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Entries on the topic of “Best Of 2010” 36 results

Erin Van Ness writesErin Van Ness’ Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio's Development Director, Erin Van Ness.

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

  1. The Tallest Man on Earth – Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    What more do you need than a man and his guitar? Judging from this album, not one thing.
  2. Hey Marsailles – To Travels and Trunks (Onto Entertainment)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Songs about love, breakups, and traveling to get over it, coupled with lots of instrumentation like piano, violins, trumpet, and accordion—it’s like this album was made for me.
  3. Dinosaur Feathers – Fantasy Memorial (Dinosaur Feathers)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I don’t even know how to describe the sound of this album, but it’s fun, with funky beats, a good vibe, and a just a pinch of eccentricity that makes me want to listen to it over and over again.
  4. Jenny and Johnny – I'm Having Fun Now (Warner Bros.)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    And so am I! This is the Jenny Lewis album I have been waiting for since Rilo Kiley’s More Adventurous.
  5. Owen Pallett – Heartland (Domino)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Heavy orchestration. Stunning textural layers and complexity. Sounds like drinking a fine wine.
  6. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (DFA)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The fun and humor are still here, but there’s also a lot more emotion and honesty in this album that was lacking in previous efforts.
  7. Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid (Atlantic)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Genre-bending songs combined with ridiculously catchy hooks make this album an all-around standout.
  8. Junip – Fields (Mute)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Jose Gonzalez’s voice is hypnotic, and each song on this album has this mysterious feel to it that just kind of puts me under a trance-like spell that isn’t over until the music stops. Absolutely beautiful.
  9. Breathe Owl Breathe – Magic Central (Hometapes)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Songs about a pen pal relationship between a princess and a dragon and a love of swimming are just kooky enough to be endearing instead of outright odd.
  10. Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me (Drag City)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Weird and whimsical, but also smart and stunning and magical.

Runner Up:

  • Girl Talk – All Day (Illegal Art)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I can put this album on at a party and absolutely everyone will find something they like about it. Bonus points for including a sample of “Hocus Pocus” by Focus, which was one of my favorite songs as a kid.

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Matt DeRose writesMatt DeRose’s Best of 2010

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

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

  1. Mimicking Birds – Mimicking Birds (Glacial Pace)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The ultimate grower. Subtle. Restrained. Consistently heartbreaking. More, please. Favorite Song: "Pixels"
  2. Phosphorescent – Here's to Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Matthew Houck’s moody, atmospheric, perfectly executed opus. Favorite Song: "Los Angeles"
  3. Suckers – Wild Smile (Frenchkiss)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    An indie rock buffet – a little bit of something for everyone. Favorite Song: "You Can Keep Me Runnin’ Around"
  4. Active Child – Curtis Lane [EP] (Filter US Recordings)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When you’re this efficient, short and sweet gets the job done just fine. Favorite Song: "I’m In Your Church At Night"
  5. Sun Airway – Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier (Dead Oceans)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    It’s like Chris Martin wasn’t dying to be Bono. Favorite Song: "Oh, Naoko"
  6. Small Black – New Chain (Jagjaguwar)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I’m not sure I’ll have fully digested this one for a while yet. Favorite Song: "Hydra"
  7. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Teen Dream’s a slippery little gem but it sure is pretty. Favorite Song: "Real Love"
  8. Frightened Rabbit – Winter of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Who knows how long I’ll love this album, or this band, but for now they’re hitting the spot perfectly. Favorite Song: "Foot Shooter"
  9. The Books – The Way Out (Temporary Residence)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A lopsided effort from a great band with a few of the year’s best songs. Favorite Song: "All You Need Is A Wall"
  10. Lower Dens – Twin–Hand Movement (Gnomonsong)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Whiskey to Beach House’s soda. Favorite Song: "I Get Nervous"

 

10 Singles from other Albums:
Damien Jurado, “Cloudy Shoes”
Emeralds, “Candy Shoppe”
Eskmo, “Cloudlights”
Shearwater, “Castaways”
Menomena, “Tithe”
Black Dub, “Surely”
The National, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
Breathe Owl Breathe, “Lion’s Jaw”
Bear Hands, “Belongings”
Foals, “Miami”

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Jodi Root writesJodi Root’s Best of 2010

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

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

  1. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    No other album could possibly come close to the heavy rotation Teen Dream got on my iPod this year. The combination of Victoria Legrand’s lush vocals and dream pop instrumentation is seriously too good to be true. Tracks like the dizzying “Norway,” epic “Zebra” and the surreal “Silver Soul” are twistedly abstract, romantic and damned enchanting.
  2. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Love him or hate him, Kanye knows how to get your attention. After a pretty rough couple of years, West came hurdling through the haters with his most epic release to date, dropping My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as his musical redemption. West proves he’s got power with his sleek beats, addicting hooks and rhymes (seriously, who else can get the masses singing toasts to ‘douchebags’?) and featured partners in crime ranging from Elton John, Jay-Z to Bon Iver.
  3. Robyn – Body Talk (Cherry Tree)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Released just in time to secure a spot on my top 10 of ’10 list, our favorite Swedish pop princess compiled her Body Talk trilogy into one cohesive album. Body Talk as a cumulative whole, vs. the three separate eps, rivals the greatness that was her breakout self-titled 2008 comeback. Dropping dance party anthems like “Hang With Me,” “Dancehall Queen” and “Indestructible,” girlfriend proves she won’t be dancing on her own any longer.
  4. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    While we will sadly never again experience the epic greatness of another Funeral, Win Butler and crew made a damned fine attempt with The Suburbs. Blowing away their sophomore release Neon Bible, The Suburbs was one consistently memorable collection of epic instrumentation and overall indie goodness. Tracks such as “Month of May,” “Sprawl II,” “Ready to Start” and “The Suburbs” are undeniable examples of awesomeness.
  5. GAYNGS – Relayted (Jagjaguwar)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Not such Broken Social Scene has the indie music scene witnessed such a superhero line-up. The debut release from Midwesterners GAYNGS, Relayted is such an irresistible compilation of sleek, synth heavy, 80’s throwback baby making music that George Michael was pretty much forced into retirement. Who knew the dudes from Bon Iver, The Rosebuds and Solid Gold had such a seductive side to ‘em? Burning hot.
  6. Phantogram – Eyelid Movies (Barsuk)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The majority of male/female duos are shiny, happy pop music. (See YACHT, Mates of State, Matt & Kim, etc). Phantogram is not one of those bands. Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter make musical love into mystery, driven with their synth and bass driven melodies and gaspy, seductive shared vocals. Eyelid Movies is eleven tracks of electronic indie dance bliss.
  7. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Virgin)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Anything Damon Albarn touches turns to gold (or at least it should). Even after just releasing the greatness that is Plastic Beach in 2010, Albarn has already announced his intentions of a follow-up album, which was recorded on their current tour—on an iPad. Not sure how he’ll get guest artists like Snoop Dogg and Lou Reed onboard with this current method, but by now I’m pretty sure whatever Albarn’s got up his sleeve is destined for greatness.
  8. Vampire Weekend – Contra (XL)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Who knew some random Polaroid photo from the 80’s would blow up into the biggest indie lawsuit of the year? Luckily for the gentlemen of Vampire Weekend, it turns out there’s much more to Contra than their obscure album art. Tracks like “Giving up the Gun,” “Cousins” and “Holiday” are just a few of the album’s upbeat pop ditties, proving these prep rockers are more than a one album success act.
  9. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (DFA)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    James Murphy is a pretty righteous dude. This is Happening was one of the year’s biggest hypes, and if you’ve listened to the record, you’ll see why. “You Wanted a Hit,” “Dance Yrself Clean” and “Home” are several exemplifications of how Murphy and co. have raised the bar on electro-indie bangers once again.
  10. Caribou – Swim (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Daniel Snaith is a mathematician by trade, but he’s better known to the masses as the indie electro composer Caribou. Swim is his best release to date, bursting with formulaic layers of samples, reverb, synth, bass and whatever other magical components he throws into the mix. Impossible to stand still while listening to, this album is consistently mind bending from start to finish.

