The Best Albums of 2010

The past year was filled with unforgettable music.  As I was poring over all of the great albums I began agonizing (often vocally to my wife) about how I was possibly going to choose which albums would make this list.  Throughout the past two months I’ve been listening to twenty albums on constant repeat and below I present to you the fruits of this labor.

01 : The National – High Violet (amazon) (itunes)

The National crafted an album in 2010 that surpassed all of the hype that has been surrounding them since they released their album Alligator in 2005.  Of all the great music in 2010 this album narrowly surpassed the rest of the pack in grabbing and holding my attention the most.

mp3 : The National – Sorrow
mp3 : The National – Conversation 16

02 : Cloud Cult – Light Chasers (amazon) (itunes)

There are five or six albums in this list that could have easily laid claim to the coveted number one position.  Light Chasers sits at number two on the list because every single song adds to the story arc and each track contributes something new, yet cohesive, to the experience.

mp3 : Cloud Cult – The Invocation (p.1) – You’ll Be Bright
mp3 : Cloud Cult – The Arrival – There’s So Much Energy In Us

03 : Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz (amazon) (itunes)

Many people didn’t know what to think of Sufjan’s return to music.  He eschewed his well known banjo and modern folk interpretations and instead produced a sprawling epic that combines intricate storytelling with even more intricate electronic compositions.  Truly a great album.

mp3 : Sufjan Stevens – Now That I’m Older
mp3 : Sufjan Stevens – Vesuvius

04 : Jonsi – Go (amazon) (itunes)

Jonsi went solo this year from Sigur Ros and he came up with an album that sounds as great as his band, but it moves along with a joy and brevity that they don’t typically employ.

mp3 : Jonsi – Kolnidur

05 : Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (amazon) (itunes)

When you see Arcade Fire at fifth on this it’s easy to see just how hard it was to arrange the top ten.  The only problem I have with this album (which is the same as everyone else) is that it isn’t full of songs on the same level as Wake Up.  I know that isn’t fair, but it’s what we’re all waiting for.

mp3 : Arcade Fire – Rococo

06 : Vampire Weekend – Contra (amazon) (itunes)

In 2008 I was ready to write these Ivy League yuppie kids off as a typical flash in the pan.  On their sophomore album they’ve found a way to turn smug indie rock into something worth listening to over and over again.

mp3 : Vampire Weekend – Horchata

07 : Broadcast 2000 – Broadcast 2000 (amazon) (itunes)

The only reason this great album doesn’t move higher on the list is that many of the songs appeared two full years ago on their debut EP.

mp3 : Broadcast 2000 – Rouse Your Bones

08 : Freelance Whales – Weathervanes (amazon) (itunes)

Having been released back in early April it’s easy to see why many list makers completely forgot about this slice of well crafted folk pop.  The entire album is well crafted and infectious.

mp3 : Freelance Whales – Generator Second Floor

09 : Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (amazon) (itunes)

While I don’t agree with his lyrics, his message, his ego, or his personality I do agree with critics and listmakers across the globe that realize this album is worth looking past Ye’s flaws.

mp3 : Kanye West – Lost In The World (feat. Bon Iver)

10 : Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History (amazon) (itunes)

Each year I seem to find one amazing pop album that I can listen to again and again.  In 2009 it was Phoenix and in 2010 it was Two Door Cinema Club.

mp3 : Two Door Cinema Club – Eat That Up, It’s Good For You

Those are my top ten albums for 20010.  If you’d like to see my previous lists follow these links; 2009, 2008, 2007 (or click here to see all 4 years on one page).  I’m looking forward to 2011 in music as there will most likely be albums by Radiohead, Coldplay, Bon Iver, and The Strokes.  Enjoy the music.

+ more music @ twf hype elbows amazonmp3 itunes
add this post to del.icio.us / digg / facebook / twitter

Arcade Fire album The Suburbs

A few weeks back I was sitting on a stationary bike reading a random issue of Rolling Stone that magically appeared in my mailbox without address, postage, or any indication as to how it appeared there.  So I sat there, cycling in place, reading how Rolling Stone thinks that Arcade Fire is the new Radiohead and I couldn’t help but laugh.  I had a good chuckle, really, and I found myself assured that it was articles like this that kept me from ever subscribing to Rolling Stone.  I’m sure they’re a fine group of writers, they probably all have families, etc. (oh, and they seem to love to give everything a polished shining review no matter how middling an album it is), but I just don’t agree with what they say.

