Friday, 24 December 2010

The 100 Best Songs Of 2010

Before we launch you into thousands of words of praise, here at TCOAL we’d like to do something we’re rather more comfortable with and, dare I say it, adept at: Bitchin’ & wailin’ on things that annoy us.

So, let’s have a quick sneer, a disgusted glance, at those that didn't make our definitive run-down. These are some artists that you’d think might have a place in the top 100 but, actually, don’t:

The National: Because wetting your pants and mumbling isn’t the same as poetry.

The Hold Steady: Because they’ve played their hand to death, and are in danger of turning ‘unfortunate epilogue’ into ‘embarrassing demise’.

Salem/Zola Jesus/OoOOo: Because every single thing about witch-house sucks.

Lone/ Curren$y/ The Tallest Man On Earth/ Julian Lynch/ No Age/Superchunk/Gonjasufi/Guido/Vampire Weekend/Woods/Glasser/The Samps/Rihanna: Would appear if this list was 113 places long.

Arcade Fire: They’re still rubbish.

Gorrilaz: They’re still boring.

Darkstar: They’re now boring.

Sufjan Stevens: He’s now rubbish.

Johnny Greenwood: The ‘Norwegian Wood’ score is really good, but inseparable into ‘songs’ really for this list.

Girl Talk: As above.

Agalloch/Swans/Metal in general: Of about 5 metal albums I’ve listened to this year, I’ve only really enjoyed Agalloch & Swans, and I just don’t know enough about metal to decide which songs are ‘good’.

Girls: Don’t get it.

Pinch: Don’t get it.

British Sea Power: Still don’t get it.

Toro Y Moi: Really don’t get it.

Gold Panda: Because it’s really, really bad fakestep for White Lies fans.

David Lynch: Because that songs gets unbearable from the, er, first time you listen to it.

OFF!/Male Bonding/Sleigh Bells/Sun Araw/Pocahaunted/Nite Jewel/Ducktails: Because I haven’t listened to them.

Titus Andronicus: This is probably quite good, but I’ve only listened once, and they were shit live.

Surfer Blood: Because I had a cigarette with the drummer outside their gig in Vancouver, and he was one of the biggest cunts I’ve ever met.

Broken Social Scene/The Radio Dept./Delorean/Crystal Castles/ Fang Island/Liars: Because I moved to Canada, didn’t have the ability to download music, and didn’t care enough about these bands to back-track upon my return.

So, one final note. This list was written by me, Dave Wingrave. It’s my list, comprised of music I’ve listened to this year. I’m just one man, I simply can’t listen to everything, no matter how much my latent autism tries to make me. Unlike the forthcoming album & E.P list, not a hint of democracy went in to it. The closest it got was when I asked Pip over facebook chat if there was anything he wanted to see in it. I duly ignored all of his suggestions. Oh, and one (really) final note. Each artist was limited to one song, to keep things all diverse and stuff. In a magical world where numbers weren't linear, and we could include more in one spot, the songs filed under 'Also' would appear roughly in the same chronological position, and come with equal reccomendation.

100. Alvy, Nacho Y Rubin ‘El Galan De La Paternal’

Of all the flash-in-the-pan, famous for fifteen ‘likes’ blog hits this year, this Spanish cover of The Magnetic Field’s ‘The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side’ was by far the most adorable.


99. Booka Shade ‘Regenerate’

After 2008s ‘The Sun & Neon Light’ flopped, Booka Shade were in danger of losing the whole swathe of usually dance music-wary indie converts they’d made with 2006’s ‘Movements’. I’d like to tell you they’d made the intelligent, cross-over comeback I’d hoped for, but that’d be telling a dirty, dirty lie. Nestled within the bland-house mess that is ‘More!’ however, is this cut; a basic, yet incredibly effective, build-and-break gargantuan that makes not nodding your head just an........ unthinkable......... option.

From ‘More’

98. How To Dress Well ‘Ready For The World’

A year ago, we’d all be saying ‘This is a boss chillwave song’. Now we’re all saying ‘This is a boss hypnagogic pop song’. The only thing that doesn’t change is the ‘Boss’. And the ‘This’, ‘is’, ‘a’ and ‘song’ I guess, but let’s not split hairs.

From ‘Love Remains’

97. Reading Rainbow ‘Wasting Time’

Will I like a garage pop song by a married, vegan couple, whom, when asked what their vices were, literally couldn’t think of anything? Yus. Personality ain’t everything, kidz!

From ‘Prism Eyes’

96. PJ Harvey ‘Written On The Forehead’

In which Polly heralds the apocalypse from behind a mask of Cocteau-Twins sonics and dub vocal samples. Bizzarely, it works.

Possibly from forthcoming album

95. Olof Arnalds ‘Innundir Skinni’

I would have thought we’d all be at Icelandic pixie saturation point by now. Room for one more at the back? Will we get confused by her name and song titles? Well, go on then.

From ‘Innundir Skinni’

94. Matthew Dear ‘Little People (
Black City)

I really like Matthew Dear, but I don’t love him. Does anyone love Matthew Dear? Probably, I guess.

From ‘Black City

93. The Books ‘A Cold, Freezin’ Night’

It’s The Books, right? Cue crap band name, weird-ass samples, great drums, disconcerting lack of cohesiveness, sudden ending. Standard. Brilliant.

From ‘The Way Out’

92. DJ Nate ‘Back Up Kid’

2010, the year Juke finally broke the mainstream. The mainstream for people who spend 8 hours a day reading music blogs.

From ‘Da Trak Genious’

91. Jaill- ‘She’s My Baby’

Right, class, let’s name some good things that come from Wisconsin. Cheese? Half a point. Anything else? Anyone? No? Ok.

Oh, nearly forgot this bunch of slack-jawed rrrrruckus-makers.

From ‘That’s How We Burn’

90. DM Stith ‘Gates Of

It’s a cover of that nice Dylan song, by some guy I know absolutely nothing about. He makes it sound like some Elephant 6 supergroup at their very best. Lovely.

From ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues: A Tribute To Dylan’s ‘Bringing it All Back Home’

Also: The Helio Sequence ‘Mr Tambourine Man’

89. Perfume Genius ‘Learning’

For me, this sounds like it was written from a faceless American suburb by a winsome and mawkish, yet impossible to hate teenager who has just watched Amelie and dreams of Europe, thinking, no, truly believing, it’s like the film depicts.

From ‘Learning’

Also: Mr Peterson

88. Diamond Rings- ‘All Yr Songs’

This only appeared properly on a release this year, so get your knickers out of that twist. I really like it, it’s very straightforward, very unassuming, just a well-written pop song. Strange, coming from the man who penned it.

From: ‘Special Affections’

87. Charlotte Gainsbourg ‘Heaven Can Wait’

Poor Charlotte Gainsbourg, not only does she have to deal with being unbelievably beautiful and rich and talented and really very beautiful, but now, because of IRM’s silly release date, the rather good album isn’t going to show up on best-of lists from 2009 or 2010. Dave’s here to save the day, though, and as ‘Heaven can wait’ was released as a single this year, he’ll look the other way. Production by Beck, but it’s hardly noticeable.....

From ‘IRM’

86. Shed ‘Keep Time’

Itchy itchy itchy itchy itchy. Berlin producer is really great at making compelling, interesting dance music. Call the fucking front page.

From ‘The Traveller’

85. Robyn ‘Call your Girlfriend’

No, you call YOUR girlfriend! I dunno what to write about Robyn man, gimme a break. Who actually doesn’t like the woman?

From ‘Body Talk’

Also: ‘Indestructible’, ‘Hang With Me’

84. El Guincho ‘

My Spanish housemate told me of the people of Barcelona that ‘because of economic crisis, not much to do, so everybody is just watching El Guincho video for Bombay’. Sounds alright.

From ‘Pop Negro’

83. Andreya Triana ‘Draw The Stars’

Completely out of leftfield for me, this one. Reminds me slightly of that girl who sang ‘Put you records on’ or whatever it was called, then did absolutely nothing else even vaguely catchy. But, you know, good.

From ‘Lost Where I Belong’

82. Ikonika ‘Red Marker Pens (Happy Ending)’

The fact that songs on Ikonika’s debut are sub-titled after standard chronological events in arcade games (see: ‘Ikonklast (insert coin)’ and ‘Look (final boss stage)’) is almost reason enough for inclusion. When the music itself is this engaging and forward-looking, well, that’s just grand.

From ‘Contact, Love, Want, Have’

Also: ‘Yoshimitsu’

81. Jay Electronica ‘Shiny Suit Theory’ (Ft. Jay-Z)

Jay Electronica is well street. Like, really. The gravel-throated rapper lived homeless in loads of U.S cities for years before signing to that other, slightly more famous Jay’s Roc Nation imprint. Well street. Listening to him makes me pretty street. I’m pretty street anyway though.

Possibly from a forthcoming album

Also: ‘Exhibit C’

80. Pearson Sound ‘Blanked’

So insidious you barely have time to press play before it’s barged it, gotten comfy among your neurons, and drunk all the whisky.

From ‘Blanked 12”’

79. The Roots ‘Right On’ (Ft. Joanna Newsom & S.T.S)

After years & years of trying, The Roots.......have apparently given up even pretending they appeal to anyone but skinny white kids who’d so-o-o much rather stay at home reading than go to a genuine hip-hop club in Queens. Oh look! I’m one! I love The Roots.

From ‘How I Got Over’

78. Kendal Johansson ‘Blue Moon’

I was kinda sad when Alex Chilton died this year. Then I heard this and remembered that Big Star only wrote about 5 good songs and that ‘Blue Moon’ wasn’t really one. This is the earnest, soaring indie-pop version of Hendrix covering ‘All Along The Watchtower’

From ‘Blue Moon 7”’

77. Zinja Hlungwani ‘N’wagezani my love’

African new-wave dance music. I literally find it impossible to type any more description than that without sounding like a posh, white, dreadlock-afflicted blaxploitation film director pitching something set in Stoke Newington.

From ‘Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa

76. Autre Ne Veut ‘Drama Cum Drama’

2010 was the year in which you could just buy* random albums released on Olde English Spelling Bee and you’d know they’d be amazing. Even ones by whiny-voiced, 80s prom-music obsessives.

From ‘Autre Ne Veut’

Also: ‘Two Days Of Rain’

75. Actress ‘Purrple Splazsh’

The most obvious comparison I guess would be Zomby, but Actress is so far off on his own, the weird kid pulling legs off ants in the playground, that even that feels a little disingenuous. Basically, in a hugely prolific post-dubstep (sorry) world, it’s getting harder and harder to tell who’s an innovator, and who’s an evolutionary dead end. Just not this time.

From ‘Splazsh’

Also: ‘Hubble’, ‘Maze’

74. Yeasayer ‘O.N.E’

Most people intrigued by the desert-psyche of Yeasayer’s debut were kinda pissed when their sophomore effort saw them pretending to be The Scissor Sisters. But the man who wants the world to remain the same does not want it to remain at all, like. It means we can probably look forward to another U-turn on their third, and in the meantime, enjoy some of the undeniably catchy pomp from Odd Blood.

From ‘Odd Blood’

Also: ‘Ambling Alp’

73. Magnetic Man ‘I Need Air’
Ft. Angela Hunte

It’s taken dubstep nearly 10 years to find its way into the vague mainstream, and a supergroup of pioneers to do it. In the final act, it’s lost much of what made the genre interesting, and yeah, the majority of Magnetic Man’s album is pointless, not-so-candid pandering to an audience who are just never going to be truly interested. That said, I dares anyone to listen to this song and not scan around for the nearest dancefloor. I just dares ya.

From ‘Magnetic Man’

72. Teengirl Fantasy ‘Cheaters’

Oh god, do we really need more proof that the internet has changed everything about everything. Ok fine, here’s some: The best house music this year came from a pair of yoofs messing around in a dorm somewhere.