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Billy Kalb writesBilly Kalb’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ amd Music Director Billy Kalb.

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

  1. Four Tet – There Is Love In You (Domino)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I was wary of Kieren Hebden’s foray into techno with 2007’s Ringer EP, given what a fan I was of his earlier work and his previously glitchy, jazz-inflected sonic palette. But There is Love In You brought me back. Sprawling and ambitious, club-tested at London’s legendary Plastic People, Love in You is a near-perfect album. It’s dark but warm, mechanical and organic all at once, and the reassembled vocal snippets convey a beauty that lyrics could not. Absolutely stunning.
  2. Sam Amidon – I See the Sign (Bedroom Community)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Almost entirely slept-on despite some decent press, Sam Amidon’s third full-length came to my attention almost by accident and soon became one of my favorites. Amidon is what you might call a folk singer, but he chooses to draw on material that’s often centuries old: immigrant songs, murder ballads, wedding dances. Rather than go the route of stuffy traditionalism, he imbues his versions with cues taken from 20th century classical minimalism, chamber pop and Arthur Russell. They’re old songs, but Amidon makes them glow like new.
  3. Judson Claiborne – Time and Temperature (La Société Expéditionnaire)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    No band this year wrote a better song about cannibalism. Chicago’s own Judson Claiborne put together a fantastic full-length of moody folk-rock in 2010, and if you haven’t heard it, you’re doing yourself a considerable disservice. Sometimes haunting and bible-black, other times bursting with joy, Time and Temperature is one of the most honest, rewarding, and genuinely likeable records I heard this year. Check it out.
  4. The National – High Violet (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Tied with...

    The Walkmen – Lisbon (Fat Possum)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Both the National and the Walkmen mine similar territory; early on, both bands explored the angst of coming to terms with adulthood, wrestling with new responsibilities and figuring out where you belong in this grown-up world. By 2010, both have mellowed a bit, more comfortable in their skin. There’s still plenty of doubt and pain, but it’s been tempered with quiet confidence and an appreciation for the good things. That’s not to say they’ve become boring, however; what they lack in larger-than-life size they more than make up for in ever-increasing depth.
  5. Robyn – Body Talk (Konichiwa)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Not Part 1, not Part 2. I’m talking about the whole damn thing. Signed to her own label and free to do whatever she likes, Swedish pop sweetheart Robyn released EPs at a furious clip this year, compiling her favorite songs onto a full-length album last month. Part of the joy of Body Talk was hearing what she’d come up with next, from synth-pop ballads to dancefloor ragers to duets with Snoop Dogg. Not everything hit the mark, but there’s enough quality material for a very, very killer iTunes playlist — Robyn gets exactly what being a pop star in the 21st century is all about.
  6. Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers (Hotflush)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Dubstep has mutated into something…something approachable. Mount Kimbie’s Crooks and Lovers is more than your standard issue dubstep: the rhythmic sensibility is almost the same, but the pop sensibility is off the charts. Which is to say: it’s danceable, but chilled out; it’s abstract, but upfront; it’s hazy, but laser-focused. It’s just right. And even so, it’s totally unexpected – and rarely this well-executed.
  7. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Tied with...

    Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid (Atlantic)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A year after the death of the King of Pop and a thousand media laments of how no one makes big-tent pop albums like Thriller anymore, two wildly creative talents made a couple of big-tent pop albums… and the wider world hardly noticed. A real crime, I promise you, and those who missed it will inevitably come to regret their error. Full-to-the-brim with innovative production and killer hooks, Sir Lucious and The ArchAndroid satisfied the pop itch like few other albums this year could. They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
  8. Jason Adasiewicz – Sun Rooms (Delmark)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    With his partners-in-jazz Mike Reed (drums) and Nate McBride (bass), Jason Adasiewicz is busy redefining the role of the vibraphone in the genre. No great surprises here if you’ve heard any of Adasiewicz’s work elsewhere (and considering how prolifically collaborative the dude is, chances are you have), just some wonderful performances and warm, inviting tones (like a sun room, get it?). If jazz isn’t really your thing, this could be the album to change that. And if jazz is your thing, you’re in for a treat.
  9. Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be (HoZac/Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    You know what so much of the current garage-rock revival lacks? Hooks. You know what I Will Be has in abundance? You guessed it. Dum Dum Girls are a melodic steamroller, and nothing will get in their way – not boys, nor rivals, nor rules. Boosted by killer production from Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, The Go-Go’s), singer Dee Dee radiates effortless cool and confidence, and she’s totally earned it: when you can write songs like this, being a total badass should come naturally.
  10. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Like a cinephile going out of his way not to see overt Oscar-bait, I avoided ear contact with the much-hyped third Arcade Fire album as long as possible. But something pulled me in; I’d hear a fantastic song on CHIRP, or I’d be in the car with my girlfriend and she’d put it on. And you know what? Sometimes hype is warranted. This band continues to get better, and fortunately, they’ve also dropped the heavy-handed doom and gloom of Neon Bible in favor of graceful, instantly memorable pop songs. They’re still rallying against the world, of course, but this time around, it’s much easier to join in.

Honorable Mentions

Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner (Ghostly International)
White Hinterland – Kairos (Dead Oceans)
In Tall Buildings - In Tall Buildings (Whistler)
Matthew Dear – Black City (Ghostly International)
Caribou – Swim (Merge)

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Josh Lesser writesJosh Lesser’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from station volunteer Josh Lesser.

