While we're all inundated with lists celebrating the top 10 albums of the year, I thought loyal RFC readers might enjoy a Cliff's Notes version that cuts to the chase. Below are, in my opinion, the best tracks of 2010. This was a particularly difficult challenge, and could have easily been the top 50 tracks of the year, but there is some gratification in whittling it down this far. Happy Holidays to everyone who has read and supported RFC in 2010, you are appreciated and loved. A particularly huge bag of kisses goes out to every writer, photographer, and editor of this site. We rule.
Airplanes gets top billing not just because its a practically perfect indie rock song, but also because of the massive range of fans that have flocked to its banner this year. I don't know anyone who dislikes this song. In fact, if you don't like it, email me. I want to know who you are and talk some sense into you.
2. The Drums- Down by the Water
Holy babecrush, Batman. The Drums took Chicago by storm at their Lincoln Hall performance several weeks ago. For a lot of reasons. Down by the Water is the favorite pick here for nostalgia and the I-wanna-be-her factor. This band writes music that is extremely easy to connect to, even if you're not seeing this perfect circus live. The Drums are also easily my favorite live show of the year, and I strongly suggest you pay attention when they come around again. Or maybe just track RFC for the heads up...
3. The National- Bloodbuzz Ohio
I always assumed The National would make my list based on a history of mind-melting music that gets more play around my house than Trip Fontaine on prom night. Bloodbuzz Ohio sealed the deal as I sat on a bar stool a few weeks ago. It carried over pints and Jameson shots and I distinctly heard more than one patron say "Damn I love this song."
4. Glasser- Home
A lot of music emerging this year seemed unexpected, but in a very welcome way. I place Glasser in that category. Cameron Mesirow's voice is haunting in a way that oddly reminds me of Sarah Jessica Parker in childhood fav, Hocus Pocus. We're about to follow this lady wherever she wants us to go.
5. Phosphorescent- Tell Me Baby (Have You Had Enough)
If I could, I'd add this to the list every year. In 2010 Phosphorescent released Here's to Taking it Easy, and caused an immediate influx of nationwide swooning. Skeptical? Hit the ol' play button down there chief. I fully encourage you to explore this album beyond one song, you won't be sorry.
6. Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos- Will You Love Me Forever
My favorite Margot song changes about as often as Chicago weather, but I nailed it down to what I think is Buzzard's best track. Each track seems more personal and honest than the one before it, but not in a sad sack way. There's enough rock to go around and to ensure that they make my list. I am overjoyed that the band is nestled in our own back yard, and look forward to some live Chicago love in the future. A new EP is on the Horizon for 2011, Happy New Year to us.
7. Maps & Atlases- Living Decorations
Long live Maps & Atlases!! Have you heard this one? If your foul mood can survive it there may be no hope. Much hometown love goes out to a very hardworking band who's making Chicagoans proud with the release of Perch Patchwork this year. Get to The Vic on December 5th to catch them before they globe trot again.
8. Sleigh Bells- Rill Rill
I've forgiven Sleigh Bells for the assbeating I sustained at their show long enough to give them a proper place on my list. Half of Treat could have easily been on this list, but there are other bands to attend to. Sometimes I feel that the best songs of the year are those that have the greatest impact, and from what I've seen Sleigh Bells is building an army.
9. Nathaniel Rateliff- Laughing
Happiness reigned when Nathaniel Rateliff entered my ipod this year. Those of us lucky enough to tag along on Daytrotter's Barnstormer Tour got a superdose of Rateliff & Co., who's warm hearts and cool tunes stayed with us long past the barn. Laughing is the bonus track off In Memory of Loss, and is a song that seems full of perseverance and hope, which came in handy in 2010.
10. Ra Ra Riot- Too Dramatic
To be fair, this pick could have easily been "Boy", but in the end I had to flip a coin because they're both that good. You'll never get tired of Ra Ra Riot's energy and effortless cool. Another Barnstormer alum, "Too Dramatic" was always a particularly memorable moment in their set, when both the band and the crowd seemed to be having the same good time.
Honorable Mention - Hot Chip - One Life Stand
Hot Chip, I am sorry I missed your shows this year. My friends went. I heard good things. And I love this song for its twists and turns and its general display of how much ass you kick. Happy New Year.