From ‘7am’

Addison Groove ‘Footcrab’

If you’ve been to a half-decent London club in the last year, chances are that you’ve heard this one. It’s the one that goes ‘footcrabfootcrabfootcrabfootcrabfootcrab’. I haven’t, by the way. It’s all hearsay, my life.

From ‘Footcrab 12”’

70. Pill Wonder ‘Restless’

My friends know that I’m a nostalgic chappy. In fact, so in love with that bittersweet feeling am I that I coined the term ‘falsetalgia’- nostalgia for events that didn’t actually happen. When I first heard this song, I missed saying goodbye to my friends from high-school in California and the last few days with them before I went off to study at UVM.

From ‘Underwater Peoples Winter Review’

69. Avey Tare ‘Oliver Twist’

Man, would I hate to be Avey Tare. You’d be scanning these end of year lists and would always see your songs at around #69 next to some comment like ‘yeah, this is quite interesting, yeah, I guess I quite like it’ and you’d be like ‘Oh cool, people like my music, I must be a good music-guy!’. Then you’d look down the list and see where Panda Bear comes.

From ‘Down There’

68. Baths ‘Hall’

You should book Baths in for a future top ten slot in your ‘albums of the year’ list. His debut effort, ‘Cerulean’, was patchy in places but tracks like ‘Hall’ show that if he can focus his craft, he’s looking at the big league.

From ‘Cerulean’

Also: ‘Maximalist’

67. Freddie Gibbs ‘National Anthem (Fuck The World)’

Hip-hop isn’t dead, it’s just in a coma. The life-support isn’t about to be turned off though, ‘cos it’s just too money. While various hacks come and harvest the organs and transplant them into other bodies, brief flashes of life across the monitor like this give us a little hope it will wake up without too much brain damage.

From ‘Str8 killa E.P’

66. Guards ‘Resolution of One’

The vogue for dropping the definite article continues unabated as brat-rock enters it’s second year. Both trends are now, by modern standards, fucking ancient and Guards, who have only just released their debut E.P may represent one of the last good ‘uns. Boringly, fellow upstarts like Minks and Hurts seem to be following the noughties trend of moving a guitar genre ‘forward’ by deciding they like dance music too (wowzers) and issuing press-releases claiming new material will by ‘influenced by Aphex Twin’ (Yawn). You’d think they’d remember what happened to Bloc Party. Anyway, this is standard-issue rad.

From ‘Guards E.P’

65. Hype Williams ‘Untitled’ (B1)

Remember that time you got stuck with a load of really annoying cunts at a party and tried to zone out, but they were just too annoying and kept infiltrating the great music that was playing in your brain?

From ‘Untitled’

Also: ‘The Throning’ (from ‘Do ‘roids and kill e’rything’ E.P)

64. Sonny & The Sunsets ‘Too Young To Burn’

Sigh, if only Roy Orbison had fronted a lo-fi band. What? He did? Hooray!

From ‘Tomorrow Is Alright’

63. Fantastic Mr. Fox ‘Sketches’

Sketches?! Sounds more like someone let Charles Manson loose with a spirograph, a paintball gun and a ham radio.

From ‘Sketches E.P’

62. MF Borat ‘So Good To Me’

Just what the hell is this project? MF DOOM remixed by Sascha Baron-Cohen apparently. Doesn’t sound too probable. Really good E.P though, where this cut comes from, and, really, anything off it could slot in.

From ‘The Mask & The Moustache E.P’

Also: ‘Dedicated To Love’, ‘Tower Of Ears

61. DJ Roc ‘They Can’t Fuck Wit Me’

Because I’m not from Chicago and, In fact, am a lanky white dork who can’t dance, I’m not sure I really ‘get’ most Juke music. There’s exceptions to every rule though, fanks Planet Mu!

From ‘The Crack Capone’

Also: ‘Let’s Get It Started’

60. Shabazz Palaces ‘32 Leaves…..’

Hip-hop just hasn’t sounded as visceral and acerbic as this since Clipse released ‘Lord Willin’’.

From ‘Shabazz Palaces’

Also: ‘Kill White T….’, ‘Blastit’

59. Drake ‘Find Your Love’

If you take 808’s & Heartbreak, and make that your whole schtik, rather than a divisive half-step, well, actually, you still become one of the most divisive artists of the year, but at least people can’t say ‘you’ve chaaaanged’.

From ‘Thank Me Later’

Also: ‘Forever’

58. The Thermals ‘I Don’t Believe You’

Maths tells us that The Thermals shouldn’t succeed. There just aren’t that many power chords, not that many combinations, it should have all been done by now, all the truly caustic hooks used up. The Thermals tell maths to fuck off, write a boss 3-chord pop jam about it, piss off back home and watch every other Portland band of the last 5 years suck math’s cock.

From ‘Personal life’

57. Ramadanman ‘Glut’

Well, it’s been David Kennedy’s year really hasn’t it? I don’t think any one man made more interesting dance music tracks than him in 2010. That will be all.

From ‘Glut 12”’

Also ‘Don’t Change For Me’, ‘I Beg You’, ‘Bleeper’

Salem ‘King Night’

Ok so I lied, sue me. Every single thing about witch-house sucks apart from this song.

From ‘King Night’

55. ceo ‘Illuminata’

As part of The Tough Alliance, Eric Berglund the Swede makes earnest, infectious pop with an electronic bent. As ceo, he’s striking out on his own, making, erm, earnest, infectious pop music with an electronic bent. It’s easy to be cynical about Berglund’s music at times, and it’s true that such a wide-eyed approach to songwriting can grate in the age of twitter, but when he gets it right, as on White Magic highlight ‘Illuminata’, it’s nigh-on impossible not to be swept away in such a flood of unflinching positivity. YEAH!

From ‘White Magic’

Also: ‘Come With Me’

54. JJ ‘You know’

I know what? That JJ were unfairly ignored this year for some bizarre reason, even though their album, the unimaginatively titled ‘JJno.3’ was far more cohesive that last years (sigh) ‘JJno.2’, but it just didn’t happen to also have that single ‘ecstasy’ on it? Yes, I do know that. I also know that they wrote a whole bunch of new songs, and that they were really good.