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

  1. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor (XL)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sure, at first blush a punk concept album loosely based on combining coming of age in New Jersey and the American Civil War seems like an unlikely pick for best album of the year.  But Titus Andronicus puts the full force of their rage, youth, and passion into track after shout-alongable track, and thesis statements on the state of America and youth abound ("we have enemies everywhere", "you will always be a loser", "its still us against them").  Listening to the album, or, even better, at witnessing their live show, its impossible not to get swept along with them.  Essential Tracks: "A More Perfect Union", "Four Score and Seven"
  2. Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago (Matador)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Shearwater continues their growth from folk side project (from Jonathan Meiburgs former band, Okkervil River) to one of the most unique bands out there with this album.  Lushly orchestrated and densely lyrical, each song builds its own particular mood and atmosphere while Meiburg wails and howls and whispers above it.  The album moves effortlessly from gloriously uplifting to ominous and claustrophobic and back again. Essential tracks: "Uniforms", "God Made Me", "Castaways"
  3. Girl Talk – All Day (Illegal Art)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    While I havent lived with this album as long as some of the others, I can't say I was more excited about any album on this list dropping.  And while on first listen it didnt seem as immediate or complex as former albums, the test for me for Girl Talk is whether it makes me want to giggle and dance at the same time.  And once he mixes Rhianna and Fugazi on the second track, it did.  Essential Tracks: "Let it Out", "Thats Right"
  4. The National – High Violet (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When I want existential dread and wine soaked–sadness, I need look no further than this incredible record.  Even the hopeful songs have terrifying images (being carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees, for example). Themes of protecting your children, craving sorrow, and, of course, zombies infuse this record with a maturity that wasn't present as much on the previous National albums, and they are no worse off for it. Essential Tracks: "Bloodbuzz Ohio", "England"
  5. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – Brutalist Bricks (Matador)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Brutalist Bricks explodes out of the gate with a song about suicide bombings, and never looks back.  Returning to the political rabble rouser form he did so well on Shake the Streets Ted Leo and co. sound tight, together, and focused.  Perfect for long drives and short bursts of righteous anger. (bonus points for the amazing, Paul F. Tomkins-starring, music video sending up American Idiot: The Musical)  Essential Tracks: "The Mighty Sparrow", "Bottled in Cork"
  6. Midlake – The Courage of Others (Bella Union)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Pretty much any album Midlake released after the near-perfection of Van Occupanther would have been a let down for me, but Courage of Others goes a long way towards soothing that pain.  Rainy day music written by druids, its almost surprising to hear them address more direct, less mystical notions on songs like "The Courage of Others" (which evokes neither ancient kingdoms nor moss covered hillsides, and speaks more to emo kids than forest children).  But they do both eually well, it turns out. Essential Tracks: "Rulers, Ruling All Things", "Acts of Man"
  7. Frightened Rabbit – Winter of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Like Midlake, Frightened Rabbit had the tall order of following up one of my favorite records of the last five years (Midnight Organ Fight).  And while this album took a while to grow on me, grow it did.  No other band reaches quite the heights that Frightened Rabbit does at its best when it mixes pedestrian images with soaring backings to pack the perfect punch.  Sadness rarely sounds as joyful as they make it sound.  Essential Tracks: "Things", "The Loneliness and the Scream"
  8. Sun Kil Moon – Admiral Fell Promises (Caldo Verde)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I've been saving this one for the winter, because a July release date for a Sun Kil Moon album seems somehow inappropriate. While I will admit Kozelek stripping back to his man-and-his-Spanish-guitar persona is not my favorite one of his (preferring the more produced, full band sounds of the Red House Painters and his first Sun Kil Moon album), I will eagerly absorb anything this man does, and Admiral Fell Promises has not disappointed.  I look forward to many cold winter days alone with this album.  How many things can you that about? Essential Tracks: "Alesund", "Sam Wong Hotel"
  9. "Ready to Start" from The Suburbs by Arcade Fire (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Maybe this is out of place on a Best of the Year list, but I feel I can't in good conscience discuss this year in music without pointing out the two albums that disappointed me the most.  Two new albums from two of my favorite bands...I felt my cup would runneth over.  But try as I might to get into The Suburbs, I just cant do it.  There are tracks that I like, and one track that I love (hence giving the nod to "Ready to Start" as a standout of the year) but I fell in love with both Funeral and Neon Bible within the first couple of listens.  And while it may not be fair to compare them all, compare I must, and this album just does not clear the bar.  I'm still holding out hope for Arcade Fire, that someday it might just click...
  10. "We Can Get Together" from Heaven is Whenever by The Hold Steady (Vagrant)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    ...As for The Hold Steady, "We can get together" is a great song, and keeps with the bands mission statement, but for the most part, the rest of the album is pretty forgettable.

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Dan Morgridge writesDan Morgridge’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' favorite music of 2010. Here with a list of his 10 favorite singles from 2010 is CHIRP Radio DJ Dan Morgridge.

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

  1. "Bombay" by El Guincho, from the album Pop Negro (Young Turks)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    "We are going to explore the cosmos in the ship of the imagination." So states El Guincho in his Carl-Sagan-esque intro to the B-movie/home cinema/let's-film-some-shenanigans (NSFW) video for Bombay, his opus of 2010. The bizarre feats of cinema displayed juxtapose the somewhat sorrowful lyrics - but if you don't speak Spanish, just sit back and appreciate the melodic and almost percussive singing. The instruments weaving in and out, the steel drums and hand claps, and the echoed final cry will keep the song growing in your head for a long time.
  2. "Tin Man" by Future Islands, from the album In Evening Air (Thrill Jockey)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    While "Tin Man" and my number one song share a prominent steel drum, Future Islands match it with a muscular guitar and the inimitable gruff wails of lead singer Sam Herring. The summer jam for driving around right before sunset, few other songs this year can come close to the gamut of emotions this tune can serve.
  3. "Not In Love ft. Robert Smith" by Crystal Castles (Motown)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I always have a soft spot for musical re-imagination - I always find art begets art, so I love seeing someone professionally do the same thing and succeed. Taking the raw material from the rarely-mined field of Canadian glam new wave, Platinum Blonde's tune got an injection of chiptune steroids from Crystal Castles. But then for the December release, the band replaced the anemic, computerized vocals of Alice Practice with none other than Robert Smith. The Cure frontman pours his heart into it like he was 17 and just dumped, instantly owning the song like his name was Hendrix and it was about a joker and a thief.
  4. "Burden Of Tomorrow" by The Tallest Man On Earth, from the album The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    In another universe, Swede Kristian Matsson is the world's best Bob Dylan impersonator. Lucky for us, here he's found just enough of his own songwriting voice (and just slightly more forgiving nasal tones) to be an electrifying artist in his own right. From an album of rock-solid songs accompanied only by his own guitar, banjo or piano, Matsson's narrow stand-out is the bright-eyed gleam of "Burden Of Tomorrow", a mythological origin story: "Oh but rumor has it that I wasn't born/I just walked in one frosty morn" - yelped with enough passion that you could almost believe him.
  5. "Runaway" by Kanye West, from the album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    It feels almost criminal to not give Kanye the top spot in this list. You can almost imagine he would go through infinite numbers of online reviews, leaving anonymous comments saying "8.5! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH OF A GENIUS I AM FOR PUTTING CHRIS ROCK AND APHEX TWIN ON THE SAME TRACK?!?" But his hubris aside, Kanye has spent a year collaborating on an album with an all-star cast, but more importantly, with the Internet itself. Leaking demos left and right, posting songs without real lyrics, jumping up on tables to rap as the songs hit him - in the cult of the amateur, Kanye is king.

