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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.