From: ‘JJno.3’

Also: ‘Let Go’

Mount Kimbie ‘Mayor’

I had to stop myself from flooding this list with post- (ahem) dubstep, but as it’s being written from Brighton, I feel it would be a disservice not to include these local beat-heads. Fractured vocals, desert soundscape, parched ambience, you know the drill, but not as well self-contained and downright re-playable as this you don’t.

From ‘Crooks & Lovers’

Also: ‘Carbonated’

52. M.I.A ‘XXXO’

It’s a soap-box stomper that for a brief, glorious moment makes you forget what an absolute let-down ‘MAYA’ is. Remembering her pop a.b.c’s fleetingly before launching into another baffling attack on the ginger dwarves that live in Youtube or something, it’s heartening to know M.I.A still has these in her. She’ll be back. Probs with power power.

From ‘MAYA’

51. Girl Unit ‘Wut’

The only people who think that this song is gonna bring Night Slugs to the general publics’ attention is FACT magazine. That doesn’t stop it being the first ‘big’ tune they’ve had though. And seriously, what a tune it is, welding itself onto the part of your brain usually reserved for everyday functions, I now find myself unable to perform basic tasks like making toast, and instead sit in a blissed-out daze murmuring ‘wut, wut!’.

From ‘Wut 12”’

Also: ‘IRL’ (From ‘IRL E.P’)

50. Lady Gaga ‘Telephone’
(Ft. Beyonce)

Can we disassociate this song from the obviously-best-video-of-the-year? Should we? Is it pseudo-feminism? Is it post-post-feminism? Who even cares? Lady Gaga truly gets pop music, she’s learnt the most important lesson about it: It has nothing to do with the music.

From ‘The Fame Monster’

49. The-Dream ‘Yamaha’

It’s a little known fact that the artist formerly known as Prince goes home after a long, hard day of selling out arenas 8 billion nights in a row, slaps on a load of stem-cells and masquerades by night as the young artist currently known as The-Dream. None of that is true, but after listening to ‘Yamaha’, I almost believe my own fib.

From ‘The Love Game’

48. John Roberts ‘Navy Blue’

Backwards piano and strings, interesting jazz-bass, dance-structure but definitely not DJ material. So far, so IDM. But John Roberts has done the homework necessary to stand out because, let’s face it; I doubt anyone thinks creating ambient works is the most technically skilled area of music. After all, its very nature means there is just less to do. You have to be deft. There are literally thousands of self-proclaimed ‘bedroom composers’ floating around the web, but few arrive at the crux that Navy Blue does, 7 minutes of near uniform progression that leaves you wishing it was 70.

From ‘Glass Eights’

47. Tame Impala ‘It Is Not Meant To Be’

If The Beatles had lasted long enough to buy a few Cut Copy records, The White Album probably would have sounded a bit like this. Additional nomination for best solo.

From ‘Innerspeaker’

Also: ‘Desire Be, Desire Go’

46. Emeralds ‘Genetic’

Emeralds must have been pissed when Fuck Buttons garnered near-universal acclaim for their two albums of ten-minute noise-drone songs when they’d been doing the same thing for years, better. This, the last piece in the ‘biology’ triptych on ‘Does it look like I’m here’ forms the centrepiece of the album much like ‘Bro’s’ did on Person Pitch; nearly twice as long as every other song, it’s an album-within-an-album, a not-so-microcosm summation of all the ideas that are present throughout the work in more individual forms. Also, really good.

From ‘Does It Look Like I’m Here?’

Also: ‘Now You See Me’

45. Matthew Herbert ‘

Leipzig’ is the sleaziest thing you’re likely to hear this year. Leipzig WILL hit on your sister, then offer her drugs in the toilet of some slimy club. Leipzig will NOT be leaving alone tonight, and it’s not fussy. If it has organic origins, it passes Leipzig’s test. Some people were slightly surprised at the direction Matthew Herbert took with ‘One One’, but why? The guy is the archetypal iconoclast, if he wants to write a LCD-esque steam-of-consciousness dance tune, albeit sung by a probable rapist, rather than some tubby existentialist, he jolly well will. It’s like Lolita on ketamine.

From ‘One One’

44. Das Racist ‘hahahaha jk?’

‘We’re not joking/ just joking/ we are joking/ just joking/ we’re not joking’ drawls the wiseacre chorus of the most internet-friendly rap troupe ever. So-o-o-o, are they joking, actually, or not? Well, if you’d asked me just a few months ago, when they delighted every single blogger, ever, with the comedy-hop track ‘combination Taco Bell & Pizza Hut’, I’d have said ‘definitely yes’ and would not have been willing to bet any money whatsoever on their longevity. But now, to be honest, I don’t think they are. Want proof? ‘hahahaha jk?’ and its mother mixtape ‘Sit Down, Man’ are so much more than a lazy grab at the Brooklyn zeitgeist, it’s seriously impressive, intelligent hip-hop both deftly self-satirizing and complicit to the whims of the blog-riddled world they inhabit.

From ‘Sit Down, Man’ Mixtape

43. The Fresh & Onlys ‘Waterfall’

Unbelievably effective and evocative garage-esque tune about San Francisco or something probably. Nothing to do with waterfalls.

From ‘Play It Strange’

42. Solar Bears ‘Trans Waterfall’

Unbelievably effective and evocative glacial synth song about outer space or something probably. Nothing to do with waterfalls. Or transisis.

From ‘Inner Sunshine E.P’

Also: ‘Twin Stars (From ‘She Was Coloured In’)

41. Colleen Green ‘Worship You’

Fact 1: We shouldn’t let cute girls just do whatever they like because they have neat-o retro frames.

Fact 2: Of all the post-genres, post-grunge is the one that really, truly doesn’t exist.

Fact 3: ‘Worship You’ is a flawed masterpiece of a post-grunge anthem, but Colleen Green is a cute girl with neat-o retro frames so she can do whatever she likes.

