My 40 Musics of 2010

It’s all over, we’ve handed in our test scores, and we’re going to find out in a few years whether 2010 screwed us up just a little, or quite a bit. I’m not going to lie; I probably spent more time in 2010 sitting at my desk thinking of how to put off work than working, and it’s because of that that I don’t have a job, just three quarters of one. But at the same time, that’s three quarters more than I had in 2009. Ignore the fact I was in full time education, of course, because that was four hours a week that have given me a degree and… well, I’ve now seen Hiroshima, Mon Amour, which I hadn’t before my degree. Worth every penny.

But, much more importantly, there was music. So fucking much. So much of it was so fucking good, too. And so, like a few of my contemporaries, I’ve put them in a list form, because we all love lists. I’d say there’s no order, but there quite clearly is. The order is of how much of my life each thing took over, whether it be an album, a song or a gig. I don’t have the time or the concentration to separate them out, and besides, one mammoth post makes me look all the more impressive.

Click on the names for the youtube link; they’ve all got ’em.

(Naturally, this format/idea is shamelessly stolen from Messrs Gillen and Walker. Hey! At least I creditted them!)

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40. Gorillaz – Glitter Freeze
The Gorillaz have always operated on my periphery. They were one of the few bands I might hear on the radio that I could enjoy, and I always liked them for that. But Plastic Beach was actually something I could enjoy of my own accord, and Glitter Freeze’s Mark E. Smith ramblings made it stand out from the rest, like the particularly belligerent drunk in a group of belligerent drunks.

39. Zoe Keating – Escape Artist
Some music isn’t necessarily there to be enjoyed so much as to make you feel woefully inadequate. Zoe Keating does things with a cello and a laptop that I am in genuine awe of. It doesn’t matter that the music is haunting and beautiful, and all the best things about the cello; that it even exists is a marvel enough.

38. Julian Lynch – Mare
So often, I’m not decisive enough when it comes to music. I need to listen to something, because silence is a worm that burrows into the back of my head and lays eggs that smell bad and make my thoughts stupid. Without a constant music bed I’d go entirely mad. And so something like Julian Lynch’s Mare are there, like the old, slightly strange acquaintance that you don’t really know, but at least holds a good conversation. That’s probably really mean to the album, which is genuinely very good, but oh well.

37. Four Tet – Plastic People
I love Four Tet. But I loved him more in the other albums. There is Love in You just didn’t strike the same chords as Rounds or Dialouge. But it was still very good, and I still listen to it a fair deal, and Plastic People in particular has the sort of monotonous perseverance that hides deeper complexities. Perfect for work, better for listening, really.

36. Delorean – Subiza
I need to avoid making a Back to the Future reference. Delorean are better than that. But they do sound like they’re from another time, and I’m not sure whether it’s already come and gone, or it’s on the way. Either way, Subiza was grand.

35. Candy Claws – Hidden Lands
And if Delorean are from another time, Candy Claws are from another world. And they’re broadcasting here, except the reception is terrible, and everything is bleeding into one another, until you’ve got the audible equivalent of a Tom Zatar painting. It’s a good thing they use only pretty sounds.

34. Trent Reznor – In the Hall of the Mountain King
The Social Network was incredible compelling. It was also incredibly sinister and uncomfortable, mainly down to Trent Reznor’s soundtrack. And In the Hall of the Mountain King was the apex of his work for the film, the sort of leering, monstrous track that encapsulated the film as a whole. It’s relentless and horrifying and brilliant.

33. Ghostland Observatory – Codename: Rondo
Fucking Ghostland Observatory. I don’t really know what to write here. They’re horrific. Like Freddie Mercury with a sock down his pants and the mind of a twelve year old. And disgusting skills with synthesizers. And the beats. God, the beats. Yeah, whatever, they deserve to be on this list.

32. Silver Columns – Always On
Silver Columns Yes and Dance occupies a similar space to Ghostland Observatory, although they’re more sitting in the corner being cool while Ghostland does all its pelvic thrusting. And they’re better for it, if only because you don’t feel like you need a dozen showers after listening to a track.

31. Maps & Atlases – Pigeon
‘You were the proudest thing I’d ever seen’. It’d be trite if it wasn’t so earnest. And I love earnest, even when it’s bordering on trite.

30. Cherry Ghost – We Sleep on Stones
It’s the Divine Comedy, except all grown up, and not much at all like the Divine Comedy. It’s suave music. There’s something about the croon of Cherry Ghost that has brought me back to this track over and over this year.

