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Entries on the topic of “Best Of 2010” 37 results

CHIRP DJ writesCHIRP Radio’s Best of 2010

For the entire month of December the CHIRP volunteers have been posting their favorite records of 2010. Now, we've compiled the lists, have done the maths, and put together the definitive CHIRP best of 2010 list. Enjoy.

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

#1 Beach House - Teen Dream (Sub Pop)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
This in my opinion was not only the best album of 2010 but could also be considered one of the best albums of the past decade. I think a true testament to what makes an album great is an ability to still move you months after it has been released. Teen Dream came out in January and it's been nearly a full year and I still absolutely adore it just as much, if not more, then when I first heard it. Just a beautiful record from start to finish and also one of the most romantic albums to come out in quite some time.Mike Pakowski

#2 LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (DFA)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
As confirmed by James Murphy, this album doesn’t signal the end of LCD Soundsystem per se, but future endeavours may involve less touring in support. Or more. Their previous long-play outing, Sound Of Silver, is still a high-rotate turntable showing at the Kiwi pad, but it’s in the live arena – festival or club - where LCD come into their own. Their Coachella performance closing out Friday night was a weekend highlight, 20-ft disco ball and all, and similarly the Metro performance threatened to tear the roof off the sucker. And yes, Nancy rocks! Fave tracks? Opener Dance Yrself Clean, Pow Pow, I Can Change. —Owen Harris

#3 The National – High Violet (4AD)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
The essential National style did not change on this album. But they found a way to make their subtly anthemic rock sound even fuller without overwhelming their center, singer Matt Berninger. Combined with wise lyrics tackling adult themes, the band proves that you can be a grown up without making Dad Rock. —Mike Bennet

#4 Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid (Atlantic)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
It’s a little bit rock and a little bit soul and a little bit hip hop and a little bit 1960’s Disney musical. Janelle Monáe debut full-length album is impressively diverse, but more importantly, it works, start to finish. It’s also proof that the album format is still vital – don’t just buy the songs you like from iTunes, buy the whole thing and listen to it start to finish. —Tony Breed

#5 The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Obtuse but intriguing lyrics, impassioned but challenging vocals, and the ability to hold an audience in the palm of his hand make this the best early Dylan record since 1963. —Shawn Campbell

#6 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. —Jodi Root

#7 The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Best Track: "We Used To Wait" – Pounding pianos, a spectacular interactive music video, plus the haunting vocals that have become synonymous with the Arcade Fire's orchestral style make this a standout song this year. —Carolyn Kassnoff

#8 Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me (Drag City)

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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. —Bobby Evers

#9 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. —Billy Kalb

#10 Disappears – Lux (Kranky)

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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. —Patrick Masterson

#11 Robyn – Body Talk (Konichiwa)

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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!! —Nicole Oppenheim

#12 Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (Merge)

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Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! This is the album that the 18 year old version of myself expected to hear as a follow up to Here's Where The Strings Come In. —Mike Gibson

#13 Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today (4AD)

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Best Tracks: “Hot Body Rub”, “Round And Round” b/w “Little Wig” - At first you think this is a joke but then the massive genius ambition grabs you. I never thought or I forgot how making this kind of music could be possible. Thanks to this record, I hope more of this kind of music begins to exist. Amazing harmonies and awesome hooks abound. Refrain from ignoring “Butt-House Blondies”. The song has substantial meritas actioni! —Jon Schech

#14 Judson Claiborne – Time and Temperature (La Société Expéditionnaire)

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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. —Billy Kalb

#15 Tame Impala – Innerspeaker (Modular)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
When describing a good music review, CHIRP music director, Billy Kalb, once noted, "Be specific. Don't use a word like, 'Beatles-esque'." With Tame Impala, it's rather complicated to move beyond the label, but imagine an alternate universe where The Beatles played "Tomorrow Never Knows" on Ed Sullivan. Moving on for there, the band exchanged flutes for synths, Yoko Ono for psychotropic soundscapes that spilt over the event horizon, arriving in our reality through the black hole we call a speaker. —James Vest

#16 Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be (HoZac/Sub Pop)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
2010 had a lot of "girly" fronted bands and this one was at the top of the top. Great harmony, perfect pop songs. This record made me nostalgic for a time that was around before I was born, riding w/ my Johnny and his leather jacket. —Caitlin Lavin

#17 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.” —Matt Wenzel

#18 Best Coast – Crazy for You (Mexican Summer)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
For those moments when you just can’t get that special someone out of your mind, here is a cutie lady, unlucky in love. Lyrics born from her break-up dangle with a lo-fi yet realistic teen-angsty pop. She wrote a letter, in twelve tracks, each under or at 3 minutes highlighting the ups and downs of a sensitive yet passionately adorable galpal lost in her mind about a boy. It’s just too too, opposed to so so! —Carolyna Wheat

#19 Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
I'm a sucker for shoegaze / dream pop but this album will reach deep into your consciousness and change you. Right about halfway through, something clicks and the rest just falls into place. As with most things Bradford Cox has a hand in, it swirls and floats and lifts you up, lets you down easy. This album is, in its entirety, an impressive work of art. Its shimmering melodic texture ebbs and flows and the structure of each song builds on the last. Each wall of gorgeous harmonic sound and each progression feels so perfect, so well crafted. At the end you are rewarded by a majestic, shining prize in the epic piece, He Would Have Laughed. However, it's an ending that wouldn't be near as effective without every leading minute. —Kumar McMillan

#20 The Books – The Way Out (Temporary Residence)

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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. —Dylan Peterson

#21 Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
The Canadian collective employed John McEntire for production on their fourth proper album, and the Chicago brainchild did good here, by the band, and the listener. The band use all their weapons in ways familiar and unfamiliar, creating an indie-rock stew that goes from minimally electronic to brutally epic, post-punk to post-rock. It's an album for sorting through one's demons, and at the end they feel exorcised. —Austin Harvey

#22 Caribou – Swim (Merge)

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As soon as you hear the start of "Odessa" off of Caribou's Swim, you're sold. Daniel Snaith, a former mathematician, puts his his big, number crunchin' brain to use by developing the most successful Caribou album yet--not to mention the live show is killer, filled with kaleidoscopic videos that will blow your miiiiiiind. —cloudsasha

#23 Delorean – Subiza (True Panther Sounds)

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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. —Clarence Ewing

#24 Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago (Matador)

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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" —Josh Lesser

#25 Sleigh Bells – Treats (Mom & Pop Music)

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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. —Nicole Oppenheim

#26 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” —Micha Ward

#27 GAYNGS – Relayted (Jagjaguwar)

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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 Relayted 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). —Dan Morgridge

#28 Menomena – Mines (Barsuk)

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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")Matt Garman

#29 Frightened Rabbit – Winter of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
The Scottish band added a member, beefed up their sound, got over a breakup, and the resultant record is their best. More confident, with still enough insecurity to create lyrics of self-doubt as well as self-assurance, Frightened Rabbit have mastered bringing in their folk influences into a full rock band setting. Empowering stuff for anyone getting past relationship troubles. —Austin Harvey

#30 Sharon Van Etten – Epic (Badabing)

BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Sharon’s 2nd full-length outing is, indeed, gorgeously epic. I was lucky enough to catch her 6 or so months back at the now-legendary Chris Knox Stroke Benefit concert in NYC, and was impressed. Now, I’m bummed I missed her gig at Lincoln Hall supporting Junip. Word has she blew them off the stage. This LP has been on high-rotate and I’ll probably still be listening in decades to come. Standouts? Hard to choose, but if pressed, Peace Signs & One Day. —Owen Harris

Here's to looking forward to 2011. Thanks to everyone that made our first year of broadcasting such a wonderful time.

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Topics: best of 2010

Shawn Campbell writesShawn Campbell’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ and the President and Founder of the Chicago Independent Radio Project, Shawn Campbell.

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

  1. The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Obtuse but intriguing lyrics, impassioned but challenging vocals, and the ability to hold an audience in the palm of his hand make this the best early Dylan record since 1963.
  2. Allo Darlin' – Allo Darlin' (Fortuna Pop!)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I am forever a sucker for a sweet-voiced female pop singer with a somewhat darker lyrical bite. And unlike so many twee acts, they’re supposed to be great live, so I eagerly await a US appearance in 2011.
  3. Summer Camp – Young [EP] (Moshi Moshi)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This catchy mini-album has a spaciousness that makes it feel like it recorded from the room next door…it’s a little lo-fi, a little retro 80s, a little mysterious, like music from the college radio station you could never quite tune in when you were 14.
  4. Disappears – Lux (Kranky)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Dark and sweeping, the long-awaited Disappears full-length didn’t disappoint. One slinky and vaguely oniminous track after another, this one may haunt your dreams.
  5. Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer (Elektra)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Even for a lover of all things indie, sometimes a big, shiny, well-produced pop record is just what the doctor ordered, particularly when it features one undeniable song after another, showcased by the fine, soulful voice of Cee Lo Green.
  6. Tennis – Baltimore [EP] (Underwater Peoples)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy and girl sell their possessions, buy a boat, learn to sail, and then release a charming retro pop EP detailing their adventures on the high seas. What’s not to love?
  7. jj – jj No. 3 (Secretly Canadian)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Shimmery and soothing, simultaneously cool and warm, this jj record, like its predecessor, is the perfect soundtrack for a relaxing weekend or a mellow evening with some good friends and a few nice bottles of wine.
  8. V.V. Brown – Travelling Like the Light (Capitol)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    An old school pop-soul record by a female singer with a modern sensibility, with a little more luck, Travelling Like the Light could’ve been 2010’s Back to Black. Alas for V.V., this was not meant to be, but this is still one little party of an album.
  9. Seabear – We Built a Fire (Morr Music)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Carrying none of its homeland’s native chill, Iceland’s Seabear delivers a remarkably warm, cozy record, a soft blanket of indie folk-pop that gently insinuates itself into your subconscious.
  10. Frankie Rose & The Outs – Frankie Rose & The Outs (Slumberland)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Tied with...

