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My Favorite Albums of 2010

In Folk, Indie, Pop, Rock, Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 6:55 pm

10. Shapiro – s/t
9. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
8. Autolux – Transit Transit
7. Pomagranates – One of Us
6. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

5. Spoon – Transference
Out Go the Lights
I wrote in January that Transference was Spoon “going back to the drawing board and crafting another flawless spectacle out of tinfoil and toothpicks” and the record has only gotten stronger in the days between. Spoon’s music does not have to be shiny to speak. There are tracks here that sound like they were recorded in the living room by a tape recorder in the kitchen, by old newspaper speakers, by black and white and grainy gramophone. It matters not. This band exists in its own world, and we listen and judge it to be good, convention be damned. While some songs end up sticking in your head, Spoon has rarely been a singles band. This album is loose and free, dark and light, gritty and brave. 2010 simply marks a new vintage of the same old Spoon.
[buy on iTunes or Amazon]
4. Vampire Weekend – Contra
I Think UR a Contra
Two seconds into Contra, I came full-circle on Vampire Weekend. I’d been unfair, a victim of my own pretentious bullshit. I refused to like their self-titled debut, buying instead into the vicious backlash sprung forth from the sudden fawning of the press and fans alike. I wrote off their revolutionary “afro-beat” sound because I thought it was a gimmick, and because I didn’t want to associate with the annoying, whiny Brooklyn hipsters who were adopting it as their anthem. Contra changed all that. This band is simply too good to endure a sophomore slump. Along the way Ezra Koenig has become this generation’s Rivers Cuomo, a musical savant in a cardigan, practically inventing his own genre. It’s a fact quickly confirmed by the most telling of occurrences: rampant haters and copycats. Contra is quick, tight, and brilliantly bright. And if you’ve written them off too, I’d urge you to reconsider. Everyone deserves a second chance, after all. [buy on iTunes or Amazon]
3. Faded Paper Figures – New Medium
Rewind
It’s probably unfair to say Faded Paper Figures are currently outdoing Ra Ra Riot at their own game (namely by writing better songs), but I guess I just said it. Guy/girl vox, synths, glockenspiels, tambourines, and probably the kitchen sink mark many parts of New Medium, but the reason it works is the carefully-paced exhales opposite these wild inhalations. Owl City got a lot of press by copyin…errr…filling the void the Postal Service abandoned by never following Give Up. With most audiophiles, Owl City is something of a joke now, nothing but a dumbed-down facade of the Postal Service aimed at 13-year-old girls. We should have been looking to Faded Paper Figures all along. New Medium, and ’08’s Dynamo before it, provide a proper and logical progression from Give Up. It’s a unique, melodic and honest record. A truly dynamic long-player of an album. Bravo. [buy on iTunes or CDBaby]
2. Field Music – (Measure)
In the Mirror
David Brewis can do very little wrong in my eyes. No matter the supporting cast (he released one of the best records of 2008 on his own) or the country he lives in (Canada for ’07’s Tones of Town, now back in England), he continues to craft incredible smart-pop. Imagine ’90s cult-pop icons Jellyfish with less Queen and more Beatles. String samples and time-signature magic are hallmarks, but the best part has always been the melodies and expert arrangement of all the pieces. It’s dizzying and disorienting at times, but when the resolve comes around, an incredibly satisfying listening experience. [buy on iTunes or Amazon]
1. Darwin Deez – s/t
The City
I spun this record more than any other this year, so much so that my wife grew to love, then loathe it because of Darwin’s almost-annoying level of catchiness. It plays with the attitude of a 19-year-old thrust into the world, determined to pierce the fog of adulthood with the powers of light, innocence, exuberance, confidence, whimsy, adoration, and wild love. Where there was once darkness, there is none to be found. Darwin’s re-evolution is upon us. [buy on iTunes or Amazon]

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