29. Matt & Kim – Cameras
John Walker music! Poor Matt and Kim, forever relegated to be filed away with that tag. They’re really rather good though, as I’m sure you can see. More earnest ones for the fire.

28. Tallest Man on Earth – Love is All
I didn’t really like The Wild Hunt all that much. It was missing something that the previous album had, and I’m thinking it might just be feeling too comfortable. Which is a rotten thing to say. So it’s good that there’s one track on there that is definitely as good as what came before.

27. The Flashbulb – Dread, Etched in Snow
Really, the whole of Arboreal should be up here. But I wanted to write ‘Dread, Etched in Snow’ again, and so fuckyouthisismyblog. The track is brilliant, too, as most of Benn Jordan’s stuff always is. Haunting soundscapes punctuated by glitch beats. The man’s a genius.

26. No Age – Life Prowler
Much like Candy Claws, No Age occupy a wall of sound approach to things, forcing you to just submit to the aural assault and enjoy it, if you can be bothered to get over the relentless volume. Toned back a little from their previous album, Life Prowler is probably the easiest track to get on with if you aren’t used to ear rape.

25. Menomena – Lunchmeat
Oh Menomena, victims of excessive plays, to the extent where I know each track far too well. Lunchmeat is still a highlight, if only for the drop after ‘Sirens sing in monotone’. STRONG.

24. Gonjasufi – A Sufi and a Killer
Gonjasufi is Weird Music. There’s just something not quite right about it. But it’s still compelling, if only because Flying Lotus and Gaslamp Killer make themselves completely, irrefutably known through the producing. And I’ve listened to this one quite a bit.

23. Ratatat – LP4
I love Ratatat. I loved them ever since I saw the video to Wild Cat. And I still love them, because they’re still fucking brilliant and they’re going to carry on being great for as long as they make music, I’m sure. And LP4 was actually more creative than they’ve been before, experimenting with something other than brilliant electronic melodies.

22. Ok Go – This Too Shall Pass
I feel like this video has been popping up all year, and so the song is part of my 2010 consciousness. Whenever someone has YouTube handy, it’ll come out. If you ever even want to test that YouTube works on something, you’ll go straight for this video. It’s ridiculous, and glorious, and the song isn’t half bad either.

21. The Glitch Mob – Drink the Sea
THE BEAT. Ghostland Observatory is beats + posturing vocals. Glitch Mob is just PURE BEAT. UNADULTERATED BEAT. It’s unnecessarily beat driven. It’s massive, the 2001 monolith made audible. It’s an album as a slap to the face and an accusing finger, forcing you to just LISTEN and SHUT UP.

20. The Caribou Vibration Ensemble
Fuck, I wish I’d been there. Caribou, Four Tet, Marshal Allen and a bunch of other peopleIdon’tknowbutareprobablybrilliant. A horns section. A load of drummers. And just blasting out classic song after classic song. Luckily, the whole thing was recorded, and so I can at least pretend I was there. That’s the point of live recordings.

19. Chilli Gonzales – The Grudge
I’ve come back to this album over and over ever since I found it. And I don’t know why it hasn’t exploded like an atom bomb in pop culture, ripping everything to shreds. I guess The Grudge is the perfect track to encapsulate that feeling, and the spite and bitterness that must come with it. And it’s just so fucking clever. The lyrics are razor sharp, each rhyme and wordplay tearing its subject to shreds.

18. Sleigh Bells – Treats
Of course. Sleigh Bells. That huge towering inferno of sound and sugar sweet vocals. You all know it. You all know it’s great.

17. Octopus Project – Hexadecagon
Much like Ratatat, The Octopus Project is consistently brilliant, and Hexadecagon was no exception. And Circling was the most climactic thing I heard all year. Except for GSY!BE, but that’s still to come.

16. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
It would be higher up on the list, but then he had to go and ruin it all with an even better album in Pattern + Gridworld. Nevertheless, Cosmogramma is Flying Lotus being Flying Lotus. Which is to say, on a different plane of existence. Where everything is perfect.

15. Arcade Fire – We used to Wait
The song is brilliant. The experience of The Wilderness Downtown is astonishing. Just click the link, I don’t want to spoil anything.

