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The CHIRP Blog

Bobby Evers writesBobby Evers’ Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ Bobby Evers.
(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)

To be honest, my musical interest has become so fractured in my old age that this list needs a disclaimer. This is not a list of what I think is objectively the most interesting or best or groundbreaking or new or innovative releases of 2010.

I don't consume albums the way I used to do or would like to do, so this compilation is pretty cursory. Some I gave a few listens, some I only heard a few songs. This list is a list of releases that I personally liked this year because it sounded good to me. If something didn't make the list it was because for whatever reason I just didn't get into it or didn't get around to hearing it. I'M BUSY!!!

  1. Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me (Drag City)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Aside from the sheer fact of its girth and its packaging (three discs, six songs each, three songs per side, amazing artwork / photography of Ms. Newsom) the album showed a new level of her songwriting lyrically, pushing out of the symbolic and into the intimate. On her two previous albums she would dress up what the songs were really saying in strange fantastical characters (a bear, a taxidermied dove), but on this one she would tell it to you straight: "It does not suffice to merely lie beside each other as those who love each other do."

    While this kind of confessional emo-ness is the norm for other songwriters, for Joanna Newsom it is, in a way, letting her guard down, letting the audience inside to see something truer. And the songs that seemed dense and evasive still also seemed like veiled metaphors for this same relationship and its ultimate demise. This was my favorite album of the year.
  2. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue (Nonesuch)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I will apparently never outgrow my love of Ben Folds. And this album is kind of a dream come true for me because I love a good amount of the novels of Nick Hornby. So for them to collaborate on songs is just something really special. And the songs are good! They're catchy, they're dirty, they're funny, and they got in my head so much that I had to listen over and over. The litmus test for me for a really good album is when my favorite song changes periodically. For a week it will be track 1, and then graudally track 10, and then track 2. Every track on this album was my favorite during a different three day period.

    Emphasis Track: "Levi Johnston's Blues" in which he tells the story of Mr. Johnston discovering his girlfriend, Bristol Palin is pregnant and that her mother is the Vice Presidential nominee. And he has been informed that they are getting married. I would even argue that this song doesn't make fun of Mr. Johnston more than Levi does himself. It's from the perspective of a kid in an impossible situation, with lyrics straight from Levi Johnston's myspace page: "I'm a fuckin' redneck I live to hang out with my boys, play some hockey and shoot some moose, do some chillin' I guess..."
  3. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I just got this like two days ago and have already listened to it something like ten times. I don't think it is AMAZING yet and it is probably a little overhyped already, but I find it to be more interesting and releavant than most things that came out this year. Kanye is a jackass, but what he does well is puts together some pretty epic compositions. (And I am loathe to use the word epic casually).

    What he is doing on this album is the exact thing that writing/music/art is for; taking the most negative aspects of his personality/soul and making it into something really cathartic and positive. I just keep finding that the songs are getting stuck in my head at odd moments while walking to the train or in conversation. And I keep returning to it. It's fast becoming one of those albums that is starting to haunt me. A feeling I just can't take, a record I can't seem to stop listening to.
  4. The National – High Violet (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I actually don't have a lot to say about this album that hasn't already been said. I just liked it. The songs were good. It didn't affect me the way their previous album Boxer did but it was still totally great. It's one that the more you hear it creeps up on you; a dark horse contender. Bloodbuzz Ohio, England, Anyone's Ghost.
  5. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This is another case of, I don't have a lot to say about it but I just liked the songs on it better than other album's songs. I see this record as a kind of comeback for Arcade Fire. I was so in love with Funeral that anything that wasn't Funeral wasn't good enough for them in my eyes. So when Neon Bible came out and had a pretty different sound and was doing something different, something I didn't much like, I was really disappointed and was pretty much unable to go back to it and listen to it for its merits. I see this album as kind of a return to form. I also really like the theme of suburbia, of sprawl, of rural areas, etc. It's another one that I feel like I need to listen to it more but haven't gotten around to yet.
  6. The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This record has everything I like: a swedish folk singer writing songs in American traditions with a sparse production, acoustic guitar, and a raspy voice. OK, maybe that's a little too specific. But this is one that kept getting in my head constantly all summer and when I found out the dude was Swedish I was all, "What the what??" He sounds like some combination of Bob Dylan and the dude from Deer Tick. Emphasis: The Wild Hunt. WARNING: It will not leave your head if you listen to it more than twice.
  7. Various Artists – Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (ABKCO)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    What can I say? There is something fun / raw / catchy / garagey / adorable about these songs, many of which were pulled from the playlists Bryan Lee O'Malley lists in the back of the original comics this film is based on. Particularly the Plumtree and Metric songs, but also the tracks composed by Beck for the fictional band Sex Bob-omb are very good. Of all the albums released this year, I kept returning to this one. Emphasis track: Beachwood Sparks - "By Your Side."
  8. Sufjan Stevens – All Delight People [EP] (Asthmatic Kitty)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I liked this short stack of songs better than his strange full lenth The Age of Adz. It is just more my taste, and there's less to digest with a shorter one like this. It's just sweet. Emphasis: Heirloom.
  9. Björk + The Dirty Projectors – Mount Wittenberg Orca (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Yes, this. I liked this better than a lot of other things I heard this year, specifically the song "On and Ever Onward." A genius collaboration.
  10. The Magnetic Fields – Realism (Nonesuch)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Honestly, a large part of my basis for putting this on here is how much I still love anything The Magnetic Fields do because of how good 69 Love Songs was/is. When a new record comes out by them they are still as good as they are on that record and it's like yet another disc to that neverending album has come out for us to enjoy. It's not doing anything new or exciting, it's just The Magnetic Fields doing what they do; sparsely composed songs about heartbreak featuring the tiniest instruments. Emphasis: "You Must Be Out Of Your Mind."

Honorable Mentions

Honorable mention to some tracks that stand out to me. I didn't hear the rest of the album but these songs were so good they made me want to:

1. Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind Part II Broken Down" (and, more prominently, by extension 2009's "Empire State of Mind" by Jay Z which I still can't get it out of my head.)
2. Avi Buffalo, "What's In It For?
3. The Black Keyes, "Tighten Up"
4. Deer Tick, "Twenty Miles"
5. Tender Trap, "Do You Want a Boyfriend?"
6. Kathryn Calder, "Follow Me Into the Hills"
7. Admiral Radley, "The Thread"
8. The New Pornographers, "The Crash Years"
9. Band of Horses, "Factory"
10. Robyn, "Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do"
11. Rita J, "Body Rock"
12. The Herbaliser, "The Blend"
13. Walter Schreifels, "Arthur Lee's Lullaby"
14. Uffie, "Difficult"
15. The Vaselines, "Sex with an X"

Apologies to M.I.A, Erykah Badu, Best Coast, Beach House, Band of Horses, MGMT, Sleigh Bells, Belle and Sebastian, Of Montreal, The Books, Superchunk, New Porngraphers. You probably put out really great records this year, but since I didn't really hear much of it at all, I couldn't really put you on the top ten on principal. Sorry.

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2010

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