    Best Coast – Crazy for You (Mexican Summer)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    ...and...

    Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be (HoZac/Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    2010 was a great year for girls in garages with close proximity to beaches and loads of Phil Spector productions in their record collections. Take your pick from these, or go with Grass Widow, Reading Rainbow, Super Wild Horses, or any number of other fuzzy, poppy, lady-led gems.

 

Honorable Mentions:
Verma – Salted Earth EP (self-released)
LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (DFA)
Cave – Pure Moods EP (Drag City)
Stornoway – Beachcomber’s Windowsill (4AD)
Magic Kids – Memphis (True Panther Sounds)
Oval – O (Thrill Jockey)
Sam Amidon – I See the Sign (Bedroom Community)
Superchunk – Majestry Shredding (Merge)

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Topics: best of 2010

Austin B. Harvey presents: The Liquid Diet writesAustin Harvey’s Best of 2010

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

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

  1. Stricken City – Songs About People I Know (The Kora) / Animal Festival EP (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This London quartet craft catchy, singable pop tunes with danceable rhythms, wonderful melodies, and sonic flourishes aplenty. The former release, a mini-album that stampedes through its 10 songs in 31 minutes, showcases tremendous breadth and range, from soaring choruses to hushed balladry. Relentlessly fun, thoughtful, and never hesitating to pull out the stops. The follow-up EP is more of the same, with more electronic elements and wistful chord progressions. Sadly, the bands second album, next years Losing Colour, will be their last. Perhaps they were just too good to last.
  2. The Walkmen – Lisbon (Fat Possum)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When The Walkmen sound great, which is often, they seem to give their brand of poppy indie-rock more space to breathe then any other quintet out there. On their latest, strings and horns are even brought into the mix. But still its the songs, even when the refrains crescendo to their highest point, that allow the listener to roam around like a vacant snowy night. The result is the best non-Scandinavian winter album in years.
  3. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The Canadian collective employed John McEntire for production on their fourth proper album, and the Chicago brainchild did good here, by the band, and the listener. The band use all their weapons in ways familiar and unfamiliar, creating an indie-rock stew that goes from minimally electronic to brutally epic, post-punk to post-rock. Its an album for sorting through ones demons, and at the end they feel exorcised.
  4. The Streets On Fire – This is Fancy (The Currency Exchange)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When starting a new business venture, some folks stick to the adage, "Do one thing, but do it better than anybody else." This seems to be the mantra of Chicagos The Streets On Fire. Their debut album roars out of the gate with disgustingly filthy guitar, vocals culled from what could be a shortwave radio, and anthemic power to light the entire Midwest. Post-punk jams from your neighbors basement, bluesy, urgent, fun, and undeniable.
  5. Four Tet – There is Love In You (Domino)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Maybe its because Kieran Hebdens live show at Metro earlier this year was one of my favorites. Maybe its because he samples, of all things, a handbell choir, and I happened to play handbells at church in my youth. Maybe its the fact that this album is a huge departure from the also-excellent (and more rock song-based) Rounds. Truth is, it's a combination of those things, as well as some of the best beats of the year coupled with bits of sound clipped from the places you'd least expect. At once moving and booty-shaking, and unafraid to do either.
  6. Eux Autres – Broken Bow (Bon Mots)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    There were so many twee-pop, chamber-pop, and Spector-influenced female-fronted fuzz-pop records released in 2010 that wading through all of them to find a gem or two is daunting and frustrating venture. So let me do you a favor and tell you this: Get This Album. Trust me. Everything about the above genres is nailed by this Portland duo. One of the few indie-pop records this year that never sounds forced.
  7. The Roots – How I Got Over (Def Jam)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    After stating that Rising Down would be their last, The Roots come back with a lean, mean, intellectual album thats the head-bopper you knew they still had in them. In addition to giving us the best Joanna Newsom track of the year ("Right On"), the Philadelphians give us piano-driven floor-thumpers that still prove that theyre the best hip-hop act in the biz, Jimmy Fallon or not. And auto-tuning the baby crying on the last track? Genius.
  8. Charanjit Singh – Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat (Bombay Connection)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Heres the deal: Back in 1982, a Mumbai soundtrack composer and wedding performer went into the studio with a few Roland synths and merged East with West, playing traditional Indian ragas on keyboards, and backing the tracks with disco beats. The result is a stunning precursor to modern techno that still sounds groundbreaking today. A commercial flop in India in the 1980s, this 2010 re-release has folks trumpeting Singh as the pioneer of acid house, years before the term existed. Mindblowing.
  9. Frightened Rabbit – Winter of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The Scottish band added a member, beefed up their sound, got over a breakup, and the resultant record is their best. More confident, with still enough insecurity to create lyrics of self-doubt as well as self-assurance, Frightened Rabbit have mastered bringing in their folk influences into a full rock band setting. Empowering stuff for anyone getting past relationship troubles.
  10. Verma – Salted Earth (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Aiming right for the intersection of krautrock and psychedelia, and hitting the darkest of bullseyes, this Chicago quartet paint haunting pictures with fuzz, delay, and squawks. All the while, eerie vocals and insistent drums ease their way into your cerebral cortex. It might not be metal, but its certainly one of the best heavy releases of the year in any genre.

Cut-Missers:

  • 11. Robyn - Body Talk (Konichiwa) Anyone who says "Dancing On My Own" isn't 2010s best song is a liar.
    12. Drink Up Buttercup - Born And Thrown On A Hook (Yep Roc) Imagine if an indie-rock band joined the circus. An energetic, yet well-thought, debut leaping from verse to chorus to completely-unrelated-movement with reckless abandon.
    13. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam) Proggy at times, but otherwise a brilliant and forward-thinking masterpiece from modern musics foremost nutball.
    14. The New Pornographers - Together (Matador) The New Pornographers albums are like Star Trek movies. Every other one is wonderful. This one is wonderful.
    15. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Merge) Uneven at times, but still a wonderfully satisfying chamber-pop record.
    16. Janelle Monáe - The ArchAndroid (Atlantic) Plays like a soul review in the 22nd Century. Also plays like the best Outkast album since Stankonia. The lady can rap, sing, and write.
    17. Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM (Because) The best work Beck has done since Midnite Vultures. A wonderful marriage of French pop and indie sensibilities.
    18. Club 8 - The Peoples Record (Labrador) Coquette-ish Swedish pop with West African backing beats? Just crazy enough to work. If it were only summer...
    19. of Montreal - False Priest (Polyvinyl) Kevin Barnes is insane. If he wants to make sci-fi sex jams, you say "yes" and dance along.
    20. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening (DFA) Would have made my top ten had I not realized that there are a couple serious clunkers on it.

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Topics: best of 2010

James Vest writesJames Vest’s Best of 2010

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

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

  1. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker (Modular)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When describing a good music review, CHIRP music director, Billy Kalb, once noted, "Be specific. Don't use a word like, 'Beatles-esque'." With Tame Impala, it's rather complicated to move beyond the label, but imagine an alternate universe where The Beatles played "Tomorrow Never Knows" on Ed Sullivan. Moving on for there, the band exchanged flutes for synths, Yoko Ono for psychotropic soundscapes that spilt over the event horizon, arriving in our reality through the black hole we call a speaker.
  2. Broken Bells – Broken Bells (Columbia)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    One thing I will add about The Broken Bell's self-titled, is that when I listen to it, I'm aware I'm listening an ALBUM. I've yet to start a track without finishing every remaining tracks. For that, Broken Bells is a lot like CHIRP Radio. Expression lives in the tracks, Mood connects songs, and a good program captivates collectively. I listen while I get stuff done, I listen to sit and drift away, but don't interrupt me. When this album is on, I'm listening.
  3. Qwel & Maker – Owl (Galapagos)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Local hip hop duo Qwel and Maker drop another fat cut of boom-bap into some old fashioned soul stew. Their third album is indeed charmed, showing both maturity and forward thinking of bigger acts, while keeping it old school with some classic soul samples that'll make you want to dance on your kitchen table. This album represents everything I love about Hip Hop–the past, present and future
  4. GAYNGS – Relayted (Jagjaguwar)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Gayngs, the two-dozen-plus-member supergroup, reenacts an important time in rock history when all the awesome acts from the 1970s end up washed up 10 years later, playing sappy slow jams to stay on the FM dial. But stay tuned, the album quickly breaks character and goes all over the 80's and 90's road map, while keeping each song at the firm speed of 69 BPM. If you are looking for an album to play while you drive your Delorian in the slow lane, look no further.
  5. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    After attending my younger cousin's funeral earlier that day, it didn't really hit me what the world had lost until later that night, when I went to see Beach House in concert. Teen Dream is a consistent reminder of life's gains and losses, whose voice lifts you up and let's you go, in an ocean of organ waves and crashing bass.
  6. The Budos Band – The Budos Band III (Daptone)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Each album is a reminder: Don't mess with the Budos Band. No guest vocalists, no break beats, no retooling, just some god-foresaken, evil-hearted Doc Severinsen VooDoo horns, replacing Carson with a sack full of funk, and the guest's chair with a pit full of vipers.
  7. The Flaming Lips – The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing The Dark Side of the Moon (Warner Bros.)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Like a Christmas Carol on LSD, the most important psychedelic band of our time came face-to-face this year with the most important psychedelic band of all-time, but alas, no one but me and a bunch of Ebenezer Scrooges noticed. I couldn't find one review that praised The Lips for having a blast creating a demented tribute to one of the greatest albums ever made, but this one is will be remembered for historically if for nothing more than it's good cheer.
  8. The Limiñanas – The Limiñanas (Trouble in Mind)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Simple songs channeling 60's California surf rock, sung in French and released by Chicago's own Trouble in Mind. If this album doesn't get you to look up from your computer when it comes on the rotation, then what's the point of good music?
  9. Ty Segall – Melted (Goner)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I never tire of one-man bands. What they lack in polish, I fill in with dreams of myself, playing on stage with a space helmet on, half full of fuzzy bass lines, massive delay switches, effortless ivory ticklers, and a spy glass to watch the beautiful women smiling in the front row. Until that helmet exists, here's to the one-man bands.
  10. The Magnetic Fields – Realism (Nonesuch)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If fishing is about being bored with a purpose, The Magnetic Fields is my musical equivalent of sitting on a rocky bank. The smoothness of the surroundings are only broken when I recall that I haven't moved in an hour. The is something peaceful and freeing about Realism, you'll love the extra time off from the work that is other albums.

