Friday, June 25, 2010

So Far...

Can you believe it? Half a year has already gone by! All year long I keep a short list of my favorite albums and movies that come out. So let's just see where we're at so far, and check what it would be like if the year ended today. You may notice that many of the bands on this list are heavy-hitters in the indie rock world. Quite simply, they've delivered. Usually, bands reach a point in their careers where they can't meet expectations. However this year, many great groups are proving that is just not so. There are a lot of great albums left off the list, and that is done intentionally because I only wanted to list top ten. Wait for the full list in December.
Before we start, I have to say I've been paying attention to indie rock for close to a decade now, and I can honestly say that if the rumors are true, and all of these great artists release records this year, 2010 is going to be the new 1969. Anyways, let's get started counting down.

10. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

Gorillaz return to form with the follow-up to their groundbreaking Demon Days record. This record has really grown on me over the past few months. I used to think that this record was a letdown, but now in ways it may be their best record to date. As far as singles go, this is an absolutely terrible record. No song on here will ever match "Feel Good Inc." "Clint Eastwood" or "Dare." However, as a whole this album flows together better than any of their previous records. This also happens to feature an array of different styles, all the while maintaining that club-banger dance atmosphere. Just try walking around your apartment in a bathrobe while listening to "Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach" and not feel like a boss.

9. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record

Broken Social Scene come roaring back to life with Forgiveness Rock Record. I have to admit, before this album I was only a casual fan of BSS, but it is not shocking that this is the album that turned me on to them. Forgiveness happens to be the most cohesive and committed album of this band's career. It kicks off with the epic single, "World Sick" and just takes off from there. This record has something for everyone from the rip-roaring "Forced to Love" to the bittersweet "Sentimental X's" Quite simply, this album is a career hilight for the band, and a delight for the fans and newcomers.

8. The Black Keys - Brothers

I was not a fan of Attack & Release, they were branching out, and no longer the blues-rock duo that I had fallen in love with. As time passed however, I learned that my problem was not with the band but with its producer Danger Mouse, whom I believe kills everything he touches. The guy needs to stick with mash-ups and Gnarls Barkley and keep his hands off artists like The Black Keys and Beck. Attack & Release could be seen as a prelude to Brothers though. Because on Brothers the band gets it right, and create a masterpiece that deserves to be held up high next to Rubber Factory and Magic Potion. This album starts off on a high note with "Everlasting Light" and keeps rolling on through. I also believe that Brothers was heavily influenced by their previous rap-rock project Blakroc, because while this record isn't afraid to bring out the rock, it is also very comfortable with itself. One of my theories about The Black Keys is they are best when they beef up the sex. On this album "Next Girl" drips with as much sex as previous epic "Your Touch" does. If you're a rock fan, and you have not at least checked this album out, you are really missing out.

7. Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do

The world's greatest bar band returns with their satisfying record The Big To-Do. I've talked about this band enough on this blog. If you're familiar with this band then to me this is their 3rd best record. Somewhere between The Dirty South and Southern Rock Opera. If you don't know who this band is and you enjoy Neil Young and Maker's Mark, then you need to buy all of their albums. Drive-By Truckers quite simply keep proving to be the saviors of southern rock. 

6. Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

Los Angeles band Local Natives are having a hell of a breakout year, and it's no surprise why. Gorilla Manor sounds like a culmination of everything good about indie rock from the past three years. A healthy blend of Fleet Foxes, Dodos, and Grizzly Bear with their own unique twist to it. What is most shocking to me is that this is only the bands first major release! If they keep this quality up they could become a major player here in the next few years. 

 5. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker

Woah! Where the hell did this band come from? All the way from the U.K. comes Tame Impala destined to take Psych Rock to new places. I could point out the influences of this band all day, mainly Pink Floyd, but I wont. Why? because this band sounds like one thing, Tame Impala. They have achieved their own unique sound. That is why Innerspeaker is so exciting for me to hear. 

4. Free Energy - Stuck On Nothing


Yet another band in this string of "Where did they come from?" artists. Free Energy sounds just like their name describes it. Free. Energy. This album is cover to cover the happiest most blissful pop-rock record I have heard in ages. Free Energy is made up of members from the now defucnt Hockey Night band, and with help from LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy as producer they are armed with a fresh and crisp new sound. Free Energy sound like what I wished Weezer sounded like today. I honestly believe Weezer could have put out this record if they weren't obsessed with the MTV crowd. However their influence also reaches out to 70's glam rock like Cheap Trick. What's amazing about this record is that there is absolutely nothing new on here. Every hook, every song is by the book. However, this band executes it so well, and with such confidence that it comes off as something incredible. 

3. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

They say punk is dead. I say nay. Why? Because Titus Andronicus just released one of the most convincing records in years. This band is re-defining what it means to be a Jersey rocker. Start to finish, this album is brutal. It keeps you on your toes by its frequent key changes and left turns. It all kicks off with the album's thesis "A More Perfect Union" and from there it does what many albums try to do but fail, it takes the listener on a journey. By the time this record concludes with the ungodly epic fourteen minute bagpipe bashing "Battle of Hampton Roads" this album has taken you through a full spectrum of emotions. Another unique fact about this album is how it is loosely based on The Civil War and is layered with historical information. Not only do these guys know how to rock, they are quite well educated.

2. Hot Chip - One Life Stand

For a good few months, I was dead set this was going to be #1 on my list. I am still amazed as to how a band is able to make their most melodic record also their most danceable record. This is the tightest record by far this year, and there are no bad songs on it. Even the slow-jams are highly entertaining. Normally I am strictly a rock fan, but every once in awhile a couple dance bands will have me completely addicted. 

 1. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
Every now and then a record is released that speaks to a generation. If I had to put money on it, I would bet This Is Happening is one of those records. I know that bet carries a lot of weight to it. But let time pass, and we shall see. Of course there will be people arguing that This Is Happening is overrated and not as good as Sound of Silver, and quite frankly, it's all bullshit. If this really turns out to be their last album then I believe it is more fitting to view each of their three albums as an act in the play that is LCD Soundsystem. James Murphy has an uncanny ability to be sarcastic and completely earnest at the same time. He deals with being an aging hipster, losing his edge, love, loss, and anger all while laying down some of the most infectious dance music, ever. If this truly is LCD Soundsystem's last album I will be depressed, but at the same time I will be relieved that they ended their tenure before they had a chance to make a bad record. I only hope that Mr. Murphy stays in the indie limelight, because we really do need a genius like him to stick around. 
Albums that just missed the cut:
The National - High Violet
Dr. Dog - Shame Shame
Carolina Chocolate Drops - Genuine Negro Jig
The New Pornographers - Together
Caribou - Swim 

Well there it is, the list so far. We still have half a year to go, so it's going to be interesting to see what changes on it. After all there are still some incredible albums to be released from bands like Arcade Fire, Panda Bear and even (possibly) Radiohead. It's been an incredible year for music, and it's just getting warmed up.

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