The Grinch Who Nearly Stole Fester’s Lucky 13

A Holiday horror brought to you by Dr. Seuss, Dr. Fester, Krampus, Santa, Satan, and the Vengeful Bastard God of Lists (Not suitable for children or adults with innocent sensibilities…those familiar with the Invisible Man’s demise at the hands, and other, erm, appendage of Mr. Hyde in Alan Moore’s The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen will know what I mean.)

Top 100 Albums of 2010 | 2010 Breakdown: Top 13 Genre Lists | Shows | Movies, Television, Books, Comics, Music Coverage

Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Dr. Fester’s Lucky 13 a lot…

But the Grinch,
Who lived just North of Who-ville,
Did NOT!

The Grinch hated lists! And the music within them!
Now, please don’t ask why. How he couldn’t like LCD Soundsystem.

It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that his thong was too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his ears were two sizes too small.

But,
Whatever the reason,
His ears or his thong,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, smoking his bong,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown
At the pulsating rock clubs downtown.
For he knew every Who down in Who-ville below
Was busy now, rocking the fuck out to Motorpsycho.

“And they’re listening to The Soft Pack!” he snarled with a sneer.
“They’re so horrible they make me tear!”
Then he growled, with his grinch fingers nervously drumming,
“I MUST find a way to keep Fester’s Lucky 13 from coming!”
For, tomorrow, he knew…

…All the Who girls and boys
Would wake up bright and early, and play New Young Puritans!
Making a noise that made him want to peel off their skins!

Then the Whos, young and old, would turn up the volume and rock.
They would start on New Young Pony Club
Which wore the Grinch’s brain down to a stub!

And THEN
They’d do something he liked least of all!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, hearts full of glee.
They’d stand hand-in-hand. And play Teeth Of The Sea!

And just when he thought they couldn’t do more to offend
They put on Vampire Weekend!
By they time they got to Lonelady
The Grinch though of something shady.

“I know just what to do!” The Grinch laughed like a lunatic.
I know how I can stop the music!
And he chuckled, and clucked, “What a great Grinchy trick!
“I’ll impersonate Dr. Fester, and be a total dick!”

The Grinch snuck into Whoville. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care
He found a copy of Ufomammut,
And stuck it in and out of his butt.
He replaced a CD of The Chap,
With a pile of steaming crap.
He found a little Who’s copy of Robyn,
And smeared it with a nose goblin.
He took the album by Norwegian band Kvelertak
And gave it a sharp Grinch crack!

Julie Christmas he saved for last,
Undid his pants and did things that would leave Santa aghast.
But it wasn’t Santa nor Satan he should worry about
Who would make him cringe and shout.
For it turns out Julie Christmas’ biggest fan
Had just pulled up in his red and black van.

The Grinch had been caught not by a little Who daughter
But rather Santa’s sidekick Krampus, who was ready to slaughter.
Krampus stared at Grinch and said, “You made the mistake of defiling the rock,
And now you must feel the wrath of my cock!”

But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
“Why, Mr. Krampus, my dark lord” the fake Fester lied,
“I’m simply borrowing the CDs and pics,
So that I may compile them into a killer mix!”
“So I’m taking them home to get creative and arty.
Then I’ll bring them back here and throw a huge dance party!”

His fib didn’t fool Krampus, who was a friend of Dr. Fester.
And he said, “You must have mistaken me for a jester.”
And that’s the last thing the Grinch knew,
Before Krampus bent him over and split him in two.

The end.

2010 Year-End Summary

It’s the end of the first year of a new decade, and my fifth as a music fan. Right about now is when my tastes should have gone down the toilet, having given up on understanding new music and retreating to the sort of nostalgia appropriate for the middle-aged. I’ve given up on reviewing music due to the wide availability of opinions on almost any album, some even well written. I’ve been migrating to more blog-style think pieces, and trying to brew up some fiction. It’s clear, however, I should probably not be allowed to write children’s books.

It’s true that I’m a sucker for almost anything inspired by 1978-84 post-punk, at least if it’s well done. And after the horrendous indie rock performances at the 2009 Pitchfork Festival, I’ve stuck to my vow to mainly see only heavy rock and metal live. Nearly everyone’s a listmaker now whether they want to admit it or not. Anyone who creates playlists on iTunes, MediaMonkey, Spotify, Rhapsody, Last.fm, MOG, etc. But as irrelevant my lists might be in the context of your own personal tastes or some sort of greater zeitgeist, I still believe it’s music well worth recommending. And lest you get the impression that I’m being too self-deprecating, my lists still kick the shit out of yours. Unless you’re an equally obsessive music cognoscenti or have been sharing my dropbox all year, there’s a good chance there’s five to twenty of your future favorite albums in my top 100 that you haven’t even heard yet. It seems the same thing happens every year. I settle into my niche of stoner rock, metal, neo-prog/post-rock/post-metal, and some indie, hip-hop, electronica, singer-songwriters, and pop in my heavy rotation for most of the year, and when the year-end lists start coming out after Thanksgiving, I’m ready for something new and adventurous. The result is nearly half my top 100 have been added this past month.

