Top Ten | Albums of 2010

Since year-end lists are all the rage on music site after music site — authored by any skinny white kid with a 32GB or higher iPod — it struck me as a surprise that there had been zero of these type of posts on the WMFO blog page. Although this may be a bit late, I’ve decided to post an obligatory year end top-ten list; hopefully at least one person may pick up an album they otherwise would’ve missed from a year of music that was superb.

#10- The Monitor – Titus Andronicus: Titus Andronicus decided to follow up their chaotic and inspired debut album with this civil-war themed concept album. Much less of the production is in the red compared to their first album, a welcome addition because quite honestly a sane being can only take so many minutes of Patrick Stickles wailing into a broken microphone. There are more hooks here and catchy guitar riffs for the crossover fan of punk and hardcore to enjoy- not to say that this would ever be something you throw on with mom in the car for a long trip. It’s all relative.

#9- Swim – Caribou: If you want to feel inadequate as a human being, look up Daniel Victor Snaith’s doctorate thesis entitled “Overconvergent Siegel Modular Symbols.” It’s 55 pages of mind-bending horror, mathematics taken to the limit. Then check out his fantastic album produced last April. Snaith creates chill vibes and ambient noodlings that are catchy as hell and trippy to listen to. “Odessa” has the phattest bassline of the year, and the rest of the album is a remarkable hybrid of MIDI keyboard experimentation and pop structures.

#8-This is Happening – LCD Soundsystem: James Murphy seems to defy all logic: in a world in which sophomore slumps reign supreme- and then only go downhill from there- he makes each of his new albums better and better. This is Happening takes all of the influences apparent in Murphy’s life (Depeche Mode, Devo, Talking Heads) and makes them into a masterpiece that is in no way ironic, just genuine. “Dance Yrself Clean,” the epic opener, sets the pace for the rest of the outrageously fun dance-a-thon that never lets up. I went to the concert at the Orpheum in September, and it was one of the most energizing performances I’ve ever seen.

#7- The Suburbs – The Arcade Fire: After the exponentially increasing success of Funeral and Neon Bible, the Arcade Fire had a bunch to live up to. For their third album, the Montreal-based outfit started to stray away from their deeply emotional, often morbid themes and wrote this concept-y album about the normalcy and inferiority complexes that come with an unremarkable life in the suburbs. The music itself sounds like it owes a lot to Springsteen, yet everything that comes out of Win Butler’s mouth always has a depressing undertone. It’s an album that has an ambiguous outlook on its subject matter that makes an intriguing listen.

#6- Contra – Vampire Weekend: There’ll always be the haters. Vampire Weekend were steeped in upper-middle class values on their self-titled debut, and alienated a lot of their listeners because of it. They don’t make it any easier out of the gates on Contra, rhyming “balaclava,” “horchata,” and “Aranciata” in the first two minutes. It doesn’t matter. Vampire Weekend do an exquisite job of blending the afro-pop they’re rooted in with atmospheric keyboards and hideously catchy/beautiful vocals from Ezra. Because of the cohesion between all of its tracks, the album stands head and shoulders above its predecessor and’ll keep the liberal arts students ecstatic until the next album rolls around.

#5- Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter: I’ll be the first to admit that Deerhunter was barely on my radar leading up to the release of this album. I thought it was mostly filler with occasional, but rare, flashes of greatness. On Digest, they cut out virtually all of the feedback-filled instrumental hoopla that usually takes up too much of their time, and put out what probably is the best record to ever come out of the shoe-gazing genre. Bradford Cox was always known to be the resident genius in the band, but this album is Lockett Pundt’s coming out party. He shows he can pop out songs with the best of ‘em, and contributes a ton to this hazy and chaotic opus that is easily Deerhunter’s best ever.

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