Year in consumables: 2010 music (so far)
I can’t seem to come up with anything better than (so far) in the title for these half-year-ish posts. “To date” seems so starchy or vanilla or something. And, that is soooo not what 2010 has been so far in the musics. So many good albums have already dropped and I definitely need to do this list so I can keep up my thoughts. I am pretty sure the end of the year list of the Top 10 is going to be brutal to pull together. At least that is how it feels. Time will tell.
As for now, no ranking anything. Just going to throw out what has been great and maybe tack on a list of the rest as to make my follow-up easier to write. That end of the year follow up that is sure to drop in the March or April timeframe…
That said, I am going to talk about ten albums, so certainly the start of a list:
- The Black Keys – Brothers
Their single “Tighten Up” is so very good, I just had to check out the rest. That part towards then when the beat just stops and changes almost into a different song is the hook. I think pretty much whenever that happens, and is done well, the song has me. Except when it is a kick-ass intro and then all of a sudden the actual song doesn’t compare. (I am looking at you Mighty Mighty Bosstones.) I digress. I think this has the potential to be this year’s summer song. Only other competition I can think of right now is Eminem and Rihanna’s song with the “tornado meeting a volcano.” (Yeah, if you don’t think that song is great, then you are dead.) Ugh…back again to the Keys. The rest of this disc had me hooked just as quickly as the single and I have only been listening for a few weeks. Never thought I’d dig on a bluesy-sounding like album like this. It feels like a throwback to something. I don’t know what.
- Broken Bells – Broken Bells
Is there any Danger Mouse project I don’t like? Hmm… I don’t think so. Except, for this one, if I heard it right, we have to refer to him by his given name of Brian Burton. Well, he and James Mercer (of The Shins) have put together another early favorite. There is something so very Shins-like, but not. It isn’t just Mercer’s voice either. I can’t put my finger on it, but the music is sometimes reminiscent of them, but then, so very electo. I’m sure you’ve heard “The High Road” but the rest is worth it. A strong disc that suggests the *album* isn’t quite dead yet.
- Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
Just to confuse the crap out of you, they went and named their second disc the same as their first. Do they think they are Weezer? Or Van Halen? Or Led Zeppelin? I think it is weird and annoying. So, that aside, another strong piece of electro with Alice yelling over a good portion of it. Nothing like a chick screaming over a techno beat. Yeah, sometimes I have to skip one track because I can’t deal with it at the moment, but songs like “Celestica” make it worth a little screaming (which there isn’t on that one). Weird enough, I feel like I saw a commercial for this disc’s release during some mainstream-ish show’s breaks one night. Maybe just the fact that there was a commercial at all is jarring enough. Anyway, great to code to and probably just a little better then their debut.
- Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Damon Albarn, can you do no wrong? With the opening of “Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach” featuring Snoop Dogg, I was hooked. I mean, if you get Snoop to rap on your disc, you are guaranteed success these days, right? I mean, that’s all the guy does now! He’s everywhere! “Stylo” is really good and has Mos Def, who I enjoy more than Snoop, which is good since he’s on another track later. One of my favorites has to be “Some Kind of Nature” with Lou Reed. Soo0 good. There’s even Mick Jones on “Plastic Beach!” Best virtual band ever!?
- Little Boots – Hands
Let’s be straight, this is a Pop album all the way. Not my normal thing, but I can appreciate a good song or album when I hear it and this is one. Plus, she’s a British bird, so that doesn’t hurt. But, when I think Pop, I think catchy and this disc has songs like that in spades. Tracks like “Remedy,” “Click,” “New in Town,” and “Stuck on Repeat” are that. But, it is also filled with dance tunes and most of them definitely are, not that I’m one to hit the meat market dance floor. Is “Remedy” on the latest Jock Jams record? I feel like I have heard it playing at Gillette Stadium…
- MGMT – Congratulations
So, leading up the release of this disc, all I heard was how different it was from Oracular Spectacular and whether that was a good thing or not. Most people seemed to think not. I’m not sure what they think now, but if they think not, then something is wrong. I actually like this one more than their debut. This disc feels like a cohesive unit whereas the first had three great songs and some good-to-okay songs filling it out. This album feels like it is filled with good-to-great songs. How great is it that they wrote a song called “Brian Eno”? Not exactly like Weezer wondering if they need Timbaland. I also like the album cover. Just saying.