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Topics: best of 2010

Psychotic Distraction writesChesney’s Best of 2010

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

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

In alphabetical order…

  • Backyard Babies – Them XX (Versity Rights)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sweden’s long-running glam/punk staalwarts commemorate their 20th anniversary with an extravagantly packaged 3CD/1DVD/120 page 10X10 hard-covered collection, spanning the band’s entire career from their 1994 debut Diesel and Power to their excellent 2009 self-titled release. A massive collection of hard-to-find B-sides/live tracks/remixes, a complete video anthology, an excellent 80 minute documentary, and over 300 photos from this Swedish Grammy-winning band that just can’t seem to make a dent in the American market.
  • Blessure Grave – Judged by Twelve, Carried by Six (Alien8)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Bizarre and menacing electro/gothic rock from California that could’ve just as easily been released in 1983 as 2010. A release that would fit comfortably between your Bauhaus, Joy Division and early Sisters of Mercy albums. Sadly, it appears the band called it quits in November after only two years.
  • Grinderman – Grinderman 2 (Mute)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Mr. Nick Cave steps away from the piano, picks up the guitar, and lets loose some of the gnarliest punk-infused blues (blues-infused punk?) since…well, Grinderman’s 2007 debut. Cave and three fellow Bad Seeds prove that their first album was no fluke, and that Grinderman can indeed stand on it’s own four legs. Also of note: Nick Cave’s excellent novel ‘The Death of Bunny Munro’, released in 2009.
  • The Jim Jones Review – Burning Your House Down (Punk Rock Blues)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The 2nd full-length release by former Thee Hypnotics frontman/lunatic Jim Jones is (somewhat) more controlled than their 2008 self-titled debut, but no less visceral. A howling slab of raging garage punk & soul, delivered with the intensity of a young Jerry Lee Lewis jamming with members of the New Bomb Turks and Zen Guerilla. One of most blazing live acts on the circuit, to boot.
  • Killing Joke – Absolute Dissent (Spinefarm)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Killing Joke’s fourteenth album (!) and their first since 1982’s Revelations to feature the original line-up (Jaz Coleman, Geordie Walker, Youth, and Paul Ferguson) is the perfect mix of 2006’s Hosannas from the Basement of Hell and 1996’s Democracy (and maybe a touch of 1994’s Pandemonium), along with the cerebral lashings one has come to expect from the band. Truly a band that has not only refused to mellow with age, but have become more agitated and outspoken over their 30+ year career.
  • Kylesa – Spiral Shadow (Season of Mist)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If one were to pinpoint the exact location bewteen Neurosis, The Melvins, Sonic Youth, and Baroness, that area would likely be Savannah GA’s Kylesa. Their fifth full-length release is the band’s third to utilize their thunderous two-drummer attack, and guitaris Phillip Cope’s production is absolutely top-notch and leaves no riff unappreciated.
  • Negative Approach – Live at the Double Door (Chicago IL); Sunday, October 10, 2010.
    Every so often a show comes along that reminds me of why I do this. I had been waiting upwards 20 years to see Detroit’s hardcore legends; not only did they not disappoint, they blew my expectations clear out of the water. Frontman John Brannon is still one of the most ferocious and maniacal frontmen of the past 25 years, and the band as a whole did everything absolutely note-perfect: no talk, all action. Inspiring.
  • Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to The Sky (Young God)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    After a 12 year hiatus and a half-dozen albums with Angels of Light (among other countless projects), Swans mainman Michael Gira brings one of the most groundbreaking and influencial bands of the past 30 years back in full force (don’t you dare call it a ‘reunion’, Gira warns), and the results are predictably levelling. Gira’s creative output over the past 3 decades is absolutely mind-blowing in its consistency, and this album ranks with some of his finest work. Also of note: if you haven’t yet read Gira’s hard-o-find 1995 collection The Consumer, hunt down a copy ASAP.
  • Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The debut full-length from former Celtic Frost mainman Thomas G. Warrior’s latest musical endeavor is a logical extension of CF’s 2006 epic Monotheist: a monsterous wall of all-encompassing, cavernous noise that stretches out over 9 songs and 80+ minutes. A dense, sprawling album that rewards heavily with repeated listenings.
  • Umberto – From the Grave (Permanent)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The debut release from sometime Expo-70 collaborator Matt Hill is the classic ‘soundtrack for a film that doesn’t exist’, and that film happens to be a late 70’s Italian zombie gorefest. Sinister analog synth grooves that call to mind Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci’s darkest moments. The soundtrack to the greatest horror movie I’ve never seen.

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Topics: best of 2010

Mike Pakowski writesMike Pakowski’s Best of 2010

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

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

  1. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This in my opinion was not only the best album of 2010 but could also be considered one of the best albums of the past decade. I think a true testament to what makes an album great is an ability to still move you months after it has been released. Teen Dream came out in January and it's been nearly a full year and I still absolutely adore it just as much, if not more, then when I first heard it. Just a beautiful record from start to finish and also one of the most romantic albums to come out in quite some time.
  2. The National – High Violet (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    An amazing album from a group whose sound and depth has gotten better with age. Matt Berninger's songwriting has always been a fantastic combination of angst, dark humor and reflection, and those elements remain on High Violet, however they are bit more mature as many members of the band have transitioned nicely into a new phase of adulthood. By no means has this softened the band, in fact it's made them better musicians. It's a very powerful piece of music.
  3. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (DFA)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A fantastic dance-rock album that showcases the absolute genius of James Murphy & Co. The man is a rock star whether he wants to be or not. "Dance Yrself Clean" is just a flat out brilliant song. One of the most entertaining albums of the year hands down. And seeing them live was one of the highlights of my year. Bravo sir!
  4. Four Tet – There Is Love In In You (Domino)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I am amazed by this album. It's such an incredible blend of hypnotic beats and rhythms that one minute will have you dancing and the next will have you lost in deep thought. Every time I listened to There Is Love In You I discovered something new. Just a great album from start to finish.
  5. How to Dress Well – Love Remains (Lefse)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This was an album that completely blew my mind. I've been struggling on how to describe what it is about Love Remains that is so amazing and I think that is one of the things I love about it. It is hauntingly beautiful, stunning, and sounds like nothing else I've heard this year. I guess I'm better at describing it than I thought!
  6. Twin Shadow – Forget (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    There are plenty of albums released this year that harken back to new wave days of the 1980's. However George Lewis Jr. (AKA Twin Shadow) just did it so much better on Forget, somehow even making the album sound modern. Dreamy, catchy beats along with heartfelt, achingly romantic lyrics ("As If It Wasn't Enough Just To Hear You Speak They Had To Give You Lips Like That" from the incredible track "Tyrant Destroyed") made this one of my favorites. In a year filled with many an 80's pop revival record, Twin Shadow's Forget stands alone.
  7. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Thank you Mr. West for being an egomaniac with a sense of humor and a bit of a sensitive side. Thank you for name dropping pretty much every possible luxury brand in the universe (I had no idea Versace made sofas) in a way that made me laugh instead of gag. Thank you for "Monster", thank you for "Runaway", and thank you for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I'm With Team Kanye!
  8. Love Is All – Two Thousand and Ten Injuries (Polyvinyl)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I had very little exposure to Love Is All until hearing Two Thousand and Ten Injuries. After listening to this album I couldn't wait to hear more. I love this band and I love this album. Lead singer Josephine Olausson's voice is adorable and her lyrics are sassy, sweet, angry and honest. What amazed me most was the bands ability to compliment her lyrics with such insanely fun and energetic music. It's pure Swedish punk-bubblegum bliss.
  9. Dissapears – Lux (Kranky)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A garage-rock album that just takes off and is unapologetic and gritty. Lux is fuzzy, fast and loud. I can think of much worst things than to be compared to the Velvet Underground. It's only a matter of time before another band is compared to Disappears.
  10. Candy Claws – Hidden Lands (Twosyllable)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Hidden Lands is a gorgeous album that is dream-pop unlike anything I've heard before. It's a sound that is smart, mesmerizing, and the fact that the band had no prior experience with keyboards and synthesizers blows my mind. This album doesn't have songs or singles instead it has mini-symphonies. Absolutely addictive.

 

2010 Honorable Mentions:
Jason Adasiewicz - Sun Rooms (Delmark)
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Merge)
Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner (Ghostly International)
Foals - Total Life Forever (Sub Pop/Warner Bros./Transgressive)
Janelle Monáe - Archandroid (Atlantic)

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Topics: best of 2010

CHIRP DJ writesCarolyna Wheat’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ Lina Mas Fina (aka Carolyna Wheat).

