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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Jared Woods' Top 50 Essential 2010 Albums

Jared Woods' Top 50 Essential 2010 Albums
Introduction
This is the blog that nearly killed me. My original plan was simple. Maybe... a bit too simple. I wanted to pay homage to what I thought was quite a decent year of music, by writing a blog which gave max-props to the 10 albums from this year which made the most impact on me. But the fear of being inadequate gripped me once again. “What if I miss a massively important and acclaimed release?” my brain provoked me. “People might laugh”.

So I innocently began to dabble, looking here and there at other critic's best-of lists, noting the albums that seemed to reoccur. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Pretty soon I had a list of hundreds and hundreds of albums, which was growing faster and longer than I could possibly listen to. This was in November. Music had begun to stress me out.

It got worse. Every album seemed to lead onto yet another two or three releases. I was cramming sometimes 10 new albums into my head a day. I was listening to music because I felt I needed to, not because I wanted to. And then I started to feel ill.

It’s weird to explain, but I could literally feel the exact part of my brain that registered new music. It is like a pin-sized prick, more towards the back, a little left off center. And it fucking hurt. Sometimes it sounded like it was crackling. I felt nauseous. I was tired and I was irritable. I freaked out on a daily basis and smoked far too many cigarettes. I had dreams every night about it - I swear to God I’m not making that up. Music should never be treated this way.

Each week that went by, I nearly quit. But somehow I found myself in a position that was way too deep to retreat from, and I felt I had no choice but to wade on through countless albums which were all highly regarded and generally pretty good. And slowly, it started to take form. Unfortunately, it became obvious that a Top 10 list would never reflect the amount of music I had just uncovered. It grew to 20, then 30 and then I settled on 50. It was a good number purely because it is huge without being overkill. Believe me, I could have easily gone to 100, I know exactly what it would look like. To be honest, it’s amazing I survived. I am feeling much better now, thanks.

The tragedy, of course, being that this list will be wrong in a week. No amount of research or anaylsis can properly represent opinion. This is, in the end, only how I feel about Music in 2010 at this very moment. Which seems fitting, because it is the end of 2010 at this very moment anyway.

Spotify links have been provided for those UK peeps when possible. I have also provided the whole fucking list (well, 44 out of 50 albums anyway) in one playlist here.
Use your random for full effect kiddimz.

Fucking enjoy:

Bot'Ox Babylon By Car
50. Bot’Ox - Babylon By Car
Spotify
25th October
Synth Punk

One of the more criminally overlooked 2010 offerings, Babylon By Car plays just as the title suggests: a road trip towards something distant, maintaining a good pace in an aura of calm even during the most banging moments. Some of the tracks make me wonder if that last line of ketamine was a good idea or not. Totally underrated, and a great way to kick the list off.





Marine Stern - Marine Stern
49. Marnie Stern - Marnie Stern
Spotify
18th March
Noise Pop

Quirky, playful and occasionally shrill; this album plays it smart without ever taking itself too seriously. With it’s guitar tapping to mind-blowing speeds and drum signatures which steal the show, it becomes obvious that Marnie did Maths at school. Slightly repetitive, maybe, but it scrapes into this list by originality alone.






Ok Go - Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky
48. OK Go - Of The Blue Colour of the Sky
Spotify
12th January
Power Pop

Critics have been quick to brush off this upbeat release, but it’s catchiness driven by a world of happiness is something I simply cannot ignore. It’s modern, it has emotional moments without ever losing it’s cool, and it reminds me of The Scissor Sisters when The Scissor Sisters have a really good day.






Eminem - Recovery
47. Eminem - Recovery
22nd June
Hip-Hop

After 2 somewhat dud albums, Eminem finally realised what he was doing wrong and came out swinging with aggressive spits and fists of fury. No more games, much less comedy, we watch Marshall publicly stand up and fight his demons in the personal way he has never been shy to do. Very introspective and inspiring, it became my 2010 soundtrack to bouncing back and getting on with life, which helped me in a desperate time of need - believe me. While I miss the scarce beats from Dre on this one, it is a definite overdue comeback of note.