    But to describe his finished products as amateur would be a grave mistake - love or hate him, Kanye has agonized over every second, pored over every sample. "Runaway" is the perfect microcosm of the album: a seamless blend of egomania and melancholy, both unsatisfied and unrepentant. Some of the lyrics will cause bystanders to grimace - "I sent this girl a picture of my dick/I don't know what it is with females, but I'm not too good at that shit" is as unrefined as you can imagine a song lyric- but are we grimacing at Kanye, or with him?
  6. "Plastic People" by Four Tet, from the album There Is Love In You (Domino)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Four Tet's paean to the club he has used as a sounding board for much of his latest album is a peculiar lie on it's surface - a quiet, scruffy ethereal sound. But it's tempo is pure dance - a touch of two-step, a hint of rave, and a mix of whatever else it takes to get a full crowd at the Metro dancing again (like he did here in October). It's a perfect tune for when everything outside is moving fast and everything inside is moving slow.
  7. "Meet Me In The Basement" by Broken Social Scene, from the album Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When a band whose vocal talents include Feist, Emily Haines, and several other occasional lead singers, you have to credit them with some moxie for calling an instrumental jam "something that's become our anthem" at the Pitchfork Music Festival this year. But by golly, the song has legs that go all the way to the floor, and the guitar interplay is some of the finest you can bang a head at. Bonus points: the anonymously-submitted video bashing the G20 summit in Toronto that the band put on their YouTube channel.
  8. "The Gaudy Side Of Town" by GAYNGS, from the album Relayted (Jagjaguwar)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    2010 was a banner year for Justin Vernon. Playing cover tag with Peter Gabriel, having Kanye West decide to make "Woods" the backbone of his penultimate track on his craziest album yet - but you could argue that it all started with him getting to have a little fun with GAYNGS. Not to say that anything on Relayed comes off as tongue-in-cheek; somehow, the band plays a tribute album to 10cc's I'm Not In Love with perfect conviction and execution. But “The Gaudy Side of Town” has a mournful 80’s sax wail, slinking bass, and all-high-hat scattered drums mixed with Vernon ditching his mournful winter hibernation voice for a whispery croon of schmaltzy sleaze, and you have to wonder if playing such a fun role didn't help send him into bigger superstardom (for better or worse).
  9. "Generator ^ Second Floor" by Freelance Whales, from the album Weathervanes (Frenchkiss/Mom and Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Weathervanes earned its share of detractors - whether for the band's spontaneous concerts, wacky instruments like a watering can, or some of the rather grating selections from the album itself. With outstanding biases aside, the elements displayed in just the first two build-up minutes alone are stunning - banjo lead, washboard and accordion ambiance, glockenspiel taking over, and then an electric guitar somehow tastefully topping it all off. Then the harmonies pop in, and suddenly you're not cheerfully singing along in the streets to this kind little tune about accepted death.
  10. "O.N.E." by Yeasayer, from the album Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    One part Animal Collective, one part George Michael, all parts capable of making you dance like the dirtiest hippie imaginable. Anand Wilder sings his own "I Will Survive" like he's so over it, he's already in Copacabana wearing wayfarers and flirting with anyone who might bring him a Mai Tai.

Honorable Mentions:
"Heaven's On Fire" by The Radio Dept.
"Dancing With The DJ" by The Knocks
"Neighbor Riffs" by Surfer Blood
"Low Shoulders" by Toro Y Moi
"Ducktails" by Art Vandelay

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Craig Reptile: Your Sunday Sonic Sundowner writesCraig Reptile’s Best of 2010

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

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

Craig Reptile's Top 10 of 2010 (in no particular order):

  • Autolux – Transit Transit (tbd)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Suckers for shoegazer should celebrate this release from Autolux, while those unfamiliar with the genre of fuzzy, woozy guitars and ethereal, wispy vocals should find a compelling and wide-ranging introduction here.
  • Pomegranates – One of Us (Afternoon)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    From sped up tape sounds to ambient guitar squalls, this record never fails to surprise and inspire. If you dig The Jesus and Mary Chain, Blonde Redhead, Animal Collective, Crocodiles, Neon Indian, Serena-Maneesh, Brad Laner, and labelmates The Poison Control Center, you should dig this.
  • Sambassadeur – European (Lubrador)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Ambassadors of Swedish orch-pop have returned with lush, fully fleshed out instrumentation, featuring melodies that bridge the girl group sound a la Phil Spector and the ambitious approach of 80's post-New Wave anthem producers.
  • Club 8 – The People’s Record (Labrador)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    More Swee, but this time afrobeat and Latin American rhythms and energy dominate each song--like listening to 10,000 Maniacs’ In My Tribe at 78 speed, it’s a rush of rapid rhythms and rumbling bass, with angular latticework guitar parts and soaring soprano singing.
  • The Soviet League – The Soviet League (Angel Oven Records)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This sounds like Brian Eno and Roy Orbison meeting XTC alteregos Dukes of Stratosphear. Utterly mind-blowing. If this is the future, I want to be a part of it.
  • Belle and Sebastian – Write About Love (Matador)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I guess twee orch-pop is not for everyone, but I can't imagine anyone not loving this record. But anything's possible. Every cut is a winner in my book (the one I'm writing about love, 'natch).
  • Dreamend – So I Ate Myself Bite By Bite (Graveface)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A lovely and haunting symphony of banjos and crickets from Ryan Graveface's latest project. It may have been a bad dream, but it sure sounded beautiful to me.
  • Darling – Lights That Last Forever (Cardboard Sangria)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Try as I might, I could not find a bad song on this Chicago group's first full length release. This is pure power pop for 2010 people, and it's full of anthemically awesome surprises.
  • Azure Ray – Drawing Down the Moon (Saddle Creek)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I loved the record before seeing this lovely female duo at a sold out Schubas, and love it even more now &ndash never has sad been so beautiful.
  • The Thermals – Personal Life (Kill Rock Stars)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    It may not be their most rocking release, but Hutch's lyrics have never been better or more . . . personal. I still believe he's the Chuck D of indie rock.

5 Favorite EPs of 2010:
California Wives – Affair (Self-Released)
Chaperone – Cripple King (Self-Released)
Verma – Verma (Plustapes)
Pilot Cloud – Diaspora (Acoustic Firework)
Atmosphere – To All My Friends, Blood Makes The Blade Holy: The Atmosphere EP's (Rhymesayers Entertainment)

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Rubbed in Dirt, Dipped in Sugar writesJohn Lombardo’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2010. The next list is from station volunteer John Lombardo.
(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members’ picks.)

