Top 20 Records of 2010

The biggest music-related thing to happen in 2010 was without a doubt my trip back to London and catching Pavement at All Tomorrow’s Parties. Perhaps the most surreal experience from the entire trip though was being at the Butlins waterpark with a few hundred hipsters in their swimwear. Going down water slides and getting tossed around in the wave pool. Half-naked, bearded, tattooed and for the most part out of shape.

Anyway, I know it’s a bit late for a best-of-year list but for my purposes it’s acceptable so long as it gets posted within the first quarter of the new year (hah!). So without further delay (artists in alphabetical order):

1. Actress – Splazsh (Honest Jon’s)

It’s impossible to write about Actress without bringing up Detroit techno. Good techno, the likes of Carl Craig, Moodymann, Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir and Urban Tribe. Lead track ‘Hubble’ for example has the right BPMs for you to strut your stuff, but sounds way too distant and subliminal to be appreciated on the dance floor. ‘Wrong Potion’ on the other hand has hints of dubstep but fits right in with the cerebral nature of the rest of the album. If you get the idea then you’re good to go. Otherwise, the next best way to explain Splazsh is club music for when you’re lying in bed.

Listen to ‘Hubble’

2. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)

The first few Beach House albums didn’t do much for me, despite being perennial indie year-end picks. I was about to dismiss Teen Dream just the same but decided to give it a shot after hearing ‘Norway’. Well what do you know. They sound a lot less mopey dream pop this time round. In fact, they sound so pleasantly upbeat that it’s my pick for the year’s happiest record (by my standards anyway). Favourite track – ‘Real Love’.

Listen to ‘Real Love’

3. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son Of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)

I’ve always preferred Andre 3000 over Big Boi. I’ve listened to The Love Below countless times, but I believe I’ve only gone through Speakerboxxx once, or twice at most. But Sir Lucious Left Foot is pretty awesome. ‘You Ain’t No DJ’ is addictive, ringtone material with a killer guest spot by Yelawolf. ‘General Patton’ feels funky and scary at the same time, its blaring horn section and grand choir sample heralding the imminent arrival of … something (the funk maybe?). More importantly, Sir Lucious Left Foot is a prime example of a mainstream rap record that can succeed both commercially and critically without trying too hard. And by ‘trying too hard’ I mean you, KANYE WEST.

Watch the video for ‘You Ain’t No DJ’

4. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD)

The best bits of Halcyon Digest remind me of Radiohead and Pixies. Radiohead in the sense that Deerhunter strikes that right balance between traditional, musical songwriting with electronic experimentation (‘Earthquake’, ‘Helicopter’). And Pixies for the band’s catchy, dulcet guitar work (‘He Would Have Laughed’, and doesn’t ‘Desire Lines’ trail off in the second half exactly like ‘No. 13 Baby’?).

On a side note, I kind of regret not being a little bit more enthusiastic about lead singer Bradford Cox’s performance at All Tomorrow’s Parties, considering that I’m already missing Deerhunter at Singapore’s Laneway Festival as I write this. He came on at close to midnight and I was already tired out from jumping around at Pavement’s headlining gig about an hour before (and an entire day’s worth of gigs before that). I literally had my head down on the table at the bar during his appearance as Atlas Sound and left halfway through. I could’ve been wrong though – surely the dynamics of performing solo material and being with a full band are different, and I may not have enjoyed his show either way. Guess I’ll never know.

Listen to ‘Desire Lines’

5. Dibiase – Machines Hate Me (Alpha Pup)

Dibiase is not the only one making the sort of chip-tune infused hip-hop that he does – I can think of Brainfeeder-affiliated Samiyam and Fulgeance from France – but he does it a little bit more obsessively and meticulously than others. Machines Hate Me is dirty bass music, plain and simple. The Nintendo beats can get a bit much at times but it gets you hooked, at least for the duration of the album. Having said that, I foresee that Dibiase can pull this Mario-smoking-blunts shtick off only once. Another LP like this would be overkill. I sound real critical of this album, yet it’s on my list of top albums of the year. It induces intense head-nodding, just that it needs to be taken in small, sparing doses.

Watch the video for ‘Skullcrack’

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2 Responses to “Top 20 Records of 2010”

  1. Michelle Says:
    February 5th, 2011 at 12:52 am

    What, no shout out to the person who got your lazy ass back to London and to ATP?

  2. shtikman Says:
    February 5th, 2011 at 2:43 am

    LOL! Yes, shout out to Michelle for getting my lazy ass back to London and to ATP. HOLLLAAA!!!