Some of the CDs I bought this year.Some of the CDs I bought this year.

The album’s still not dead, by the way. I don’t understand why anyone would say so, like it’s wishful thinking. Do they want to kill books and movies too? Do they want to stay at home and watch YouTube clips? There still isn’t a subscription service in the U.S. with the same deep catalog and service as Spotify in Europe, but we’ll get there. When they stop the incredibly stupid practice of pricing lossless files higher than CDs, I’ll go there too. For now it’s still cheaper to buy CDs, and rip them to my 4.5 TB NAS server to play on my wireless Squeezebox setup at home, and MusicMonkey off my backup at work. As always, just like people check books and CDs and DVDS out from the library, borrow them from friends, used to make mix tapes and CDs, I see no problem with making MP3 mixes and selective file sharing. I only encourage you all to at least do your favorite artists right and pick up (or pay for download) some of the albums that moved you, or ones you still want to hear. If you’re able to catch live shows, it’s a great place to buy their CD, as they get a bigger cut of the money that way. I used to think it was lame to wear band t-shirts, but I started buying them the past several years. Most of the artists you’ll find in this list are making a decent living, thanks to that kind of support, and doing the basic hard work of touring.

Comebacks of the year

There’s no shortage of geezers making good music this year, most of whom haven’t really stopped, such as The Fall and Nick Cave with Grinderman. Even death hasn’t stopped Johnny Cash. On American VI: Ain’t No Grave, he eerily sang, “There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down / When you hear that trumpet sound / Gonna get up out of the ground.” One of my dream post-punk reunions happened this year, with the original lineup of Killing Joke not only reuniting and touring, but recording a really excellent album. While Swans were on hiatus for over 13 years, Michael Gira has been working nonstop, creating over a dozen albums under his own name, Angels Of Light and others. I wasn’t a big fan of that stuff, but reviving the Swans name also reignited Gira’s intensity. My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope To the Sky just edges out Killing Joke’s Absolute Dissent. Honorable mention goes to Ratt!

Debuts of the year

LoneLady, The Soft Pack, Kvelertak, Tame Impala, Napoleon III, Wild Nothing, Warpaint, Gozu, Lower Dens, Black Breath, Gonjasufi, Prins Thomas, Grass Widow.

Overrated of the Year

The desire for a consensus favorite to rally behind was strong, so Kanye West came out with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy at precisely the right time. It has some great highlights, but I find too many stretches of it pretty dang boring. I wonder what would have happened had Diddy Dirty Money released Last Train To Paris in time for all the premature pollsters to hear it. The release of The Arcade Fire’s third album was a pretty significant event, but I think the album is a bit too dull to hold up over time.

 

Disappointment of the Year

Given their lackluster previous release, 100th Window (2003), it may not be surprising that Massive Attack’s Heligoland isn’t an improvement, but that didn’t stop many from hoping. After all, their Bristol cronies Portishead managed an impressive comeback, and Tricky keeps getting close-ish.

Fester’s Lucky 13 – The Best Albums of 2010

    1. Ufomammut – Eve (Supernatural Cat) Ufomammut - Eve

Boris and Kyuss had a lovechild in space, a 45 minute epic doom track named after the first woman (not Michelle Obama). Pink Floyd and Hawkwind are the proud grandparents. Ufomammut are an Italian stoner/doom band whose members are also part of the well-respected graphic design and fine art collective, Malleus. Since Godlike Snake (2000), they’ve managed to make satisfyingly heavy statements while continuing to experiment and evolve. They’re getting better all the time, and Eve pays tribute to the Genesis story, the knowledge seeker and humanity’s first rebel. The album is full of Old Testament-sized riffs that are as frightening as her creator’s wrath, and endlessly mesmerizing. It’s far from the easiest listen this year, but it’s just too godamn heavy to move from the top of the pile.

    1. Vampire Weekend – Contra (XL) Vampire Weekend – Contra

Since the dust settled from the original hype/backlash, Vampire Weekend have revealed they’re more diverse and interesting than many gave them credit for. Their second album has a couple moments that almost defiantly references Paul Simon’s Graceland even more directly than anything from the first album. Yet the songs take unexpected twists down dark corridors, while still identifiable as sticky pop. Check out the complexity of “Diplomat’s Son” and “Giving Up The Gun,” the best songs on an album that could easily have eight singles. It’s a promising indication that there is plenty more to look forward to from this band.

    1. LoneLady – Nerve Up (Warp)LoneLady - Nerve Up

Brought up in Manchester’s industrial corridors that gave us The Fall and Joy Division, LoneLady is a post-punk godsend that a handful of us obsessives have been waiting for. Not that she derives any musical influence from those bands. Inspired more by also-rans Ludus and early Throwing Muses, Julie Campbell has the talent and songwriting to, well, be another underrated Manchester export. Either way, the significance of her consistently great debut album is much appreciated here.

