This year I've enjoyed albums from Alcoholic Faith Mission, The Acorn, Arcade Fire, Avi Buffalo, Yusaf Azak, Beach Fossils, The Besnard Lakes, Clinic, Clogs, Edwyn Collins, Deer Tick, Deerhunter, Dreamend, Erland and the Carnival, Forest Swords, Harlem, Dan Haywood’s New Hawks, Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern, Kristin Hersh, Micah P Hinson, Richard James, The Loungs, Laura Marling, My First Tooth, The National, The Phantom Band, Shearwater, Smoke Fairies, The Scottish Enlightenment and probably plenty of others I’ve forgotten.
Huge thanks to Race Horses, Sweet Baboo, Tim and Sam’s Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam and Brown Brogues for sharing their views of 2010 earlier this month and for helping wrap up 2010.
Honourable mentions to three albums that at various points this year were in my Top Ten but got edged out in the final furlong : “The Wild Hunt” by The Tallest Man On Earth, “Die Stadt Muzikanten” by Woodpigeon and “The Noyelle Beat” by Standard Fare.
Which means my Top Ten for 2010 looks like this:
10. TITUS ANDRONICUS The Monitor [BUY] [Spotify] [last.fm]
Epic ragged-glory anthems built around loud, fiery guitars and punkish despair. Oh and with an American Civil War concept. Ambitious and angry.
9. Y NIWL Y Niwl [BUY] [Spotify] [last.fm]
Records released at the end of the year tend to do badly in end-of-year charts but this instantly infectious surf-rock from chilly Snowdonia easily bucks the trend and makes a big splash. Catch a wave.
8. TIM AND SAM'S TIM & THE SAM BAND WITH TIM & SAM Life Stream [BUY] [Spotify] [last.fm]
Fine purveyors of instrumental post-folk since 2006, the generously monikered four-piece decide to add vocals for their debut album and then self-release it. Achingly gorgeous hymns to domestic simplicity and the wonders of the natural world.
7. NINA NASTASIA Outlaster [BUY] [Spotify] [last.fm]
Nastasia’s trademark sparse spectral-folk sound, again with the pin-drop precision recording of Steve Albini, but here with subtle orchestral accompaniment from string and wind quartets. Sombre, intimate, tender.
6. SWEET BABOO I'm A Dancer/Songs About Sleepin' [BUY] [Spotify] [last.fm]
Third album from Mr Stephen Black - unassuming charmer and national treasure-in-waiting. A witty, wise and surreal collection of anti-folk tall-tales. About moles, lungs, drinking and growing extra thumbs in compost.
5. PERFUME GENIUS Learning [BUY] [Spotify] [last.fm]
Barely into his twenties, Mike Hadreas lays bare his pained life in a series of short poignant, fragile piano pieces. Devastatingly sad, hauntingly beautiful.
4. RACE HORSES Goodbye Falkenburg [BUY] [Spotify] [last.fm]
Ace Welsh psyche-pop debut. A giddy sweet-shop raid, in which scoops of glam, psychedelia, indie-pop, folk-rock, even sea shanty are shoved into a bulging pick-and-mix bag. And then given a good shake.
3. ALLO DARLIN' Allo Darlin' [BUY] [Spotify] [last.fm]
Australian-Anglo quartet deliver feisty, funny and infectious indie-pop classic that manages to reference Weezer, Ingrid Bergman and The Just-Joans. With a few moments of heartbreak thrown in too.
2. JOHN GRANT Queen of Denmark [BUY] [Spotify] [last.fm]
A powerful and searing examination of guilt, identity and escape in the style of sombre 70s soft-rock. Melody, pain and pomp - with some laughs along the way too.
1. GIL SCOTT-HERON I'm New Here [BUY] [Spotify] [last.fm]
This record is only 29 minutes long. It has two cover versions and five spoken word interludes amongst its fifteen tracks. But the dark beats and poetic ruminations and riffs on mortality, family, survival and redemption make for an unforgettable listening experience. When Gil Scott-Heron played Manchester in April he didn’t play a single song from this record live. Maybe it didn’t suit his live band? Or maybe the record ‘belongs’ more to producer Richard Russell? Either way doesn’t matter. “I’m New Here” is undeniably a tour-de-force Gil Scott-Heron performance that improves with each listen.
FoY Top Ten Albums of 2010 by FollyOfYouth
Here’s to celebrating more good music in 2011.