From ‘Milo Goes To Compton’ Tape

40. Hyetal ‘

Of this whole ‘Purple-beat’ sound coming from Bristol, Guido might have had the first major album, but it’s Hyetal that have got the tune. Plus, I could never really get on board with that bass-brass thing that Guido do. Sax on the dance floor, still not cool. Ho Ho.

From ‘Phoenix 12”’

39. Jamie Woon ‘Night Air’

Apparently, Mr.Woon has been making music for about ten years, but nobody was listening or caring. He’s kinda had the exact same idea as what’s at the base of James Blake: Fuse dubstep, bass and IDM with the mannerisms of a singer-songwriter. They even have the same first name, really. Co-production by Burial.

From ‘Night Air 12”’

38. Frank (Just Frank) ‘Mr.Itagaki’

As indebted to cold wave as they are to The Cure, Frank (Just Frank) were one of my personal favourite surprises of 2010. Sung in both French and English, their trenchant synth-transfusions delighted your ears but froze the rest of your face off. Dancing in a place somewhere between a realisation of ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ and a glacier lit up with Christmas lights, they easily proved themselves both catchier and more aware of the need for multi-levelled longevity than their much-praised peers, all with a nonchalant coolness not seen since Tom Vek.

From ‘The Brutal Wave’

37. The Morning Benders ‘All Day Daylight’

In 15 years or so, it’s conceivable that The Morning Benders might end up being one of a new generation of Spoons or Yo La Tengos, one of those American ‘Big’ indie bands that consistently get great reviews from Pitchfork & Co., but leave us in the UK pretty nonplussed. The problem with those bands is there’s just too much to absorb now for all but the most dedicated completist, their write-ups time and again referencing cultural milestones that we over on this side of the pond just didn’t have; not many of us went to east-coast colleges in the late-90’s. We’ve got no red cups, dammit, so take your Modest Mouse and get out! Latch on to the Morning Benders now then, is the lesson we could learn, they’ve only got one (great) album, it’s still possible to heart them! ‘All Day Daylight’ is a good place to start. It’s a real old trick, a conventional rock song masquerading as experimental work, but that’s not to say it isn’t one of the catchiest, most bombastic yet ever so restrained songs of the year.

From ‘Big Echo’

Also : ‘Cold War’, ‘Stitches’, ‘Sleeping In’

36. Flying lotus ‘…..And the World Laughs with You….’
Ft. Thom Yorke)

Look who made this song, look who provides vocals. It’s going to be boss isn’t it?

From ‘Cosmogramma’

Also: ‘MmmHmm (ft Thundercat)’, ‘Do The Astral Plane’

35. Warpaint ‘Undertow’

Four great-looking girls with guitars are always going to have fans. Four great-looking girls with guitars who can write these kind of Sleater-Kinney-esque jams, slow them down and give them a penetrating, passive-aggressive vibe are always going to have more.

From ‘The Fool’

34. Big Boi ‘Shutterbugg’

You can count the number of truly great hip-hop albums this year on one hand. Must we still rely on Outkast to provide the goods? It means I have to talk about the (always smaller) group of people who consistently rated Big Boi over Andre 3000 getting some major vindication points with ‘Sir Lucious….’, how the visionary fusion is still just as relevant, just as tight, how the lyrics are solid and perfectly formed, how the production is easily the equal of Stankonia, and really, everybody knows this all already.

From ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty’

Also: ‘Daddy Fat Sax’

33. Sun Airway ‘Oh, Naoko’

It’s about time we got some bands whose names are actually reflected in their music. Every song by Sun Airway could conceivably be titled ‘Sun Airway’, it’s breezy, photon-saturated amorphous music, blurred at the edges but still with a sense of direction. It’s also about time someone other than River Cuomo wrote about being in love with random obsessive Japanese fans. So yeah, this works out pretty well really.

From ‘Nocturne Of Exploded Crystal Chandelier’

32. Disclosure ‘Linstigator’

When I was about 17 I didn’t have a boss dubstep act, I had acne and A-levels. Now I’m 22 though, I have a good educat…..I mean, good career prospe…….I mean a beautiful girlfr……..I mean an internet connection so I can download dubstep tracks made by about 17-year-olds.


31. Ohneotrix Point Never ‘Returnal’
Antony’s vocal version)

‘The a self-phantomizing machine’ What the bloody hell does that mean ?! When the words tumble oh so tremulously out of Antony’s mouth, however, I’m all like ‘Oh yeah! The internet totally is a self-phantomizing machine!’. Such is the stark fact that Hegarty’s voice, possibly the most unique, sublime new instrument of the last 10 years, remains as affecting as ever. In my opinion, it’s always worked better on other peoples’ records too, and in particular, those of electronic musicians. The contrast of his deceptively fragile gasps, quiveringly angelic, yet perhaps still the most human thing imaginable, on the inorganic mutterings of various circuits has provided us with some of the most beguiling, unclassifiable songs. This is certainly no exception.

From ‘Returnal 7”’

Also: ‘Describing Bodies’

30. Nicki Minaj ‘Roman’s Revenge’
Ft. Eminem)

So far, Nicki Minaj has made a career of upstaging far more established rappers on their own songs. She even makes Kanye ‘I am not worthy enough to even mention his name’ West look like a wimp on ‘Monster’. When it came to putting together her own album though, it didn’t really gel. She’s so-o much better on the offensive that, bereft of foe, it came off a little on the wrong side of ridiculous. ‘Roman’s Revenge’, however, was the saving grace of ‘Pink Friday’. Back on familiar scathing territory, showing up Eminem to be the fool we all know he’s become and growling her way to all-or-nothing victory over that stark snare, it wasn’t hard to forgive the most exciting new talent in rap for her first shaky foray into the long-player. That pseudo-English accent has never sounded more devastatingly poisonous, either.

