Boogie Staff Picks: The Year in Music [2010]

Posted on: December 28th, 2010 at 11:22 am by

‘Tis the season for tinsel, mistletoe, and endless listicles.  Herewith, our staff picks for best albums of 2010.  Enjoy!

ELIE’S PICKS

1.  Fitz and the Tantrums – Pickin’ Up the Pieces
Neo-soul with pop sensibility and a modern twist. These tunes will have you dancing in no time. (Standout: “Moneygrabber”; Purchase)

2.  Phantogram – Eyelid Movies
Spend 45 minutes and get lost in the atmospheric beauty of this record. Then spend another 45 minutes pondering what you just heard. (Standout: “When I’m Small”; Purchase)

3.  The National – High Violet
Whatever you do, don’t mistake this quintet for strangers.  For over a decade, the baritone Berninger has been crafting dark, yet heartfelt tunes for the indie set.  High Violet picks up where Boxer left off, and adds a bit more ambition (and production) to the mix [Standout: “Bloodbuzz Ohio”; Purchase]

4.  Amanda Palmer – Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magic Ukulele
One half of the Dresden Dolls takes up the monumental task of interpreting Radiohead via Ukulele. Hat tip to fellow Boogie boy, Dave Gustav, for alerting us to this album. (Standout: “High and Dry”; Purchase)

5. Delta Spirit – History from Below
More ballsy than their stellar 2008 debut Ode to Sunshine, this record touts more in the way of production acumen.  The sound is just bigger, with plenty of “oohs and laas” to go along with their distinct brand of soulful rock n roll. (Standout: “911”; Purchase)

6.  Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
After a decade in and out of the slammer for drug-related crimes, the father of modern rap releases a melancholy musical gem in the twilight of his career. (Standout: “Me and the Devil”; Purchase)

7. Cee-Lo Green –The Lady Killer
Fans of Gnarls Barkley (but not necessarily Goodie Mob) will definitely dig on the beats presented here.  Ditching hip-hip for glistening disco pop, the southern crooner says fuck you by crafting a hit that’s too hot to mention on the radio. (Standout: “Fuck You”; Purchase)

8.  Dangermouse and Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul
A fitting epitaph from the late Sparklehorse frontman Mark Linkous.  The record boasts an impressive guest list of music luminaries including Iggy Pop, Black Francis, and Julian Casablancas.  (Standout: “Little Girl”; Purchase)

9. Aloe Blacc – Good Things
For LA’s Aloe Blacc, the second time was a charm.  His soul-driven sophomore effort hit the ground running thanks to placement of the supremely catchy “I Need a Dollar” in the HBO show How to Make it in America. (Standout: “Hey Brother”; Purchase)

10. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Blur frontman Damon Albarn brings his cast of musical cartoons back to the forefront in the followup to Demon Days.  Plenty of ear candy to consume here, thanks in part to brain-dwelling hooks and an impressive roster of guest artists. (Standout: “On Melancholy Hill”; Purchase)

MIKE’S PICKS

1.  Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Funny… the world’s most egotistical pop star has made the most human sounding record of the year. For all the rage his public outbursts generated for the rest of us, the person hardest on Kanye turns out to be himself. The man lays his soul bare here for all to see. The result is enormous, but always authentic. (Standout: “Lost in The World”; Purchase)

2.  Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Like Kanye, Win Butler’s band manages to somehow exceed impossible expectations with their new record. Once again channeling our bottomless need for nostalgia, Arcade Fire remind us of the poignancy of teenage frustrations we thought were long gone. These guys have always been ambitious, but never have they sounded so grownup about it.  (Standout: “Half Light I”; Purchase)

3.  Vampire Weekend – Contra
Who would have predicted we’d hear such an immense leap from Vampire Weekend’s self-titled debut released just 2 years ago? Contra proves this band can do more than re-interpret the Ivory Coast for the Ivy League… they know who they are, and we are the ones catching up to their vision. (Standout: “Diplomat’s Son”; Purchase)

4.  Beach House – Teen Dream
A record hitting all its marks without making much of a fuss about it. In a year filled with ambitious artists, Victoria Legrand’s voice details her message effortlessly among all the beachy accouterment found in her band’s music. I’ve heard a lot of surf-styled indie rock this year, but where most of these artists are content to tinker around with reverb effects and clean-tone guitar, Beach House infuses these details with genuine substance and warmth. (Standout: “Real Love”; Purchase)

