It’s that time of the year again. Time to round up the last 12 months of music and collate some sort of obligatory list that gives you all my musical impressions.
It’ll either make me come off as a music-snob, a music-nerd or a music-wannabe-nerd-snob. Take your pick :)
As any avid reader of my blog would know (Hi LaLa), I delight in making the end of year Top 10 Album list. I also delight in ranting about the music that I love. Note that the music I love generally gets played on the one and only Triple J and usually blasted through my car radio (thanks LaLa) or through my speakers at work.
I also like to play whole albums when I can, either at work, at home on the weekends or in the car on the way to Sydney.
Although playing whole albums gets to be a harder and harder task nowadays. Firstly. They’re too freaking long! Who has 45+ minutes to listen to an album from start to finish. Who listens to an album from Song 1 to song 10 in one sitting?
We all know that if you like the first 4 or 5 songs on the album you’re going to play them at a ratio of 4:1 over the rest of the album.
Regurgitator have taken the right approach. Screw ‘The Album’. There is no place for 10 track albums in todays society. Flick out a few songs as you write them here and there and let the public digest them regularly rather than waiting 3 years for 3 great songs, 3 decent ones, 2 ok ones and 3 fillers.
Having said all that, I love albums. Actually, let me rephrase that… I love GOOD albums. The albums that you CAN listen to from start to finish and not want to change to some schlock 90’s grunge. That is the all important criteria here (thanks to Triple J’s Zan for the inspiration).
So here we go. The List, in no particular order because it changes in my head every 15 minutes.
Children Collide – The Theory of Everything
This 3 piece Melbournian band takes me back. Yes, all the way back to 1991, reminding me of a little band known as Nirvana. The talented blonde erratic guitarist lead singer. The long haired tall bassist with strange moves. The hard-hitting drummer. It’s all there and these guys aren’t a one album wonder. Their sophmore album is every bit as good as their debut, if not better. They play a mean live set and they consume everyone in their path. These guys should be huge, but ironically their path to hugedom entails appealing to the commercialist public which probably means losing their edge. I’m happy for them to stay on the edge. It’s where they sound best
Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
What can be said about this band that hasn’t been said by everyone else that has picked them in their Top 10 list? Tame Impala have taken a direct path to stardom.
Sign an international deal with Modular before you even release anything. Check.
Release a debut self-titled EP to critical acclaim. Check.
Cover a corny 90’s pop song (Remember Me) and land in the Hottest 100. Check.
Support the hottest new US act’s tour around America (MGMT). Check.
Release debut album and win The J Award. Check.
This year has been their year with a psychodelic, 70’s-esque wah-fest album that somehow feels right at home in 2010. I love the way this album feels when I listen to it. It surrounds you with warm colourful sounds that make you wish you were old enough to appreciate the first time this sort of music came out. Listen if you haven’t..
Angus & Julia Stone – Down The Way
This one is too easy to pick. Yet another Australian band that is making it massive overseas and at the same time making us proud to own them. Haunting alternate vocals from the sibling duo give this album a dual layer of listenability with each one’s vocals adding something different to their song.
The words, the melodies and those damn fine voices make this an unforgettable album which somehow eclipsed their debut. Getting to see them live at a festival in London was also pretty damn special.
Sia – We Are Born
Oh Sia, your album title is poignant as it is like you have been born again. Your time with Zero 7 and your more soulful jazzy days have passed and you are re-born as a pop queen with amazingly catchy melodies, pulsing beats and very cutesy video clips. You’ve reshaped yourself and I defy anyone to be upset by that. I admire your will to turn against your record company and make the album you wanted. Surely they would be regretting their decisions now.
I love the fact that Sia does what she wants, says what she wants but still comes out smelling like roses. Highlights of this album have to be ‘Bring Night’ and ‘Clap Your Hands’ (both favourites for my kids), but the whole album has a happy feel to it.
Yeasayer – Odd Blood
This band came out of nowhere for me. I heard snippets of ‘Ambling Alp’ near the start of the year and thought it sounded cool. Sort of an MGMT-esque, electronic/rocky pop sound. And then ONE came out and we all blew our collective loads. 4 months later I would be front row at the Latitude festival in London watching their amazing set. One of the real highlights of the year for me and a fantastic album to boot with enough good vibey catchy tunes to keep you coming back
Mark Ronson & the Business International
– Record Collection
I was a minor fan of Mark Ronson from his previous album but I was never convinced that he could pull off an album of music that I would listen to. I was wrong!
This album pulls amazing melodies, marching band drums and smooth lyrics together to make a completely addictive album. ‘Bang Bang Bang’ and ‘Lose It (In the End) are standouts on this album that makes you feel good when you listen to it. He collaborates with some random artists on this album as well. Ghostface Killa, Simon Le Bon, The Drums, Boy George. He doesn’t hold back. Somehow this mish-mash of songs just works.
Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Rush to Relax
I discovered this band about a century after everyone else. A small stage at Homebake in 2009 whilst Powderfinger drew the majority of the audience in the main arena. There we were, my mate and I, about 3 rows back watching a front man(with a glove) singing in fits and starts while jumping about the stage in some sort of spasmodic fashion. A guitarist with an intense love of speed riffs and a non-plussed bassist banging out fast rocky punkish 3 minute songs.
I was blown away! 2010 saw a new album from this Melbourne 3 piece and it picks up from their previous work. Edgy, raw and ready rock that has to be seen to be believed. Anxiety ranks as one of my favs of the year, but you can listen to this whole album again and again and feel like you are there…without the glove.
Now, I know that’s only 7 albums, but I have a confession to make. I didn’t listen to a whole lot of albums that blew me away this year. I listen to the radio predominantly. If I hear a couple of songs from the same artist that I like, I source the album. These are the 7 that I really enjoyed from this year.
I also enjoyed Koolism, Two Door Cinema Club, Surfer Blood, Little Red, LCD Soundsystem, Illy, Gorillaz and Vampire Weekend, but couldn’t say that I listened to their albums enough ALL THE WAY THROUGH to include them in the list.
So should I be making more of an effort to listen to full albums, or should I just keep listening to Triple J, letting them create a compilation album for my listening pleasure?
A lot of Top 10 Album lists have included albums from The National, Arcade Fire, Kanye, Deerhunter, Sleigh Bells and Parades to name a few, but a lot of it just isn’t my bag…. ESPECIALLY Arcade Fire, which was ironically selected as the No. 1 album by Triple J listeners.
I just don’t get them at all. I sat through their set whilst waiting for RATM at the 2008 Big Day Out and I was less than inspired. Is something wrong with me or do others share in my ‘meh’ feeling for them?
Almost time to think about my voting for the Hottest 100 as well. I think that will be an easier list to collate….