Lots of interesting music from an array of cool bands. Pictured are the 30 best releases of 2010 (in alphabetical order), but my personal favorites of the year are (in no particular order...):
- Red Sparowes The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer
This is an incredibly beautiful record. Maybe it's just me, but I hear the influence of Animals-era Pink Floyd here. In the best of all possible ways, like Animals was a starting point now far behind them. Saw 'em live in support of this record + was completely blown away by the depth of their sound + the well-pulled-off-live intricacies of their material. Go get this, dammit!
- Cloudland Canyon Fin Eaves
This weirdly-gorgeous record of poppy melodies run thru a food processor sounds like somebody found some Loveless-era MBV tracks + rerecorded them with John McEntire + Daedelus co-producing... Fucking excellent, but be careful: this record could feasibly cause hallucinations! And could definitely accompany some...
- Intronaut Valley of Smoke
Intricate + involving prog-flavored post-metal, with stand-out vocals (+ harmonies!) + an outstanding fretless bass player (which'll almost always win my heart over...)
- Julie Christmas The Bad Wife
Wow... She looks like a pretty scene-grrl, but she sings like PJ Harvey-raised-on-metal... soft + childlike + breathy shifts to wry + sarcastic melds into Satan-possesst blood-curdling murder-screams (really... a vocal + emotional range to make Chris Cornell envious - even the 1990s Chris Cornell, who could actually hit those crazy notes live...); she's one of the few female singers whose work really hits me + it hits hard. Hell, one of the few singers, period. I'd just rather not hear most people's lyrics + vocalizations, as they're too often the weakest parts of the songs... nobody complains about Tortoise's vocals or harmonies live, y'know... Anyway. Evidently, JC brings it all to the stage, too, though, so I'll definitely be checking out Made Out of Babies or Battle of Mice or her solo live show if any of em comes around the podunk Deep South...
- Mugstar Sun, Broken...
Another space-rock masterpiece from mostly-instrumental Mugstar! They were way prolific this year, also releasing Lime (some crazy extended jams!!!)
- White Hills White Hills
These folks also droppt tons of space-rock; alongside this release were Stolen Stars Left for No One + the Gnod Drop Out with the White Hills team-up with Gnod (extended spacejams, very Bardo Pond-y...)
- Maserati Pyramid of the Sun
Pulsing + Kraftwerk-y, with some of the best late-night, open highway driving music in a loooooong time.
- UFOMammut Eve
An EP that develops one looooong track across five movements, bringing the best aspects of stoner-metal together in a bubbling stew.
- God Is an Astronaut Age of the Fifth Sun
More epic instrumental post-metal; these guys always rock; this one seems more like a soundtrack than ever...
- Kylesa Spiral Shadow
Super-tasty + intelligently-composed metal with 2 percussionists! Huge + driving, with wonderfully intricate drum parts buttressing some major riffage...
the rest of the Top 30...
- The Album Leaf A Chorus of Storytellers
- Algernon Ghost Surveillance
- The American Dollar Atlas
- Deadhorse We Can Create Our Own World
- El Ten Eleven It's Still Like a Secret
- Souvenir's Young America The Name of the Snake
- Trans Am Thing
- 65 Days of Static We Were Exploding Anyway
- Bonobo Black Sands
- Errors Come Down with Me
- Fourtet There Is Love in You
- To Rococo Rot Speculation
- Quest for Fire Lights from Paradise
- U.S. Christmas Run Thick in the Night
- And So I Watch You from Afar Letters
- Bison B.C. Dark Ages
- Electric Wizard Black Masses
- Gifts from Enola Gifts from Enola
- Sasquatch III
- Maps + Atlases Perch Patchwork
... as well as some honorable mentions...
- Negurã Bunget Vоrstele Pamоntului
A freaky-ass melding of Eastern European folk + death metal. Still growing on me, though, + certainly worth a listen... Their last one, OM, was outstanding + this new release continues to show the evolution of these musical weirdos!
- Yakuza Of Seismic Consequence
The vocals took this one out of the running for me, though the music is (typically of Yakuza) well-done + all over the place, touching down at various times as wild iterations of brutal metal, complex ambient, + out jazz...
- The Orb + David Gilmour Metallic Spheres
I wanted this to be, well, fucking badass Dark Side of the Moon revisited kinda shit. It's good, but sadly falls short of its true potential...
- Brian Eno Small Craft on a Milk Sea
Held high hopes, this one did, with Eno's culling of 'songs' from hours of improvisational jams with some noteworthy musicians. It's a solid ambient record, for sure, but I'd looked forward to another sonic Eno-vation, like his work on Music for Airports or that lush effects-dripping guitar-driven production on U2's The Unforgettable Fire, + this does not cut any new musical cloth...
- Monster Magnet Mastermind
This is more of the same from these cats... It's really pretty good, but has too many of those drumless segments driven by Dave's 'clever' lyrics to really stay rockin' long enough for the "herbal medicines" to really kick in...
- La Otracina Reality Has Got to Die (cool + heavy psychedelic rock)
- Stonewall Noise Orchestra Sweet Mississippi Deal (Soundgarden-y vox over some solid stoner metal riffage)
- Hellas Mounds New Heaven / New Earth (heavy + epic post-metal)
- Empires Freshwater Reflection (also heavy + epic post-metal)
- High Places Vs. Mankind (cool afrobeat rhythms + twisty pop melodies)
- Jaga Jazzist One-Armed Bandit (a giant post-rock/jazz emsemble from Northern Europe... like a more prog-estra Tortoise)