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

  1. Actress – Splazsh (Honest Jon's)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    There isn’t an album that I’ve played more according to my semi-accurate i-tunes counter. Headphones locked on my ears, racing down LakeShoreTrail on my bike, Fiona, I move faster than I would with out these beats: deep, penetrating, electro-grooves. The track “Lost” puts me into ecstatic meditation and keeps me positive living in the urban environment, surrounded by so many personalities.
  2. Salem – King Night (IAMSOUND)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This entire album crushes my nightmares and brings greater purpose to my subwoofer. Long live grinding vibrations spooking my inner ear enough to dizzy me with wicked wonder.
  3. Best Coast – Crazy for You (Mexican Summer)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    For those moments when you just can’t get that special someone out of your mind, here is a cutie lady, unlucky in love. Lyrics born from her break-up dangle with a lo-fi yet realistic teen-angsty pop. She wrote a letter, in twelve tracks, each under or at 3 minutes highlighting the ups and downs of a sensitive yet passionately adorable galpal lost in her mind about a boy. It’s just too too, opposed to so so!
  4. Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner (Ghostly International)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This album takes me on a trip to China, the basement house party and into the caverns of my imaginative mind. Every track has a little something special and the expressions vary like all the musicians Ghostly represent. It’s happy, it’s calming, it’s fun...it’s a must have for 2010.
  5. Shawn Lee – Sing a Song (Ubiquity)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This album can break through pessimism like a cat can spring onto the kitchen counter. Longtime lover of soul/r&b/jazz and all things groovy, Shawn Lee represents the ultimate “Come up to my room, I’ll play you some tracks” guy. Oh, no, really, cup my face in your hands and kiss me, gently. Yes, thank you Sing a Song album, your tunes turn me on.
  6. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Wait, I though he was going to make an album about every state? Uh, next plan, here is definitely a new state of mind. Once again, his lyrics can bring me to tears as they relate to every moment of my life. So, it’s thoughtful that the words Sufjan’s angels whisper nightly in his dreams can be presented on this delicate yet experimental tender album.
  7. Yeasayer – Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    “Speak up for yourself, son, no matter what anybody else does.” These lyrics, and then some, have been my 13 year old son’s mantra this year. The tracks on Odd Blood are an inventive example of first-wave vibes alongside peppy, self-help lyrics. When listening, I feel like I’m wrapped up in my wool blanky, lying on my teenage bed writing in my diary circa ’88 while shouting lyrics like “Don’t give up on me.” Or “ No, you don’t move me anymore, and I’m glad that you don’t because I can’t take it anymore.” Aw, adolescent crushes empowered by kick-ass dance inspired optimism, right here. It came out in the early 2010, and it still feels so good to jam.
  8. Alex B. – Moments (Elm & Oak)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Variable moments of un-quantized beats bring this electronic musician to a pleasurably novel place. Tracks aren’t too long and they are playfully in a sequence that flow together giving this album listener a little fuel for the long car ride or jog. It’s raw, it’s funky, it’s rightly representin’.
  9. Indian Jewelry – Totaled (We Are Free)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This album is a phenomenal background soundtrack ripe for the art meets music world. I know because I’ve played it start to finish enough to enjoy it’s raucous misbehavior among melodies. There is a hidden sense of order that feels so rough and improvisational. The quality of the lyrics and instrumentation fits into a category all by itself. It’s creative, innovative and thus earns itself a place in an Avante Garde of 2010.
  10. Greie Gut Fraktion – Baustelle (Monika Enterprise)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Yet another one of these unique examples of found sound meets kraut-rock-electronica meets social activism. I was rocking out to Mischmaschine this summer when an SUV of boys rolled their tinted windows down and said “Damn girl, you seem deep into those beats.” It was true, I was almost riding my bike with my eyes closed taking in every nuance of the environment in my head phones coupled with the sonic space of the city. This album is like an assembly plant where every unusual part has an incredible opportunity to be built into the inspired whole.

Honorable Mentions:

Brian Eno - Small Craft On A Milk Sea (Warp)
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafitti - Before Today (4AD)
LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening (DFA)
Eskmo - Eskmo (Ninjatune)
Allo Darlin’ - Allo Darlin’ (Fortuna Pop)

Re-release:
Dara Puspita (1966-1968) (Sublime Frequencies)

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Topics: best of 2010

Mike Bennett writesMike Bennett’s Best of 2010

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

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

Since CHIRP went live this past January, I’ve been exposed to more great new music than ever. As a result, there are roughly 50 or so albums that I considered for this list, and many of them I never would have been exposed to had I not been doing a show on CHIRP. So much good stuff this year. These are my favorites:

  1. Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid (Atlantic)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This stunning debut album is a showcase for the multi-faceted talents of Ms. Monae. Not only is she an amazingly rangy and emotive singer, she effortlessly blends together many types of pop and R & B music on this album. Monae touches upon everything from Stevie Wonder to James Brown to Prince to torch singers to George Clinton and beyond, reaching back to move forward. This concept album is arty as hell, but it also had some of the catchiest and well-composed songs of the year.
  2. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Superchunk has never made a bad record, but in expanding their sound over the years, they brought the rock a lot less. Coming off a long hiatus, the band gets back to its reason for being -- tight melodic burst of power pop laced punk, with intelligent lyrics and passion to spare. This sounds like a bunch of songs designed either to open or close shows, playing almost like a greatest hits album.
  3. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Because he’s not as flashy as Andre 3000, folks may have overlooked the talents of Big Boi. His first true solo album (some may count Speakerboxxx) proves how he may have actually defined Outkast’s sound, embracing a wide array of funk and R & B sounds. His flow is as good as ever, and the variety of the music and plentiful hooks make this a joy.
  4. Jason & The Scorchers – Halcyon Times (Courageous Chicken)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The first Scorchers album in over a decade is perhaps a tad slicker than in band’s mid-’80s cowpunk glory days, but Jason Ringenberg is still a great hillbilly singer and Warner Hodges is a masterful guitarist, and the energy and spirit is there. Even better, they cooked up their best batch of songs since their debut album, with great lines like “tonight he’ll kill a six pack/just to watch it die.”
  5. The National – High Violet (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The essential National style did not change on this album. But they found a way to make their subtly anthemic rock sound even fuller without overwhelming their center, singer Matt Berninger. Combined with wise lyrics tackling adult themes, the band proves that you can be a grown up without making Dad Rock.
  6. Rose Elinor Dougall – Without Why (Scarlett)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    After making fizzy retro-’60s pop with The Pipettes, Dougall struck out on her own to make moodier music with a ‘60s flavor. The result is reminiscent of Nicole Atkins and Richard Hawley, but on a slightly smaller scale with equal emotional intensity.
  7. Judson Claiborne – Time and Temperature (La Société Expéditionnaire)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This is one of those albums that sounds like it could have been made 40 years ago, yet it has a 2010 feel. Christopher Salveter’s folky constructions bridge the gap between The Band and Midlake, with his strong compositions benefiting from great arrangements and terrific production.
  8. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti -- Before Today (4AD): There are a lot of low and mid-fi artists, but most seem that way out of laziness. Not Ariel Pink. By marrying hazy production to R & B tinged pop hooks, he has created an alternative AM gold universe, where everything sounds like a quirky hit blasting through a transistor radio.
  9. Roky Erickson with Okkervil River – True Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Roky still has that haunted, weathered voice and his concerns are primarily spiritual on this extremely resonant effort. Okkervil’s Will Sheff not only weeded through hundreds of Roky’s demos to come up with these dozen recordings, he and his band then found the right musical settings for every song.
  10. Jason Moran – Ten (Blue Note)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Moran follows in the tradition of great pianists like Thelonious Monk, but he’s never been afraid to experiment, incorporating hip-hop, blues, classical and other genres into his music. Never has he so expertly balanced his traditional and experimental sides, creating an album that is formally precise yet still romantic, playful and even a bit funky at times.

 

Honorable Mentions:
Rumer – Seasons Of My Soul
Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody – I Could Sleep For A Thousand Years
Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago
Mose Allison – The Way Of The World
John Mellencamp – No Better Than This
Christian Scott – Yesterday You Said Tomorrow
The Bees – Every Step’s A Yes
Archie Bronson Outfit – Coconut
Kelley Stoltz – To Dreamers
The Streets On Fire – This Is Fancy

Best Live Show:
The Joy Formidable, Schubas

Five Novels You Should Read:
David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Chang-Rae Lee, The Surrendered
Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
Boris Akunin, He Lover Of Death
Adam Levin, The Instructions

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Topics: best of 2010

DJ Bylamplight writesKumar McMillan’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ and Tech Director Kumar McMillan.

