I didn't manage to do a round-up of music from 2010, but I am going to justify that by saying that what I listened to in 2010 is not as important as the songs we all take forward and keep in 2011 and beyond. [/excuse]
Actually, I think the problem was that I stopped listening to music between about the middle of March to the middle of June because of work and have only recently found my way back to it. So here is the stuff I found in 2010 that I loved. Lots of dance, lots of indie and a bit of plate-smashing goodness.
She Needs Me by Fyfe Dangerfield
Probably the song I listened to most all year, because it came early in the year. The album by the frontman of Guillemots, Fly Yellow Moon, is not ambitious but it is lovely and warm, and this is cracking. She Needs Me starts with a cheeky bassline lift from Sly & The Family Stone's Everyday People, chucks in a couple of glissandos and then wanders off ELO-wards. In my imaginary commuting vidshow, it is a Rory/Amy, slight OT3 vid.
Best bit: 1:08, where the chorus kicks in in a blaze of sunshine
We Want War by These New Puritans
I freely admit I bought this because Hidden was album of the year in the NME and I was intrigued by the description. The album is the antithesis of easy listening but I kind of love it. It's very martial, aggressive music, full of spiky drums, real woodwind and brass and oddness, relieved by celestial choirs and the sound of knives being drawn. It's like Wu Tang crossed with Massive Attack, crossed with classical music. If you download this (and I don't suppose many people will), persist with it, it mutates about halfway through.
Best bit: 3:58, when the CHOIR OF DOOM swoops in.
I Wanna Go To Marz by John Grant
Hands down the most beautiful thing I heard all last year. Sadly, not about the planet, but about going to the sweetshop of your youth and being overcome with regret and nostalgia. John Grant was the lead singer of The Czars, and made the album Queen of Denmark with Midlake, and aside from one ill-advised Fitter Happier style German-accented excrescence, it is wonderful: broken-hearted, bitter, funny, ridiculous and lyrical. Buy the album. Here, have another track: Sigourney Weaver.
Best bit: ALL OF IT
From the sublime to the ridiculous, and I say that with love...
Wonderful Life by Hurts
Hurts' album is closest thing we can get to time travel into the 80s in Doc Brown's DeLorean. It's mid-era 80s storybook rock -- including all the mock string synths and 80s drum loops -- but with today's crisper production, taken VERY seriously and therefore more enjoyable and silly for all that. The song is set in Bristol
Best bit: Dooon't let go! Never give up cos it's a wonderful life
Sprawl II by The Arcade Fire
The world is divided in two: people who love this track and want to hug it and marry it, and people who haven't heard it yet.
I really like the album and We Used To Wait in particular but I adore this.
Best bit The glorious rolling programmed synth line that kicks in at 1:33 and sounds FANTASTIC through the proper headphones. It is my ringtone. Yay.
Opa! by Giorgios Alkaios & Friends
This was Greece's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest and mere words cannot render how AWESOME it is. It did not win, some perky nonsense from Germany won, but if you don't like its shouty feta, chair-dancing goodness, I am not sure we can remain friends. Don't tell me what the words mean. It'll only spoil it.
Oh wait, apparently it's about setting things on fire. AWESOME!
Best bit: 0:56 - aaaaaAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! OPA!
One Life Stand by Hot Chip
This seems like an ordinary dance track, but then synthesised steel drums kick in, and then odd PEEEOOOOOOOW sounds like the arcade game Asteroids, then at 2:00, it suddenly morphs into the most gorgeous chorus, the aural equivalent of a shaft of sunshine suddenly hitting you on a walk in the rain, and there are these fabulous Chic guitars... The album of the same name is not as good as The Warning, but this song is sublime.
Best bit: That falsetto chorus. :::swoons:::
A Violent Yet Flammable World by Au Revoir Simone
Best. Title. Ever. From 2007, but I only heard it last year, this is a giant synth-y anthem based on that massive kick drum sound from Be My Baby by the Ronettes. It's swathed in harmonies, every inch of earspace filled with synths and drums and counter-melodies.
Best bit: 1.:53: Where it suddenly goes all simple again, with just drums, tambourines and harmonies, and they sing "I don't want to lose myself"
Stay Too Long / She Said by Plan B
The Defamation of Strickland Banks is a weird album, a cross between London rap and Smokey Robinson-style soul ballads, a concept album about a singer who is wrongly sent to prison. The protagonist is a wanker, which doesn't help, but almost all of the songs are terrific. Stay Too Long is NSFW, a driving song about a night on the tiles; She Said is Billie Jean as Amy Winehouse-style midtempo story-song
Best bit: Stay Too Long 2:35, where it mutates from Smokey to Rage Against The Machine and, frankly, goes a bit nuts
She Said: 1:25 - that insanely catchy chorus
How You Like Me Now? by The Heavy</strong>
Oh God, the drums on this. This is Kings of Leon meets James Brown, with the punching horns of Brown, the bassy rumble of good dance music, then a spot of surfy guitar, and snarly bitter lyrics. A chair-dancing classic that sounds like it could have come from the late 60s.
Best bit: 2:45 where all the instruments kick in at once after the quiet middle eight
Night Air by Jamie Woon
From retro to completely contemporary. If you've heard of Lewis Taylor, OMG, it's as good as Lewis Taylor. If not, it's a soulful bedroom synth/dance epic which has the same kind of ghostly spectral quality as Burial, and good lyrics about being
Best bit: 1:23 "I've acquired a kind of madness"
I Can Change by LCD Soundsystem
A perfectly recreated slice of early 1980s synthpop that captures everything that was wonderful about bands like The Human League, Heaven 17 etc.
Best bit: 3:13: "And love is an open book to a verse of your bad poetry -- and this is coming from me"
Dancing on my Own by Robyn
A fantastic dance record about having your heart broken, as insidiously catchy as Abba.
Best bit: 3:07 the drum trill that ends the quiet bit and launches the final glorious weepathon of the song
Comes and Goes In Waves by Greg Laswell
I came across this via a vid and loved it. It's so simple and heartfelt. And from 2008. Never mind
Best bit: 1:36 "This part was for her, will she remember?"
Hope In The Air by Laura Marling
Laura Marling's second album was great and this is my favourite from it. I suppose that with Mumford & Sons and Noah & The Whale she's part of that whole folky revival thing going on but I think she's possibly better than either.
Best bit: 1:01 "why fear death? Be scared of living"
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