For starters, the new album by Arcade Fire, The Suburbs (amazon) (itunes), sounds nothing like Radiohead.  Nothing like them at all.  What the new Arcade Fire does sound like is the eighties.  And if you want to be more specific it sounds like a modern era Bruce Springsteen filtered through eighties sensibilities.  And this is almost always what Arcade Fire has been.  They write stories about real life, growing up, moving to the suburbs, having an existential quarter life crisis, and moving on.  And to be blunt they do a damn fine job of it.

mp3 : Arcade Fire – Rococo
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

I have also read grumblings that “this isn’t what we wanted from Arcade Fire” and I simply don’t understand this sentiment.  It’s as if there exists an extremely vocal minority that keeps screaming for an entire album made up of songs that sound exactly like Wake Up.  If you enter The Suburbs thinking that way you will leave disappointed.  You need to enter looking for the natural evolution of one of the most talented bands on the planet.

+ more Arcade Fire @ twf hype elbows site myspace amazonmp3 itunes
add this post to del.icio.us / digg / facebook /twitter

Arcade Fire is Leaking Songs

If you’ve been trolling the internet over the past month or so you’ve most likely stumbled upon a smattering of tracks off the upcoming Arcade Fire album The Suburbs which is due out later this year.  To be honest, after hearing the tracks, I’m not nearly as excited for the full album as I used to be.  Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s that we’ve been spoiled already this year with gorgeous albums from The National and Jonsi (amongst others), but I’m not sensing the underlying brilliance that I was hoping for.  I do hope that I am scared for no reason.

mp3 : Arcade Fire – Ready To Start
mp3 : Arcade Fire – We Used To Wait

To be quite frank the song Ready To Start would sound more at home with Julian Casablancas on lead vocals.  The last minute, when the melody breaks down for a moment, you start to feel that Arcade Fire is back on track, but the track never crescendos, never reaches any sort of musical epiphany, never really sounds like Arcade Fire.  The other track, the ripped from a radio broadcast We Used To Wait, has a lot more promise to it.  If the rest of the album is more like We Used To Wait there’s still a chance; if most of the album sounds like Ready To Start we’re probably going to be disappointed.

+ more Arcade Fire @ twf hype elbows site myspace amazonmp3 itunes
add this post to del.icio.us / digg / facebook / twitter

Arcade Fire – Wake Up

For some reason track seven from Arcade Fire’s first album, 2004’s Funeral (amazon) (itunes), has been stuck in my head for almost a month now.  From the repeated and chanted chorus of “ohhh” to the story Win Butler weaves throughout the song I just can’t seem to get it out of my thoughts.  So I thought I’d troll the interwebs and find a few various versions of this track to cheer everyone up in what has become a bit of a rough stretch for the world.

mp3 : Arcade Fire – Wake Up
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Wake Up (Live)
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Wake Up (Live Acoustic Sessions Version)
mp3 : Arcade Fire & David Bowie – Wake Up (Live at Fashion Rocks)

Although I really love the album version of Wake Up there’s something about the live energy of the song that really catches my attention.  I love how crowds hold onto the “ohhh” and give the track a bit of extra raw power.  And let us all be honest for a brief moment, the live version that they played with The David Bowie is absolutely priceless.  I mean that guy was in Labyrinth.

+ Arcade Fire @ twf hype elbows site myspace amazonmp3 itunes
add this post to del.icio.us / digg / facebook

BOTM vol 12

Welcome back to The World Forgot.  Welcome back to the Best of the Month series.  Welcome many readers to election day and welcome the rest of you to a wonderful November 4th.  For those that are still unaware what the BOTM series is all about here’s a quick refresher.  I collect songs all month long and the best that I’ve heard in the past thirty days I put together in one easy to find post.  If you’d like to browse through the past eleven volumes click here.  Enjoy the music, and if you live in the Midwest enjoy the glorious sunshine.

