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Reaganland
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Essential Zappa: Phaze Two
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Drag: A Witch House
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Essential Zappa: Phaze One
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Radiohead Album Series
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It Took the Night to Believe
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Killing in Style
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Cadillac Casanovas
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A Night in the Box
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Brasil, Para Sempre!
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Same As It Ever Was:
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Universe Dirt
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The Best of
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The New Dance
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Cut the Kids in Half
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Machines of Canterbury
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Take Me Back:
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The Best of...
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Snow
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Dust & Diamonds
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Pop?

Imaginary Sounds Feature: The Best of 2010

Finally, it's here, my best of 2010 some technical difficulties with Blogger's awful awful word processor. Check the lists; featuring over 30 mp3s for you to listen to. Let me know if any of them stop working. Also, COMMENT! Thanks guys.


Top 25 Albums:
25. Teebs - Ardour
24. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
23. Das Racist - Sit Down, Man
22. Vampire Weekend - Contra
21. The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
20. El Guincho - Pop Negro
19. The Drums - s/t
18. Glasser - Ring
17. Perfume Genius - Learning
16. VHS Head - Trademark Ribbons of Gold


15. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Cosmogramma was not at all what I expected, and I think that really affected my reception of it. But as I listened, my relationship with the album evolved as organically as the beats and textures FlyLo creates so well. This does not have any of the structure or rigidity of Los Angeles or 1984 (not that those albums had strict rigidity, but that speaks to my point). It flows like the avant-jazz it is inspired by and defies you to keep it in the metaphorical box of expectations. This is why FlyLo is the head pioneer of an entirely new scene, he can do things like that and get away with it. This is the sound of Hip-Hop evolving.

Key Track: Flying Lotus - And the World Laughs With You (Feat. Thom Yorke)
14. Jónsi - Go
High expectations are always going to end up being lowered, and I had them for Jonsi's debut solo album. The album did not spread the energy of early single "Boy Lilikoi throughout, but the parts that did contain that excitement and happiness did so in ways that were so positive it's almost blinding. For an album from a member of Sigur Ros, a band that has created some of the most sparse and darkly melancholic music of our generation, it its strange, but a breath of fresh air. The melodies that come out of Jonsi paired with his unearthly falsetto speak straight to your emotions, and the organic and pounding instrumentation from album collaborator Nico Muhly speak straight to your limbs.

Key Track: Jonsi - Animal Arithmetic
13. Marnie Stern - Marnie Stern
The music Marnie Stern makes does not generally lend to the deeper emotions: angular, complex drum and guitar interchanges, fast and loud cheerleader vocals with lyrics that sound like a motivational speaker with ADD, Van Halen style finger-tapping. But, early in her self-titled album you find her putting more emotion in one line of a song than anything in her entire discography. This sentiment carries over to many of the songs on the album. Marnie lets us see her worries and fears. She slows down the hectic pace she generally employs to add more digestible melodies to back her deeper lyrics. That's not to say Marnie isn't still having fun, that's one of the things i've come to love about her style. You'll see that for Stern, even the most serious topic can be playful.

Key Track: Marnie Stern - Nothing Left

12. MGMT - Congratulations
I really wish people would forget that this album was made by the same band who recorded the indie-dance hits "Kids" and "Electric Feel". I was never a huge fan of Oracular Spectacular save the shallow dance pop fun of said singles, and Congratulations leaves that mindset in the dust. The album is ambitious to say the least. The influences read like a list of all the good music your dad could still respect: psychedelic mish-mash of everything from doo-wop, proto-punk, space rock, glam, surf, etc. (and none of the bad stuff; lookin' at you Rush, Jimmy Buffet). And all of these genres can be packed into one 3 minute song. That sort of songwriting can come across as a gimmick, but MGMT seem to take to their mission with fun, gripping songwriting. You can tell they really love the music they're playing enough to do it the justice it deserves, and it comes across as fantastic.