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

  1. Reading Rainbow – Prism Eyes (HoZac)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This album started when husband and wife duo Reading Rainbow recorded three songs in one day for Shaking Through studios. It's raw, simple, and full of emotion. It might get overlooked if you're already sick of the beach / garage sound that hit new levels of hype in 2010 but don't miss out on this. Seriously. Every moment perfectly follows the last and the combination of Rob and Sarah's voice is exquisite. They belt out some killer, blissed out minor-key harmonies and the song writing is full of subtle nuance. The layered vocal harmonies are actually pretty complex and intricate at times (e.g. the way it climbs on I See The Light). It's the kind of album you might hear in the background at a clothing shop, not really paying attention, until about halfway through where you drop everything and ask the clerk what that beautiful sound coming out of the speakers is. As with most full length LPs deemed worthy enough for release on HoZac, this is truly a start to finish labor of love. By the way, they have the coolest myspace username evar. Look it up.
  2. Jed and Lucia – Superhuman Heart (Ubiquity)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This album gets referred to a lot as California sunshine pop but it's not a 60s revival album. It's more like what The Free Design might produce today if Boards of Canada loaned them some of their synths and drum machines. It has the same playful melodies and free spirit and is often backed by acoustic guitar for sunshine pop authenticity. The subtle electronic sounds are warm and inviting, while all songs are rooted in these lovely, mystical folk vocals. After listening start to finish you get this feeling that you've just woken up from an epic dream where you can't remember every last detail but you remember how vivid and strange everything was. It has an atmosphere to it -- an openness -- like one might experience after a vision quest deep in the desert. I come back to this album again and again for that feeling.
  3. Quadron – Quadron (Plug Research)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This duo from Copenhagen captured my heart the moment I heard the angelic vocal inflections of front woman Coco O. She could easily be mistaken for an ebony diva from Philly with her range and depth. It was released in March but I still put it on time and time again -- the secret to its success is how silky smooth it sounds. The production pulls from the soft electronics of 90s R&B to soul dripping 60s horn arrangements, and then there are those amazing breathy vocal harmonies. Songs like Day, as it opens with a majestic baritone clarinet before Coco O begs, "Day, treat me bright / Treat me warm;" it just melts my heart. This is a phenomenal listen start to finish, melancholy at times but always sincere.
  4. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I'm a sucker for shoegaze / dream pop but this album will reach deep into your consciousness and change you. Right about halfway through, something clicks and the rest just falls into place. As with most things Bradford Cox has a hand in, it swirls and floats and lifts you up, lets you down easy. This album is, in its entirety, an impressive work of art. Its shimmering melodic texture ebbs and flows and the structure of each song builds on the last. Each wall of gorgeous harmonic sound and each progression feels so perfect, so well crafted. At the end you are rewarded by a majestic, shining prize in the epic piece, He Would Have Laughed. However, it's an ending that wouldn't be near as effective without every leading minute.
  5. Reds and Blue – Son of The Stars (Addenda)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    As co-owner of the Addenda label I'd be in the wrong business if one of the releases I had worked tirelessly to put out didn't make my best of the year list. Son of the Stars gripped me right from the beginning in the way it shifts and progresses in mysterious ways. The drums dance around negative space and completely mess with your head if you try to follow each stab and shuffle. The vocals are in a new wave style yet are completely submerged in a murky abyss of harmonic soup. The album has been in the works for years and it shows; it's a monumental cathedral of collaboration between a talented trio of musicians and outside collaborators from all corners of the Chicago scene. The sound crosses over from post rock to dub and even simmers down into a heavy Black Sabbath pace at times. I honestly can't stop listening to this album.
  6. Bird Show Band – Bird Show Band (Amish)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This sounds like a lost Bruce Ditmas live album as Moog destroyer Ben Vida improvised with a crew of Chicago all-stars one day in the legendary Shape Shoppe studio. It bubbles and squeaks and twists your brain into a pulp. But it's not alienating like some free jazz -- it's controlled and calculated. You can sense the acute listening that was taking place throughout the entire session. This is one of those jazz albums where something extremely exciting was etched into time and thankfully it was caught on tape. It's been in my heavy rotation all year.
  7. The Budos Band – The Budos Band III (Daptone)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Yep, you guessed it, this is the third album from massive Staten Island afro-soul ensemble, The Budos Band. As their bio accurately states, "The cobra is poised to strike if anyone dares challenge The Budos on their quest." This album is literally that cobra. It is by far their most viscous, dark, and sinister melodic masterpiece. It cuts you like a razor and takes no prisoners. It makes you want to commit malicious crimes using it as a soundtrack. I didn't fully appreciate how intricate these compositions were until I saw them performed live--full horn section, keyboards, guitars, percussion--on the big stage this summer at the Chicago Folk and Roots Festival. It blew me away. This album for me is partly a souvenir from that show but is also a huge milestone for this band. They have transcended the classic afrobeat tendencies (the Fela sound, etc), proving that the Budos is real.
  8. Various Artists – Turkish Freakout: Psych Folk Singles 1969-80 (Bouzouki Joe)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    For some reason 2010 was the year in which all rare Turkish psychedelia from the 60s and 70s finally saw the light of day. This comp of reissued 7"s and select songs from LPs has some crossover with others like Anatolia Rocks but each song is a gem and the track order is careful and poignant. These records are impossible to find but you've probably heard bits and pieces when sampled by the Gaslamp Killer, a huge Turkish psych collector in LA. Just like 60s rock, the rhythms cross over into funk and soul, but unlike western rock, the Turkish sound is emblazoned with heavy minor-chord emotion. The beautiful and somewhat melancholy vocals from singers like Beyaz Kelebekler offer a glimpse into a dark and mysterious time in Turkish history. Above all, the funky rhythm shared by all of these records is breathtaking; it's unlike anything produced in modern times.
  9. Qwel & Maker – Owl (Galapagos)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Since I'm a west coast kid I'm a harsh critic of Midwest hip hop; Chicago emcees usually sound like cheap imitations of Busdriver to me. However, the third album from Qwel & Maker is a new milestone in independent Midwest hip hop. It actually has more of classic east coast sound but don't read too much into that. It just sounds smooth. It samples some really choice funk and soul cuts and packs a punch on every well composed verse of rhymes. The Galapagos4 label is a little inconsistent for my tastes but I'm glad I crossed paths with this release -- it's been in my heavy rotation ever since.
  10. The Alps – Le Voyage (Type)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I've only just discovered this modern psych/folk band and this album really caught my ear. The title is for real; it honestly takes you on a voyage. From beginning to end each melody and texture bends into the next, captivating your imagination. It's very visual. Their sound thrives on all the best parts of 70s psych, the epic glory of Hawkwind or the unpredictability of King Crimson. And just as any decent psychedelic album should, it comes complete with sitar and crickets.

 

Honorable Mentions:
Various Artists – Let's Boogaloo Vol. 5
The Limiñanas – The Limiñanas
The Streets on Fire – This is Fancy Javelin (tracks: "Unforgettable Super Lady", 'Moscow 1980")
cassette/podcast: Andean Ocean Mixtape
Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
Kings Go Forth – The Outsiders are Back
Various Artists – Afro-Beat Airways: West African Shock Waves (Ghana & Togo 1972-78)
Lobisomem – Concussus
Casino vs. Japan – Night On Tape
Warpaint – "Undertow"
Tame Impala – "It Is Not Meant To Be"

What a great year for new music!

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Topics: best of 2010

Jonny writesJon Schech’s Best of 2010

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

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

These are in chronological order by release date...

  • Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM (Elektra)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Tracks: “Le Chat du Café des Artistes”, “In The End” b/w “Time Of The Assassins” - Even when these two get ambitious for a “get you later” hit (Heaven Can Wait) or a striptease anthem (Trick Pony) the results are all fine and good. Half are great, most are really good. Thanks, Beck!
  • Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Tracks: (side one/A) and “Lover of Mine” - This surprised me – I’m not the indie hype type. This is just brilliant music that even overrides the few times Alex goes all Chris Martin. Too much to love about this. It’s just a beautiful record.
  • Kings Go Forth – The Outsiders Are Back (Luaka Bop, Inc.)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Tracks: (every track on the record!) - Okay I’m a bit impartial because they’re from Milwaukee, but why not? As long as they stay away from jazz, I’m on board.
  • The Poison Contol Center – Sad Sour Future (Afternoon)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “Stay Golden” - This is the aural equivalent of having the finest slice of whatever you have been fancying the most. I just don’t know what to do because I’m not this indie, unless I’m listening to this. It’s like the White Album of indie. A delectable slice of almost perfect indie pie, disguised as genius off center pop music from Iowans!
  • The Black Keys – Brothers (Nonesuch)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Tracks: “The Only One” b/w “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Tighten Up” - This is no ‘solid album’, but what is these days? These guys are so proper with everyone their record registered on the corporate charts. What they do is great, and somehow it makes no difference as long as they keep doing good things. Also: “Everlasting Light” jams so good it needs no hook. Modern day greatness...
  • Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Tracks: “Hot Body Rub”, “Round And Round” b/w “Little Wig” - At first you think this is a joke but then the massive genius ambition grabs you. I never thought or I forgot how making this kind of music could be possible. Thanks to this record, I hope more of this kind of music begins to exist. Amazing harmonies and awesome hooks abound. Refrain from ignoring “Butt-House Blondies”. The song has substantial meritas actioni!
  • Jaill – That's How We Burn (Sup Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Tracks: “Demon” b/w “Thank Us Later” and “That’s How We Burn” - I’m not a-gonna try to convince you this is good. Either you dig it or not. I personally even like the album cover. That has to be none other than the west coast of Lake Michigan. Green.
  • Orgone – Killion Vaults (Ubiquity)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Tracks: (Every track on the record! Again!) - This band released two records this year. This is the instrumental one that blew me away. Now they have to get that star vocalist to step up (or add another one?) because they’ve got it. West coast sh’ comin’atcha!
  • Aeroplane – We Can't Fly (Eskimo)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Tracks: “London Bridge” b/w “My Enemy”, “Superstar” b/w “Caramellas” - I’ve been waiting to get sick of this record. I haven’t. This is true continental music as implied by the title, and this is, at this point, still a good thing. They can always come to America and infuse their already genius music with some deeper soul, and that would blow me away.
  • Violens – Amoral (Friendly Fire)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Tracks: “Violent Sensation Descends” b/w “It Couldn’t Be Perceived” - This record deserves high marks for just plain being ambitious. With so many strong influences vying for a ‘sound’ makes listening more challenging. I wouldn’t want to be laughed at for overlooking the amazing potential here.