All the tracks in one zip file : here {zshare = left click}

mp3 : Amie Miriello – Disarm (Smashing Pumpkins Cover)
This is easily one of my favorite Smashing Pumpkins songs and I think this cover respects the original material while at the same time Amie isn’t afraid to put her own spin on this classic.  It actually sounds a bit like if Stevie Nicks covered the Pumpkins.

mp3 : Arcade Fire – Brazil (Bossonova Cover)
The music in this cover is every bit as cheeky as you’d expect but for some reason Win Butler’s voice adds just the right amount of gravitas to make this cover worth a second, third, or tenth listen.

mp3 : B.o.B. – Left Field Lovely
This track reminds me of all my favorite parts of Outkast.  If that’s not brilliant enough endorsement for this track I’m willing to bet you hate everything I love.

mp3 : Ben Lee – Float On (Modest Mouse Cover)
This is a pretty raw cover of the song that put Modest Mouse on literally every iPod in the world.  Never mind that about two thirds of the way through the song Ben accidentally halts the song and has to count it off again.  It’s wonderful.

mp3 : Chark Mu – Eh Oh
Mr. Mu makes mighty impressive remixes.  Apparently when he’s not splicing together beats and melodies he’s busy making some equally impressive original material.  Clearly Chark Mu is a force to be reckoned with.

mp3 : Coldplay – Lost+ (feat Jay-Z)
After Chris Martin contributed a bit of talent to that Jay-Z track a ways back we all knew that Z would return the favor.  That’s just the type of classy gentleman he is.  The rhymes don’t kick in until after the two minute mark, but they’re worth the wait.

mp3 : Digital Leather – Dead Sound (Raveonettes Cover)
The first two thirds of this track are filled with enough glitches and blips to satisfy anyone with a heart for Fruity Loops or Acid Pro.  The real beauty reveals itself when the music is stripped away for a moment and you realize your heart is crying out for it to begin again.  Don’t worry, it does.

mp3 : Goodtimes Goodtimes – Eloise
If you’re wondering who should be crowned the next Dylan look no further than this track.  Seriously.  It is as if the vocals, the melodies, the whisper of whimsy, the overdose of melancholy, and the guitar strumming are taken right from Bob himself.

mp3 : Lily Allen – Naive (The Kooks Cover)
Lady Sov can kiss Lily’s butt.  If there was any question as to who was the better of these two oft quarrelling ladies this song puts most of that squabble to bed.  Honestly, can anyone imagine Sov pulling off anything like this?

mp3 : Of Montreal – Crazy (Gnarls Barkley Cover)
It’s live, it doesn’t have the best audio quality, but it captures the fun that is infused into every Of Montreal set.  And let’s not forget that Kevin Barnes can actually sing {even if he might be the weirdest performer currently on tour}.

mp3 : Of Montreal and MGMT – Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana Cover)
I’m not sure where this cover comes from.  It’s in a live setting, and it’s decent quality, but what I find more fascinating is that it’s Of Montreal and MGMT paying homage to Nirvana.  And they do it in an appropriate straight up rocking sort of way.  Kudos.

mp3 : Sufjan Stevens – In The Words Of The Governor
Will Suf ever release a new album?  There really hasn’t been much news surrounding the Sufjan camp these days.  It seems as if he’s busy shooting high 8 videos, writing instrumental pieces honoring highways, and signing more talent to his ever growing indie label.  This song is way different than most of what you’ve heard.  And it’s still brilliant.

mp3 : The Decemberists – Valerie Plame
I’m not sure The Decemberists will ever live up to the glorious splendor that was The Crane Wife.  Right now they’re putting out a series of EP’s and performing some songs on late night talk shows.  This happens to be one of those songs.  I like it, so just listen to it and agree with me.

That’s all for volume 12 of the BOTM series.  Come back often and read some of the regular posts where I basically tell you what’s good, what’s bad, and I succeed in convincing you that you’re not cool unless you’re just like me.  Oh, and make sure you check back tomorrow to catch the Best of the Remix series.  Cheers.

+ twf hype elbows amazonmp3 itunes
add this post to del.icio.us / digg / facebook

BOTM vol 11

The end of the month draws nigh, and I have sought only to serve the blogosphere what meager offerings I could find.  In my endless search of great music there are, on occasion, songs that fall through the cracks.  Sometimes they’re brand new tracks, in other instances they are old and almost forgotten.  It is for this reason that each month I present to you my Best of the Month series.  Enjoy the tracks below, I’ve done all I could to bring you only that which is worthy of your precious time.  If you’d like to peruse all the other BOTM volumes click this link.