5.  LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
James Murphy transforms his private frustrations to communal sing-along in his most direct record yet. Is this really your last record? You were just joking right???? (Standout – “Dance Yrself Clean”; Purchase)

6.  Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Damon Albarn is the type of tourist who insists on dressing like the natives wherever he travels. This record tours the world with an impressive cast acting as its chauffeurs. While some of The Gorillaz’ programmatic  ambitions become a bit burdensome at times, the scale of this global music makes Mr. Albarn seem at home in whatever genre he vacations to. (Standout: “Empire Ants”; Purchase)

7.  Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
Art music you can dance to… albeit awkwardly. Displaying an endless repository for ideas, producer Steven Ellison inhabits his own universe and throws you in the middle of its wild electronic-jazz-acid-freak dramas… Even Thom Yorke was was pulled into the adventure on standout “And the World Laughs with You.” (Purchase)

8.  Das Racist – Shutup, Dude
Whether outsiders looking in or insiders looking out, Das Racist’s three members are re-negotiating hip-hop’s porous borders for the post-911 generation. Shutup, Dude confirms their status as first-class pranksters with a daft touch. For example, abandoning a show unannounced during CMJ (Standout: “You Outta Know”; Purchase)

9.  Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
An album brimming with urgency and mystery, Sufjan attempts to walk the straight and narrow while considering every musical distraction imaginable, from pastoral chorales to an auto-tune interlude.  (Standout: “Too Much”; Purchase)

10.  Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Equal parts summer and winter, Deerhunter somehow manage to make their lo-fi rambles sparkle with studio sheen without abandoning the warmth of the distorted crunchiness they’re known for.  (Standout: “Revival”; Purchase)

DAVE’S PICKS

I have the attention span of a gnat, so I’m more about singles than full-lengths. Here’s five great tracks from 2010. Three of them are covers. Sue me.

1. Peter Gabriel – “The Book of Love”
A cover of The Magnetic Fields’ song from 69 Love Songs, Peter Gabriel’s new version of “The Book of Love” is far superior to the original as far as I am concerned. The raspy vocals give off the same vibe I get from The Faces’ Ooh La la – a wise old guy sharing his wisdom after years of love gained and love lost. Maybe this version’s alternate name should be Don’t Give Up: Part Deux. [Purchase]

2. Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers – “Got Your Money”
Having already been a big fan of Danger Mouse’s Grey Album, Tom Caruana’s mashup of the Beatles and Wu Tang Clan immediately became a favorite- especially “Got Your Money.” The combination of “You Never Give Me Your Money” and Old Dirty Bastard’s “Got Your Money” blends in a way that sounds like it was created for this exact purpose. It’s beautiful and ridiculously dirty at the same time. And like “The Book of Love,” it’s possibly better than the original.

3. Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse (featuring Flaming Lips) – “Revenge”
Revenge is the first song in a very long time that made me stop dead in my tracks. It’s haunting in the Elliot Smith kind of way, but there’s also something uplifting about it (unless your name was Mark Linkous, sadly). Dark Night of the Soul was my favorite album of 2010 (going by official release dates here) and most of that decision comes from the brilliance of “Revenge.” [Purchase]

4. Cee Lo – “Fuck You”
In a random Gnarls Barkley coincidence, both Danger Mouse and Cee Lo Green ended up on this list, but for very different songs. Now ain’t that some shit? Seriously though, “Fuck You” has the perfect sing-along melody. It takes balls to write a song this good and then write lyrics that will end up getting everyone in Junior High detention. I know Pantera’s Fucking Hostile was not a teacher-pleaser back in my day… [Purchase]

5. Amanda Palmer – “No Surprises”
There’s something about Radiohead songs played on ukelele and sung in a female vocal range that makes them seem brand new. Every track is solid on this album, but “No Surprises” stands out because whereas Radiohead’s version makes you want to kill yourself (in a good way,) Amanda Palmer’s version is more like a bedtime lullaby that makes you want to possibly choose sleep over death. [Purchase]

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