Key Track: MGMT - It's Working

11. The Dirty Projectors & Bjork - Mount Wittenberg Orca
A collaboration between The Dirty Projectors and Bjork wouldn't have made sense before it happened, and after you hear Mount Wittenberg Orca, it's obvious that it definitely does. I was, unfortunately, not too keep on The Dirty Projector's 2009 album Bitte Orca until after I had heard Mount Wittenberg, but it helped me "get" that album and realize The Dirty Projectors are creating some of the most forward thinking experimental music in indie rock. It makes sense then that the band would team with one of the most creative and daring voices in contemporary music. Bjork's lessons from Medulla play a huge part in accentuating the beautiful voices of Dirty Projectors female voices Angel Deradoorian and Amber Coffman; many songs sound as if they are exercise the very limits of what the women can do. The whole album though, feels like a cohesive group of songs, a quaint but almost allegorical fable. The content of such a fable is arguable, but it is there, and The Dirty Projectors and Bjork tell it with an ease that makes it sound meant to be.

Key Track: The Dirty Projectors & Bjork - All We Are

10. Here We Go Magic - Pigeons
Here We Go Magic seems instantly like a band with a central personality, and by that I mean these songs are from the mind of one man, and all the songs ooze the sensibilities and quirks of that songwriter. That man is Luke Temple. On Pigeons we see him employing texture, psychedelia, and nostalgia in expert fashion, all wrapped in a lo-fi Indie Rock package. Temple's previous recordings, under his own name and the debut Here We Go Magic Album, came from a much more ambient, almost Kraut-Rock situation, and the songwriting on Pigeons reflects that. The songs seem to repeat and build, collecting sounds and feelings until the song is there, digging the melody in your ear. Temple has built a palette with Pigeons that is appealing and visceral which makes what Here We Go Magic offers an indvidual gift.

Key Track: Here We Go Magic - Collector

9. The Fresh & Onlys - Play It Strange
Play it Strange definitely doesn't sound like it should be coming out in 2010. The sounds used seem to be from very disparate times in music: late era Rockabilly, late 80s indie rock, 70s garage rock, early 90s alt-country. Somehow though, The Fresh and Onlys package all these influences in a way that makes this album seem completely timeless. Lead singer Tim Cohen croons through layers of lo-fi haze, telling tales and lessons that seem at once vague and relateable at the same time. Play It Strange really doesn't have one bad song on it, which shows the real power of a band who speak from the spirit of so many styles.

Key Track: The Fresh and Onlys - Waterfall

8. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I made a post a few weeks ago scoffing at Pitchfork's perfect 10 rating of MBDTF, and I meant it, despite the album showing up in my top 10. It's far from perfect, but it IS a great album, and worthy of being argued for Kanyne's best. It has all of the marks of a Kanye album; it's in your face, it's exploration, it's progressive, and it is definitely of the moment. Kanye has a way of making hip-hop sound like so much more than just rapping over a beat; when you listen to MBDTF, you feel like you're involved in this, that this isn't the idle musings that some underground rap can feel like. There is stirring in this album, drama, and the earth is breaking up and shit is happening! But, what's hard to tell is if this is just Kanye being his overdramatic self, and making things that are pseudo-artistic, or is it real. I don't think we'll know anytime soon, but if there was a way TO get something started, this album is it. If there were doubters, they aren't going to be ignoring Kanye after this--not that they could anyway.

Key Track: Kanye West - Monster (featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver)

7. Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me
Have One On me felt like a challenge. 3 discs at over an hour each is just not easy digestion for a media like music. But if you can get past all of that, you'll be met with one of the sweetest voices, and most talented women in all of music. Newsom's sense of melody is as amazing as ever; some how she is able to establish several beautiful melodies in one song and change between them seamlessly in wonderful style. Once strictly an avant-folk songstress, Have One On Me sees Joanna moving past that toward more contemporary song styles and structures. And when I say contemporary, it's only by comparison. Every instrument used on this album was an available instrument 40 years ago; and Newsom has that aura of legendary folk artists that makes her music feel timeless and classic. The confidence of these songs are a part of that; and she's definitely confident here, as well she should be.

