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Nicole Oppenheim: Ear Candy writesNicole Oppenheim’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ Nicole Oppenheim.

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

  1. Sleigh Bells – Treats (Mom & Pop Music)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Not only was this album the soundtrack to virtually every summer party I attended, but songs from it were also featured prominently on every road trip mix I heard this year. For good reason: the songs are chock full o’ infectious grooves, thunderous guitar riffs, and sugary-sweet vocals. What more could you want from a pop record? I’ll admit I was disappointed by Sleigh Bells’ live performance at Pitchfork, but I dare you to play “Crown on the Ground”, “A/B Machines”, or “Kids” without wanting to dance around your living room. I’m reasonably sure it’s impossible.
  2. Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be (Hozac/Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Whispery female vocals, Shoegaze throwback melodies, poignant lyrics? Sign me up! That’s pretty much all that needs to be said about this record. Oh, and if you didn’t like it for some reason, don’t try to friend me on Facebook. It’s not going to work out for us.
  3. The Vaselines – Sex With an X (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Like many people my age, I first heard of The Vaselines thanks to Nirvana, who covered their songs on MTV Unplugged. I listened to them. I liked them. I (regrettably) forgot about them. Thankfully, I rediscovered The Vaselines when this album was released this fall. Again, it’s a near-perfect pop record (do you sense a theme to this list?) with a really great sense of humor. Does it get better than the title track, “I Hate the 80s”, or “Mouth to Mouth”? So many standout singles on this one, it’s hard to believe they all fit on one album.
  4. The National – High Violet (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    As much as I love clever pop music, there’s also a significant place in my heart for songs about heartache, depression, and general world-weariness. Enter The National. On a personal level, 2010 is not remotely in contention for Best Year Ever status. Not that 2010 was horrible, but it wasn’t earth-shatteringly great, either. For all the bumps in the road, it was nice to have an album like this to listen to. The songs didn’t magically make everything better, but the music was there for commiseration. It was like having a messy heart-to-heart over a beer with your best friend. It hurts so good.
  5. Robyn – Body Talk (Konichiwa)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Before Pitchfork this summer, I liked Robyn. After Pitchfork this summer, I LOVED her. It was something like 4000 degrees the day of her performance and there’s this pale little pixie decked out in a leather and knit dress, dancing and singing her heart out. She never missed a beat and kept the crowd on its feet the whole time. She even swore in two languages when talking about how hot it was. Oh, Robyn. You made my bitter, shriveled heart grow at least three sizes that day. Finally! An intelligent woman who calls her own shots on her own label, no less, and plays awesome pop music you don’t feel guilty for loving. This is pop perfection. Thank you, Robyn!!
  6. Wolf Parade – Expo 86 (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Anyone who knows me well won’t be shocked to see this record on my top ten of the year. I loves me some Wolf Parade. I’ll admit it. WP’s sound changes with each album, which is one of the things I like most about them. They aren’t afraid to experiment and grow as artists. And unlike many bands, Wolf Parade is at their best when they are growing and changing. Expo 86 is not just another Apologies to the Queen Mary. It’s a record that can stand on its own with tracks like “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)”, “Little Golden Age”, and “Two Men in New Tuxedos”. It’s also great to see and hear a band come into its own. On previous albums, it was obvious who penned each track. Not so on this one. The magic is in the mystery.
  7. The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack (Kemado)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Garage rock + Surf rock = you know this band’s from the West Coast. And if their debut album is anything like what we can expect from them in the future, I’m one happy, happy camper. Each song on this album is simple and poppy. You’ll find yourself humming snippets from various tracks for days after listening to them. Their sound is nothing trail-blazing; it’s three-chord garage rock with some surf thrown in for good measure. But it is TIGHT. It’s not about re-inventing the wheel. It’s about making the best wheel possible.
  8. Deloran – Subiza (True Panther Sounds)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Just another reason to love Barcelona. Delorean hails from the Spanish city and already has quite the following in Europe. It’s about time we Yanks started taking notice—this is Delorean’s fourth album, after all. What is so great about Delorean’s music is that it’s so clean. There are the odd thumps and yelps here and there, but generally, it’s just a smooth beat with vocals that meld perfectly into the song. Each track offers something different—kind of like that box of chocolates Forrest Gump was always talking about. You never know what you’re going to get, but you know it will be tasty.
  9. The Depreciation Guild – Spirit Youth (Kanine)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If my emotions had a sound, it would be this. Shoegaze-y melodies, fuzzy vocals, classic dream pop-ery. It’s all sorts of pastel colored cotton candy in your head. And it’s awesome. Again, no shocker that some of the members of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (who made my favorite record of 2009) are also in The Depreciation Guild. Every track deserves a listen, but standouts are: “Trace”, “Blue Lily”, “Spirit Youth” and “Through the Snow”. If loving electro-dream pop is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.
  10. Hot Chip – One Life Stand (Astralwerks)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Another true confession: I heart the Pet Shop Boys. I don’t think you could have grown up in the ’80s and NOT loved them, but I digress. Hot Chip is a pop band with some seriously dance-tastic grooves, not unlike the Pet Shop Boys. There’s the synth sound, the falsetto vocals, the posh accents. But there are also some risks taken here that secured Hot Chip a place in my Top Ten. While every song on this album could certainly be described as a “dance track”, there is still a wide variety. You get ballads, hard-and-fast club mixes, melodic mid-tempo beats, and classic pop songs. If it’s worth dancing to, these guys can make it happen. So, do yourself a favor. Put away all the neon spandex and Aqua-Net and put on a new pop record like this one. The ’80s were fun, but the future of pop is better. Trust this.

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2010

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