 


The Dead Weather - Sea Of Cowards
46. The Dead Weather - Sea Of Cowards
Spotify
10th May
Blues Rock

Even better than their debut, the chemistry of this grungy supergroup is now undeniable for even the most anal of critics. It’s rough and spontaneous sound definitely means business, sometimes in the form of demonic shrieks, sometimes reminiscent of gospel worship, but never giving you a moments peace. Basically, it doesn’t give a fuck, and Jack White is one of the few legends of our time.





Crystal Fighters Star Of Love
45. Crystal Fighters - Star of Love
Spotify
4th October
Indie Electronic


Another tragically overlooked album, these songs slap you in the middle of a vibey tropical summer party, filled with colours and variation and happy people. It’s the kind of place you want to stay for a while, maybe build a home away from home, revisiting strictly for holiday purposes. A vibrant location like that couldn't get boring anytime soon, surely. It relentlessly plays and laughs with you, always catchy, frantically fun and then suddenly punching your gut with a healthy dosage of bass. You know, just to remind you who's really the boss here.



Big Boi Sir Lucious Left Foot The Son Of Chico Dusty
44. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Spotify
6th July
Southern Hip-hop


If you ever considered Big Boi to be the weaker half of OutKast, this album is here to set the record straight. Topping critic’s lists all around the publication world with it’s inventive and soulful production coupled with it’s sexy and hilarious lyrical content, you can’t help but bounce along to the pure slickness and speed at which it propels you. It’s detailed, it’s bassy, it’s fun and none of it seems unnecessary. Hell, even Janelle Monae makes an appearance, and really, what the fuck else do you want?




Tame Impala Innerspeaker
43. Tame Impala - InnerSpeaker
Spotify
21st May
Psychedelic Rock


Like the blurry freedom a group of loved-up druggies may experience, this whole album feels underwater, all senses distorted, drenched in a dreamlike state with some serious fucking groove. Its pleasure and fuzzy euphoria only increases in impressiveness when considering that this is exclusively one guy making you feel this way. Yes, it has stolen everything it’s learned from The Beatles/John Lennon circa 67, but it does it well, and where else you going to get that these days, huh? Lennon died my friends.




The Budos Band III
42. The Budos Band - The Budos Band III
Spotify
10th August
Jazz-Funk


Come on in and take a funky chill, The Budos Band are playing. And one thing you can be sure of is that when The Budos Band are playing, you are listening to masters of the craft. Often hailed as their best work to date, it’s forever moving; sometimes sneaking upon you, sometimes allowing you to call the shots, but always the smoothest talker in the room. Full of African good-vibes, I can say in all honesty that no matter who you are, you cannot dislike this album. Period.




Vampire Weekend Contra
41. Vampire Weekend - Contra
Spotify
12th January
Indie Pop


Originally higher up in this list, I unfairly got put off this band when I realised what a bunch of wanks their barely-legal fans were. But regardless of personal reasons, the fact remains that this is one of the most joyful and catchy releases this year has to offer. It’s danceable homage to world music gives it an uplifting unique approach to the genre without ever breaking a sweat, remaining memorable throughout. But most importantly of all, it does so at a great pace without ever overstaying it’s welcome; which is rare in this over-indulgent musical era we seem to find ourselves in. Seriously though, their barely-legal fans are wanks.


Ratatat LP4
40. Ratatat - LP4
Spotify
8th June
Indie Electronic


What’s important about this album is that it covers so many styles without becoming some kind of hybrid-mish-mash. With it’s clever vocal effects, soaring textures and layers upon layers of fun noises, it is basically one big show-off of instrumentation that you wouldn’t pick-up on the first listen. Completely void of dull moments, never giving you any room to doubt it’s brilliance, it also makes great background music for any happy occasion.





Trash Talk Eyes And Nines
39. Trashtalk - Eyes & Nines
Spotify
8th June
Hardcore Punk


Like fists bursting violently out of your speakers and smashing into your face, this intense hardcore offering is hard to describe without using onomatopoeias. Like bang. Or smack. Or fucking BOOM. Whatever you think, it’s by far the most aggressive and loudest record on this list, sending one into a blasphemous frenzy and personally encouraging me to commit crime. Punk is not dead after all.





