Monday, December 20, 2010

End of The Year Review: Best Songs of 2010

Well here we are at the end of another year, and what a year if you are an indie rock fan! Arcade Fire dominates the charts, The Black Keys break out into the mainstream, and Bon Iver guests on Kanye West's new album. As for music as a whole I must admit this has to be one of the best years I've experienced for music. Some groups have released truly monumental songs this year. Many magazines and critics have released their end of the year lists already, well, here's mine. Keep in mind this is the opinion of one man's musical interests. As an added bonus I have created a Grooveshark Playlist, where you can stream full versions of each song in sequential order for free. If you like what you hear, please be a good citizen and buy the records, it's not too late to get a last minute holiday gift. Check back to see which of these artists make it onto my "Best Albums of 2010" list on Wednesday.

1) LCD Soundsystem - Dance Yrself Clean
 With every LCD release, there has always been at least one song that gets stuck in my head harder than any other single that year. Why? Because I'm a fan. I love a lot of music and I appreciate a lot of bands, but there are only a few bands that I am an absolute adoring fan of and LCD Soundsystem is one of those artists. The way in which James Murphy has crafted the past two LCD records usually opens an album with a club-stomper that erupts right out of the gate: "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" "Get Innocuous" start off at fast paces. However "Dance Yrself Clean" is very quiet and subdued for the first three minutes, which then explodes into a blast of dance punk that will overtake your speakers. When I saw these guys earlier this year, this was the song everyone was requesting at the top of their lungs, and for good reason. Epic is putting this song lightly.

2) Kanye West - Monster
 I have never been a fan of Kanye, which is why his newest record took me by surprise. "Monster" featuring Justin Vernon, Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj is the album's highlight for me. This song twists and turns with one of Kanye's best beats ever, as each guest steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park (especially Jay-Z), rapping about being a monster in every kind of definition.

3) The Black Keys - Everlasting Light
 The Black Key's kick off their "Brothers" album with this laid back rocker that is obviously an ode to T. Rex. Dan Auerbach breaks the norm here and sings in a perfectly fitting falsetto voice while he lets his guitar do the rest of the talking.

4) Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Round and Round
 Ariel Pink gets out of his basement, and into the studio with his first ever professional band and records this sure to be indie-roller rink anthem. I wasn't into the rest of the record nearly as much as the rest of the media, but it's humbling to know that this guy who has been long labeled a genius can deliver a psych-pop gem.

5) Arcade Fire - The Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Win Butler may be the lead singer on paper, but his wife and multi-instrumentalist Regine Chassagne steals the show when she grabs the mic on this album closing anthem. This song proves to me that Arcade Fire still has a few tricks up their sleeves. 

6) Liars - Scissor
 When I first heard this song I thought it was Tom Waits teamed up with Queens of the Stone Age or something. Liars deliver this eerie and erratic rock song that has also been made into what I believe to be one of the best music videos of the year. 

7) Women - Eyesore 
Women return with their sophomore album titled Public Strain. The lead single and core track of this album is called "Eyesore" This track constantly switches things up during the first few minutes of this song before the band finally lays down a groove that is too good to end on its own, hence the gradual fade to this song. Women have always been known to have a great deal of potential, and with this track they deliver a knockout. 

8) Deerhunter - Desire Lines
 It's no secret that Bradford Cox is the leader of Deerhunter, however on Desire Lines he lets rhythm guitarist Lockett Pundt take the lead. This song seems pretty straightforward, the first three minutes sound like a well thought out pop song with a memorable hook ("woah-oh"). But it isn't until the last half of the song where Deerhunter really show their talent as they get into an infectious instrumental jam. The way Cox and Pundt trade off guitar responsibilities creates this wall of sound that I could go on listening to for hours.

9) Gorillaz - Rhinestone Eyes
 I cannot tell if this album was a miss for Gorillaz. While cohesively I think it's their best record to date, it failed to create a huge club hit like "Feel Good Inc." This song should have been that hit. 

10) Local Natives - Sun Hands
  These guys played practically every single festival available this year, their lush sound fills up a huge space like Coachella. I like "Sun Hands" from Gorilla Manor because of its unexpected twist towards the end of the track.

11) Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union
When you're in a Jersey punk rock band and you want to create an album that is loosely based around The American Civil War, naturally your first track has to be huge. This song perfectly sets the pace for the rest of this album that is not only a breath of fresh air for punk, but is also a huge achievement for rock in general. 

12) Phosphorescent - It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama) 
  This song further proves my point that a well placed brass section can turn any good song into a great one. This song carried me through some great summer evenings. 

13) Drive-By Truckers - Birthday Boy
 Keeping in line with country-rock, Drive-By Truckers return to rock form with The Big To-Do. Mike Cooley delivers a painfully great song about a stripper, which features one of the best choruses of the year "Which one's the birthday boy?' She said, 'I ain't got all night."

14) Gayngs - The Gaudy Side of Town
  Justin Vernon may have not recorded a new Bon Iver record yet, but he has been a busy boy doing guest vocals for a whole slew of artists including Kanye West, Volcano Choir, and now Gayngs. His vocal contribution is what makes this laid back track damn sexy. 

15) Big K.R.I.T. - Country Shit
Mississippi MC releases his first mixtape which features this song that is dare I say? 'bumpin'

16) Dr. Dog - Shadow People    
"Where did all the shadow people go?" Scott McMicken asks as a Paul McCartney-esque piano riff pounds away. Dr. Dog have been a solid act for awhile now, and "Shadow People"  further solidifies their place in the indie world. 

17) How To Dress Well - You Won't Need Me Where I'm Going  
 This song treads the "pure genius and pure annoyance" line and luckily favors the former. This lo-fi experimental artist named Tom Krell hails from NYC. How To Dress Well gained a good amount of buzz this year, and more is expected from him in 2011. 

18) The National - Afraid of Everyone
 There are too many good tracks from High Violet to pick from, much of the media is giving the attention to "Bloodbuzz Ohio" but I went with "Afraid of Everyone" because I imagine it to be one of the better National songs to hear live. 

19) Das Racist - hahahaha jk
 Das Racist is something that I feel hip-hop has needed for a long time: a group that is snarky, sarcastic, smart and still able to lay down slick rhymes. Is this song hilariously serious or seriously funny? You decide.

20) Tallest Man on Earth - King of Spain
This guy could have been pegged as another acoustic artist that is trying to sound like Bob Dylan but he has shaken off that image apparently with his sophomore release The Wild Hunt. He is now selling out shows everywhere, why? Because he's one of the most earnest folk artists around.  
Well, there you have it, that is my pick for the twenty best songs of 2010, remember to check out the  accompanying GrooveShark Playlist and feel free to comment on your favorite songs of 2010. 



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