Key Track: Joanna Newsom - Good Intentions Paving COmpany

6. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
It really says something when a new release by a band makes you look at all their previous ones differently. With every subsequent album James Murphy and his band have perfected their post-punk dance rock method to a T, coming out of a late 2000s movement as the only band still around doing great stuff (!!! are still here, but is anyone still listening?).  It's the emotion, though, on This Is Happening that struck me. Sure there are songs about partying and the foils of the music industry, but the real strength of TIH are the songs where Murphy wears his heart on his sleeve, much like Sound of Silver standout "Someone Great", telling stories of relationship problems, never being satisfied, and just letting go of problems. Somehow the baggage meshes perfectly with their brand of synth-worshipping hip-shaking indie rock. I really hope that TIH isn't LCD Soundsystem's last album, but if it is, they're going out on an incredibly high note.

Key Track: LCD Soundsystem - Home


5. Big Boi - Sir Luscious Left Foot
I'm Sergent Slaughter, I keep my shit cooked to order / In order to satisfy my people in Georgia and 'cross the water / And across the border, the Eses are getting smarter / They got flour for tortillas and lettuce for enchiladas.

If you follow, wink, wink, no doubt, we don't speak / In a blink, them folks can have you sleepin' in the clink / I'm shittin' on niggas and peein' on the seat / It's that nigga the B - I - G  B - O - I,  O - U - T!

Key Track: Big Boi - Shutterbug

4. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
People say they did, but I don't believe them. I didn't see The Age of Adz coming. Sufjan Stevens seems to be building himself quite the myth; he's become known as a workaholic, releasing album after album of critically respected indie rock while keeping a surprisingly low profile. For 2009's Dark Was the Night compilation, Sufjan stole the show with what was his first foray into electronic music since his 2001 album Enjoy Your Rabbit, and though the commissioned album The BQE had electronic elements, nothing about it hinted that Stevens would turn his attention to such a fully synthetic and intense album that is The Age of Adz. Stevens packs as much grandiosity and emotion into every song that will fit, but somehow leaves room for his stories. On The Age of Adz, the stories feel much more like lessons, one's he's teaching himself through his distinctive brand of emotional honesty and self-aware lyricism. Somehow through all the new electronic elements, Stevens keeps the songs sounding as raw and organic as ever--which shows how well Stevens can balance a concept and content.

Key Track: Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz


3. Baths - Cerulean
Baths' debut Cerulean has a little bit of everything I like about electronic music, and though it doesn't sound anything like it, it reminds me of one of my favorite albums of last year, Clark's Totems Flare. Baths is Los Angeles musician Will Wiesenfeld, who has been experimenting with different palletes of electronica over the years, but after getting involved in the LA Beatmaker scene (led by #15 artist Flying Lotus) found a niche to stop in. Cerulean is a mismatch of unquantinized beats, choppy glittery production, and playful lyrics. Some songs focus on the glorious production, some focus on Wiesenfeld's incredible sense of ambience and production (some could even find parallels between the Chillwave genre), and others push the production to an afterthought with Wiesenfeld adding some emotional depth with his unique vocals. Cerulean was what I was looking for from the new Flying Lotus album, and though that might not be fair, it was a wonderful find. Not all the songs are perfect, but the ones that are (the majority) really hit the spot for me and kept me interested the entire year.

Key Track: Baths - Hall

2. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
I'll be honest: I have a thing for music whose chronological origins are ambiguous. For some people, music that is purposefully recorded to sound old and nostalgic can be gimmicky, but Tame Impala, a young band from West Australia, seem to channel the psych-rock gods of the late 60's and early 70's in a way that few have, and there's not a rolling eye in the room. There's not a weak song on this entire album and all of the songs seem to occupy a space of legitimacy despite the band's seesawing between krautrock, psychedelia, and even trip-hop influence. I'm just assuming the world needed an album like this since Dungen decided to give a shitty album this year.

