The Top Ten LPs of 2010 (!!!)
10) National Ransom — Elvis Costello
Mr. Costello teams up again with T-Bone Burnett and comes up aces with richly illustrated characters, typically superb storytelling, and some good old-fashioned rock and roll. The elpee abounds with star-studded cameos, but the extra magic ingredients are the core of old Attractions: Pete Thomas slapping out beats and Steve Nieve’s dazzling keyboard performances.
Cincinnati’s favorite band knocks their major-label debut out of the ballpark with rock operettas and the vocal intensity of pint-sized Eric Sean Nally. Au Contraire isn’t nearly as off-the-rails insane as their previous releases, but it’s still one hell of a party.
8) Our Future Your Clutter – The Fall
Sometimes The Fall suck, sometimes they don’t and sometimes they make songs that make you want to start yer own band. Our Future Your Clutter is cluttered with the latter. Mark E Smith lives forever.
7) Here Lies Love – David Byrne & Fatboy Slim
What an audacious project: A disco-flavored record based on the life of Imelda Marcos, who played Bonnie to her dictator husband’s Clyde as they ransacked the Philippines together in the 1980’s. This elpee is a success on several levels; David Byrne manages to portray Marcos as a human being, he corrals a vast array of vocal talent (the likes of Cyndi Laupner, Nellie Mackay and Santigold to name a few) and pulls it all together with Fatboy Slim to come up with what could be a Broadway musical. As someone who watched the Philippines crumble beneath the excesses of The Marcos family from afar, I was astonished to find empathy with her Imelda’s character in a few of these songs. Incredible stuff.
6) Realism – The Magnetic Fields
The endless variety of musical styles and Stephin Merritt’s droll humor are the key elements that make Realism special. On 2008’s Distortion, Merritt came off as petty, venial and ultimately misdirected, but tracks like “The Dada Polka” and “Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree” are funny and magical and the melodies stick for days on end.
5) Invisible Hand – Invisible Hand
Here’s a super strong rock and roll debut from a young band from Virginia. One gets the feeling that they’ve spent a lot of their youth digging through their parent’s record collections… there’s a psychedelic undertone to many of the songs here, but this is no stoner jam band. The vocal arrangements are tricky, each track takes an unexpected turn at some point, and it’s all played with incredible finesse. I really want to see how they pull these tracks off live.
4) This Is Happening – LCD Soundsystem
Dance music for every type of thinking human. There are party riots (“Drunk Girls,” “Pow Pow”) dancefloor narcotics (“One Touch,” “You Wanted A Hit”) and moments of transcendent beauty (“I Can Change,” “Home”). In other words, this is as close to perfect as it gets. Let’s hope James Murphy’s retirement is following Jay Z’s retirement plan.
3) Grinderman 2 – Grinderman
Nick Cave is at the top of his fucking game. This is a great elpee, but if you really want to feel it, go see Grinderman live. OMG.
02) My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky – Swans
When I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I already knew that Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (Ellis is the wild beast on many stringed instruments in both The Bad Seeds and Grinderman) were working on the soundtrack for the film adaptation of the book, and I thought that was an excellent choice. Do you know what would have been a better choice? This record from Swans, that’s what. It’s pitch black. It gets under yer skin. It’s disturbing. It will affect you. What more do you want from music?
01) Majesty Shredding – Superchunk
It’s an energy source. It’s a fun generator. It’s POGO-A-GOGO. Track for track, this is the best elpee yer money could’ve bought you in 2010. The only way it could have been better is if it would’ve come out in June. It would’ve been the perfect summer soundtrack.