Oceansize Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up
38. Oceansize - Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up
Spotify
6th September
Progressive Rock


What reads as a shortlist of your blueprint masterpiece, we have this textured release stuffed with odd time signatures, great vocal harmonies and fuckoff impressive drumming. It somehow hits the perfect balance between heavy and melodic, which far too many watered down bands have failed to achieve for the last 10 years. Loads of fun for the whole family.






Kylesa Spiral Shadow
37. Kylesa - Spiral Shadow
Spotify
25th Oct
Sludge Metal


Considering this was written and recorded in just a few months, this album runs deep, keeping it heavy, keeping it spacey, keeping it psychedelic. More than anything, it manages to hold a hazy but definite punk vibe all centering around a very riff-driven collection. It even slips into more melodic moments without growing a vagina. Never completely what you might expect.






Twin Shadow Forget
36. Twin Shadow - Forget
Spotify
28th September
Synth Pop


While my friends were swearing by this album, I just couldn’t get my head around it. I tried and I tried, but eventually gave up and decided it would not be making the list at all. Thankfully, I gave it one more spin whilst doing the final compiling - and then it hit me like a retro wave of emotion. It’s slow and moody presence, it’s atmospheric nod to the 80’s, it’s distinct melodies and it’s soulful hooks... it suddenly made sense. This record was just too intelligent for me, and it had to be explained a few times before I knew what it was trying to say.



Yeasayer ODD BLOOD
35. Yeasayer - ODD BLOOD
Spotify
9th February
Psychedelic pop


Only once you become aware of how collaborative this outfit is between members, do you start to understand the immense talent that is Yeasayer. And this album is as pleasurable as it gets. With it’s density and catchy hooks, fantastic melodies and tribal coating, this could well be the feel-good album of the year.






Mike Patton Mondo Cane
34. Mike Patton - Mondo Cane
Spotify
4th May
Traditional Pop


When Faith No More reunited for touring purposes, it looked like the King of Rock Versatility might have finally run out of ideas. Not so, and here is the proof. On his latest release Patton proves once again that he is no gimmick, covering Italian pop tunes from the 50’s and 60’s, completely out of adoration for somewhat forgotten and internationally ignored tunes. Backed by a 40-piece orchestra, it’s fun, cartoonesque and quirky. It’s lush, talented and forever moving. And more than that, it’s something everyone can enjoy. When considering that Mike Patton used to sing about macaroni and anal sex with Mr Bungle, it’s a seemingly impossible achievement, and one of his best for years.



Laurie Anderson Homeland
33. Laurie Anderson - Homeland
Spotify
22nd June
Art Pop


Less than an actual musical offering, this album is more a narrative, full of philosophical ideas and political opinions. It will take you a while, make no mistake - it’s weird. It’s weird to the point that I couldn’t even get through the whole thing within my first listen, I was far too creeped out and probably far too stoned. But it’s conscious concept and spoken-word moments are so poetic, so haunting and so fucking smart that you can’t help but feel it is always barely hanging onto something. You end up thinking about it constantly. Reminding me of Bowie’s 1995 Outside release, it should be way too modern and experimental for this 64 year old to accomplish, but she does it. She does it better.



The Roots How I Got Over
32. The Roots - How I Got Over
Spotify
22nd June
East Coast Hip-hop


A very unique album, it begins dark, lonely and doubtful, yet still giving off the silky aura of purpose as if it is on a mission. As it continues, it becomes lighter, warmer and more optimistic without losing it’s mellow awareness of reality. Hip-hop with groove and soul like this is rare, never shy of social commentary, keeping it old school and easy to digest, effortless within the struggle. Believe the hype.





Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
31. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
Spotify
9th March
Punk Rock


Full throttle with focus, this band has been justifiably called the “Indie-Springsteen” of the decade. Doesn’t seem far off to me. It’s sloshy but proper old-school punk style is aggressive, smart, weighty, loud, occasionally vulnerable and oh-so genuine. You can dance to it, you can drink to it, you can fuck to it, you can fight to it, you can cry to it or you can just sit and listen to it - the choice is yours. But you will love it.





Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
30. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
3rd May
Experimental Electronic


What seems messy and confusing at first, this album only reveals it’s true form after a few listens, which is still hard to decipher. Think short bursts of futuristic sounds, dense textures and frantic jazzy soundscapes, all of which result in one woozy experience. At times it feels warm and embracing, at times it seems cold and mechanical, and at one time Thom Yorke sings. It was very hard for me to know where to put this album on the list. I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to give it the proper amount of listens it needs to be fully realised, and so I publicly state that this probably deserves a higher slot.



M.I.A. - MAYA
29. M.I.A. - /\/\ /\ Y /\
Spotify
13th July
Electropop


If you are looking for a repeat of her Paper Planes smash single, you aren’t going to find it this year buddy, sorry. But off the bat you know that this imaginative album is going to be a special sort of machine: going loud, going chaotic, going industrial, and banging you whilst hooking you all at once to the point of claustrophobia.  It even boasts it’s relevance to modern day trends with internet references like Google or Twitter throughout, and then menacingly linking them to government conspiracy theories. Of course M.I.A. sucks her own ego-dick throughout, but she’s earned it with her independence and ability to not be influenced by anything else. Generally reviews have been mixed for this one because it does lack the diversity of her last two, but fuck it, it’s my favourite M.I.A. album yet.



Killing Joke - Absolute Dissent
28. Killing Joke - Absolute Dissent
Spotify
27th September
Post-Punk


A release so fearlessly confident and sure of itself, Absolute Dissent cannot be ignored. It’s a stressful listen at times, often angry and gritty over some powerful riffs, but it justifies itself by dipping into moments of beauty and mature melodies - reminding you that they know what they are doing. It’s the first release with the original line-up since 1982, a bunch of 50 year olds who not only stand relevant, but even better than most others in their genre. They know their shit, basically.




LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
27. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
Spotify
18th May
Indie Electronic


Reminding me of the Talking Heads, This is Happening most certainly is happening around most critic’s top 2010 releases. This is for good reason, as it’s DIY post-punk style is very danceable and casually happy, knowledgeable and self-aware, nostalgic and lyrically satisfying - and still has time to get loud. Doesn’t try too hard, doesn’t seem to give a shit, doesn’t need any more explanation.





Klaxons - Surfing The Void
26. Klaxons - Surfing The Void
Spotify
13th August
Indie Rock


Like a voice in your head, this album has a very demented vibe to it, which can be thrilling at times and a little worrying at others. The entire duration feels like anticipation surrounded by many memorable moments, and kind of like the cover, reminds me of experiments done in large areas of space. It’s far from conventional, hooky as fuck and is easily Ross Robinson’s best production since The Blood Brother's 2002 offering "...Burn, Piano Island, Burn". Apparently old Klaxtons fans hate it. Luckily I’m not an old fan then.




Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
25. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
2nd November
Hip-hop


The thing about Kanye is that it would be so much easier to hate him. All it would take is one little musical misstep on his part and the world would rip him a new one until his career was nothing more than dust. Instead, he releases something like this: an autobiographical, humorous, vulgar offering which is boastful as always but still somewhat apologetic for his recent ego-trips. With it’s A-list of appearances including Jay-Z, Bon Iver, John Legend and Chris Rock, it is a force to be reckoned with and gets significantly more impressive as it goes on. More than anything, it is a production masterpiece where each track sounds alive and breathing. Over-hyped? Sure, but for good reason.


Rolo Tomassi - Cosmology
24. Rolo Tomassi - Cosmology
Spotify
24th  May
Mathcore


A shrill and intricate effort which is produced by Diplo. He is so hot right now. And although his machine gun signature sound is present, something this heavy is unlike anything he has done before. It takes a few listens as any good album will, but once you get behind the crazy momentum and frantic jutterings that is Rolo Tomassi, you can’t help but get a little hysterical yourself. The vocalist Eva Spence is an amazing piece of work, her style often sounding like 2 different people with Adams-apple screams and pretty melodies; reminding us that they are no gimmick band. If you are still mourning the loss of The Blood Brothers or early Dillinger Escape Plan, get into this shit, it takes no prisoners and leaves a fantastic after taste.