 

The Suburban Wives Fantasy Singles! (honorable mention songs, records…)
Broken Bells
Affair EP
“Traxx” b/w “Frozen” by Salem
“Hang On In There” by John Legend/The Roots
“Rollercoaster” by Black Mountain
“Wings Away” b/w “Dance Floor” by The Apples In Stereo
“Lines” by Elsinore
“Bellringer Blues” b/w “When My Baby Comes” by Grinderman
“I’m Aware” by Clinic
“Tarmac City” b/w “Mighty Fine Pie” by Endless Boogie
“Come On Sister” b/w “Suicide Girl” by Belle & Sebastian
“Search Party” b/w “Photojournalist” by Small Black
“Horophones” by The Love Language

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Topics: best of 2010

CHIRP DJ writescloudsasha’s Best of 2010

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

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

  1. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This album is true to it's name. It feels like a dreamy crush. It's the perfect combination of melody and harmony; an album that's so easy to fall in love with.
  2. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker (Modular)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Aussie trio Tame Impala brings back rock 'n roll the way it's supposed to be heard: with the perfect mixture of smooth as heck production, reverb, percussion and guitar slam dunks. Innerspeaker is an album the way that an album is supposed to be. Each track is a show-stopping psychedelic adventure
  3. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When I first heard that Ariel Pink was going to release a fully produced album using actual, real-life drums I couldn't believe my ears. Before Today is a throwback to the 70's and early 80s in the best way. Ariel has broken out of his reclusive shell and with the backing of Haunted Graffiti, they've created a perfect pop gem.
  4. How to Dress Well – Love Remains (Lefse)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    My friend recommended me this track by saying, "He samples Inoj, man!" Annnnd that's when I was sold. Love Remains' second track,"Ready for the World", cuts up Inoj's "Love You Down" and transforms it into a beautiful accompanying melody with graceful hand claps and ghosty background vocals. Each track fits into the next one seamlessly. How To Dress Well makes me feel like I'm riding a giant, sparkly, white horse through a magical forest.
  5. Toro Y Moi – Causers of This (Carpark)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I just want to be happy. I just want to listen to music that reminds me of how nice the summer was. Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bundick makes me feel good. He sets himself apart from the other recent bands that fall under this mush of Beach Boys-esque music through his crudely produced style that shifts from rock 'n roll to slicked out electronic. [Note: His follow up 7" single Leave Everywhere deserves major bonus points.]
  6. Las Robertas – Cry Out Loud (Art Fag Recordings)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    What's better than three super hot Costa Rican girls playing super poppy garage rock? Nuthin'! Las Robertas are surfing the 2010 wave of garage girl bands with grace and style, and boy, wouldn't I like to be on that surf board with them.
  7. Caribou – Swim (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    As soon as you hear the start of "Odessa" off of Caribou's Swim, you're sold. Daniel Snaith, a former mathematician, puts his his big, number crunchin' brain to use by developing the most successful Caribou album yet--not to mention the live show is killer, filled with kaleidoscopic videos that will blow your miiiiiiind.
  8. Beach Fossils – Beach Fossils (Captured Tracks)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    With a slight nod to the reverb-filled vocals and melodies of the Clientele, Beach Fossils sing their summer hearts out and twang their guitars. This is a perfect sleepover dance party album from the hearts of these four Brooklyn boys to you.
  9. Fur Cups For Teeth – FCFU (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Fur Cups For Teeth are an all-girl, Brooklyn based, trio. The start of this album is reminiscent of the riot grrrl with guitar and drum heavy pop beats with perfectly harmonized, soulfully sweet vocals. These girls ooze attitude and wit. They’re able to shift from punk songs ("Buffalo," "International Baby") in the beginning of the album to Le Tigre and Ladytron-like electro dance beats ("Dadadaddy") with no difficulty at all. This album is versatile, danceable, and can easily seduce the ears of first-time listeners.
  10. White Mystery – White Mystery (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    No one can ever deny a brother-sister duo that is not only from Chicago, but one of the best live acts of the whole entire year. Look out world, there's a ginger cloud rising over the mountains!

 

Honorable Mentions
Girls - Broken Dreams Club
Teen Inc. - Fountains/Friends of the Night 7"
Minks - By the Hedge

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Topics: best of 2010

Owen Harris writesOwen Harris’ Best Of 2010

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

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

  1. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (DFA)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    As confirmed by James Murphy, this album doesn’t signal the end of LCD Soundsystem per se, but future endeavours may involve less touring in support. Or more. Their previous long-play outing, Sound Of Silver, is still a high-rotate turntable showing at the Kiwi pad, but it’s in the live arena – festival or club - where LCD come into their own. Their Coachella performance closing out Friday night was a weekend highlight, 20-ft disco ball and all, and similarly the Metro performance threatened to tear the roof off the sucker. And yes, Nancy rocks! Fave tracks? Opener Dance Yrself Clean, Pow Pow, I Can Change.
  2. Sharon Van Etten – Epic (Badabing)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sharon’s 2nd full-length outing is, indeed, gorgeously epic. I was lucky enough to catch her 6 or so months back at the now-legendary Chris Knox Stroke Benefit concert in NYC, and was impressed. Now, I’m bummed I missed her gig at Lincoln Hall supporting Junip. Word has she blew them off the stage. This LP has been on high-rotate and I’ll probably still be listening in decades to come. Standouts? Hard to choose, but if pressed, Peace Signs & One Day.
  3. The Fall – Your Future, Our Clutter (Domino)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Mark E. Cha Cha! To my ears their best since Kurious Oranj, but don’t ask me about most in-between. The riffs are their, the Mancunian mumble is in full effect, and reports from their recent Auckland NZ gig suggest The Fall have never been better. We saw them there in the early 80’s, bootlegged by Chris Knox as Fall In A Hole. Check out Bury Pts. 1 + 3
  4. Stan Ridgeway – Neon Mirage (A440)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The man will need no introduction to many, but to the rest he’s best known for Mexican Radio back in his Wall Of Voodoo days. Stanard has been pretty prolific ever since, and even organizes musical train adventures around the Southwest. His current album Neon Mirage is right up with the best of Wall of Voodoo, with an eclectic mix of musical styles from ubiquitous country steel guitar to bossa-nova rhythms. His stories are colourful, told with a vivid musical palette.
  5. The Puddle – Playboys In The Bush (Fishrider)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    George Henderson is a Kiwi music legend. The Puddle have been around in one form or another for many a year, but their latest Playboys In The Bush is arguably their best. Check out the epic Valhalla which in a live setting is even more powerful. Other personal faves include What I Believe and Sleepy People.
  6. Dear Time's Waste – Spells (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Kiwi Clare Duncan has crafted yet another collection of beautiful song, in some cases even more delicate than those on her debut EP, Room For Rent. Check out Alice, Swallowed, We Are Where We Were Before
  7. The Phoenix Foundation – Buffalo (EMI)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    These Wellingtonians from NZ have churned out yet another great album, just as diverse and different as the last. Here’s hoping we have a proper US tour soon! Buffalo, Pot, Bitte Bitte
  8. Grayson Gilmour – No Constellation (Flying Nun)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Grayson is the first signing to the recently re-purchased and re-juvenated Flying Nun records out of NZ, which has indie musical pedigree going back to 1981. The songs are largely in the orchestrated pop vein, with a definite Kiwi edge. I look forward to more. Pure pop for now people! I Am a Light, Pearly Whites
  9. Gil Scott-Heron – I'm New Here (XL)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    It’s not Winter In America or Pieces of a Man, but it’s a new Gil album, which many predicated would never happen. Produced by XL Recordings owner Richard Russell, it has a contemporary edge, with spoken interludes adding rather than detracting from the grittiness of the delivery and material. A solid listen, standouts include Me and the Devil and New York Is Killing Me. Welcome back, Gil.

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Topics: best of 2010

DJ Betynka - It's 12 O'Clock Somewhere writesElizabeth Ramborger’s Best Of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ and treasurer Elizabeth Ramborger.

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

My first year of DJing on CHIRP has brought a lot of new and different music my way and I’m glad to say this by-no-means-exclusive-or-even-in-any-particular-order list is influenced by the wealth of new music I’ve been exposed to from fellow DJs. It’s also been an incredibly busy year and odd that I haven’t had as much time to really process music coherently. No matter! Spending Xmas day on my couch, looking out on the snow in Ukie Village and cataloguing some of my favorites from 2010 is about the best way I could hope to spend an afternoon.