  1. 97-Shiki – Showing Teeth is a Good Thing (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A fierce collision of noise and groove that reminds me of DC’s Metamatics with a smattering of trumpet. This equal parts jarring and catchy EP was released only as a cassette, along with digital download code card. The best of both worlds from these retro-futurists.
  2. Real Estate – Out of Tune (True Panther Sounds)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Somehow even more remarkable than their self-titled LP, these guys create some of the most reserved and captivating pop songs out there. Insane harmonies pacify stretches of hypnotic jamming, all glued together by relentless hooks.
  3. White Mystery – White Mystery (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Virtually every one of these songs have become “instant classics” with fans going berserk at live shows at the first hint of Alex’s opening riffs. Along with their break-neck touring pace and penchant for unusual shows (living room record release shows, Halloween celebrations, and restaurant performances), White Mystery have distinguished themselves on this epic full-length which matches the duo’s live greatness.
  4. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast (Kanine)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Seemingly appearing out of nowhere, this young Florida quartet blend Weezer’s first trips to LA with Pavement just reaching their stride to produce a new strain dreamy pitch-perfect pop. Their vocalist conjures up Morrissey in his tone as well as lyrics. With epic songs like Catholic Pagan entertaining Smiths-esque themes along with the added wit and vigor of a new generation.
  5. Lower Dens – Twin Hand Movement (Gnomonsong)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    In a rare break from her long-running solo career, Jana Hunter departs from her free-folk freak outs, joining forces with a strong group of Baltimore players to create a rock-solid and gripping debut record.
  6. Disappears – Lux (Kranky)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Layers and layers of reverb peppered with distorted hot lixx. Fantastic songs anchored by Brian Case’s unique vocals. Hazy, swarming guitar-rock that plays smooth start to finish.
  7. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The highly anticipated follow-up to Microcastle truly delivers! Chock full of doubled-vocals and insane pop hooks, this record serves as a beautiful soundtrack for the depressives of the world.
  8. Dag Nasty – Dag With Shawn (Dischord)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The lost tapes of a 1985 Halloween recording session that would be completely re-recoded and released as the entire album, Can I Say. These songs with legendary wildcard Shawn Brown (“Swiz,” “Sweetbelly Freakdown”) on vocals give a rare glimpse of the band that most people never got a chance to see. Raw and relentless chugging riffs, all held together by Shawn’s patented howl.
  9. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Recorded in the heart of lovely Wicker Park, this beast of an ensemble record finds local producer and drum wunderkind John McEntire and a slew of other indie rock royalty making guest appearances. High production with catchy songs that will almost make you forget You Forgot It In People.
  10. Bill Callahan – Rough Travel for a Rare Thing (Drag City)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This live record captures a unique ‘best of’ type of glimpse of (Smog)’s discography that only a handful fans witnessed at a rare Hideout show this year. Callahan’s somber baritone on solo re-workings of classics like “Cold-Blooded Old Times,” “Our Anniversary,” and “Say Valley Maker” affirms and echoes his longevity and success. Great great great!

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CHIRP DJ writesMatt Wenzel’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from station station volunteer Matt Wenzel.
(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)

  1. Bird Names – Metabolism: A Salute to the Energy of the Sun (Mosstapes)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This band has the most creative approach to executing and recording pop music since the Beatles.
  2. The Rebel – The Race Against Time Hots Up (Junior Aspirin)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Weirdo catchy melodies underlined by freakish sound collages and keyboard beats would not leave my head for weeks.
  3. How To Dress Well – Love Remains (Lefse)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This was quite possibly the most addicting album I’ve heard in a long time. Chicago Reader’s Miles Raymer put it quite nicely when he suggests that it sounds “like someone erased all the lead instruments from the multitrack recording of a big-budget pop song, leaving just atmospheric layers of textural overdubs, all drenched in reverb.”
  4. We Shave – In The Flesh (Night People)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A one-man orchestra experimenting with twisting pop, psychedelia, and drone tones to achieve a superb blend of syrupy goodness. On no other album does an artist totally own covers of Faust, Harry Nilsson, and Wagner.
  5. Lazer Zeppelin – American Derivative (People In A Position to Know)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Don’t be fooled by the name. This basically sounds like a country-fried Velvet Underground jamming with The Fugs circa 1969. I was so tickled when they teased Brand New Key by Melanie!
  6. Fielded – Terrageist (Catholic Tapes)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Nailing '80s dark wave to the floor of 2010. Haunts me.
  7. RV Paintings – Samoa Highway (Helen Scarsdale Agency)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Northern California duo droning and collage-ing to the left of the dial. A masterpiece to write final papers by.
  8. Daniel Higgs – Say God (Thrill Jockey)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Living legend/outsider folk artist Daniel Higgs gives his take on gospel music with a harmonium, banjo, and his unique vocal styling. The imagery created here is just beautiful and stunning. “Hoofprints on the Ceiling of Your Mind.”
  9. Captain Ahab – The End of Irony (Deathbomb Arc)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Imagine the sound designer for the newest Terminator movie making insane dance music while simultaneously commenting on the hilarity of dance culture. Because that’s exactly what this is.
  10. Various Artists – Field Recordings From Alan Lomax’s “Southern Journey” 1959-1960 (Mississippi)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    In my opinion, Mississippi Records can do no wrong. This 5 LP series showcases some of the best of Lomax’s quintessential work. The great thing about these records is the way the styles vary from song to song so that you don’t get overloaded with a whole album of fiddle music. I found the recordings of Baptist church congregations to be especially intriguing.

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Stephen Dobek writesStephen Dobek’s Best of 2010

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

  1. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When it comes down to my favorite album of any given year, it’s all about staying power. Teen Dream was released in the first month of 2010, but its impact was felt by my iTunes long after that. Already the authors of two albums I’m fond of, Teen Dream isn’t a drastic departure from the band’s sound, they are simply good at what they do, and here they are near perfect, especially Victoria Legrand’s voice. It isn’t often that every song on an album warrants five stars, but for me, this is one of those rare instances.

    There were songs that hit me hard in the spring, lifted me up during the summer, have helped me to prepare for the brunt of another Chicago winter, but never any songs that wore out their welcome. Teen Dream is a fully realized vision, an album that will stick with me for years to come, and reason enough to look back at the music of 2010 and smile.
  2. Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m Here? (Editions Mego)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When I think of Cleveland I think of bad sports teams and even worse weather, but now, thanks to Emeralds, I think of mind-bending electronic music as well. These prolific Ohioans have released a lot of material in their short existence, and for the most part their songs were sprawling, ambient affairs. With Does It Look Like I’m Here they take a more concise approach. Songs materialize faster, and when they do they burn hotter than anything else the band has released. The payoff on ‘Candy Shoppe’ is something to behold, and is easily my favorite sonic moment of the entire year.

