Thursday, October 28, 2010

My 10 Favorite Records of 2010

I know what you're saying: "But, Dustin, it's not even Halloween yet.  There're two more months of possibly great music to come!"  It's true there may be something huge out there, waiting in the wings, some ghost mammoth of a record that will ruin me and this blogpost and throw the rest of the music world to its knees.  But I doubt it.  I've looked at the upcoming releases for the rest of the year and, unless Radiohead or Panda Bear put a date on their releases, it's unlikely any of the up-and-comers are going to take the place of these top 10, but if that happens, I'll gladly revise this list.

When the year began, I haughtily decreed it was the Return of the 90s (with ominous organ music).  While I still believe there is a lot of music that sounds like the music of my teenage years (no Nirvana ripoffs this year or, thank god, Creed wannabes though), the eighties had a big year again.  As a matter of fact, so did the seventies and  the sixties and the fifties.  What can I say about 2010 musically?  It's been an eclectic year: no scene is The Scene; or All Scenes are the scene (I don't condone scene-hopping anyway...) - what I'm getting at is: nothing stood out above the other as in previous years.  Chillwave, lo-fi, singer/songwriter, rock, techno, retro?  It's all equally supported.

Perhaps because of this mishmashing of sorts, I've discovered my top 10 records revolves mostly around my old standards - bands I've loved records from before - because, truthfully, not a whole lot surprised me this year.  That doesn't mean there wasn't great music, though.

A numbering system where I decide what record my favorite and/or most listened to record of the year seems crass.  So I haven't numbered them.  I won't decide which record is my 10 and which is my 1.  I can't.  Here they are, in no particular order:


The Walkmen - Lisbon
Talk about a record about production values!  I was slain.  Listen to the drums, to the guitars.  And the songs themselves are The Walkmen's finest to date.  Key Tracks: "Juveniles," "Angela Surf City," "Stranded."

The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Okay, so this record did surprise me.  After the heavy-handed, melodramatic Neon Bible, I was wary of anything Arcade Fiery.  This record still has some heavy moments, but even those seem light as air and full of nostalgia and hope.  Key Tracks: "The Suburbs," "Suburban War," "Sprawl II," "Modern Man."

Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
Dude sounds like George Harrison when he sings.  Imagine if George Harrison wrote this kind of psychedelia.  Maybe he did.  I don't know.  It's awesome.  Key Tracks: "It Is Not Meant To Be," Runaway, Houses, City, Clouds," Alter Ego," "I Don't Really Mind."

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
High school music at its best.  Thes guys might be one-album wonders, but who cares.  This record was full of summer and lots of beers.  Key Tracks: "Swim," "Catholic Pagans," "Slow Jabroni."

Kissing Club - Hooks EP
Jake Miller is a chameleon.  His voice can get dry as a tumbleweed or smooth as a glass of milk.  No matter what form he's taken, this buddy of mine has released one of the best EPs of the year.  Key Tracks: "Bury Me," "Dirty Feet," "Water in the Pipes."

LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
The first track scares you awake and the rest have you dancing for 50 minutes.  James Murphy is still having fun.  Key Tracks: "I Can Change, "You Wanted a Hit," "All I Want."

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
A Deerhunter record steeped in fifties throwback and nineties love?  Who woulda thunk?  Still, these guys make some of the best stuff around.  Bradford Cox and crew just seem to get it, you know?  Key Tracks: "Don't Cry," "Sailing, "He Would Have Laughed, "Helicopter, "Coronado."

The National - High Violet
I will admit this one took awhile to really get into.  It's always that way with The National for me.  But I like a challenge.  When you get down to the basics, this is The National's most fully formed songs, not to mention their most heartbreaking.  Key Tracks: "Terrible Love, "Anyon's Ghost, "Bloodbuzz Ohio."

Beach House - Teen Dream
Same as Deerhunter and The National, who woulda thunk it: another sad, dreamy-eyed set of broken-hearted songs from this duo?  And yet...And yet...It's their best record! Let me paraphrase my drummer, Pierce: walking around wintertime in Chicago, snow on the ground, city lights, well, there's no better time for Beach House.  Which is ironic, considering...  Key Tracks: "Zebra," "Real Love," "Norway."

James Blake - CMYK
Blake uses empty space to great effect.  The samples and dance beats aren't half-bad either.  Key Tracks: "CMYK," "Postpone."

There you have it.  These records have been in my car for weeks, months, some almost a year.  Here are some honorable mentions, records that, for whatever reasons, I listen to every now and again but just haven't gotten fully into.

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
The Fresh & Onlys - Play It Strange
The Love Language - Libraries
Woods - At Echo Lake
The Morning Benders - Big Echo

And some records slip through the cracks.  These are records I'm only just getting into:

Wild Nothing - Gemini
Twin Shadow - Forget
Owen Pallett - Heartland
Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

What else have I missed?  What are you listening to?

(Coming Soon: Top 10 Books I've read in 2010...)


  1. Probably not your scene, but Shabazz Palaces is just plain sick. Fronted by Butterfly of Digable Planets, they've got two EPs: Shabazz Palaces and Of Light.

  2. I remember listening to Digable Planets in your car on our way to Trader Joe's and, if you'll pardon the pun, diggin' the heck out of it. I'll definitely check out Shabazz Palaces.

  3. dustin monk!

    how can i email you personally? lots to say but too much for the likes of this little comment box. this is denise sistrunk, friend of josh murphy, long lost #1 root shoot leaf fan, remember? i've been meaning to send you a note for the longest time. shoot me your email address one day please.

    mine is

    lots of rambling headed your way. i like your blog! thanks, be seeing you.