15 December 2010

My Top 10 Albums For 2010.

It's years end and time for the ever-present top 10 lists to begin. So without further ado, here are my top 10 albums for 2010 (in reverse order):

10. 'A WAVE IS ROLLING' - Nafa

Yes, OK, a bit of self promotion with this one, but I'm putting my DIY second proper album of original pop songs at the end of the list. These things get better as they come out and I'm feeling a bit chuffed at a few of the tracks. A solid effort.

09. 'PINK FRIDAY' - Nicki Minaj

Only a few weeks ago my friend Mark turned me on to Nikki Minaj via 'Roman's Revenge'. I explored more of her work and fell in love with her collaboration with Lil Wayne on his pop/punk song 'Knockout'. She has totally kicked my ass.

08. 'PATAGONIAN RATS' - Tera Melos

The first of two of Richard's bands on the list and one that I had found sort of difficult to get into at first. However, this album (and thanks to R for leaked updates as the album was being recorded) has really grown on me and it's solid.

07. 'GO' - Jónsi

This really should be at number 10, but on his Sigur Rós merits alone, Jónsi gets a 3-space pass. Don't get me wrong, the album is very good, ethereal and beautiful, though no Sigur Rós--but it's a good start, and perhaps a way-point on the way back to the band and a shortening of their 'hiatus'.

06. 'CONTRA' - Vampire Weekend

Strong debut, almost equally as strong follow up. 'Contra' starts great and doesn't wain. Instantly likable and infectious (as attested to by the number of commercials you hear 'Holiday' in). Who knew you could drag out Paul Simon's 'Graceland' so long?

05. 'MARNIE STERN' - Marnie Stern

Every. Single. Track. On. This. Rocks. The second Richard-influenced album. Every song here sounds like a mini-hurricane. Every song here sounds like life sped up to a couple minutes, birth to death and all the love and heart break in between. Just listen.

04. 'THE FAME MONSTER' - Lady Gaga

An album where every song could have been a single. It was inescapable and rightfully so. 'Bad Romance' is one of the best pop singles ever, and Ms. Bowie...erm...Gaga showed of her musical prowess and over the top theatrics on a grander stage. Love her or hate her, she's got skills.

03. 'INTRIGUER' - Crowded House

I must admit I've not listened to this album since I bought it. In fact, I've not watched the DVD that came with it either. I did listen to it when it was posted on the Crowdies website, and then finally got to see them live after a quarter of a century (where I bought said CD/DVD combo). There on my shelf still sits the set, unopened but basking in the glow of the show still that still rings off the cellophane wrapper. The album is fantastic, a bit more mature, but still distinctly Neil Finn and company. It's fair to say that it was a better album than their 2007 return disc, 'Time On Earth'. I don't know if I'll ever open it--but then again, I don't know if I'll ever need to.

02. 'CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF' - Sarge & The Aeromen

A long time coming for all Sarge & The Aeromen fans, and mark (Warren) my words it was worth the wait. They (Ryan) are(-senault) the best reason to see live music in Florida. This album captures every nuance and reason we love this band and (Chris) packs it into a convenient package. I listen to it (Mike) daily.

01. 'CHANT DARLING' - Lawrence Arabia

OK, hands down the album of the year. The man/band got exposure opening for Crowded House on the Intriguer tour, and it's about time. Just as infectious as Vampire Weekend or even Nikki Minaj but channels The Kinks and The Beach Boys. He/They has/have taken the ball that is New Zealand music and run with it. And scored.


The Road To Math Rock: Disharmonic Orchestra

I listen to a lot of weird crap these days. And I don't mean like Beefheart weird, I mean like math rock weird. I was just talking with Nafa about what I listened to during my metal years (ages 11-15). The thing that I loved about metal was the in-between parts. I didn't care how fast the drummer could play or how low the singer could growl and I didn't give a flying fuck about those endless (though occasionally cool) guitar solos. What I wanted from metal were those "mosh parts", the breakdowns, and the moments where everything just seemed to groove to some insane rhythm that I couldn't even come close to understanding. And oh how I loved those noodly bits where everything became treble.

One band that had a lot of what I loved was Disharmonic Orchestra. Their album Not to be Undimensional Conscious blew my fucking mind and I can never thank my good friend Scott for introducing me to these guys.

Skip to 2:03 for some weirdness:

Around 2:05 for some beautiful stuff:

When I listened to metal back in the day, I tried to imagine the perfect band. They had five guitarists, two drummers, one bass player, and no singer. It makes perfect sense that I would be perfectly suited to love Don Caballero, Hella, etc. So of course, I was predestined to love Marnie Stern. Does any of this make sense?

08 December 2010


You know, 2010 was the year of putting on the blinders and waiting for three albums to come out: the new Marnie Stern, the new Tera Melos, and Zach Hill's new solo album. I spent more time this year reminiscing about old music I used to like and just pining, pining, pining for these three to come out. Since there were only three albums to listen to, it only took me a few weeks to figure out my album of the year.

And the winner is... Marnie Stern! Patagonian Rats, the new Tera Melos, came close to the big win but Miss Stern wins out sonically, cohesively, and emotionally. Tera Melos definitely put out one of the strangest and fastest albums I've ever heard but it just doesn't quite cut my mustard. Plus, there are a couple of tracks that are needlessly long at nearly 10 minutes each.

And what about that new Zach Hill, Face Tat? Well, holy shit. It's fucking amazing. The problem I had with Hill's first solo record, Astrological Straits, is that it had a bunch of very original, very listenable moments surrounded by much less listenable, almost impenetrable um... stuff? On Face Tat, Zach Hill has merged the impenetrable with the listenable and it all pretty much works. Not only do I like nearly every track, the album is loud. Seriously, this is the loudest album I own. It's experimental and it is fun in a scary way. At first it all just sounds like noise but then your brain grows some balls and it's all good.

One band that put out a fantastic EP this year is Planets. This instrumental duo tear shit up on TURBO JAMZ!!!! and I'll never really be the same. Check this shit out. So until The Joggers put out something new, I guess music is dead to me. But at least I was able to pick an album of the year. That's good, right? It's okay that I only heard 4 things released this year, right? I have a bad feeling about this. Don't get me wrong, I love the accomplishments of these musical people but I have a sneaking suspicion that being close-minded musically is bad.