14. Madlib – The Madlib Medicine Show
You might not be familiar with Madlib. He’s probably not familiar with you. That’s not because you are in a different country, or don’t listen to his kind of music, or anything like that. No, it’s because he’s spent the last year churning out ten albums. The Madlib Medicine Show is mind boggling. I don’t know what the fuck he’s been smoking, but it has to be something. He’s probably the best hip hop producer alive, and he just spent the last 365 days pumping out incredible album after incredible album. Be grateful, because you don’t bloody deserve it.

13. Rural Alberta Advantage – Stamp
March can’t come soon enough.

12. Broken Social Scene – Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights
Forgiveness Rock Records was good, don’t get me wrong. But Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights, the b-side? That was better. And it fills a similar spot as Mare for music I can just put on and have there, being brilliant, while I do stuff. Never underestimate the power of the background music.

11. The Books – A Cold Freezin’ Night
I love this track so much. Apparently they scoured America looking in thrift stores for Home Alone promotional dictophones that a bunch of kids used, buying them up wherever they found them. This song is the recordings that they found on those dictophones.

10. Janelle Monae – Cold War
Whenever you’re presented with complete honesty in the world of pop music, you’re always suspicious. But the video for Cold War doesn’t look fake. I don’t even care if it is. It’s bold and vulnerable and chilling. ‘I was made to think something was wrong with me’.

9. Breathe Owl Breathe – Magic Central
I think I’m the only person who knows this band exists. Please let that change, because they’re one of the best bands out there.

8. Caribou – Swim/Remixes
I loved Swim. Then Swim Remixes came along, more than doubling the amount of tracks that I loved, because it was people like DJ Koze and Fuck Buttons doing the remixes. It’s underwater dance music, apparently. You can dance to it on ground, though, just fine.

7. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Storm
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, you ridiculous, magnificent bastards. Seeing them live in December was pretty much life-affirming, and that they opened with Storm, the most climatic thing ever to grace a CD, was beyond perfect. They really are the masters. It was almost my gig of the year. Almost.

6. Baths – Animals
Wrap Flying Lotus up in a cuddly blanket, and you’ve got Baths. It’s a wonky hug, and Animals is the best track of Cerulean, by far. And that’s not just because I love it when I hear found bits of audio with children on it. Stop looking at me like that.

5. Kanye West – Gorgeous
Why couldn’t you be shit, Kanye? It would make it so much easier to ignore you, just laughing when you say something ridiculous. Why do you have to have your hand on the pulse of who’s brilliant right now, and then have the power to bring them in to record with you? Why must you torture us so? Fine, you win. The album was great. Gorgeous was perfect.

4. A Silver Mt Zion – Kollaps Tradixionales
Not many people can get past the voice. What they don’t understand is that Silver Mt Zion is the voice. It’s broken. It’s fucked, bruised and battered, and it’s not getting back up. It’s in some ditch, somewhere, spitting out it’s teeth before collapsing and just wheezing into the mud. It’s beautiful, and mournful, and foolish. That’s why it’s so good. He can’t sing. But he can Sing.

3.Tobacco – Sweatmother
One of the YouTube comments (don’t worry, I wash my eyes out after every bit of exposure) for this song is ‘It’s like what Satan would listen to while he’s getting ready for the club.’ I can’t do better.

2. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening#
The soundtrack to my 2010. Dance Yrself Clean is the song I listen to when I can’t think of anything else to listen to. And it hasn’t got old. How could it, with that drop? The whole thing is fantastic, and vicious, and brilliant.

1. Flying Lotus – Camera Day
As far as gigs go, Flying Lotus is the apex. The zenith. The peak. I didn’t think I could experience music quite like that, and while I’ve had more extreme reactions, the sheer joy of it was almost unbearable. He stood there, up on the stage, with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen on his face, while he just mixed the fuck out of every bit of sound he could get his hands on. Drummer to his right, synth to his left, he just created, right in front of us. That was glory, right there. So good, in fact, that I spent the next three days listening to nothing but Flying Lotus tracks. I think it was about 600 tracks in those few days. I was trying to grab at that night again, and Camera Day was the peak of the peak.

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And that’s 2010. I’ll have another word same time next year, probably.

(And if you want a fun game, you can see how much correlation this list has with my listening habits by looking at my lastfm page. Narcissim ho!

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About Phill Cameron

I've graduated, had a look at the world, and spat. Now I'm devoting my time to moving from 3/4 of a games journalist to 9/10ths. I figure I can get away with 9/10ths.
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