As I write this it is exactly thirty-five days, two hours, sixteen minutes and twenty-two seconds until we blow the year 2010 to smithereens, I say “good riddance.” Good riddance to the continued 10% unemployment rate, and to the ongoing struggle to extricate our troops from Afghanistan, and to the Teabagger lies and chicanery, and to the kooky right-wing loons and ineffectual liberals that we are electing to public office. And good riddance to all the inane cult-of-personality celeb-hype and self-promotion, and all the iffy records that choked the American music charts in 2010.
Here’s to finding some better options and solutions in 2011, and here’s to President O finding his balls again. He’s going to need them to be readily available for the next couple years. As the national malaise seeps into our DNA and we drift aimlessly toward some unfathomable ending to all of this absurd inertia, I have attempted to cobble together a “best albums of 2010” list just for my own amusement, and for the hell of it.
Not that this is any kind of exhaustive or definitive list. There are far too many records, films, books, etc. n the span of a year to be able to compile a “best of” collection into a list of ten or twenty titles. This is simply an attempt at some gentle persuasion on behalf of some records that I think deserve more notoriety than they may have received.
I’ve noticed a few trends already in some of the year-end lists of my friends/fellow music writers. I’ve seen a lot of hip-hop and odd, electro-post-rock represented but not a lot of country or punk, for example. I decided to include some albums I felt were among the best of the year and which didn’t receive substantial exposure, at least in my circle of activity. There are a few dozen more that could have joined the list, but many of them will appear on other people’s lists, so I avoided them. No Broken Bells, no Beach House, no Flying Lotus, no Joanna Newsom, no Vampire Weekend, and especially no Yeasayer (overrated!). Of course, there are a few exceptions to this general rule, but we can chalk those up to being guilty pleasures that are good enough to trump the obvious contradictions.
I didn’t include any underground jazz or experimental records because it would be too cluttered and too long, and those records have a decidedly more narrow appeal. And despite what some of my comrades will tell you, there just weren’t that many great hip-hop records in 2010. So, there’s no B.o.B., no Rick Ross, no Drake, because I didn’t like any of them. And, no, I don’t like Kanye’s shtick anymore, and regardless of what The Onion’s Nathan Rabin says, his music isn’t good enough to make up for it, so he didn’t make the cut either.
I came up with a Top 25 I think are ready for mass consumption on a level surpassing what any of them enjoyed this year. Sometime in the early New Year I’ll do a wrap-up of all things 2010. Until then, in no particular order, except, of course, for the album of the year…drum roll, please…
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang (Side One Dummy)
Best Releases of the 2010
Reckless Kelly – Somewhere In Time (Yep Roc)
Matt Pond PA – The Dark Leaves (Altitude)
Band Of Horses – Infinite Arms (Fat Possum/Columbia)
Idlewild – Post Electric Blues (Nice)
Sweet Apple – Love & Desperation (Tee Pee)
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – I Learned The Hard Way (Daptone)
Tape Deck Mountain – Ghost (Lefse)
Gem Club – Acid & Everything EP (Self-released)
Bad Cop – Harvest The Beast (ROIR)
Frightened Rabbit – Winter Of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat)
Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions (Partisan)
Eels – End Times (Vagrant)
Wild Wild Geese – Sorry, Earth (Odessa)
High On Fire – Snakes for The Divine (Koch)
Shipping News – One Less Heartless To Fear (Karate Body)
Ed Harcourt – Lustre (Piano Wolf/Nice)
Titus Andronicus – The Monitor (XL)
Myty Konkeror – I Miss The Future (Twin Lakes)
Charles Burst – The Famous Patient (Ernest Jennings)
Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here (XL)
The Black Keys – Brothers (Nonesuch)
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD)
Surfer Blood – Astro Coast (Kanine)
Blonde On Blonde – Contrasts (1969-Re-issue import) (Esoteric/Cherry Red)