Ok I had to. All the kids are doing it Mom! Again, I aim to entertain with this list, not to in any way persuade or convince. Its merely my favorite selection of efforts from the past year, as it would be damn near impossible to really nail down "the best". I'd also love to hear from RFC readers. What are your favorites that we missed? Why should we be listening to them? Resolve to email RFC in 2011 and let us know what you want to read about. Tell us about an upcoming show we should see, or a record we missed. We welcome it. And we love you. xx
Sometimes we're lucky enough to witness genius. Sometimes this happens kinda often (see pick #3). James Murphy and company are upping the genius count. Making sense of intricacies in sound that have no business hanging out in the same room, confusing us, tugging at our hearts, and making us dance, long after we put 2010 to bed.
Robyn turned more than a few spiky blond heads this year with her Body Talk series. She's making pop music without relying on shock value or shtick, because her music good enough not to need a distraction. Body Talk, Pt. 1 is perfectly placed on pop's ever-evolving time line, painting a high-end picture of what we were listening to and dancing to in 2010. Thanks lady, for entertaining us and making us feel really good without blue hair and a meat dress.
3. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
The personality traits that follow Kanye West around can also be used to describe how bloody good this album is. Talented, arrogant, brave, loud, outspoken. We talk about him more than we talk about his work, but maybe they are the same thing. Its an intimate and powerful thing to make an album that lets listeners get a little insight into who you are. Even more impressive when you manage to entertain us with one of the most perfect albums I've heard in a long time. Hats off, as usual.
4. Sleigh Bells- Treats.
I can't imagine the amount of work and patience that went into this album, but somehow after the right amount of time in a musical crock pot Sleigh Bells gave us one of the raddest records I've ever heard, start to finish. Bending our eardrums and giving us a fresh look at what you can accomplish with a little youth and energy, I can't wait to see what comes next. Maybe by then I'll have healed enough to photograph it.
This one's for the ladies. While I'll acknowledge a weak spot or two in the album as a whole, there's still the unmistakable aural sex and wonder piping through our record players and causing a worldwide resurgence of the word "swoon". They've been doing this awhile and good lord willing they'll keep it up. It ain't broke, don't fix it.
6. The Walkmen- Lisbon.
You really have to be into this particular sound to count Lisbon as one of your favorites of the year. I for one was a dear in the damn headlights the first time I heard them, and that shine never wears off. While I'm not convinced to love it more than You & Me, Lisbon isn't straying from what I like about The Walkmen, its just further solidifying every notion we've had of them so far. Hopefully the ease and candor of this album is an indication that they'll stick around awhile and keep doing what they do so well.
7. The Black Keys- Brothers.
Some people, it seems, can't generate a negative comment or even a thought no matter what they do. Natalie Portman for instance, apparently sneezes roses and cries honey. I am never let down by The Black Keys, never. They've achieved some kind of perfect secret rock n roll formula that they're keeping to themselves. As long as they keep handing it down in tracks like Everlasting Light and Tighten Up, its cool.
8. Janelle Monae- The ArchAndroid.
Certain moments of 2010 will live on in memory, and Janelle Monae is one of those moments. Without question one of the best performers I've ever seen, from this year or any other, she's the year's golden child. While I wonder what kind of longevity we'll see from her, I don't deny that this is one of the most entertaining albums of the year. She's bending ideas of cool and beauty and broadening the range of what keeps us dancing.
9. Tame Impala- Innerspeaker. Maybe we should just give them an award for time travel, as opposed to making a great record. Tame Impala managed to suck the last remaining juice from 60's era rock and pumped it into into 2010 pipes. They've done wonders for my generational envy, and I'm grateful. Hypnotic and epic, if we can remember even a dismal year like 2010 in this way, we're doing alright.
10. Ra Ra Riot- The Orchard.
While Ra Ra Riot is typically known for a certain youth in their sound and a personality more fun than Six Flags, there's a noticeable maturity in The Orchard. Its a cool evolution that isn't changing the fervor in their sound, its just a growing up along with the rest of us. If you let this one slip by, correct your mistake.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! xx- Shani