- The National – High Violet
Highly anticipated release and it did not disappoint. I think it is, right now, tied for my second favorite album along with Boxer. (Alligator is just a smidge more better, not that the rest of the catalog is far behind, just older.) “I was afraid I’d eat your brains.” Sounds like a love song to me. I’d say more about the tracks, but really, they just need to be heard. That voice is reason enough.
- Spoon – Transference
“Who Makes Your Money”? Well, I am helping make theirs and they are helping make mine. Insanely good disc to code to. I have a hard time ranking Spoon discs, but this one is definitely moving up the list. I feel like I was slightly disappointed–very slightly–with Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga after how great Gimme Fiction was, but I instantly loved this one. It felt more right, more Spoon. “Written In Reverse” is what I expect them to sound like, but also not quite the usual thing. I don’t know about you, but I like living in “The Mystery Zone.”
- UNKLE – Where Did the Night Fall
Is there an UNKLE disc that I don’t like? Not yet. Much like Plastic Beach, this album features many guest appearances, but maybe not as famous as earlier discs or Gorillaz. I feel like this was a slightly stronger, but continuation of, End Titles… from a couple years ago. I have played the crap out this one at work. You sense a small trend here, right? Good music to code to is a thing for me. I may have written about that before.
- Vampire Weekend – Contra
An album so good, they are getting sued for it. Well, the cover anyway. It would seem preppy girl wants a cut seeing as how they have money coming in. Honey, take it as a compliment and move on. I’m sure they will settle it, but $2 million seems steep. I don’t care if you claim it was a family photo that shouldn’t have been sold or whatever. Fact is, you were actually a model, so now that you are some mommy somewhere, shouldn’t you feel good to get more exposure thru this than anything you’ve ever done for real work as a model ever? (Disclaimer: I might have made some of that up because my memory is fuzzy from what I heard a DJ or two spew about it, plus I think I read something on the internets and this is why anyone that writes a blog shouldn’t be taken as at their word or as a real journalist.) Oh, so that aside, how about the disc? Well, so, so very good. In fact, I like it much more than their debut. I think I must like every song. Every single one. I have no complaints here. Well, except for that rant at the start. The music is great. The cover is actually great too. Is a preppy girl a Contra? Hmm… deep.
Okay, so that finishes off the great stuff. There are obviously more discs out there that I have listened to and liked, but maybe not loved yet. Others that were just okay after a handful of listens. Others that I just heard and haven’t yet formed an opinion. Those can wait for next time. However, I do have short comments about two more:
- Keane – Night Train
I used to think the lead singer needed to start drinking the White Russians again. After the first disc, the last two weren’t so great. This disc, I think, gets back more to what I’d like to hear. While it isn’t great by any stretch, it is certainly an improvement. I need to hear it a few more times, but I like that they seem to be having a better time with their music here. Certainly any time you bring in someone to rap over a tune–when you’ve never done it before–is a nod to changing things up a bit.
- Matt Pond PA – The Dark Leaves
I must admit that I got hooked on these guys like 4-5 years ago for about a half year, but since then they have failed to impress with any new release. I think this might be the third disc since Several Arrows Later that they have released. I don’t hear the same things. Or maybe, I do hear the same things. Sounds the same. Sometimes I want that, but in this case, not enough change. I guess it works for you and against you. See MGMT above for an example. But, I still want to like this and I keep trying, but nothing is sticking. I guess I can keep trying or just fall back on their older stuff.
Other discs that have dropped this year that have been good-to-okay are from: BT, Deftones, Flobots, Hot Chip, Juliana Hatfield, Kate Nash, Massive Attack, Motion City Soundtrack, Rogue Wave, Sevendust, Stone Temple Pilots. I feel like most of these are good, but Motion City, Juliana and Kate Nash were just okay. I think all of them need more listening, but they won’t make a Top 10 at the end of the year. Good to have STP back in the fold though. I like Weiland fronting that band so more than Velvet Revolver.
That said, I just picked up the new Tokyo Police Club and it most definitely has a shot at the Top 10. Really stoked about it because while I liked Elephant Shell, I like Champ so much better. Brings that feeling back from their debut EP and follow-on singles. Also looking forward to the new disc from The Arcade Fire next week. That one will be a contender too.