The Black Keys - Brothers
23. The Black Keys - Brothers
Spotify
18th May
Blues Rock


Another critic favourite, hardly anyone has anything bad to say about this album at all. This is because you can’t help but be impressed by it’s murky garage-band production, which lyrically centers around relationship problems backed by some rocking instrumentation. All songs are different but work as one unit, as they swiftly jump between genres without being obvious or pretentious about it. It’s back to the basics, solid all the way through, and is as straight forward and no-nonsense as the cover artwork itself.



Grinderman - Grinderman 2
22. Grinderman - Grinderman 2
Spotify
13th September
Punk Blues


This is a prime example of music that wasn’t trying to hit it lucky - it knew exactly what it was doing. This album feels more like a dangerous entity than anything else: it breathes, it engages, it seems evil and naughty in a humorous way. It’s clever, it’s strong, and has violent undertones without ever being overtly aggressive. It’s too proper for that. You want real Rock ‘n Roll? You’ve got it. And it’ll remind you once again that Nick Cave has always had everyone’s balls in the grinder, man. I apologise for that joke, it won’t happen again.


Kno - Death is Silent
21. Kno - Death is Silent
Spotify
12th October
Southern Hip-hop


Centering around love, sex and death; this is the debut from Kno (part of the acclaimed CunninLynguists trio) and he can be fucking proud of it. If you like your Hip-hop dark, this is as emotional and depressing as you’ll find this year, full with haunting samples and clever rhyming melodies which are both beautiful and hard-hitting. The ambiance ties the whole thing together leaving us with something very serious indeed.





Beach House - Teen Dream
20. Beach House - Teen Dream
Spotify
26th January
Dream Pop


Like a dense and swirly watercolour painting done by a drowsy but thoughtful artist, this memorable piece feels drained of all it’s colours in the prettiest of ways. It only takes a few listens for one to realise the deep dream state Beach House have managed to effortlessly portray into music here, in a somewhat sophisticated yet timid manner. Magically lush and memorable, it’s honest, and isn’t trying to impress anyone. It just does what it does, and it does it beautifully.




Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles (II)
19. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles (II)
Spotify
24th May
Synth Punk


What should have been the impossible sophomore, Crystal Castles manage to refine their lo-fi sound into something even more sinister this time round. As ferociously intense and as grating as ever, it is consistently in your face, distorting and provoking you to dance like a lunatic all over again. That said, it does dabble in more melodic moments from time to time, but is never mediocre, which secures their talent and influence on the Synth Punk scene as anything but a once-off fluke. Play it loud, piss off your neighbours guaranteed.



Noisia - Split The Atom
18. Noisia - Split The Atom
Spotify
5th April
Electronic Drum & Bass


When an album touches on almost every electronic genre you like without jeopardizing it’s production or aggressive blasts of fury, you know you have something to show your friends. Short and heavy songs keep the vibe and flow consistent with some serious instant 2010 classics - it makes my balls salivate. You will dance. You have no choice. It’s hard not to with so many fists like this up your ass.





Sia - We Are Born
17. Sia - We Are Born
Spotify
7th June
Pop


It may seem like an unlikely candidate, but personally, this album helped me through a tough time this year and I still have no idea why. I guess whilst being playful, bouncy and a delightfully hooky release, it is still a very clever pop record, remaining versatile and very human. It’s party hooks, speedy delivery and flawless run keeps it fun and punchy throughout the duration. It is heartbreak in the summertime, a life-lesson in candyfloss, all from one of the best voices on the market. My unchallenged guilty-pleasure of 2010 and, according to my LastFm, my most listened to album of the last 6 months.



The Drums - The Drums
16. The Drums - The Drums
Spotify
7th June
Indie Pop


While it sounds like some kind of 80’s lo-fi punk revival thing, it’s still very distinct with a intimate surf-pop center. Contagiously catchy, it slams you right back into a glittery summer as if the whole experience was just one of them happy dreams. Yes, its rough and guitar-driven production never becomes extraordinarily talented, and yes, they do have the worst band name on the list. But it works massively as a whole, is attention grabbing, and seems to hit even stronger near the end.




Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me
15. Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me
23rd February
Chamber Folk


This album is so good that I have no problem with telling you what is wrong with it. It’s indulgent, a result of way too much encouragement due to the massive success of her previous album Ys. It’s a little over-confident, pretentious, unnecessary long (talking 3 albums worth, longest song being 13 minutes, and tracks averaging around 7 minutes each) and can often result in a little too much for one listen. But it is all of this that makes Have One On Me the most ambitious album of 2010; the complex and epic lullaby quality that only Joanna knows how to do; the arrangements from God and undoubtable masterpiece moments - it deserves the attention. A soaring beauty unlike anything else, it is a cheeky and precious album that tip-toes through the depths of my mind, giving me flashbacks of the lavish celebrations I used to attend with those magic forest fairies in the 60’s. Doesn’t disappoint. Couldn’t.



Spoon - Transference
14. Spoon - Transference
Spotify
19th Jan
Indie Rock


Never giving you too much time to settle, this album smirks at you with it’s memorable hooks and “oh-no-you-didn’t” type of moments. It’s almost bit too cool and a little more into itself to really notice you there, cocky in The Verve kind of way. Every song is on the same level without ever being formulated or conventional, and it’s journey is very unpredictable. Even in my attempt to write something funny here, I found I simply couldn’t. This is simply no joke.




Liars - Sisterworld
13. Liars - Sisterworld
Spotify
8th March
Art Punk


You are delirious and you are slowly going mad. You are lost in the dirty hallways of an old house and you know you are in danger. An accident is waiting to happen. An accident is waiting for you. You feel woozy. You feel childlike. And something is with you. Something forever creeping, leading you into darker and darker places. It is menacing but you have no choice but to follow. Mysterious. Eerie. Overwhelming. And yet somewhat lo-fi and punky. This is the soundtrack to your horror movie. 




Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
12. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Spotify
9th March
Electropop


Here is the third Gorillaz release you guys, and is the closest they have come to sounding like it was actually written by a cartoon band. They build their own quirky world with continuous themes, and hail a list of guests you would probably never say in the same sentence (like Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed and Bobby Womack). Rarely do we find something so serious about not being serious at all, and then pull it off so well. It’s genius is subtle but can be deeply analysed with it’s genre skipping motion, never straying too far from a weird poppy experience. Never boring; always futuristic; and definitely no accident. In summary: Albarn does not fail ever, and this is him at his very best.



MGMT - Congratulations
11. MGMT - Congratulations
Spotify
13th April
Psychedelic Rock


Ladies and Gentleman, this is what it sounds like when a popular and successful band rejects their debut, rejects their fame, and rejects their formula. I had such low hopes for this album that it was a huge surprise to be treated with something so progressive, so ambitious, and so cool that it was finally ok for me to like MGMT again. Introspective, despondent, obscure, indulgent and energetic in a tired kind of way, all guarantee’s that it will last beyond it's years. You can hear radio shitting itself, you can hear fans feeling confused and cheated, and you can even hear some enemies finally converting. Fuck the haters, it makes Oracular Spectacular look like child's play, it’s their best work yet, and has a fantastic ending just to seal the deal. Sold.


Deftones - Diamond Eyes
10. Deftones - Diamond Eyes
Spotify
4th May
Alternative Metal

According to the law of averages, Deftones really should have fucked up by now. But this scenic yet heavy offering reads like a brick wall and proves just the opposite. It sounds like the Deftones without becoming predictable, smothered in focused hooks and striking intelligence no matter which way you dissect it. It reminds me of a more optimistic Depeche Mode or The Cure, except with a little more (well-needed) testosterone. Chino pwns as always, and I will go on record stating that if this release isn’t on par with White Pony, it’s better.



Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
09. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
3rd August
Indie Rock

Love them or hate them, it’s got to the point where you can no longer ignore Arcade Fire. And when you consider the massive acclaim that their previous records received, it should be impossible for their 3rd release would live up to the hype. But fuck me, it does. Musically mature and melodies to kill yourself over, there is something so special yet utterly indescribable about this charming release, regularly tapping perfection on the shoulder and working smoothly as one entire piece. Seriously artistic without alienating, it has a solemn apocalyptic vibe about it that gets better and more apparent with every listen. Their ever growing relevance, critical acclaim and commercial appeal makes me feel like we might finally have the long awaited answer to Radiohead.



