Tyler Perry Presents 'Herschel Weiner's Top 20 Music Things of 2010' Like fruitcake from your great aunt, I keep on giving you folks my 'best-of' list each holiday season, even though I'm pretty sure it never gets fully digested. But like your great aunt, you can't stop tradition, so I give you my favorite music from 2010. If it's not on this list, I either didn't like it very much or I never heard it.
Let's go backwards this year. That's how those smarty-pants do it at Pitchfork. Assholes.
20. Girl Talk - All Day
Girl Talk's dance-party collage technique could unleash hundreds of discussions on intellectual property rights, or the definition of music, but those people would be missing out on the party. Yes, it's a gimmick. But if you have a good time listening to the gimmick, it's good, right? If anything, I like the way the record often uses less-than compelling tracks (and even songs you may hate) to create something interesting, often more interesting than the source. Bonus points for the nostalgia trip.
19. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I have a love/hate relationship with Kanye. I thought "College Dropout" signaled a new age of thoughtful, socially conscious mainstream hip hop. Then he became successful/crazy. After his last (atrocious) record, and his increasingly bizarre behavior, I kind of wrote him off as an extra-terrestrial idiot. Then what does he do? Creates a piece of art. Damn you, Kanye!
18. The Roots - How I Got Over
One of the only major label hip hop acts that still uses the medium to make you think while you shake your ass. And they're not only smart and socially conscious, but they create songs from the ground up, unlike so many hip hop acts with their canned beats sourced from some beats and loops sweatshop. This is art.
17. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
I like where Deerhunter are going, although I'm not so sure where that is. This is their most ambitious record, for sure. It's lush, layered, dreamy, and sprawling, without losing its momentum or its poppy hooks (they're in there somewhere). Plus it has a picture on the cover of one of David Lynch's fever dreams.
16. Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer Of The Void
I usually dislike bands that sound like they're from another decade. It's so often the only thing worth noting about those bands. Blitzen Trapper, however, seem to pull off the late '60's/early 70's West coast rock sound so effortlessly, and their songs are so well-written and executed, that you accept that the only plausible explanation is that they came from there in a time machine.
15. Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do
Not as compelling (or as infectious) as "Brighter Than Creation's Dark," but any Drive-By Truckers record is usually twice as good as most anything else that comes out in any given year. It's a fine record.
14. Sleigh Bells - Treats
There are records that I love at first listen. I often tire of those too soon, because I believe part of what makes music interesting is when it doesn't conform to what your brain wants it to do. This record didn't do anything I wanted it to do on first listen. Later, I realized it sounds like a teenage libido being cranked through a transistor radio. And I can appreciate that.
13. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
This is some ambitious stuff. We're talking about an afrofuturistic sci-fi concept album that dips its toes into just about everything including hip hop, glam rock, funk, bubblegum, psychedelia, big band jazz, classical, and cinematic orchestration. It's almost kind of scary to think of where she could go from here.
12. Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me
If you can't stand Joanna Newsom's voice, then there's a lot to hate here. A triple album's worth. I actually enjoy Ms. Newsom's voice, and find this record to be her most mature release yet, and her most accessible. She's the closest thing we have to a Kate Bush or a Joni Mitchell these days. And I really like Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell. And can you really beat "Good Intentions Paving Co.?" No, you can't.
11. The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever
Everyone spent so much time concentrating on what was missing from this record (after departure of Franz Nicolay) that they didn't spend time concentrating on what is there. And there are some fine rock songs here. And as always, THS remains one of the few bands that really understand the idea of a cohesive album. It's a lost art. But I do miss Franz. *sob*
10. Vampire Weekend - Contra
You really can't beat "Cousins," one of the best songs of the year. People love to hate on these guys, but I really don't really get that. I hear a lot of similarities to the early Police, and folks seem to like early Police just fine, even now. These guys know what they're doing.
9. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
This one just sounds good to my earholes. I had zero expectations a was quite simply blown away. I'm not really sure why this record isn't more of a massive Moby-sized crossover hit or why it hasn't been licensed for every TV comme
rcial in the world.
8. Bob Dylan - The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (The Bootleg Series Vol. 9)
Is there anything quite as awesome as listening to tapes of a young Bob Dylan (and his guitar) performing his early songs so that his publisher can shop them around? I didn't think so.
7. The National - High Violet
Both The National and Vampire Weekend had the challenge of following up records that were pretty much perfect in their respective fans' opinions. Where both may have exceeded expectations with a handful of tracks, the full albums didn't quite pack the same punch as the previous releases. Some of the stuff here, such as "Bloodbuzz Ohio," "England," and "Terrible Love," stand up as some of their best songs, some tracks may have not cleared the bar. Regardless, a not so great National song is usually a good song by any other standards. A solid record. And "England" may be their best song ever.
6. New Pornographers - Together
I've said it before, they're our Fleetwood Mac. So many great talents packed into one band, with three fantastic singer-songwriters, but each song is always distinctive as a New Pornographers track. I hope they never stop making records together. Another stellar addition to a stellar discography.
5. Spoon - Transference
One of the most consistently good American bands with one of their strongest records. If I have any complaint, it's that it's front-loaded with awesomeness, which makes a full listening a little anti-climactic. Spoon are a rock band that excels in something that very few rock bands do well, and that's restraint. I find myself marveling at their ability to hold back and build tension by NOT playing, where other bands would be noodling away like idiots.
4. Jamey Johnson - The Guitar Song
I had no idea that I would like this album as much as I do. This is a very honest, and raw work of beautifully crafted and brilliantly executed country music. It may be the finest piece of Americana since Lucinda Williams' "Car Wheels" record. It is a double album, for crying out loud! Who does that in country music? If you can honestly find fault with this record, then you really need to let your guard down and stop acting like you're so damned hip. Jamey Johnson is so much cooler than you are.
3. Bruce Springsteen - The Promise
There was not a proper Springsteen release this year, so let's pretend that this is it. In actuality, these are 'lost' recordings from the 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' sessions. And Springsteen outtakes destroy most artists' actual releases any day of the week. What do you know? Springsteen is back in vintage form.
2. Grinderman - Grinderman 2
The album imagery speaks volumes about this record. It's a wolf standing in what appears to be a penthouse or mansion. Marble, mirrors, flowers and statuettes. Nick Cave in a setting which we don't often find him. A grown man, a cultured man, who might just chew the leg off the sofa before the night's over. This record is just good old raunchy, visceral rock with an erection. It's a lot of fun.
1. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
I believe this to be the most fully realized work by a rock band in 2010. I spent more time listening to this record than any other. It was a slow-grower with me, which always fares well for a record's longevity in my book. This is a band in their prime with a strikingly distinct sound and vision. I think they may be the closest thing this generation has to an E. Street Band.
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh
Jenny & Johnny - I'm Having Fun Now
Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
Superchunk - Majesty Shredding
The Books - The Way Out
Les Savy Fav - Root For Ruin
Bonnie "Prince" Billy & The Cairo Gang - The Wonder Show of the World
Phosphorescent - Here's To Taking It Easy
My Chemical Romance - Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
The Secret Sisters - Silver Threads And Golden Needles
Kurt Wagner and Cortney Tidwell Present KORT - Invariable Heartache
Envy - Recitation
Best Coast - Crazy For You
Decoration Ghost - The Haze of Wine and Age
Wavves - King Of The Beach
She & Him - Volume Two
Tindersticks - Falling Down A Mountain
The Love Language - Libraries
Field Music - Measure