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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

GO by jónsi

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 8.1          Rolling Stone: 3.5/5          Metacritic: 77          Spin: 4/5

 

Released: April 2010
Tracklisting:
  1. Go Do [LISTEN]

  2. Animal Arithmetic
  3. Tornado
  4. Boy Lilikoi
  5. Sinking Friendships
  6. Kolniður
  7. Around Us
  8. Grow Till Tall
  9. Hengilás

   For any fan of Iceland’s Sigur Rós, the arrival of singer Jón Þór Birgisson’s (or more simply, Jónsi’s) solo album came with anxious anticipation. As a leader of a band that’s done a pretty good job at changing up their style over the last decade, almost always reaping good results, one couldn’t help but wonder whether he’d do the same when relying on his own devices. Turns out, as with most Sigur Rós records, it’s a little of both, at once a separation from the familiar and to-be-expected while simultaneously refreshingly recognizable as the sound that Sigur Rós fans have grown to love in the first place.

   “Go Do” is arguably the best offering from Go, and making it the first track may have been a good decision to draw wondering listeners in. It’s both a little more uptempo and happy than most of Birgisson’s previous work, though not too dissimilar from the vibe that was attempted with the band’s most recent, Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust, and not without just the right amount of emotion (Jónsi’s lyrics never that straightforward, this comes from the music alone). Opening with fluttery flute and enough Sigur Rós vocal “noises” to seem satirical were they not actually from the singer himself, it becomes a thumping anthem, Jónsi’s vocals soaring to degrees previously shied away from.

   The thumping continues in the following track, “Animal Arithmetic” (and for much of the album). It becomes a bit repetitive and same-old, but still works for most songs. Full of chaotic drumming and whirling instrumentation, the track is a happy burst of energy from Birgisson, who this time steps perhaps out of his own comfort zone, switching to predominantly English lyrics.

   Fortunately the artist reverts to classic Sigur Rós morose and beautiful with “Tornado”. Beginning in sound and style much like Sufjan Stevens’ “Redford” from his “Michigan” album, it transforms from subdued, slow and string-heavy to bold, loud and cymbal-crashing. “Boy Lilikoi” switches back to happy, Jónsi now recalling what seem to be childhood fantasy and wonder. The last minute is particularly good.

   Skipping the less-memorable middle track “Sinking Friendships”, “Kolniður” is particularly dark and “Grow Till Tall” is particularly sentimental. “Around Us” is another gem, with playful piano more at center stage, reminiscent of past greats like “Starálfur” from Ágætis Byrjun. And he closes with “Hengilás”, comfortable and familiar in its throwback to earlier work from the band, like “Untitled 1” for example, from ( ).

   But while no song seems to offend the senses, Jónsi might have made more of an impression had he not relied on nearly all the same tactics and sounds throughout the album. Both he and his fans know what he’s good at, and he’s given it to them with Go, but giving us a surprise once in a while might serve the artist well. That said, this album should float well with both hardcore Sigur Rós fans and noobs who haven’t even heard of the band. While I’m not quite sure why he went off on his own to record what in many ways fits with the rest of the band’s work, there’s apparently not much reason to complain either.

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