that sadly should have happened some time ago. Oh well, better late than never.
Track It - "The Mystery Zone" and "I Saw the Light"
4. Matt & Kim - Sidewalks
And on the flip side of the coin are those bands that are recommended to you by a friend that you just take to like a moth to a flame. Matt & Kim were recommended to me in early 2009 by Dave of Blogography around the release of Grand. Damn. With Kim Schifino providing the power thump behind Matt Johnson's keyboards and vocals, we, the listeners, are blessed with seemingly simple indie power pop sounds that are catchy as hell and will wind up played over and over again.
Track It - "Block After Block" and "Where You're Coming From"
3. Robyn - Body Talk, pts. 1-3
Yes, that Robyn. The same Swedish pop princess that released "Do You Know (What it Takes)" and "Show Me Love" is back with a three-part album released throughout 2010 that, while maintaining a strong pop foundation, has greater edge and is much more risque lyrically. I knew of Robyn back in the day and can't say I cared too much when Eric said she had new music coming out and would be playing at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Then I listened to Body Talk, pt. 1 and saw her live and now I'm in lust. Fantastic rhythms and well crafted beat that you can't help but dance to.
Track It - "Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do" and "Dancehall Queen"
2. Mumford & Sons - Sign No More
I've developed a great love for folksy, bluegrassy sounds lately. I'm not sure where or how the interest developed, but it did. So when Marty wrote his review of this album a couple months ago, my interest was piqued. Great stuff. And, honestly, I think I'll let his review do the talking.
Track It - "Little Lion Man" and "Dust Bowl Dance"
1. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
You remember what I said way back when in my recap of Spoon's Transference about just trusting what Eric says? Yeah, here's another one of those bands. He's been sharing Sufjan Stevens' music with me for years, including the popularly and critically lauded Come On Feel the Illinoise, and I just wasn't interested. Not in the slightest. Then I listened, with heightened trepidation, when he sent me The Age of Adz. Guess what? It clicked. And in a big way. And I'm going back and listening to his old stuff and enjoying it like I never could have before. Why? Who really knows. But this album is just rocking my iPod and iPhone of late and I couldn't be happier.
Track It - "Futile Devices" and "I Walked"