Key Track: Tame Impala - Lucidity













1. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
One of my favorite things about listening to music as long as I have is figuring out your personal tastes. I don't mean generalizing things or restricting yourself; I just mean finding patterns in the kind of music you tend to gravitate toward. The special thing I found in Odd Blood is that it brought that thought to my head for the first time; "what are those patterns" and it also seems to summarize my tastes quite well. I'm not saying it is my favorite album, or they are my favorite band. Yeasayer are an experimental indie rock band that just happen to make pop music with electronic elements. Or maybe they're an indie pop rock group that experiments using electronic textures. What I found is that this album incorporates many of the elements in music I tend to gravitate toward; the songs are beat-centric, poppy but challenging at the same time, extremely varied but pulled together by a common tone that makes it a cohesive album. Every psychedelic melody Anand Wild brought to their debut All Hour Cymbals still exist but are now wrapped in warm 80's influences name-checking Prince, Parliament Funkadelic and early hip-hop--those influences coming at a key time when those nostalgic sounds are as popular as ever in independent music. Odd Blood hasn't made a ton of #1s this year and it's really surprising to me, it's an incredibly fun album and can be challenging too. I've enjoyed having it in my top 10 list pretty much all year long.

Key Track: Yeasayer - O.N.E.

Honorable Mentions:
Liars - Sisterworld
The Books - The Way Out
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
The Walkmen - Lisbon
Games - That We Can Play EP
Wolf People - Tidings
Jagga Jazzist - One Armed Bandit
Mi Ami - Steal Your Face
Toro y Moi - Causers of This
Janelle Monae - Archandroid
Women - Public Strain
Sufjan Stevens - All Delighted People EP


Probably would have shown up in my top 25 had I had a chance to listen to them more:
Chromeo - Business Casual
Antony and the Johnsons - Swanlights
Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffitti - Before Today
Brian Eno - Small Craft On A Milk Sea
Girl Talk - All Night
Foals - Total Life Forever
The National - High Violet
Gonjasufi - A Sufi and a Killer 
James Blake - The Bells Sketch EP / CMYK EP / Klavierwerke EP


Top 20 Songs:
1. Kanye West - Monster
2. Baths - (Heart)
3. Joanna Newsom - Good Intentions Paving Company
4. Hot Chip - I Feel Fine
5. Liars - Scarecraws On A Killer Slant
6. LCD Soundsystem - Home
7. Wavves - Post-Acid
8. The Drums - Lets Go Surfing
9. Cults - Go Outside
10. ceo - Come With Me
11. Of Montreal - Like A Tourist
12. Cee-lo - Fuck You
13. Here We Go Magic - Collector
14. Jaga Jazzist - Toccata
15. Parenthetical Girls - Small Throat
16. Zola Jesus - Sea Talk
17. Braids - Lemonade
18. Mi Ami - Latin Lover
19. Toro y Moi - Blessa
20. Perfume Genius - Mr. Peterson


Most Disappointing:
Of Montreal - False Priest
Dungen - Skit I Allt
MIA - /\/\/\Y/\ 
Blonde Redhead - Penny Sparkle
Tera Melos - Patagonian Rats (Where was I when they got a vocalist? No thanks!)
Massive Attack - Heligoland
Panda Bear - Tomboy (Because It Didn't Come Out)

Most Overrated:
Sleight Bells - s/t (!!!!!!!!!)
Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Twin Shadow -  Forget
Beach House - Teen Dream (I'm sorry, it bores me to death. What can I say?)

 Excited About Next Year:
Radiohead - TBA
Parenthetical Girls - Privilege
Braids - Native Speaker
Esben & The Witch - Violet Cries
James Blake - TBA
The Decemberists - The King is Dead
Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Kanye West & Jay Z - Watch the Throne
Neon Indian - TBA
Portishead - TBA

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have 20 songs on your Top 15. Silly boy, you can't count :)

Anonymous said...

horse feathers was extremely disappointing.

Hobosapien said...

The Horse Feathers album was dissapointing? I never got a chance to listen to it this year I heard acclaim from all over the place.

Kroos Oonge said...

That's damn right, Tallest Man would have been in your top.

I think it's kinda crazy how different our lists are this year. Will go forth and show you mine when it's finished.

f_munch said...

A GIF-picture appears when I try to download - "Bandwidth exceeded :(" ..so the links doesn't work :(

Hobosapien said...

Bandwidth problems should be fixed. Sorry guys.

Meesho said...

Odd Blood's sounding a lot like Kid A by the way you described it. Definitely gonna check that out, as well as nearly all the other albums on here.

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