[...The end of 2010, and the end of my [Sounds of 2010] series for ZeroExpectation. Everything after this post will be the reviews I have written for Zest For Life, and another track review for ZeroExpectation, you are now up to date.]
2010 is gone, which also meant the demise of [Sounds of 2010] too! I shall be back for this new year with (hopefully) a much cooler name and I shall certainly increase the amount of albums/EPs I review too.
2010 was a great year for me because it was the first time I ever considered becoming a critic of music and allowing the audience to base their judgements of the same piece of music using mine as a starting point. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I feel that I have improved my writing methods gradually, and hope that it will continue throughout 2011 too.
This is a list of all of the albums that I can safely say that I have enjoyed all 2010, and that I feel really define the overall sound that this year has created for everyone to hear. I have included a mini review for each of these records, and provided a link to the albums that I was able to do in my short time of reviewing music, I would have really liked to have enough time to review each record fully but sadly, time has beaten me once again.
I haven’t really bothered putting in any of the “Pitchfork favoured” artists such as Beach House, Wild Nothing, Deerhunter, or Surfer Blood because I really found their albums to be rather dull. At first listen it was all spacey and deep and meaningful but as it begins to drag on and on…it’s just boring. I prefer albums that make an IMPACT, and don’t jump on that bandwagon of jumping off the bandwagon to manipulate air for 11 tracks.
On with the list!
Alain Johannes - Spark
Spark is an extremely good album to listen to once you know the story behind the creation of Spark. If you don’t, then it is still a good record, just not as good as it can be for you. Alain really sparks (sorry) in his first solo album and the use of the cigar box provided him as a great outcast in terms of sound for this year. A very emotional album, 10/10 if you know the meaning, 7/10 if you don’t.
The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt
The Tallest Man On Earth is probably the king of acoustic in 2010. This album is full of many happy, upbeat songs, but there are also changes of tone and mood in some songs too. A great record to listen to, the vocals are top notch, while all songs sound completely different from one another. An early favourite of 2010 for me, 9/10.
The Tallest Man On Earth - Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird
This EP came out a little later than The Wild Hunt but it still maintains the same mellow, calm nature that the first album introduced to my ears. All songs bring familiarities between each other, but the song “The Dreamer” uses an electric guitar throughout and is a great contender for my song of the year. 8/10.
Sunset - Loveshines But The Moon Is Shining Too
This album is definitely the most delicate and simply wonderful piece of music I’ve ever heard. All songs featured here are very fragile, and sound like pieces of heaven falling towards your ears. It was a pleasure listening to such a peaceful record, and it made such a great change for me because it meant that it wasn’t just another record that effectively destroyed my eardrums. I would hate myself if I gave this record anything less than a 10/10, so it gets one from me.
The Mynabirds - What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood
This is an album that I literally stumbled upon one day on Spotify, I gave it a listen and was glad I did. The sound is two extremes colliding together, it’s very dark and yet the music contradicts it so much it makes it kind of..happy..in a way..I don’t know. It sounds like a cleaner, prettier version of The Distillers. Anyway, I am very happy to have this album finally reviewed even in this way because I have been meaning to review it for the longest time. It is a very good album; I wouldn’t consider it one of THE albums of 2010 though. 7/10
Wavves - King of the Beach
I first heard Wavves from their 2009 album “Wavvves” which was very low-fi, dirty and raw, quite possibly the most under worked album I’ve ever heard. But in 2010, Wavves released King Of The Beach, which was a lot cleaner sounding than their previous effort, but still retained that youthful loud noise that kept pulling me into remembering them. The songs on this album are so much catchier too, with songs like “Post Acid” and “Super Soaker”, though the album track is one of my favourite songs from 2010. I strongly recommend people who may have dismissed Wavves from their second album to give their latest a listen; it’s much more accessible and just generally better in all aspects. I give it an 8/10
Sleigh Bells - Treats
Treats was the first album I ever reviewed, hence why this review remained only on my Tumblr account and did not appear on Zero Expectation.
Anyway, this album was definintely an early contender for album of the year, and it is not hard to hear why. The volume and noise levels are beyond healthy, each song packs such a high amount of punch that it can knock you out. My ears hurt like hell after listening to it with earphones, but the pain was worth it. Nearly every song is catchy, fun and extremely fantastic, with the exceptions of “Rachel” and “Run The Heart” which were bordering on annoying. Of course, if you ever wanted to get all the best moments of the past year, you will certainly need to get this record. 9/10.
Mini Mansions - SELFTITLED
This is an album that I wanted to review so much but unfortunately never got the chance, but it is one of my favourites. Mini Mansions are a band that contain Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael “Mikey Shoes” Shuman, yet there are no similarities between the up-and-comers and the well established hard rock n rollers.
Mini Mansions are a three piece that really use harmonisation to its full potential, the use of entwining voices together has been greatly ignored throughout 2010, and I do not know why. If anything, the use of one voice going “aaaahhhhhh” for 3 minutes is something that had been used far too much last year, and is something that should never be used this year.
The sound really does bring a unique quality of Mini Mansions that really casts them from the rest of the artists that also debuted in 2010. I found the self titled album to be dark, yet still rather catchy and a great listen. The use of harmonisation really brought each song into their own, and brought the record a couple notches higher in my opinion. I cannot wait for the band’s second album, as I know that it shall be a good one. I give Mini Mansions a 8/10.
LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
This Is Happening is without doubt my favourite album of 2010. LCD Soundsystem brought their sound down a tad and managed to control it a little more in this record, but it is still an absolute beast and dance floor mover. Each song displays a fantastic use of layer upon layer of different sounds, beating against the drums while James Murphy’s top notch vocals really lead the drive behind the tracks.
This is said to be LCD Soundsystem’s final album but while it will be sad to hear if that’s true, it is a fantastic album to finish on. I really do think This Is Happening is the record that rounds off the whole of 2010, and I strongly urge you that if you somehow haven’t heard this yet, you buy it right now. Yep, right now.
That was my list of favourite albums from 2010, here is a secondary list of other albums that I liked quite a lot but didn’t really create a big impact on me like the above did. Enjoy.
Albums to check out too:
Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Fun. - Aim & Ignite (this was released again in 2010, don’t know why, but at least it gives me the chance to promote Fun.)
Best Coast - Crazy For You
MGMT - Congratulations
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Let It Sway
Weezer - Hurley
Trash Talk - Eyes & Nines
Sky Larkin - Kaleide
OK Go - Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky
Beans on Toast - Writing On The Wall
OFF! - First Four EPs