From ‘Pink Friday’

29. Teebs ‘Double Fifths’

Electronic music’s much scribed-about current paradoxical obsession; a fixation with creating ‘organic’ sounding beats, just wasn’t something anyone should be interested in before Teebs released his debut this year. Now, it all makes sense. You can hear the grass growing, the waterfalls falling, the microbiota bioting so clearly throughout the entire work that it brings back feelings of watching those old 70’s Attenborough films, even though this wasn’t the soundtrack. ‘Double fifths’ is the most perfect example of a sub-genre already so thoroughly conquered by one brilliant checkmate that we barely need to mention it again.

From ‘Ardour’

Also: ‘Arthur’s Birds’

Beach House ‘Norway

When I started University nearly five years ago, Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear and Beach House were the three keycards you needed to be thought of as someone who liked esoteric music. Now, all three light up the Billboard top 200. Whatever that is. Similarly, all the criticism that was aimed at ‘us’ (I say it like we were some club) was basically that we only liked those bands because no-one had really heard of them. And I hate to admit it, but I do, at times, feel myself less in love with the triumvirate now that my mum listens to them on the way to work. It only takes a second though, a brief shake of the head, and a quick press of play, to listen to such ludicrously wonderful compositions such as ‘Norway’ and remember what I really fell in love with.

From ‘Teen Dream’

Also: ‘Silver Soul’, ‘Used To Be’, ’10 Mile Stereo’

27. Pantha Du Prince ‘Stick To My Side’ (
Ft. Noah Lennox)

Techno’s poster boy meets Brooklyn deity, mixes his inimitable jam-jar sonics with that wistful beach-boy croon we’ve all come to associate with a flare-up of gushing internet write-ups and viola! Suddenly every man and his blog cares about Pantha Du Prince! ‘This Bliss’ was a better album, dorkaloids! Still, try as I might, I’m rendered fairly defenseless by this song. The masses are right! It’s really good! Bah!

From ‘Black Noise’

Also: ‘Lay In A Shimmer’

Beach Fossils ‘Vacation’

Of all those summer-punk jangle bands that graced our airwaves for about a day each this year, Beach Fossils were the only ones that seemed to truly believe their own pastel-coloured self-mythologizing. Consequently, so did everybody else and this song quickly became the BBQ outside-stereo jam of choice for those balmy august evenings. Well, if you live in San Francisco and cook mainly tofu sausages on barbies. I think we played it a few times too.

From ‘Beach Fossils’

25. Cee-Lo Green ‘Fuck You’

If I’m totally honest, the version of himself Cee-Lo presents on ‘The Ladykiller’ is far shinier than many, including myself, would have liked. Even ‘Fuck You’ (released as the toe-curling ‘Forget You’ as a radio single) leaves bruises far more like those from a friendly thump on the arm than a rival-suiter eliminating sucker punch. Still, if easy-listening aRt & B absolutely has to exist, I’d like it to sound like this, puhh-leeze.

From ‘The Ladykiller’

Also: ‘Wildflower’

24. Caribou ‘

Have you heard this one?

From ‘Swim’

Also: ‘Kaili’, ‘Sun’

23. Joanna Newsom ‘Easy’

Right, the best song on the bloated ‘Have One On Me’ is NOT ‘Good Intentions Paving Company’. That song sucks! It’s boring! ‘Easy’, by contrast, is a wonderfully tuneful, oscillating meander through Joanna’s C.S Lewis-esque poetics.

From ‘Have One On Me’

22. Joy Orbison ‘The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow’

Sounds Shakespearean, actually a deceptively linear dissertation entitled ‘Why I, Joy Orbison, am the best producer of the last two years.’

If it succeeds in only getting through one epidermal layer, that’s because it was designed to do so, just because it’s sluicing around at surface-level doesn’t mean it’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. As maddeningly addictive as anyone can hope for from a down-tempo dance scene designed to operate on the periphery.

From ‘The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow’ E.P

21. Twin Shadow ‘Tyrant Destroyed’

The fact that I’m a little lost for something to say about this other than ‘Err…it’s boss’ is testament to the considerable skill of George Lewis Jnr, a.k.a Twin Shadow, in carving himself an original niche in a landscape chocka-block with 80’s new wave revivalists. Sure, all the familiar cultural touchstones are there in small print; Echo & The Bunnymen, Depeche Mode etc etc, but they always feel little more than necessary ancestors, rather than constricting family elders. Just like how I’m nothing like my bitch gran, but without her I wouldn’t be alive.

From ‘Forget’

Also: ‘Slow’

20. Gil Scott-Heron ‘
New York Is Killing Me’

Kind of hard to believe this kind of statement, when, 16 years after his last studio album, Gil comes back all reinvigorated and releases a long-player that puts most of todays young ragamuffins to shame.

Appearing first to be a seriously damning appraisal of the Big Apple, it only takes a few listens to hear the humour behind the track, to see that he’s still not taking himself too seriously, rather, he’s finally comfortable in his own skin, at terms with where his life has taken him. No smoking? Vegan cafes? Fuuuuck that whippersnapper, sit down here and ol’ sandpaper throat’ll give you some perspective.

From ‘I’m New Here’

Also ‘Me And The Devil’

19. James Ferraro ‘Last American Hero’

Every time I try to think of something to say about this (30-minute) song, I think of the frankly rather verbose review I read somewhere on teh interwebz, and have a little chuckle to myself. So I’ll just quote that instead.

'More than anything, it’s [a track] which lives up to its evocative title, placing the listener behind the eyes of a dissolute, aviator-wearing, Marlboro-smoking neo-cowboy speeding 100kph away from, or perhaps into, certain ruin’

Thanks for that.

From ‘Last American hero’

, certain ruin.'

18. Tennis ‘

Basically, imagine if Beach House had just one more songwriting gold coin, and Vampire Weekend weren’t so in-your-face lawn shorts.

Don’t you hate it when people write about music and they just say stupid stuff like ‘If band A had a baby with Band B’ blah blah blah. Lazy. But honestly, that’s what this song sounds like!

Loads of bands at the moment sound quite a lot like each, or, at least, it’s easy to link them to a sphere. Tennis, though, are better than all the acts you’re thinking about now after you read that last sentence.

