It’s always difficult to do a year-end albums list. Not “living on $5 a day” difficult, but surely “ranking subjective art is stupid” difficult. People can change entirely over the course of a single year and things you loved in January might seem pretty boring in December. Your entire list could change when you go back to re-listen again in 2011 (assuming people relisten to MP3s before making room for the newest batch of pirated jams). Crazy, I know.
In that vein, my list is littered with examples of the kind of listening I’ve done this year. In 2009, my list included mostly relative new-comers to the scene, much moreso than the established acts who put out great records imo. I also included a lot of acts that were not of your typical band set up. A lot of synths, handmade instruments, knobs, pedals, blinking lights, etc. As 2009 turned to 2010, I began shifting my focus to big ensemble jazz and straight up psych rock based around the power-trio of drums, guitar and bass. I bought a lot more old albums than new ones and began my gainfully employed life by trying to track down expensive, rare obscurities. And there you have my 2010 list. It is littered with absolute legends in their respective scenes (SCG, Keiji Haino, The Dead C, etc.) who I may have just accused of having their best work behind them if I were 2009 me. Funny how things change. Of course, there are also some established, but still youngins getting love here, and of course some genuine new blood, weirdo sounds, and Kanye. With that in mind, I present my top 15 albums of 2010 along with others considered, but also my favorite reissues of the year as well as my top pick for 2009 that I completely slept on. Enjoy and feel free to ask me about anything on the list if it piques your curiosity.
Top 15 releases of 2010, (no order):
Seijaku, Mail From Fushitsusha
Experimental rock demi-god returns in epic three piece, futuristic psych-blues form
Yellow Swans, Going Places
The best swan song (pun intended) of the year (sorry, SCG)
Kemialliset Ystavat, Ulakkopalo
Laptop folk collage. As progressive as it gets.
The Fun Years, God Was Like No
Sophomore proper album from the two realest bros in ambient music.
Mi Ami, Steal Yr Face
Boredoms inspired free-moving, frenetic rock
Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Because this IS pop, broooo. Also, I'm counter-attacking the P4k 10.0 backlash so when this swings back into indie fashion I can say I always supported it.
Flower-Corsano Duo, You'll Never Work In This Town Again
No duo is doing more cathartic free jazz/rock right now.
The Dead C, Patience
It takes a little patience on this LP (pun-intended), but the New Zealand noise rock legends still got it.
Sun City Girls, Funeral Mariachi
An amazing book end to the career of one of the greatest bands ever.
Jailbreak, The Rocker
Two monsters of free improv actually playing with each other in mind. Visceral yet freeing.
Bronze Horse, s/t
Sure to join the higher echelons of haunting Americana in private press-collecting circles years down the road.
Messages, After Before
Organic drone reminiscent of the early days of the genre, not surprisingly, this is probably the best of the year in said genre.
Vava Kitora, Spinning Song
Minimalist instrumentation, angelic vocal interplay reminiscent of an Arvo Part composition, reverential tones of Liz Harris, etc. Music to die to.
Emeralds, Does It Look Like I’m Here?
If it would’ve been four songs like “Genetic” it would’ve been my Album of the Year. Otherwise, I like that they are taking chances even if it doesn’t fit my taste all the time.
Thee Oh Sees, Warm Slime
The best in fuzzed out, psychedelic pop-hooks.
Others Receiving Consideration
Dead Luke, Cosmic Meltdown
Lussuria, Silk & Honey
Second Family Band, Veiled Gallery
MV & EE, Live Road
Warm Climate, Camouflage On The River Wretched
Bernardino Femminielli, La Montana del Capricornio
Dire Wolves, Jams and the Giant Peace
Bee Mask, Canzoni dal Laboratorio del Silenzio Cosmico
Sylvester Anfang II, Commune Cassetten
International Hello, S/T
Pospulenn, Sun People Sleepwalker
Infinite Body, Carve Out The Face of My God
Vibracathedral Orchestra, Joka Baya
Ulaan Khol, III
Drunk Driver, S/T
Elephant 9, Walk The Nile
Yusef Lateef & Adam Rudolph, Towards The Unknown
Psychedelic Horseshit, Acid Tape
Billy Bao, Urban Disease
Vatican Shadow, Byzantine Private CIA
Dual Identity, S/T
El Jesus De Magico, Ragtime Hors
Aural Fit, Mubomuso
Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth, Seed of Contempt
10 Best Reissues of 2010
Love, Cry, Want, S/T, Weird Forest
Beautiful job. Psych/prog/free jazz masterpiece.
Les Rallizes Denudes, (Multiple albums), Phoenix Records
Not the best reissues, but great to have some LRD on vinyl regardless.
Arthur Doyle Trio / The Orkustra, Split, Qbico
Beautiful picture disc LP.
Vertical Slit, Slit and Pre-Slit, Smudge Records
Reissue of something not many people had a chance to hear beforehand
White Boy and The Average Rat Band, S/T, Roach Records
Bmore representing and such.
Fraction, Moon Blood, Mexican Summer
Finally a high quality, legit reissue of this all-time classic.
Vulcan, Meet Yr Ghost, Lysergic Sound Distributors
Awesome double LP with a lot of extra goodness.
Rob Jo Star Band, S/T, Pomme
Almost perfect quality re-press of this French contribution to 70s garage/psych/rock/experimentation.
Robert Thurman, Chapter Eleven, Hanson
Pretty wild to do an eight cassette reissue/discog, but even crazier how far ahead of his time Thurman was.
Parson Sound, Box set. Subliminal Sounds
The CD reissue came out last year, but this beautiful box set collecting all of the wild freak-folk on deluxe vinyl was well worth the price and wait.
Best thing from 2009 I didn’t hear until 2010
Richard Youngs, Valley Of The Ultrahits
In retrospect, a contender for the best album of the year in 2009, in my opinion. Coincidentally, this could also be on the best reissue list, as Jagjaguwar took the CD-R from 2009 and put it to vinyl in 2010.
Best album of 2011
Emeralds, The Overlook LP from Wagon
Or is it a reissue because the tape came out in 2009? Can an album be your favorite of 2009 and 2011? Can Kanye be stopped? Anyway, this computer hacking is making me thirsty. Have a blessed holiday, everyone.