Uochi Toki - Cuore Amore Errore Disintegrazione
08. Uochi Toki - Cuore Amore Errore Disintegrazione
Spotify
17th September
Experimental Hip-hop


Here is proof that you do not need to understand a word of an album to appreciate the genius at work beneath. The real unique selling point for me on this release was that the fast hardcore raps and the industrial beat-driven backings work independently, almost as if they were written apart and completely unrelated. But it works, albeit in some of the most intense and jarring moments you could ever show your mom. Dark, brooding and sample heavy, love it or hate it, I guarantee you’ve never heard anything like it.


Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
07. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
12th October
Art Pop

There is no possible way that any artist could ever follow up an epic album like Illinois. Except Sufjan. Almost as if a summary of everything good we’ve learned from popular music within the last decade, he has nailed some sort of a weird genre here. I would call it indie-electronic-glitchy-progressive-folk-melodic-pop-maybe? Whatever. It’s rich, exhilarating, compassionate and contains arrangements you can’t fathom. It’s soundtrackesque, quirky and ends with an ambitious and somewhat overwhelming 25 minute song which is worthy of the money alone. I guess what I’m really trying to get to is that this sounds a bit like The Flaming Lips, only with more musical talent and sincerity. Yup. I said it.



The National - High Violet
06. The National - High Violet
Spotify
11th May
Indie Rock

Dark melancholy only The National know how to pull off properly, the mournful and personal honesty that this record reveals will relate to your sorrowful and pathetic life perfectly. Uncomfortably comfortable, it’s wise and neurotic from the word go, lyrically and musically fucking brilliant down to every last second. Like an owl in captivity, it’s a wise and unforgettable piece of work from one of the best bands out there right now by a long way. This could be justifiably labeled the album of the year by anyone.




Anais Mitchell - Hadestown
05. Anais Mitchell - Hadestown
Spotify
26th April
Contemporary Folk

A sultry folk opera, Hadestown is one of the most solid and true concept albums ever made, which revolves around a poverty stricken hell-like town containing dialogue between many reoccurring characters. Characters who are portrayed by Anais herself, as well as a few repeated guest vocalists, most notably being Justin Vernon from Bon Iver. It’s a massive and original story, filled with love and loss and a few other things I don’t really remember. It gets better and better after each listen, and every time it ends I find myself asking... “What the fuck did I just listen to??”



Die Antwoord - $O$
04. Die Antwoord - $O$
Spotify
12th October
Rave Rap

Don’t come with your “Oh Waddy is kak now, I much preferred his Max Normal/Constructus stuff” like some kind of Wadtkin connoisseur. I have been following his styles since Songs From The Mall, know all of his work, and this rivals every one of them as his best. I thought you needed to be Saffa to fully understand the original and hilarious value of this outfit, but living in London, I can say this simply isn’t true. I guess this is because such a danceable gangster style coupled with in-your-face but well-produced beats knows no geographical boundaries. Lyrically, it’s everything it should be: genius; unnecessarily perverse; ridiculous; hooky; full of itself; energetic; and unapologetic. It’s zef. Lazy critics find it easy to pass them off as a novelty act, but for those of us familiar with The Ziggurat/The Fantastic Kill/Memoirs of a Clone, we know this is a well calculated move with many more to come. And if you don’t like it, you’re just not on my level, jammer.



Sleigh Bells - Treats
03. Sleigh Bells - Treats
Spotify
11th May
Noise Pop

Despite the cover work accurately representing the somewhat High School scent this album gives off, I would never recommend listening to it with hangover or any other such discomfort. On paper it’s a formula that should get irritating: abrasive hammering and forceful beats in conjunction with the sugary sweet voice of what sounds like a pubescent girl. I guess that’s what would happen when a Teen-pop star joins forces with the former guitarist from Poison The Well. But instead, the result is something super fun, compulsively addictive and so fresh you can taste it. Unlike anything ever.



Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
02. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Spotify
28th September
Neo-Psychedelia

When considering Bradford Cox (Deerhunter’s primary singer and songwriter) was born with the life threatening genetic disorder Marfan Syndrome, his work becomes painfully more precious. This release reflects the said image in my head perfectly: it is dramatically desperate and oozes from the heart, developing a deep connection with the listener throughout. Yet within it’s phantom coldness, these songs appear somewhat blissful and optimistic, swirling around your brain for a long time after the experience. It’s minimal charm is fascinating, somehow sounding weak and tired without that being a negative aspect. Gets better as it goes on, grows on you more every time, and begs to repeated over and over again. Seriously, a fucking hair’s-breadth away from number 1, a very hard decision for me.



Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
01. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
Spotify
18th May
Contemporary RnB

And this is it: The Album Of The Year. To be honest, I tried to fight it, but my reasoning was all wrong. I knew that my close friends would predict it far too easily. I had hailed The ArchAndroid as my favourite album too loud and way too many times throughout the year, which is coincidentally why I came to the conclusion that there could be no other. The main reason why I feel Janelle deserves it, is because I have never liked any of this type-music before I had heard this release. It opened doors, man. IT OPENED DOORS IN MY MIND.
But even for those who regularly swim in the genre, they will still find themselves very deep in talent. It’s a perfectly executed yet risky RnB opera, the love-child of maybe Bowie, Prince, OutKast and Beyonce. It’s proud, ambitious concept is ballsy and a little bit crazy, all about a messianic android who is sent back to free the citizens of The Great Divide using nothing but love. The songs are vastly different, bending genres without loosing momentum or track of the story. It just works on so many levels, combining poppy-playfulness and arty-intelligence into one multi-dimensional concoction, which is thorough and lengthy without becoming bloated. And more than anything: it’s her. Her voice and her style and charisma is why I crown her the Queen of 2010. I even tried to tell her when I bumped into her at her concert a few weeks back, but she wasn’t really interested. Diva’s, right?



CONCLUSION
I used to think that I was quite knowledgeable when it came to music. This blog taught me the hard-way that I am not. That is why I cannot ever understand why people say “(x) year has been shit in music” or “there is no good (insert genre) music anymore”, because all this really means is “I am not digging deep enough”. Do you know how much fucking music there is out there? DO YOU?? Do you know how much fucking music is being made right now? WELL?? DO YOU??!? No, you don’t. I don’t. But I do know it’s more than you could ever listen to. Ever. None of us know anything. Music knows more than you.

Anyways, despite the near death experience, I do like this blog a lot due to the pure effort that went into it. I will definitely be doing this for many years to come, but next year I’m going to start in January rather than November. And please, don’t try this at home kids. You might not be so lucky.

10 comments :

  1. Good blog and a wealth of new music that needs my ears to bleed bloody brain matter all over them

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  2. Hahaha, then my job here is done :)

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  3. nice blog you got here,new artists to be heard :),you hate metal music do you ? cuz there was a lot of metal this year not to be ignored,even if u r not a metalhead,like Alcest's second album "├ęcailles de lune"(more like shoegaze though) for example.and others..

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  4. I heard Alcest's album, and it was really good, but I will admit that due to my excessive and almost exclusive metal listening during my teenage years, I have been quite put off the genre. Thanks for the comment!

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  5. Stumbled here from your reviews on rateyourmusic. It's an interesting project you set for yourself. Having done something similar to you in past years, I did the opposite in 2010: limit myself to very few new albums. I plan on listening to another 200-some in the next few months though. You've inspired me to check out Bot'Ox, Crystal Fighters, & Uochi Toki. Thanks.

    http://rateyourmusic.com/list/fearlessweav/52_weeks__my_2010_album_chart

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  6. this is crap. you should quit listening to music. not ESSENTIAL, these are your FAVORITES

    CHEERS

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  7. Yes, hence why I called it "Jared Woods' Top 50 Essential 2010 Albums". I am Jared Woods. That's my name. It's MY Top 50 Essential 2010 Albums. Were you looking for YOUR Essential 2010 Albums? Then write that. Were you looking for EVERYONE'S Essential 2010 Albums? Let me know if you find that list. Cheers yourself cunt.

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    Replies
    1. To be fair, this is a weak list. It was my first attempt at doing something like this, and I definitely did not do enough research. I feel like I got much better at it in the following years. Thanks for the support though!

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