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The CHIRP Blog

Matt Garman writesMatt Garman’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ Matt Garman.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)

  1. Spoon – Transference (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The reason Spoon is my favorite working studio band today: sharp, clean pop songs; a skewed, restrained approach to recording; lyrics that emotionally resonate without being trite; and Britt Daniel's enviably raspy voice. I love Spoon, and on a certain level wish I were their bass player. ("Who Makes Your Money")
  2. Menomena – Mines (Barsuk)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The fourth (or third) album from this Portland experimental pop trio is what resulted from a dark period in the personal lives of all the members. Ruptured relationships abound. Their eclectic approach to songwriting and instrumentation is magic in my ears, topped by huge, thumping, walloping drums. ("Taos" and "Five Little Rooms")
  3. Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin (Frenchkiss)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The NYC band's fifth album of accessible post-hardcore is rife with meaty hooks, compelling shout/singing, and eloquent lyrics. While it's just weird enough to keep the normals at bay, Root For Ruin is the group's straightest shot at success thus far, and whether they break through or not, it sure is extraordinary fun. ("Excess Energies")
  4. The Ruby Doe – Getting Ahead In The Music Business (Hometown Tragedy)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This uncompromising Seattle trio delivers powerful, heavy music incorporating elements of math rock, thrash metal and hardcore punk. Standing at the peak of their powers and perhaps a little pissed, the band's 4th LP hits like a merciless lahar of mud and lava. It's a wonder they're not from Chicago. ("Papermate")
  5. Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone (Anti)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    An instant Chicago classic from a soul-music legend, produced by an indie rock hero, Jeff Tweedy. The songs here are heavily gospel-oriented with an eye toward the blues. Staples' voice is warm and relaxed, the instrumentation balanced and subtle, and the performances are sensitive. Open up, this is a raid. ("You Are Not Alone")
  6. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Taking a decade-long hiatus brought this NC band full circle to a sonic space familiar to their fans: melodic, crunchy power-pop built atop a punk ethos. Where they had been gradually softening their tone as of ten years ago, Majesty Shredding is a blistering return to form that shows no signs of lag. Many bands have ripped Superchunk off; none have done it better. ("Digging For Something")
  7. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Let It Sway (Polyvinyl)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Exuberant pop from the Springfield, Missouri quartet makes the strongest effort in their ten-year history. The band's exhilirating choruses and catchy hooks recall pop stalwarts Big Star and classic Fountains Of Wayne, while the mid-tempo numbers evoke The Smiths' maudlin Britpop. Plus, indiecelebrity Chris Walla from Death Cab co-produced! ("Sink/Let It Sway")
  8. The Bismarck – Great Plains (Pride of Dakota)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Loud, angry Midwestern post-hardcore from a band of ex-North Dakotans. Their dark, blistering, snarky rock, full of vitriol and relentless heat, screaming vocals and frenetic guitars awaken my repressed inner punk. The Bismarck are named after a battleship, a city, a statesman, a delicious pastry, all of the above, or nothing at all. ("Poor Born")
  9. Devo – Something for Everybody (Warner Bros.)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    DEVO's 9th studio album, their first in 20 years, market-tested to fans before release, is a solid comeback worthy of their enduring cultlike influence. Using signature robotic blips and distorted guitars, DEVO builds concise new-wave pop jams, cleverly packed with their reliably cynical, political lyrics. Crack that whip! ("Fresh")
  10. Rusty Willoughby – Cobirds Unite (Local 638)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Acoustic, roots-tinged pop from one of the Pacific Northwest's most gifted, underrated singer-songwriters. Willoughby crafts gentle, irresistibly hummable, dark country-folk tunes with honeyed vocals. You may remember him as the lead singer of Seattle power-pop bands Flop and Pure Joy, but here he strikes a chord that sounds closer to the heart. ("Wrecker of Hearts")

Top 3 EPs of 2010

  1. The Lonely Forest – The Lonely Forest E.P. (Trans-Atlantic)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Crisp, buoyant pop from this Anacortes, Washington band's s/t EP, polished and grounded, permeated by catchy choruses and a defiantly small-town outlook in the lyrics. The band's fiendishly earwormy approach to pop songwriting is augmented by lifelong friendships between the members. (Turn Off This Song And Go Outside")
  2. Future Islands – Undressed (Thrill Jockey)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The Baltimore synthpop band performed acoustic versions of their songs in an art gallery, and decided to release the result as an EP on vinyl. These organic renderings display a warmth ordinarily hidden behind a chilly, computed exterior. I also enjoy the striking resemblance this recording bears to The The! ("In The Fall")
  3. Sóley – Theatre Island (Morr Music)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This Icelandic singer-songwriter's debut EP is pretty, delicate, and a little bit weird amorphous in places. Being a fool for sprightly piano pop, this release pushed all my happy buttons. Sóley has that classic elfin quality you expect from all Icelandic people: childlike but somehow sophisticated at the same time, and maybe a little magical? ("Theatre Island")

Top Series of Monthly Singles of 2010

  • Half Acre Day – Lunar Singles (Right Mind Media)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This indie pop band boasts five songwriters who each bring a distinctive style to the table, while contributing to one another's work in a way that allows Half Acre Day's overall sound to gel. Their challenge for the year was to write, record and release a new song each month (on an unsigned band's budget, with day jobs), and the result is an album's worth of confident, nuanced, catchy rock. Get one, or get them all. ("Skeletons")

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2010

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