    From beginning to end the album is mesmerizing, synths and guitar twirling together to create a sound that harkens back to the German ‘Kosmische’ movement, but is almost without equal in modern music.
  3. Small Black – New Chain (Jagjaguwar)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Some albums grow on you after repeat listens, while others grab you immediately and don’t let go. For me, New Chain is one of the latter, from the opening bars of ‘Camouflage’ I was hooked. With greater production value Small Black leave the bedroom sound of their earlier work behind. Each song on the album evokes a big, nostalgic response, and while their contemporaries are numerous they never sound like they’re copying anyone, rather they are making the chintzy sounds of the past into their own new dynamic thing. New Chain is an album that keeps its focus on the future by remembering the sounds of parties long gone.
  4. Mogwai – Special Moves (Rock Action)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Live albums aren’t something I’m often excited for, so the fact that Special Moves makes my list is a surprise. Through the years Mogwai have proven themselves to be one of the most fearsome forces in the world of post-rock, even though their recent work may have missed the mark. Thankfully this career-spanning look back hits the pleasure center over and over again. Songs like ‘Hunted By A Freak’ and ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ are given new life, and likewise, the band sounds re-energized and on top of their game rather than past their prime. Special Moves works so well because it recalls past greatness while also providing a burst of hope for the band’s future.
  5. Blue Hawaii – Blooming Summer (Arbutus)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Blue Hawaii are part of a robust music scene in Montreal that is producing some very interesting material. Blooming Summer is billed as an EP, but these eight songs feel more like a full statement. While many artists of a similar thread look fondly upon the past Blue Hawaii’s lyrics focus on the heartbreak and lost love of yesteryear. They may share an aesthetic with others, but this brand of electronic pop is also uniquely their own. Blooming Summer showcases a band that is versatile and highly skilled, it leaves me eagerly awaiting a proper full-length release.
  6. Working For A Nuclear Free City – Jojo Burger Tempest (Melodic)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Recapturing the sound of Madchester is not easily done, but WFANFC gave it their all, creating something wonderful that yields countless twists and turns. Jojo Burger Tempest is genre hopping on the highest level; many different influences are brought together but the seemingly natural balance between everything is what makes the album so special. It’s an ambitious undertaking for sure (It’s split between two discs, one containing 17 individual licks, and the second containing a single 33 minute romp), but giving it an honest listen will pay big dividends.
  7. Jónsi – Go (XL)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When I discovered that Jónsi Birgisson was striking out on his own I became very excited. His vocal prowess as part of Sigur Rós has been nothing short of monumental, so the sky was literally the limit. He did not disappoint. With powerful percussion, intense buildups and of course beautiful vocals now bigger than ever Go soars to amazing heights. Songs like ‘Go Do’ and ‘Animal Arithmetic’ are epic, even by Jónsi standards. This album also makes my list because I saw it played live at The Vic on my birthday and essentially had my face melted off by a complete multimedia sensory overload.
  8. Sam Prekop – Old Punch Card (Thrill Jockey)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sharing nothing in common with his full time band The Sea and Cake, or any of his previous solo work, Old Punch Card is Sam Prekop’s initial foray into electronic music. If there is any structure to this album it’s hard to find, Prekop essentially tries out different sounds until he finds something he likes and lets that play out. While it may not grab you in an instant, over time the beauty of Prekop’s experimentation bubbles to the surface, revealing something truly unique.
  9. Candy Claws – Hidden Lands (Twosyllable)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    There is dream pop, and then there is the music that Candy Claws create, a sort of narcotic induced coma pop. The pastoral sounds of Hidden Lands were composed primarily on keyboards the band had no idea how to play, and perhaps that is why unexpected moments pop up all over the place. With lyrics that never rise above a whisper and melodies that echo the most sun kissed moments of the Beach Boys, Hidden Lands is strangely hard to place and strangely addicting.
  10. Mimicking Birds – Mimicking Birds (Glacial Pace)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Mimicking Birds’ Nate Lacy is able to achieve a striking level of ambiance while sticking to a fairly sparse set up. With a production assist from Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, he created an album that sounds like it was recorded at a remote point in outer space. Lacy’s guitar work is something to behold, throughout the album he fingerpicks his way into hypnotic riffs, especially on ‘The Loop’, that ad to the atmosphere and the allure of Mimicking Birds.

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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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Patrick Masterson writesPatrick Masterson’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ and Assistant Music Director Patrick Masterson. (Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)

It would be unfair to present a top ten list that wasn’t strictly comprised of Windy City artists when we had such a good year here, so here are my favorite new Chicago releases of 2010 to back that up.

  1. Judson Claiborne – Time and Temperature (La Societe Expeditionnaire)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Chris Salveter and company’s second LP as Judson Claiborne appropriately mirrors the cover with a zebra in a deep forest of mist: Time and Temperature is a powerful, constantly shifting chiaroscuro where acoustic light breaks through the dark themes of the lyrics. Easily one of the best records of the year by any measure.
  2. Disappears – Lux (Kranky)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This one’s for the record collectors. Probably my favorite Chicago live band, Disappears had some trouble getting this out; when Lux finally arrived, it felt as much like a sigh of relief as anything else. Good news followed a good year for the band: Follow-up LP Guider arrives in January 2011. Mark your calendars.
  3. JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – To Love Someone (That Don’t Love You) 7” (Addenda)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Nevermind that I helped package these (FYI, 50 is not the same as 40), “To Love Someone (That Don’t Love You)” is a supreme slice of retro-soul listening for those with even half an interest in the Daptone stable, generally regarded as the gold standard for this sort of thing. On the flip, “Everything Will Be Fine” is a Booker T-inspired b-side to match the best of Charles Bradley. Do not miss this.
  4. Jason Adasiewicz – Sun Rooms (Delmark)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A fixture of Chicago’s jazz scene for the few years that I’ve actually been following it, Adasiewicz did something a little different with Sun Rooms by stripping down his typical sound (backed by the Rolldown quintet) to a trio with drums and bass. It could’ve sounded hollow and sparse, but the extra space only allowed his vibraphones to thrive. An incredibly rich listening experience and definitely my favorite jazz record of the year.
  5. Cave – Pure Moods EP (Drag City)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Last year it was the twisty Psychic Summer, this year it was a three-track vinyl-only EP that rode the (hawk)winds of krautrock jamming and self-exploration that, though self-limiting at times, worked awfully well for late-night radio runs. “Brigitte’s Trip (White Light/White Jazz)” is almost as good of a title as the EP itself.
  6. Male – German for Shark (Other Electricities)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    It took me a little while to finally listen to Male’s sophomore album, but German for Shark sparks with more playful experimentation than last year’s more coherent All Are Welcome. Led by Jon Krohn and Ben Mjolsness, the sounds range from ambient nothingness to glitched-out remixes hitched to the back end of the album. I’m not sure I like it more than All Are Welcome, but its best moments caught my ear faster.
  7. Exploding Star Orchestra – Stars Have Shapes (Delmark)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Stars have shapes? How about stars have exploding orchestras skronking out in one of the better free-form avant-everything monsters to hit the CHIRP airwaves this year? Led by Rob Mazurek and featuring a host of rotating cast members, ESO did what they pretty much always do as well as anyone this side of the equally polarizing Bird Show Band. Undulating and uncompromising, Stars Have Shapes is some gnarled top-shelf jazz.
  8. Skooda Chose – TFM2 (Get Money Gang)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Excepting Freddie Gibbs, this mixtape by the K-town native is my favorite Chicago(-area) hip-hop release of the year. Signed by Twista a few years back, Skooda’s been pedaling his verses for awhile but this (TFM = Top Five Material) is the cream of the crop thanks to guest verses from The Cool Kids, David Banner and others. Also, and I have no way of confirming this, but dude has been shot ten times, which has to count for something.
  9. Verma – Salted Earth (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If you scroll down on Verma’s MySpace page, you’ll see the image of two figures strolling along a dune in deep space. That’s pretty much what Verma embodies: psychedelic sandstorms on far-away planets. It was interesting to hear the live-take instrumental material of their self-titled debut in July, but Salted Earth, out this past month (featuring songs from their original three-song EP), is different and slightly more appealing.
  10. Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone (Anti)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A gospel n’ blues legend in her own right, Mavis Staples has also worked with Bob Dylan, Curtis Mayfield and Prince in the past, so what’s a Jeff Tweedy collaboration to her? But this is hardly tossed-off stuff. I mean, “I Belong to the Band” – did you hear this? The Tweedy originals? That weirdly defeatist Randy Newman cover? Mavis is still a must-listen after 60 years.

