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2010 Year-End Wrap Up Part 1: The Album Lists

First of all, you can view my top twenty of albums of the year over here.

That’s the first and most important feature of New Artillery’s year-end wrap-up, but it’s certainly not the only one. This post also covers the honorable mentions and older breakthrough albums. Some point this week I'll polish off my two CD 2010 mix, my favorite live performance list, and (quite possibly) a rambling post of statistical analysis and meta-commentary on my year of listening. First, let's start with the honorable mentions.

Honorable mentions for 2010

The Acorn’s No Ghost
The Depreciation Guild’s Spirit Youth
Emeralds’ Does It Look Like I’m Here
Four Tet’s There Is Love in You
Hoquiam’s Hoquiam
Damien Jurado’s Saint Bartlett
Killing Joke’s In Excelsis EP and Absolute Dissent
The Radio Dept.’s Clinging to a Scheme
Superchunk’s Majesty Shredding
Team Ghost’s Celebrate What You Can’t See EP
The Twilight Sad’s The Wrong Car EP
Warpaint’s The Fool

You will hear more about a few of those albums as I continue to plug away at full-length reviews.

Older Albums That Hit Me in 2010

The A.V. Club uses the word “discovered” in their similarly themed article, but in many of these cases, I knew about or had even heard these albums prior to this year, but they simply didn’t click until now. Longer reviews linked when available.

Faust’s Faust IV: There’s a larger dialogue to be had in terms of how much 1970s German music I checked out in 2010, but Faust’s Faust IV might be the best of it. These tricksters subvert expectations at every turn, from the noisy drift of “Krautrock” to the weirdo mod strumming of “The Sad Skinhead,” from the weightless dreaming of “Jennifer” to the off-kilter sax of “Giggy Smile.” I picked up Faust So Far a few months later, but kept coming back to Faust IV trying to make sense out of it.

Klaus Schulze’s Trancefer: The stars aligned for Klaus Schulze this year: I got into a few contemporary artists who are influenced by his work (Emeralds, Oneohtrix Point Never), I kept running into his LPs up at Mystery Train, and the tense electronic epics on Trancefer soundtracked a few memorable trips into Boston. Whether Trancefer ranks highly among his stacks of solo albums is beyond me, but it made for a solid introduction.

Sonic Youth’s EVOL and Murray Street: I won’t add to the word count apocalypse that was Sonic Youth Discographied, but these two albums are the ones that I most enjoyed getting to know.

The For Carnation’s The For Carnation: This quietly absorbing dose of post-rock storytelling never strayed far from my turntable, but its best application was during late summer evenings. With the windows open and the sound of crickets filtering in, I’d sit and wonder why Brian McMahan hadn’t recorded anything in a decade when this album is so damned good.

Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction: I had grand schemes of becoming informed on jazz at the beginning of the year, but soon that took a backseat to my usual diet of guitar rock. The primary exception was Science Fiction, an album full of surprises that pushed against what I expected from Ornette Coleman and yet couldn’t have come from anyone else.

Yo La Tengo’s I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One: Want the reality of The Haul? I bought this album back in March, listened to it immediately, loved it, wondered why I hadn’t spent time with it earlier, tried writing about it, kept listening to it, tried writing about it again, and kept listening to it. The embryonic entry is still sitting at 156 words in my massive .doc for the project (over 41,000 words), but my desire to finish it isn’t quite up to my need to get it right. Too often I just end up listening to “We’re an American Band” over and over, hoping to lose myself in the dreamy fuzz.

Palace Music’s Viva Last Blues: Similar to Yo La Tengo, I’d heard and enjoyed Will Oldham’s music before (especially I See a Darkness), but hadn’t ventured to his Palace-era albums. I corrected that mistake to a certain degree this year, getting Viva Last Blues in the same trip to Mystery Train as I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, but every time I listen to it, I feel like I need another spin to wrap my head around it. I’ve already booked Oldham for Discographied next year.

Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight: Owing mostly to my wife’s affection for the bearded Scottish indie rockers, I saw Frightened Rabbit twice this year. I’d given their material a cursory spin in years past, but after “The Modern Leper” clicked, I spent more time with The Midnight Organ Fight and learned that it’s one of the finest break-up albums of the last decade, filled with crowd-pleasing stompers, open wounds, and tons of self-deprecating wit.

Burial’s Burial: If you can believe it, I had pretty much missed the boat on dubstep. Grabbing Burial back in January helped clue me in. I’ve even kept going back to it rather than switching to its acclaimed follow-up, Untrue.