From ‘Baltimore E.P’

Also: ‘Baltimore’, ‘Cape Dory

17. Max Richter ‘Infra 5’

From the opening strings, you know you’re in for something special. Those rising, insistent minor swells, somehow all at once urgent, pleading, languid and resigned.

Neo classical gets bad press. And so it should. For the most part it’s for pretentious pricks who consider sophistication to be a black & white profile photo for an album cover, replete with liner notes that diss Beethoven. For the most part. Sometimes, in the hands of a skilled artificer, it makes everything else look like the crude racket of a reasonless mob. Oh yeah, and this is one of those times.

From ‘Infra’

16. Deerhunter ‘Helicopter’

Few people realize years of promise.

Strangely, as this list has accelerated towards #1, I’ve found it harder to write about the songs, not easier. I have far more emotional connection to this than, say, whatever’s at #97, but the words won’t come, crystallizing my neurons into text is beyond me. Maybe it’s about doing justice, maybe my prowess with the English language is just not what I, in my ego-centric manner, believe it to be. Whatever.

Few bands are doing it as well as these guys.

From ‘Halcyon Digest’

Also: ‘Desire Lines’, ‘Revival’

Best Coast ‘The End’

I have no idea why I tolerate this. It’s probably because sometimes you read Wittgenstein, and sometimes you listen to three chords.

From ‘Crazy For You’

Also: ‘Boyfriend’, ‘When I’m With You’ (From When I’m With You 7”)

14. Skream ‘How Real’ (
Ft. Freckles)

Skream doesn’t make dubstep anymore, Ok? Let’s show that elephant to the door, it’s boring, and an unnecessary debate. This has far more in common with straight-up house music, and even trance than his moodier beginnings.

It’s his treatment of Freckles’ confetti vocals, warping them into, I hate to say it, a euphoric chorus-verse-chorus progression, that lets us know that he may have moved on, stylistically, from the recession-generation rallying cry we’re used to, but that he’s still the dance music figurehead we’ve all come to think of as ‘ours’.

From ‘Outside The Box’

Also: ‘Perforated’

13. Four Tet ‘Angel Echoes’

Four Tet barely permeates my consciousness nowadays, then I start writing these lists and I’m like ‘waaait a minute! How did Four Tet get to no.13? I have no memory of putting him there, I’ll just move it.’ Then when I re-open the document a day later, it’s back at #13. It seems it cannot be avoided- Four Tet is a boring-as-hell choice, but he’s just so good, just so obviously better than the competition, that my actually willful decision has relatively little impact on reality. Ho-hum.

From ‘there Is Love In you’

Also: ‘Love Cry’, ‘Circling’

12. Kanye West ‘Monster’
It would be a waste of time to say anything about Kanye. I will clear up a few things, though.

Firstly, the choice of ‘Monster’ is entirely arbitrary, it’s just the one that showcases best both Kanye’s obvious (and entertaining) total paranoia, and his craftsmanship as a pure pop writer. Anything on the alum would do.

Secondly, Only #12? Yeah, well Kanye’s albums true strength lies in the consistency, about the many, many 9/10 songs all piled on top of each other, squawking for your attention. Remove any one of them and look at them in isolation, and the shine comes off a little. Just a little.

From ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’

Also: Rest Of The Album

Forest Swords ‘Rattling Cage’

This is the quantum mechanics of songwriting. Try and measure it and it becomes something different, squirming through your grasping hands. Drone? Kinda. Dubstep? Sorta. Folk song? A bit. Innovative, quicksilver brilliance, from the bloody Wirral of all places? Oh, hellz yeah.

That’s about all that should be said, you need to listen for yourselves.

From ‘Dagger Paths’- Expanded U.K Edition

Also: ‘Miarches’, ‘Hjurt’

10. Aloe Blacc ‘I Need A Dollar’

Aloe Blacc is a filter through which 70’s soul can access YOUR world. All your music sucks, 70’s soul was totally well better, he’s not taking no for an answer, not accepting any progression, not acknowledging anything that’s happened in the last forty years, and you’re gonna sit there, you’re gonna listen and you’re gonna agree with him. And, funnily enough, after four minutes or so, you’re not even gonna need to be coerced to do so.

From ‘Good things’

9. Wild Nothing ‘Live In Dreams’

Right, I’m 8,000 words into this project, I cannot physically type the words ‘bedroom artist’, ‘the 80’s’ or any of the ‘distortion/fuzz/lo-fi’ set anymore. I CAN’T DO IT.

Wild Nothing was always the best of that bunch, considered, affecting and yet never mawkish. You never feel like you’re just aurally re-living his childhood for the sake of it, it’s still always about the song.

Nostalgia works, it’s a valid hook, especially in the times we’re living through, but it fails when the future is sacrificed. With Wild Nothing, it’s a cursory glance behind, not a homage to that girl you’re still in love with from 12 years ago, and it’s so-o-o much better for it that you wouldn’t believe. Beautiful, adaptable and never, ever pathetic.

From ‘Gemini’

Also: ‘Summer Holiday’, ‘Chinatown’, ‘Golden Haze’ (From ‘Evertide’ E.P)

8. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti ‘Round & Round’

‘Round & Round’ is Ariel Pink. For a lot of it, you merely get the meandering, bubbling echo of pop genius that might have been, and then, suddenly, you’re hit with the most perfect chorus. He’s an inconsistent man, alright, but shouts of ‘Hire an editor!’ are better directed at, say, J.K Rowling. Part of the joy of listening to Ariel pink is bumbling along the not-unpleasant but uninspiring prairie, only to turn the corner and suddenly descent into a lush and fragrant valley of unimaginable beauty. When he gets it right, he gets it right.

From ‘Before Today’

7. James Blake ‘CYMK’

Dubstep is music for the recession. Compare it to the pomp and grandeur of the early noughties, or even, the blissful accent-ridden poverty of ’06-’08 and a bleak picture builds up. CYMK, the most isolation-able song from a trio of stellar E.Ps, forms our first national anthem from a time the banks forgot.

