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top ten albums of 2010

by Gordon

 

10. CONGRATULATIONS by mgmt

 

Flash Delirium [LISTEN]

While not as altogether catchy as their breakthrough Oracular Spectacular, it’s every bit as weird, and ultimately, as daring. Though a letdown on certain levels, you have to give it to the band for their genre-bending approach.

FULL REVIEW

 

9. INFINITE ARMS by band of horses

On My Way Back Home [LISTEN]

It doesn’t knock you out on first listen. Infinite Arms grows on you, reminding you of what makes Band of Horses a great band, be it the soaring vocals of Ben Bridwell, their undeniable melodies, or, less tangibly, the subtle way the music takes you to a quiet place just between childhood and last night.

FULL REVIEW

 

8. ODD BLOOD by yeasayer

O.N.E. [LISTEN]

Part Animal Collective, part Of Montreal, brand new and yet somehow reminiscent of an era that’s passed, it’s all come to be what is unmistakably Yeasayer, and I welcomed a heavy dose this year.

FULL REVIEW

 

7. THIS IS HAPPENING by lcd soundsystem

I Can Change [LISTEN]

This universally acclaimed third and purportedly final album from Murphy serves as an upbeat celebration of the end of a decade, while still encapsulating the sometimes introverted thoughtfulness that’s stood out in the artist’s previous work as well. Let’s hope he has more to say in the years to come.

FULL REVIEW

 

6. CONTRA by vampire weekend

Giving Up The Gun [LISTEN]

Proving that the earlier success of these four young New York City lads was no fluke, Contra serves up another dose of of African pop-meets-Western culture, but this time with even more boldness and purpose in direction.

FULL REVIEW

 

5. THE AGE OF ADZ by sufjan stevens

I Walked [LISTEN]

Do I wish Stevens, who for almost a decade has remained one of the most inspiring and sometimes life-changing artists for my generation, had combined the best of Adz and his recent EP All Delighted People to create an even better new release? Yes. But Adz is still undeniably an amazing record, grander in scale, scope and sound than anything yet from the quiet young Michigan native with a banjo.

4. GO by jónsi

Boy Lilikoi [LISTEN]

It’s Sigur Rós on Four Loko. With tighter compositions, fuller soundscapes, and just as much imagination as ever, you  need only close your eyes and imagine the other members to ease out of the feeling you’re committing adultery.

FULL REVIEW

 

3. TEEN DREAM by beach house

Walk In The Park [LISTEN]

It’s hard to believe how simple a song can be, or a band for that matter, and still make music magic. Amidst a broad pallette of pace and emotion, Legrand’s vocals leave the strongest aftertaste…soulful, confident, and even in a pop context, always a bit haunting.

FULL REVIEW

 

2. HIGH VIOLET by the national

Afraid Of Everyone [LISTEN]

It’s hard not giving this one the top spot. This is the third consecutive album from the band to be music gold, their instrumental style and lyrical intricasies too complex to merely describe on pen and paper. Singer Matt Berninger and the rest of The National continue to fill a void in contemporary music and culture, one that most of us, sadly, wouldn’t have even known even existed.

FULL REVIEW

 

1. THE SUBURBS by arcade fire

We Used To Wait [LISTEN]

I’m not surpised Arcade Fire would put out the best album of any year. I’m just surprised there’s a band as consistently good as Arcade Fire. Not every song may do it for you. When do they all? But the album’s strength is in its cohesive theme of the modern day, good and bad. And for modern music, it’s simply great.

FULL REVIEW
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Filed under arcade fire, band of horses, beach house, jónsi, lcd soundsystem, mgmt, sufjan stevens, the national, vampire weekend, yeasayer

TEEN DREAM by beach house

by Sean

Pitchfork: 9.0          Rolling Stone: 3.5/5          Metacritic: 82          Spin: 4/5

 

Released: January 2010
Tracklisting:
  1. Zebra [LISTEN]

  2. Silver Soul
  3. Norway
  4. Walk in the Park
  5. Used to Be
  6. Lover of Mine
  7. Better Times
  8. 10 Mile Stereo
  9. Real Love
  10. Take Care

   Are you ready for the next album to be crowned a top 10 album of the year before we even count down the new year? Like Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear in latter ’08, the leak of Beach House’s Teen Dream is garnering incredible praise well before its intended release year has started, but after several listens it is hard to deny the possibility that this may very well be one of my favorite albums of “2010” just as Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear ended up being premature favorites of 2009.

   Born and raised in (and/or near) Baltimore, I may be slightly biased heading into hearing the newest from an acclaimed Baltimore band, but to be honest I was not a huge fan of Beach House until listening to Teen Dream. I was impressed, but not incredibly so, after seeing them open for Grizzly Bear in Philadelphia. I enjoyed, but didn’t love, their first two records. And really, what could be so exciting about a duo featuring a guy and girl with most songs favoring heavy keyboard instrumentation? Apparently, a lot more than I expected, because I can not get enough of this album.

   The opener, “Zebra” opens with a single guitar followed by harmonized “Ahhh’s” and a continuous thumping bass. As Victoria Legrand’s vocals kick in, along with the full drum kit, to the chorus, you can tell that Beach House has not abandoned the ambience they have become known for, but have added a constant sense of melody that will keep you coming back to every song Teen Dream has to offer.

   The first single, “Norway”, proves just how powerful Beach House can be with just a few instruments and a single word, “Norway”, as the chorus. The next song, “Walk in the Park”, may be one of the catchiest (if you can call a Beach House song catchy) that I have heard from this band. The piano rhythm recalls that of Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks”, which Legrand lent backing vocals to. She sings, “In a matter of time/It would slip from my mind/In and out of my life”, each line followed by effect-laden tremolo guitar picking. Continuing the desolation theme of past albums, Legrand lets go of a past lover, or friend, in impressive fashion.

   You know an album is a great complete piece of work when you can listen straight through without leaving any songs behind, and I have now heard Teen Dream over 15 times without ever feeling the need to skip a single tune.  Beach House basically keep the same formula throughout the album as they have in their first two, but they have done so almost to perfection this time around. They haven’t tried to thoroughly expand their sound, but have simply honed in on the craft they have chosen. Being a huge fan of live music, and having seen Beach House (in an opening slot) before, I’m not sure I would recommend dropping a huge lump of cash if you’re looking for an exciting live show, but as far as records go, Teen Dream far surpassed my expectations of this band.

   It may be a little early to start predicting the best albums of 2010, but I am excited to see how people react to the next big thing to come out of Baltimore. It feels great to live in a city that can be seen as more than just a dramatic yet depressing setting for one of the best television shows of all time (The Wire), the murder capital of the world, or home to one of the most pathetic baseball teams of the new millennium. I have Animal Collective, Dan Deacon, and now, Beach House, to give me hope for a future of inspiring music to come out of my hometown.

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