  1. Stornoway – The Beachcombers’ Windowsill (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    first heard this release one afternoon when I was getting frustrated working on some paperwork at the studio. Billy Kalb threw it on and quietly backed out of the office and it did the trick. There’s something about Stornoway that makes me think of other great British songwriters…it led me to dig out some old Kirsty MacColl and Billy Bragg. Beautiful stuff that just hits me the way music should. They’re also a nice group of lads who can pull off their lyrical sincerity, raising mundane moments up into simple grandeur.
  2. The Fresh & Onlys – Play It Strange (In The Red)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The prolific Fresh & Only’s brought us their best yet, improving on their previous lo-fi neo-surf-garage-psych-jangle releases with an album that haunts and twinkles and stomps.
  3. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (DFA)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Ironically it’s with his supposed last LCD Soundsystem record that I fall completely in love with James Murphy. One of the best moments of the summer was LCD Soundsystem taking the stage at Pitchfork—the Chicago skyline, the moon coming out…Murphy brings a warmth to his shows that took me completely off guard. Swoon.
  4. Robyn – Body Talk (Konichiwa_
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I’m listing the whole she-bang of EPs here, too. From hipster guilty pleasure to full-on pop star, Robyn’s come a long way.
  5. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Great hooks and beauty all over this one with a good dose of jangle.
  6. Sonny and the Sunsets – Tomorrow Is Alright (Soft Abuse)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sonny Smith strikes me as being a modern-day Jerry Lee Lewis. The Sunsets emerge from the San Francisco scene along with favorites the Fresh & Onlys and Thee Oh Sees, but with a humor and swagger all their own. “Love Among Social Animals” will put a smile on your face.
  7. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I hate to admit I didn’t realize the lead singer was a girl. Sort of like Yaz? The “dream pop” categorization sums it up. A beautiful album you can listen to over and over and over again
  8. Judson Claiborne – Time and Temperature (La Société Expéditionnaire)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Solid local folk rock. A gorgeous album from start to finish.
  9. Jonsi – Go (XL)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    “Go Do” is my inner indie Nike slogan, propelling me out into the sun to just do it. Whatever it is, it will be good.
  10. Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Rush To Relax (Goner)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    It seems appropriate to close out this list with a band that formed at a work Christmas party (at a vinyl pressing plant!). I overlooked them awhile back when recommended to me by a friend, but this release led to an immediate purchase of their back-catalogue. Infectious garage punk. An unfortunate middle-booking at the Empty Bottle just led them to steal the show.

 

Other Odds and Ends

The Liminana’s – “I’m Dead” 7” (HoZac)
ooo! French pop at it’s new best! And on a local label!

 

Radar Eyes – “Not You Again” (B-side, HoZac Hookup Klub Record 12)
my favorite little local release, this has a nice shambolic indie pop vibe.

 

 

Black Tambourine – s/t (Slumberland)
best reissue

 

 

Posies – Blood/Candy (Rykodisc)
my favorite band ever but this wins worst Thax Douglas reference award. Oh Jon and Ken, what were you thinking?

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Topics: best of 2010

Tony Breed writesTony Breed’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from local cartoonist, CHIRP Radio DJ, and Marketing Co-Director Tony Breed.

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

It’s been a great year for music, which makes it a hard year for making a top 10 list. (I could easily have made a top 20.) As usual, I labored too hard over this list, and will want to rearrange it in a few month’s time anyway. Well. I can stand by my decisions through the end of the year, anyway.

  1. Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid (Atlantic)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    It’s a little bit rock and a little bit soul and a little bit hip hop and a little bit 1960’s Disney musical. Janelle Monáe debut full-length album is impressively diverse, but more importantly, it works, start to finish. It’s also proof that the album format is still vital – don’t just buy the songs you like from iTunes, buy the whole thing and listen to it start to finish.
  2. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (DFA)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    James Murphy’s latest (and last, so he says) album is his best yet. This Is Happening mines the depths of 1980’s synthpop (think The Human League) without sounding like a retro fetishist. I think I’m OK with this being the last LCD Soundsystem album (because I suspect Murphy has developed this idea as far as it will go), but I do hope we continue to hear from him in other projects.
  3. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Brilliant. Newsom is also an artist who just keeps getting better. OK, I accept that she’s not for everyone. But if you haven’t made your mind up, this is the album to check out. The music on Have One on Me is complex and dense and gorgeous. I recommend listening to it on headphones.
  4. Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    More good headphones music. The Golden Archipelago explores the theme of life on islands in 11 lush and heady tracks with that prog-rock edge I find so irresistible.
  5. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Nothing sounds like Ariel Pink except Ariel Pink. And to be honest, I never really got it before. Some songs I liked, but generally I could take or leave the albums. I don’t really know what it is about Before Today that is so good, but I just love this album. It’s got a wistful, nostalgic quality to it — but not idealized; murky, like memory.
  6. Kings Go Forth – The Outsiders Are Back (Luaka Bop, Inc.)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Hot, from start to finish. Kings Go Forth revisit disco and funk and make you want to get up on the floor and dance.
  7. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (Warp)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Avant garde music makes you think, but it’s not always easy on the ears. Cosmogramma is good music and a good listen. The album includes both samples of Sun Ra and samples of people playing ping pong. All that could have been very good, or terrible. Fortunately for us, it’s excellent.
  8. Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can (Astralwerks)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    It’s entirely possible that out of all my picks for this top ten list, this is the album I will end up listening to the most. It’s not the lyrics, though they are good; it’s not the beautiful melodies – it’s Laura Marling’s gorgeous, gorgeous voice that really carries this album.
  9. Martha & The Muffins – Delicate (Muffin Music)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    After an 18 year hiatus, Mark Gane and Martha Johnson are back with new material. Frankly, I was worried. This is one of my favorite bands; what if it wasn’t good? Comeback material is so often weak. Well, no worries, this album is pretty great.
  10. Canasta – The Fakeout, The Tease, and The Breather (Canasta)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    One of my favorite local bands, Canasta makes smart, catchy chamber pop. The Fakeout, the Teaser, and the Breather further develops the band’s sound. I have special affection for “Choosing Sides”, a cheerful-sounding tune about an ordinary, ugly divorce.

 

  • Honorable Mention:
    Laurie Anderson — Homeland
    Arcade Fire — The Suburbs
    Broken Social Scene — Forgiveness Rock Record
    Elvis Costello — National Ransom
    Dungen — Skit I Alt
    In Tall Buildings — In Tall Buildings
    Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings — I Learned the Hard Way
    The National — High Violet
    Yeasayer — Odd Blood
  • Songs of The Year:
    Songs so good that I’m afraid I might overplay them. I could certainly play them every show and never get tired of them.

    Mark Ronson & The Business Intl — "Lose It (In The End)" [feat. Ghostface Killah & Alex Greenwald] Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Yeasayer — "O.N.E." Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    In Tall Buildings — "The Way to a Monster’s Lair" Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Laurie Anderson — "Only an Expert" Amazon / Insound / iTunes

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Topics: best of 2010

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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Topics: best of 2010

Caitlin Lavin writesCaitlin Lavin’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 Guest Coordinator Caitlin Lavin.

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

  1. Best Coast – Crazy For You (Mexican Summer)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Haters gonna hate, but I dig this record. A bunch of sunny, fun pop songs from the Sunshine State. Oh wait, that's Florida. Whatever. I can get down with Bethany Cosentino, seems like she likes the finer things in life. Hanging out, cats, smoking weed. Will this band be popular next year? Who cares, that's what year-end lists are for.
  2. Dissapears – Lux (Kranky)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Quite possibly my favorite local band currently. CAN, Suicide, Wire, Joy Division all rolled up into one heavily distorted and repetitive bliss. Also, I love it when Brian Case goes "WHAAAAT!"
  3. Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be (HoZac/Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    2010 had a lot of "girly" fronted bands and this one was at the top of the top. Great harmony, perfect pop songs. This record made me nostalgic for a time that was around before I was born, riding w/ my Johnny and his leather jacket.
  4. Joanna Newson – Have One On Me (Drag City)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Yet again an artist that I would've never thought would ever be on my year end list had made the cut. Never really understood Joanna Newsom before. Her last record, Ys was too overblown for me and her voice grated on my eardrums. When I saw that her 3rd release was going to be a 3CD/LP set, I groaned. But this one grew on me. There was just enough instrumentation to make each song exquisite, and it seems like Joanna has finally grown into her voice, it's a lot more playful and melodic. This is a headphones record for sure.
  5. Magic Lantern – Platoon (Not Not Fun)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Awesome spaced out psychedelic record from California. I don't have much to say except give it a few spins real loud after a long bong hit. (It's even great without hallucinogens.) Produced by Bobb Bruno of Best Coast, who was rad before people started going crazy for his current band.
  6. Benoit Pioulard - Lasted (Kranky)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Some people describe Benoit Pioulard as "bedroom pop." What does that even mean? I hope it means that he'll play some of his songs in my room someday, that would be pretty sweet. This is his third full length on kranky and definitely his best. Ambient loops act as buffers between lush, guitar ditties over his soft alto. Also, his name isn't really Benoit Pioulard, it's Thomas. But his stage name conjures up my imagination of a brooding existential French man, so that's all right with me.
  7. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    2010 had its share of soul revival, but Sharon Jones has been doing it the hard way for a long time. Now in her 50s, she had several jobs including a prison guard before she started singing professionally a few years ago. The first time I listened to this record, I instantly replayed it a second time. I wish I could wail like her and have a backing band of studious looking brass-guys. Sharon Jones is my hero.
  8. Super Wild Horses – Fifteen (Hozac)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Two super cute chicks from Melbourne, Australia that didn't even know how to play instruments before starting up this band made one hell of a rockin' record. It gives me hope for whenever I decide to finally pick up my guitar and learn to play. "Mess Around" is one of my favorites of the year, and a totally this decade's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."
  9. Ty Segall – Melted (Goner)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If you look at producing credits for garage records in 2010, there's a pretty good chance you'll see Ty's name on the cover. So it makes sense on why this is one of the well produced garage rock records of the year, and quite possibly ever. This guy knows how to write a pop song. He's also cute. I gotta big crush on him.
  10. Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love (Matador)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I may be a bit biased, 'cause this is my favorite band. Their first record in nearly five years is something quite special. A well-done blend of their glossy newer songs mixed with the intimacy of their older ones. When I first heard "I Want the World To Stop" I nearly cried, cause it had been so long since they had written a song like that, and it's like they haven't missed a beat.