‘Look I Found Her….Damn…….Red Coat’. The broken vocals disassociate us from any narrative there might be, yet we can still see, we can still dance, just. It’s about survival, haunted melody, filling in the gaps ourselves. After all, there’s no way we can get a grant for that kind of thing nowadays.

In Dubstep’s first bona fide superstar, an entire generation might just find solace.

From ‘CYMK’ E.P

Also: ‘Limit To Your Love’ (From ‘Limit To Your Love 7”’) ‘I Only Know What I Know Now’, ‘Don’t You Think I Do’ (Both From ‘Klavierwerke’ E.P)

6. Hot Chip ‘I Feel Better’

You know those awful ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ shirts? Well, if they were an against all-odds interesting electronic-pop band, they’d be Hot Chip. When four flaming horsemen streak over the sky, they’ll still be churning these anthems out, and, despite all notions of taste, we’ll be sold again. Pop music elevated beyond itself.

From ‘One Life Stand’

Also: ‘Thieves In The Night’, ‘Hand Me Down Your Love’, ‘One Life Stand’, ‘Brothers’

5. LCD Soundsystem ‘Dance Yrself Clean’

Although this is #5, it’s the last piece I’m writing, and I’m gone. It's Christmas Eve, My brain’s melted. I have no idea why I did this to myself, it’s taken about 10,000 words and loads of effort for no real reason. Really autistic, too.

This is another really good song that came out in 2010, one of the very best. I think someone probably wrote something about it on the internet, if you want to find some stuff out about it, I’d Google it.

From ‘This Is Happening’

4. Panda Bear ‘Slow Motion’

What do you do when the entire world is watching, and expecting something approaching near-biblical levels of aural salvation? A: Just carry on as ever, and hope that everyone realises that all you do is make beat-orientated Beach-Boys re-imaginings.

Ones that herald the second coming! Oh yeah! All bow, our master is here! The one true king is some bloke that lives in Portugal! Bring on the feasting!

From ‘Tomboy 7”’

Also: ‘Tomboy’, ‘Alsation Darn’ (From ‘You Can Count On Me’ 7”)

3. Wavves ‘King Of The Beach’

Well, who’d have thought Wavves would be bulletproof? After all the terrible shit that he was part of after ‘Wavvves’ came out, I’d written him off as a casualty of personality eclipsing music. Then a friend chucked this on, and from the moment those two fuzzed-up chords crunch in, all was forgiven. There was simply NOTHING better to drunkenly fist-pump like a champ to in 2010.

From ‘King Of The Beach’

Also: ‘Super Soaker’, ‘Post-Acid’, ‘Baby Say Goodbye’

2. Janelle Monae ‘Cold War’

So close, and yet so far. Janelle Monae makes my #2 in both albums and songs, which actually makes sense. She’s got more vision, more ambition, more talent than half this list combined, but she’s so young. At the moment, everything she touches turns to cracked gold, flawed perfection. She’s so almost there, so nearly the most accomplished artist to emerge from Outkast’s considerably long shadow that it almost makes you weep when she misses by a hair’s breadth.

So, OK, The Archandroid’ is a peak-and-valley masterpiece. If we isolate those high points however, who can truly say that they weren’t completely inspired, completely bowled over by a flourishing of sensibility, experimentation and dedication? Who can deny that ‘Cold War’ takes aim at your emotional centre and refuses any talk of a ceasefire? Who can say there haven’t been times that you feel like bawling as much as she does? If she isn’t elevated to the levels she deserves in the next few years, the world has more wrong with it that we fear even now.

From ‘The Archandroid’

Also: ‘Tightrope’ (Ft. Big Boi)

1. His Clancyness ‘Summer Majestic’

Note: I had to get really smashed in order to be able to write this. My sober self is just too cynical and self-conscious to get down with all the sincere fawning I needed to do over this song.

This is easily my favourite song, not just of 2010, but of the last ten years. I guarantee, however, that your reaction upon first hearing it will much the same as mine was; that it’s a nice song, but hardly list-topping material. By listen five, though, you might agree it deserves a top ten slot. By listen fifty, you may just be in the same position as me: willing to extol its virtues to anyone and everyone and anyone who’ll listen, and everybody else besides.

Another interesting thing is that all other His Clancyness songs suck. It’s almost as if it doesn’t really belong to him, that it existed, fully-formed, drifting in the ether somewhere and really, it was just a fluke that some random Italian-Canadian dream-fuzz musician discovered it. It could have been anyone.

Whatever the epistemological speculation on its origins, none fully ingesting this song can disagree it has something almost too perfect about it. It is construction and conventionality elevated to the highest plateau. i.e, it’s a 3 minute pop song. Within that though, the range of influences and allusions is vast: new-wave, punk, post-punk, rock, noise, drone, cold wave, etc etc. But in the end, it’s still more song than history lesson. If Summer Majestic is indebted to countless tunes that have come before, it isn’t trying to hide it, or even bothered that people will point it out, more, it seems like the natural conclusion to the last three decades of western music. That it’s an unreleased song available really only to those with more than a passing interest in music blogs, is more telling still.

I’m now rambling, so I should get to the point. ‘Summer Majestic’ is the most perfect representation of youth I have ever heard. It’s pretentious, naïve, tuneful, mawkish, prematurely nostalgic, beautiful, care-free, transient, it’s everything that’s absolutely brilliant about being young.

It’s a song for summer, for wide-eyed lovers, it’s a song that doesn’t balk at using ‘majestic’ in its title, one so totally unaware of, yet ultimately devoted to, the constraints of the world it inhabits that it achieves the impossible: true representation. If someone asked me to teach them about music in the age we live in, I would point them to Summer Majestic.

So no, it doesn’t belong to His Clancyness, It belongs to us, it’s our ‘Blowing In The Wind’. We’re de-politicized, struggling for identity, exploited, disenfranchised, fragmented and signed up to Twitter, but we’re still the youth of the noughties, we’re still alive, and for us to ignore this song would be nothing short of criminal.


By David Wingrave


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