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Clarence Ewing: The Million Year Trip writesClarence Ewing’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio's Assistant Online Media Director Clarence Ewing. (Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)

  1. Sleigh Bells – Treats (Mom & Pop Music)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The debut album from duo Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss is a hail storm of big, visceral, static-and-feedback-soaked fun, both anchored and elevated by the sugar and spice of Miller’s catchy-as-hell hooks and Krauss’ assured, flirty vocals.
  2. Delorean – Subiza (True Panther Sounds)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Waves of sunny, pastel happiness from the Spanish former punk-rockers. It’s been said that great music transports you to other places. Whenever I listen to this album I want to be somewhere in southern Europe dancing on a beach.
  3. Laetitia Sadier – The Trip (Drag City)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This solo effort from Stereolab's lead singer is an expertly crafted, urbane, emotionally open Euro-pop that reflects the melancholy of life without ever becoming maudlin.
  4. Avey Tare – Down There (Paw Tracks)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Music as (swamp) water. Listening to Animal Collective or one of its members, I usually get the feeling I'm hearing something intensely personal, expressed digitally. Avey Tare’s solo album is no exception, as is his relentlessly unique uses of rhythm and song structure.
  5. The Depreciation Guild – Spirit Youth (Kanine)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sweeping, romantic guitar-and-synth dream-pop peppered with old-school computer blips. "Dream About Me" was my favorite single from this past summer.
  6. Reds and Blue – Son of the Stars (Addenda)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Hip and groovy dance floor post-punk with a distinctly New Wave pop feel, due in no small part to Ellen Bunch’s sharp, slinky vocals.
  7. Azure Ray – Drawing Down the Moon (Saddle Creek)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor use electronics and acoustic guitars to weave graceful and passionately intimate confessions, with vocals that only occasionally rise above a whisper.
  8. To Rococo Rot – Speculation (Domino)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The Berlin trio with the palindromic name conjures up an engrossing collage of deep beats and atmospheric grooves, continuing post-rock’s style of meditation and experimentation.
  9. Various Artists – Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes on Congotronics (Crammed Discs)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Various Western World artists explore and interpret the urban tribal music of Kinshasa, Congo, and create a kaleidoscope of unique hybrids that never lose the spirit of the source material.
  10. Blue Giant – Blue Giant (Vanguard)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A vibrant blend of contemporary pop-country and alternative folk that alternates between thoughtful ballads and driving, anthemic jams.

Honorable Mentions

  • Korallreven – "The Truest Faith" + "Loved-Up" + "Honey Mine" + "A Dream (Mix Tape)" (Acephale)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    To me, this Swedish duo’s hypnotic, celestial tracks don’t sound like the “Next Big Thing” as much as “The Next Step” in electronic music, where melodies, samples, effects and grooves all melt together until they become indistinguishable.

Some more outstanding singles from 2010...
Coltrane Motion, "I Forgot There Was a War On"
El Guincho, "Bombay" (including the [NSFW] video)
How to Dress Well, "Ready for the World"
The Radio Dept., "Heaven's On Fire"
Twin Shadow, "Savannah Howel" and "Slow"
Laura Veirs, "Sleeper in the Valley"
Warpaint, "Undertow"
Zola Jesus, "I Can't Stand"

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Richard Paul - The Quest writesRichard Paul’s Best of 2010

Chirp Radio's Best of 2010 continues with selections from CHIRP DJ Richard Paul.

  1. The Books – The Way Out (Temporary Residence)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    We've all always known these guys were geniuses.  This is their absolute masterpiece.
  2. Four Tet – There Is Love In You (Domino)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Everything this man touches turns to gold.  That is 100% accurate for his remixes.  After Everything Ecstatic, I was a little worried about his full-length work though. There is Love in You proves Kieren Hebden still has some Rounds left in him yet.
  3. Pantha du Prince – Black Noise (Rough Trade)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Track after track of sheer brilliance.
  4. Hot Chip – One Life Stand (Astralwerks)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Enjoyable, feel-good album.  Noteworthy tracks are "Brothers" and "Alley Cats."
  5. Faux Pas – Noiseworks (Sensory Projects/Heroics)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A full-length can't be full enough from Australia's Tim Shiel.  After several EPs and sporadic demos this was a very welcome treat in 2010. Highly recommend you frequent his personal blog.
  6. Foals – Total Life Forever (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Solid tracks from UK's Foals.  One of the most chill-giving songs of the year, "Spanish Sahara."
  7. Twin Sister – Color Your Life (Infinite Best)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Seems this is the most underrated album of the year.  Flew low under the radar with songs that should be getting much more time in the spotlight.
  8. The Chap – Well Done Europe (Lo Recordings)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I thought these guys were done for with their past two releases being bombs, but they pulled out some nice songs true to their old style in this album.
  9. Caribou – Swim (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Every song is good on this album. But I felt they were all rather similar; the album played it kinda on the safe side, not very exploring.  This knocked it back a few spots on my list.
  10. Balmorhea – Constellations (Western Vinyl)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I love me some instrumental post-rock.

Close Call

  • Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love (Matador)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Still havent gotten around to listening to this album all the way through, but sounds to me like one of the years best albums.

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Dylan Peterson writesDylan Peterson’s Best of 2010

CHIRP Radio's Best of 2010 continues with a list from DJ Dylan Peterson.