 

Best Reissue:
Black Tambourine – s/t (Slumberland)
The Welders – 7" (BDR) ("P-E-R-V-E-R-T, You're a perv with a capital P!" – that's all you need to know)

Honorary Mentions:
The Mantles – EP (Mexican Summer)
Moonhearts – s/t (Tic Tac Totally)
Zola Jesus – Stridulum EP (Sacred Bones)
Swiss Dots – Glaciers (Vinahyde)

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Topics: best of 2010

Carolyn Kassnoff writesCarolyn Kassnoff’s Best of 2010

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

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

  1. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “We Used To Wait” – Pounding pianos, a spectacular interactive music video, plus the haunting vocals that have become synonymous with the Arcade Fire’s orchestral style make this a standout song this year.
  2. Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer (Elektra)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “F*** You” – Cee Lo’s soulful tale of a one-sided love story shows the worst of heartbreak makes the best of songs. This song slips straight out of the 1960s, featuring Doo-Wop background singers and a video that is reminiscent of Little Shop of Horrors, with a straightforward message that can’t help but be shouted to the girl that won’t give him a glance.
  3. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (DFA)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “Dance Yrself Clean” – This lengthy track pulses for the first few minutes before breaking loose into a full-out dance riot
  4. Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid (Atlantic)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “Tightrope (feat. Big Boi)” – Speaking of dance riots, here’s Janelle Monae, with the classiest choreographed dance moves in the craziest of locales.
  5. RJD2 – The Colossus (RJ’s Electrical Connections)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “Let There Be Horns” – Screaming strings screech into RJD2’s racing anthem. Bonus: he’s fascinating live, orchestrating every minor element with precise attention to detail.
  6. She & Him – Volume Two (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “Don’t Look Back” – Zooey Deschanel’s adorable voice and M. Ward’s beautiful guitar harmonize perfectly on this sweet country ballad.COMMENTARY
  7. Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore – Dear Companion (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “Something. Somewhere, Sometime” – Two folksingers with a cello. A very pleasant track from a very pleasant album.
  8. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “I Learned the Hard Way” – Sharon Jones returns with more music that sounds like the best of the Motown era, with her heartfelt telling of love and loss.
  9. Stornoway – Beachcomber’s Windowsill (4AD)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “I Saw You Blink” – British folk singers with nice harmonies and catchy melodies.
  10. John Legend & The Roots – Wake Up! (Columbia)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Best Track: “Our Generation (The Hope Of The World) (featuring CL Smooth)” – It’s been a good musical year for both John Legend and The Roots. They team up on Wake Up! to outstanding effect.

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions (with Best Tracks):

1. The Budos Band, The Budos Band III (“Crimson Skies”)
2. The New Pornographers, Together (“Crash Years”)
3. Frightened Rabbit, The Winter of Mixed Drinks (“Swim Until You Can’t See Land”)
4. Of Montreal, False Priest (“I Feel Ya’ Strutter”)
5. Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz (“Impossible Soul”)

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Topics: best of 2010

Peter Zimmerman writesPete Zimmerman’s Best of 2010

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

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

  1. The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The record that I listened to the most this year. Sure, the comparisons to early Bob Dylan are inevitable, but I don’t mind since I love early Bob Dylan. The record also made me sign up for guitar lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music so be afraid, ears of people who know me.
  2. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (Virgin/DFA)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Not only did James Murphy put out an awesome record but he also made an appearance on The Soup with Community’s Donald Glover and that is pretty cool.
  3. Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me (Drag City)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I hate you, Andy Samberg.
  4. Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid (Bad Boy)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The only negative to this record is that it makes me want to dance and nobody should be subjected to that.
  5. Aloe Blacc – Good Things (Stones Throw)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Thank you to HBO and “How to Make it in America” for introducing me to Mr. Blacc. Sometimes watching too much TV pays off.
  6. Girl Talk – All Day (Illegal Art)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Two words: Spacehog. Toadies.
  7. Allo Darlin’ – Allo Darlin’ (Fortuna Pop!)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Having a bad day? Need to feel better? I first put this record on 3 months ago and still have a smile on my face.
  8. Robyn – Body Talk (Konichiwa)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    See description for #4. Robyn’s show at Pitchfork was one of the highlights of the summer and she ends the year with a bang.
  9. Wild Nothing – Gemini (Captured Tracks)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sometimes being reminded of high school is okay.
  10. Orgone – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If my guitar lessons don’t work out, I’m totally taking up the trombone.

 

 

 

 

Favorite Local Records of 2010
1. In Tall Buildings – In Tall Buildings (Whistler)
2. Gold Motel – Summer House (Good as Gold)
3. Disappears – Lux (Cranky)
4. Canasta – The Fakeout, The Tease, and the Breather (RWIM Chicago)
5. White Mystery – White Mystery (Self-Released)

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Topics: best of 2010

Mike Gibson writesMike Gibson’s Best Of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ & Director of Online Media, Mike Gibson.

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

The first version of this list inadvertently included Why?'s Eskimo Snow, which came out in 2009. The list has now been corrected.

  1. Fight Like Apes – The Body of Christ And The Legs of Tina Turner (Model Citizen)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The second album from this Dublin quartet is exactly what I was hoping for: sugary sweet melodies with a sinister underbelly, all driven by MayKay's foul mouth that's always on the cusp of breaking into a blood curdling wail. I'll be planning my next trip to Europ around finally seeing them play.
  2. Iron Chic – Not Like This (Dead Broke)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Rarely do I want "ex-member" bands to sound like the band they used to play in, but when Latterman broke up things were different. I wanted ALL of the members' new bands to sound like them. Iron Chic is the first that truly picks up where Latterman left off, with plenty of anthemic courses wrapped up nicely in a gooey, passionate, unrefined blanket.
  3. Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin (French Kiss)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Count me in with the crowd that thought Les Savy Fav had lost it. Root For Ruin is the smack in the face I needed to pay attention again. They're back in all their spastic, sweat-filled glory.
  4. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! This is the album that the 18 year old version of myself expected to hear as a follow up to Here's Where The Strings Come In.
  5. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks (Matador)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    While the album art was a major letdown (listen, I care about these things) the songs contained within are all the proof that even after almost 25 years of writing music a good songwriter will always be at the top of their game.
  6. Off With Their Heads – In Desolation (Epitaph)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    High energy, no frills, rough around the edges punk. It's a dime a dozen nowadays, so what allows Minneapolis' Off With Their Heads to stand out from the rest? It's their ability to find inspiration in the bleakest situations. It's hard to feel bad in a crappy situation when you're screaming along with a hundred strangers at the top of your lungs in a darkened club.
  7. Auxes – Ichkannnichtmehr (Gunner)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Few musicians have a track record as impeccable as Dave Laney's. Having spent time in Milemarker, Challenger & Griver, I've had Dave's voice screaming in my headphones for the better part of the past 15 or so years. Auxes fits the lineage perfectly.
  8. Los Campesinos – Romance Is Boring (Arts & Crafts)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If it weren't for the absolute snoozer of an opening track this would've been a bit higher on the list. Still, there's nothing like a huge helping dose of childlike recklessness when there are a bunch of instruments lying around and microphones to record the results. Los Campesinos is perfect in their sloppiness.
  9. Leatherface – The Stormy Petrel (No Idea)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    While a household name in the UK, Leatherface has been living in the shadow of everyone they've influenced here in the states for the better part of the past two decades. Leatherface has been directly cited as the influence that led Hot Water Music to start their band, No Idea Records to start their label and countless fans of punk to find the sound to begin with. The Stormy Petrel sees the bnd in some of the finest form they've ever been in.
  10. The Measure [sa] – Notes (No Idea)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The Measure [sa] utilizes several elements that win me over every time. Dual male/female vocals, songs that are played either fast or faster, and honest/heartfelt lyrics that paint their hearts on the outside. I'm still a bit torn on the band's production decisions, but hopefully they'll get that sorted out for LP3.

Honorable Mentions:

  • "Supergroup" of the year
    Forgetters – Forgetters 2x7" (Too Small To Fail)

    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Blake Schwarzenbach (Jawbreaker/Jets To Brazil), Caroline Paquita (Bitchin'), and Kevin Mahon (Against Me!). I so wish Blake would have skipped Jets To Brazil and just gone here.
  • Most successful exploitation of the exclamation mark
    Bomb The Music Industry! – Adults!!!… Smart!!! Shithammered!!! And Excited By Nothing!!!!!!! (Quote Unquote)

    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    17 exclamation marks is not enough to properly convey the happiness I felt when I listen to this EP.
  • Best collection of songs that were better than what actually got released
    Weezer – Death To False Metal (Geffen)

    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sure, while Hurley may be the Weezer album the everyone talked about this year, everyone should be listening to Death To False Metal. The album compiles songs that the band wrote and recorded throughout their career and for some reason scrapped. Not just B-Sides, these are fully worked studo tracks from all of the band's sessions, including some hiatus era post-Pinkerton/pre-Green album stuff that is just superb. It's almost enough to make me forget about Make Believe.
  • Best album of 2010 that was recorded in 1985
    Dag Nasty – Dag With Shawn (Dischord)

    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Back in the mid-80's there was a band in DC named Dag Nasty. They were pretty awesome. They went and recorded a supposedly great demo, but then they all got cranky and the singer, Shawn, left the band (and then formed Swiz, which is a whole other awesome story). Not to be deterred, the rest of the group found a friendly boy named Dave Smalley to take his place. They went and re-recorded all the songs on the demo (along with some others), released their debut album, Can I Say, and the rest is history. This is the release of that supposedly great demo, finally seeing the light of the record shelf 26 years late.
  • Collaboration of the year
    Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue (Nonesuch)

    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Nick Hornby writes the words. Ben Folds writes the music and sings Nick's words. Only thing left to say is that it's obvious that Ben works best when he's working with others.

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Topics: best of 2010

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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Topics: best of 2010

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