Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Year in Music...According to Zak

So…2010. Let’s see, it was hands down the most emotional year of my life. The year with the greatest ups and worst downs I have ever experienced. So one would imagine with those emotions flowing that I would have identified with a number of albums…after all one could argue that music is best experienced at heightened emotional times. However, 2010 proved to be a year of really great albums that I loved…yet only a few connected emotionally with me. None of these records however, stood out as a clear number one. If I were to revisit this list tomorrow, I may change the order again. Quite frankly, my top five from last year would be ahead of all of these from this year. Yes, there were songs on these records that moved me…I mean like you feel it in the gut…but none of the “albums” did that. They were all really great…but none were exceptional to me this year. Anyway…here they are and my thoughts and a quote from a song…one that for me resonated with me.

10. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

The Arcade Fire returns with a record that REALLY wants to be Funeral. It tries to grow and up and mature and all the things you are supposed to do…but it fails a bit towards the end. Don’t get me wrong…it has it’s moments. “Suburban War” and “Ready to Start” are definitely grown up versions of “Wake Up,” and “Neighborhood #3,” respectively. But as The Suburbs reaches it’s final tracks, I’m just left feeling less than satisfied.

“They said the past won't rest, Until we jump the fence and leave it behind”

9. Girl Talk – All Day

The DP nailed it on this one…to not like this record is to not like music. I mean, it’s the most damn likeable thing I’ve heard in years. It’s like skate and space on steroids. The regulars are there…Jay, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Neil Diamond...and although I think it is a bit passé to end with “Imagine” it is tons of fun to try and figure out which Miami Sound Machine that is.

(no quote would be appropriate…but the key track is definitely “Triple Double.”)

8. The National – High Violet

The National return with a sonically astounding album. Start to finish, I cannot fault the feel of this album. It feels and sounds amazing. However, lyrically, I am not sure it is their best work. During the brilliance of this album, we have to “walk with spiders” “cover me with rag and bones,” and most disturbing “eat your brains.” So I don’t know what to do with this. The Runaway is one of their best…hands down…but I am left wanting a bit more.

“I never thought about love, when I thought about home.”

7. Kissaway Trail - Sleep Mountain

The type of band we all love (at least the DP does), one that wants to be the Arcade Fire. Great anthems fill this record and lyrically it is brilliant. I don’t know anything about this band…and I bought it on a whim in Orlando, with thoughts of yellowbirds, solely based on the album artwork. And I fell in love with the sound.

“It’s not how we planned it to be, maybe this year will be better.”

6. Local Natives – Gorilla Minor

An outstanding debut! Local Natives bring stripped down rock with haunting lyrics and make you want to sing along. I loved everything about this record…the feel, the sound, the lyrics…start to finish a solid debut from a band that somehow weaves the feel of those great late 90’s indie rock records with an urgency to push forward. My only complaint is that it is a bit similar throughout...which turns out to be a good thing. For goodness sake, it’s nice to know what to expect.

“Memory tells me that these times are worth working for.”

5. Spoon – Transference

An early 2010 release that hung around all year long. “Got Nuffin,” “Written in Reverse,” and “Goodnight Laura” found their way onto almost every mix I made this year. And as album it clearly stands out as one of Spoon’s best. They have found their way as a mainstay in my collection with an exceptional back catalog and a superb record in Transference.

“And you close your eyes and slow yourself and let your worry leave you and let go of it all just for this evening .”

4. Tokyo Police Club – Champ

The most geographically confused band I have ever known comes back with a bang. The most emjoyable record of the year for me. Nothing to heavy lyrically and the songs are put together much more sophisticatedly than on Elephant Shell. Champ finds the boys experiencing some more heartbreak but in a very Weezer sort of way. Like you can’t feel to bad for them because they are having so much fun.

“But the big bad years are gone yeah, the big bad years are done and gone away”

3. Kanye West –My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

It’s all been said about this record…I mean it really has. I wanted to not like it. I made the mistake of reading all the reviews, including Pitchforks grossly overrated 10.0, and I wanted to not like it. I wanted to find fault in it. I wanted to rip on his 4 minute ending to “The Runaway” with the auto-tune way past any point of understanding but then I heard it in headphones and realized The Beatles wished they could have pulled this off with St. Peppers. And ending with the Bon Iver track...I learned to just let it be what it is. One of the greatest accomplishments in pop music.

“I'm up in the woods, I'm down on my mind I'm building a sill to slow down the time” or Kanye’s take, “I'm lost in the world, I'm down for the time, I'm new to the city, Down for the night”

2. Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More

A great debut…I mean this band has the makings of an amazing future. Lyrically the best record I heard all year. Hands down. At times they are part Avett Brothers, other times they are closer to the Fleet Foxes…but his voice, delivery, and lyrics may be closer to Conor Oberst. The opening track “Sigh No More,” is so much like a Fleet Foxes song it could end up on their next record…yet midway through the record we find “Little Lion Man,” a radio friendly track with banjos, only to find our way back to being reminded that we are “not alone in this” on the brilliant, “Timshel”

“Where you invest your love, you invest your life”

1. Band of Horses – Infinite Arms

Let me start by saying that I overplayed this record…grossly overplayed. Almost enough to make me not want to put it here. But once I walked away from it…and listened to it for what it is it became crystal clear. Here is one of my favorite bands putting out a near perfect record. I can’t not put it at number one. From Ben’s lyrics on the opening track screaming “I don’t ever wanna come back home” to the closing notes where he whispers, “We could live by our own laws in favor” it was the closest thing to describing my year.

“On my way back home, a chance I thought of, oh my favorite song where I'd gone wrong.”

1 comment:

Tim said...

Really liked the list Zak. The only one I don't completely agree with you on was Local Natives. I really wanted to like this album, and kept listening to it over and over again, but frankly I think the entire album is a bit tiresome and flat. The good tunes come up at the beginning of the album, but there just isn't enough drive to keep it all going. Maybe I am missing something here.