All the tracks in one zip file : here {zshare = left click}

mp3 : Arcade Fire – Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeahs Cover)
It’s almost a sure bet that when one of my favorite bands covers one of my favorite songs it’ll be worth listening to.  This cover comes from the wonderful year 2005 and it’s still hot.

mp3 : Coldplay – Death Will Never Conquer
The four boys from England gave this track away for free on their website.  I’m not sure if it would qualify as a b-side, as a hidden track, or whatnot.  Regardless of nomenclature it’s a nice slice of Coldplay.

mp3 : Enur (feat Natasja) – Calabria 2008
Yes, this is that song, from the Target commercial featuring two undergrads setting up their dorm room {with an appropriate amount of dance off panache}.  It’s good, trust me.

mp3 : Jack White and Alicia Keys – Another Way To Die
Could the upcoming bond be as good as this summer’s Batman movie?  A large part of me thinks it will be impossible, but I can always hope.  This is for certain, Jack White makes amazing songs.

mp3 : Kanye West – Love Lockdown
It’s been remixed to shreds, already, and to be honest I hope Kanye realizes his albums sell because of his rhymes, not his vocals {however computer aided/distorted they are}.  As a single song this track is nice, I would cringe if it filled out an entire album.

mp3 : Katy Perry – Electric Feel (MGMT Cover)
Katy Perry ranks right down about the same level as Rhianna or Amy Winehouse on my list of those who shouldn’t have a recording career.  But even broken clocks are right twice a day.  Or in Katy’s case, once.  This cover proves yet again that anyone can sound decent when they’re playing someone else’s song.

mp3 : Mystery Jets – Bleeding Love (Leona Lewis Cover)
While my mind is as of yet undecided about whether Leona Lewis is talented or not, one thing is for certain.  Mystery Jets have yet to do something that disappoints me.  This track is superb.

mp3 : Phoenix – If I Ever Feel Better
I’ve often thought of Phoenix as the much much more talented version of Maroon 5.  See Maroon 5 is terrible {always}.  Phoenix, on the other hand, seems to be getting better and better with each and every album they produce.

mp3 : Snow Patrol – Take Back The City
It’s officially a toss up whether or not the upcoming Snow Patrol album will be amazing or terrible.  I like the progress they’ve made with their latest two albums, although I know some fans would vehemently disagree.  This song shows promise.

mp3 : The Kooks – Kids (MGMT Cover)
If you skipped over the Katy Perry cover of MGMT {which you rightly could do, she’s not that talented} then this is definitely a track you should hear.  One word comes to mind when I listen to this track, and that word is love.

mp3 : The Postal Service – Grow Old With Me
Will they ever release another album?  Not likely.  If they do somehow get the tracks together and release an album will it be epic?  Probably not.  Probably not even close.  It’ll probably disappoint as much as the second half of Weezer’s latest disc {and I really wanted to love that one}.

mp3 : TV On The Radio – Family Tree
Their latest album is solidly in the running for best album of the year.  Honestly, every track is brilliant off this album, and Family Tree is one of those tracks.

mp3 : Yannis Kamarinos – Money Shot
Yes, this is that song from the AT&T techno twins commercial.  I had to search high and low for this little slice of danceable goodness.  You are welcome.  The next volume in the Best of the Remix series should hit tomorrow.

+ twf hype elbows amazonmp3 itunes
add this post to del.icio.us / digg / facebook

Arcade Fire : Live On KCRW

The kids of Arcade Fire are awesome.  They also span quite an impressive range of heights.  Sorry for cutting you off there love, that’s just the way it is.  Anyway, I get quite a few requests to repost old material every week in email format.  Some songs and artists get requested once, some two or three times, but only one post of mine consistently comes up and is requested again and again {probably once every ten days or so}.  For all the lovely readers who’ve wanted to see these tracks once again grace the interwebs, here is the moment you’ve been waiting for.

mp3 : Arcade Fire – Intro (Live on KCRW)
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Wake Up (Live on KCRW)
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Neighborhood #4 (Live on KCRW)
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Vampire Forest Fire (Live on KCRW)
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Interview (Live on KCRW)
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Intervention (Live on KCRW)
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Born on a Train (Live on KCRW)
mp3 : Arcade Fire – In the Backseat (Live on KCRW)
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Outro (Live on KCRW)

All the tracks in one zip file : here {zshare = left click}

For those of you who are interested this recording was made January 17th of 2005 and it is quite amazing.  It’s worth listening to it just for the alternate version of Intervention {and the rest of the tracks are equally compelling}.  *It’s also worth noting, and Win Butler says so quite clearly, that Born on a Train is a Magnetic Fields cover.  Cheers.

Much thanks goes to KCRW for consistently putting amazing music on the internet.  If you’ve never been to their website that simply must be changed.   Click on through and have a listen to the Morning Becomes Eclectic archives.  You’ll love it.

+ twf hype elbows site myspace amazonmp3 itunes
add this post to del.icio.us / digg / facebook