  1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A lot of great albums came out in 2010, but none with quite as much hype as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In an age when downloading a zip file is the primary means of adding to our music collection, Kanye took advantage of our eager-to-download habits instead of pretending it's still the 1900's. He says it best in "Power": "I'm livin' in a 21st century, doin' something mean to it, do it better than anybody you ever seen do it." He's still just as audacious as he was on College Dropout, and the bravado is as entertaining as ever.

    The marketing alone clued us in that this album was going to be huge. Releasing a free song download on his website every week. Directing his own short film. Orchestrating the most memorable live music performance on TV this decade. By the time we're able to even hear the album, it's a miracle we're not underwhelmed. But great albums deserve a lot of hype. Over the last decade, I almost forgot that truth. Kanye made me anxious for an album in 2010. I can't remember the last time I felt that.
  2. Delorean – Subiza (True Panther Sounds)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Subiza is the soundtrack for summer days at the city beach, dethroning whatever Beach Boys album that was there for the past 40 years. I had the pleasure of seeing Delorean live this year, which is always a helpful way to more fully understand a recorded album. After seeing their show, I realized that the purpose of Delorean's music is pure enjoyment. Subiza is a bringer of happy thoughts and pleasant dreams, whether it's heard in headphones or a live show.
  3. The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt and Sometimes the Blues is Just A Passing Bird [EP] (Dead Oceans)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The Wild Hunt alone is enough to garner a top three spot, but a five song EP never hurt anybody either. The Tallest Man On Earth stretched just a little bit from his acoustic finger-pickin' debut, Shallow Graves, playing more electric guitar and even a little piano in 2010. But the strongest skill of the artist isn't his playing style, which can be heard by the most boring classical guitar virtuosos of the world, Matsson is first and foremost a songwriter. His songs have a timeless quality that seem neither old or new, but just right for whatever time they're being heard.
  4. Menomena – Mines (Barsuk)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I didn't expect a "grower" for the new Menomena album, but in retrospect, I guess they were due for one. The band's first three albums hit immediately and satisfyingly. Mines is different. It requires repeat listens. Its beauty is subtle, but possibly more potent than any other Menomena album.
  5. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I'm still surprised by this ranking. I never really cared about Beach House, but I can listen to Teen Dream at any time of the day, during any season, and I won't skip a track on the album. There's a quiet magic in this music, something simple but something that plunges deep into my psyche. It doesn't transfer over to the live setting very well, but if I can enjoy an album for 12 months out of the year it automatically gets a spot in the top 5.
  6. The Books – The Way Out (Temporary Residence)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    One of my favorite bands remains. I trust the Books. I can't imagine this gimmick's effect wearing off anytime soon either. The staple that will always keep the Books interesting is their humor. As long as they're funny, and not topically so, we'll remember this music. A surreal absurdity blesses their music in the same way Monty Python had the good graces of silliness. The effect is universal and timeless, and occasionally a laugh riot.
  7. Here We Go Magic – Pigeons (Secretly Canadian)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    We're too suspicious of musicians. We see talented players, and we condemn them for not having enough heart. But when I listen to Here We Go Magic, I set aside my suspicions. These talents are well placed, like the best Frank Zappa or Radiohead albums. Patience and intelligence are epicenters of Pigeons, prophesying a world of auditoriums and amphitheaters for future Here We Go Magic concerts. And the bigger the better. This is the sort of band I wouldn't mind becoming more popular than Coldplay. They have what it takes too.
  8. Laura Veirs – July Flame (Raven Marching Band Records)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    July Flame is one of those nearly perfect albums that nobody will remember in a few years. But whenever it comes back on in the shuffle we'll still smile. It's an example of songwriting as king. There is no marketing tactic, no hype machine that can compete with a skilled songwriter. Veirs is one of the best working today, and even if no one recognizes it, the music gods will remain with her and keep her listeners at peace.
  9. Wolf Parade – Expo 86 (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If Canadian power pop could be epitomized, it is Expo 86. By LP number three, Wolf Parade sounds less interested in proving themselves, and more apt to just rock out. It's the Wilco effect, for Canada. Whereas Arcade Fire felt the same old pressure to create a powerfully anthemic album for their day in age, Wolf Parade simply turned their dial up to 11. In my opinion, it's much more enjoyable to simply rock well, for wisdom knows that even grandiosity can become monotonous.
  10. Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid (Atlantic)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Like a good Kanye West album, Janelle Monae created something paradoxically eclectic and accessible. The ArchAndroid doesn't follow the formula of a typical pop record, and that's why we love it. All of the hooks and melodies are there for mainstream radio success, but the unpredictability of the album is what earns Janelle heaps of respect from critics and the more stingy listeners like me.

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Kilo Wattson writesMicha Ward’s Best of 2010

As we celebrate the end of the year and our first year on the air, throughout the month of December CHIRP Radio will be featuring our members' Top 10 Albums of 2010. Our first list comes from CHIRP Radio DJ and Volunteer Coordinator Micha Ward.

  1. Junip – Fields (Mute)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    There’s something subtle but unsettling about this record from Jose Gonzalez and band. Calm before the storm, the eerie silence before it starts to snow, the tick tick tick before the bomb goes off. Junip has melted its brand into my brain. My best of 2010. Best Song: “To The Grain”
  2. The National – High Violet (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Every single song is about pain or sadness. It’s been that kind of year for me. The National puts it in words I can’t. Best Song: “England”
  3. Land of Talk – Cloak and Cipher (Saddle Creek)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Hailing from Montreal, Land Of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell can bear her soul and shred on the guitar- often within the same song. And look damn good doing it. I never heard much from them until seeing them at Lincoln Hall and was instantly a fan and tracking down their entire catalog. Best Song: “Quarry Hymns”
  4. Sharon Van Etten – Epic (Ba Da Bing)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I simply fell in love with Sharon Van Etten this year. That’s really all there is to say. Best Song: “One Day”
  5. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Hometown band hailing from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It sounds like 1991 again and it’s never sounded better. Best Song: “Crossed Wires”
  6. First Aid Kit – The Big Black & The Blue (Wichita)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Swedish indie folk from sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg. Brutal, honest lyrics and voices that make you ache. Best Song: “Heavy Storm”
  7. Megafaun – Heretofore (Hometapes)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Another North Carolina band playing moody Americana with a sound steeped in Appalachian folk, alt-country, and the blues. You say you wouldn’t like it, but you will. Best Song: “Heretofore”
  8. The Hundred in the Hands – The Hundred in the Hands (Warp)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Post punk, neo-80’s dance music. Reminds me a little of what I think Berlin would sound like if they were around today. Yeah… exactly. Best Song: “Commotion”
  9. Stornoway – Beachcomber’s Windowsill (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    There is such a richness to the record. More texture than sound. Best Song: “The Coldharbour Road”
  10. Vampire Weekend – Contra (XL)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Yeah…I know there will be a lot of backlash on this one. I dare you to see this band live and not come out of it blown away. These guys can play. Best Song: “Giving Up The Gun”

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