    1. Motorpsycho – Heavy Metal Fruit (Rune Grammofon) Motorpsycho - Heavy Metal Fruit

Talk about sleeping on a band. Norwegians Motorpsycho (named after a Russ Meyer film they saw at a triple bill that also included Mudhoney and Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill) have been together for over 20 years, and from what I’ve just recently heard of their 14 albums, have been a great band the whole time. Their recent albums have all been consistently good, blending elements of metal, jazz, psych, prog and space rock. But Heavy Metal Fruit is something special that has attracted more attention than usual. This one just hits that sweet spot between heavy and spacey, complicated and driving, rawness and detail. When the epic 20:42 track “Gullible’s Travails (Pt. I-IV): Eye All-Seeing, The Elementhaler, Circle, Phoot’s Flower (A Burly Return)” ends before you’re ready for it to, you know they’re on to something.

    1. Teeth Of The Sea – Your Mercury (Rocket)
      Teeth Of The Sea - Your Mercury

The members of Teeth Of The Sea had their meet cute at a Wolf Eyes show, after which they got together and played Queen’s entire Flash Gordon soundtrack at a New Year’s Eve party. Orphaned By The Ocean (2009) was a great debut, demonstrating their nimble navigation between avant rock and noise. Their second album is a real stunner, emitting alarmingly menacing sounds while remaining engaging and often quite beautiful.

    1. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (DFA/Virgin)LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem have had no shortage of acclaim, with his previous album topping many year-end polls. The increasingly riveting live performances and the mention that this will be the last album under that moniker reveals his intention to go out on top. Of all the raucous and melancholy moments, my favorite is “All I Want,” which sounds like a long-lost Heroes era Bowie/Eno outtake.

    1. The Soft Pack (Kemado)
      The Soft Pack

The Soft Pack’s debut album grabbed me early in the year, and never let go. They take The Flaming Stars’ garage-noir and mix in some Modern Lovers and surf guitar hooks. Garage rock is hardly fashionable right now, but when an album manages an incredible run of seven consecutively awesome, killer tunes, who gives a flying fuck?

    1. Kvelertak (Indie Recordings)Kvelertak

Another Norwegian band, Kvelertak come from a hardcore (punk rock, remember that?) background, but mix in some black metal influences, and dirtyazz rock ‘n’ roll along the lines of Motörhead, Entombed, and contemporaries Black Breath and Nails. While there’s probably no shortage of bands attempting this sort of thing, I was blown away by the abundance of catchy riffs, and the fact that the songs are not as simple as you might originally assume given their howling, bloodcurdling intensity. They somehow avoid repeating themselves, revealing a nerdy prog heart beneath the tough exterior.

    1. Julie Christmas – The Bad Wife (Rising Pulse)
      Julie Christmas - The Bad Wife

I’m shocked and apalled at the lack of attention this stellar album has received. It’s not like people shouldn’t know who Julie Christmas is. She’s the badass wailing banshee in highly respected Brooklyn metal and noise rock bands Battle Of Mice and Made Out Of Babies. Perhaps it’s the poor distribution (my copy is still on order after over a month). On her solo debut, she dials back the overt intensity for a kind of performance that’s unnerving to those who see the shaking rage bursting to get out. She dips into a variety of styles, including some goth influences, veering between Siouxsie Sioux and Diamandas Galas. Seriously, how are the little bastard vampire kiddies not lapping this up like bloody candy?

    1. New Young Pony Club – The Optimist (PIAS)New Young Pony Club - The Optimist

New Young Pony Club’s 2007 debut, Fantastic Playroom was a giddy romp of dayglo post-punk tunes influenced by Gang Of Four and post-No Wave NYC bands like ESG. The followup is even better in that it doesn’t run out of gas with great songs, and influences have evolved into new wavers Altered Images and a hint of Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the ballads.

    1. These New Puritans – Hidden (Domino)
      These New Puritans - Hidden

On their promising 2008 debut, Beat Pyramid These New Puritans managed to start from post-punk building blocks like Wire and The Fall, and develop their own voice. The followup takes giant step in originality. While they’ve focused even more on the heavy percussion (like a mix between Burundi drums and Japanese Taiko), they’ve added bassoons and childrens choirs to their palette. If you’ve ever wondered what it would sound like for Miles Davis’ arranger/collaborator Gil Evans to tackle post-punk, it’s your lucky year.

    1. Robyn – Body Talk (Interscope)
      Robyn - Body Talk

It’s been a long road for Swedish dance-pop star Robyn to spread her platinum success from Europe to the U.S. She’s been putting out consistently high quality albums and club singles for over 13 years. Her 2005 self-titled third album became a bit of a cult favorite (and made Fester’s Lucky 13), and it took five long years to follow it up. To make up for the wait, she released 22 songs on three EPs, compiling 15 on a single album at the end of the year, and they’re nearly all perfect. So why isn’t she rubbing elbows at ridiculous parties with pop royalty like Lady Gaga and Rihanna? With just an awkward cameo on Gossip Girl as her biggest media event, it sounds like she should fire her manager and ask Kes$ha to hook her up.

    1. Napoleon IIIrd – Christiania (Brainlove)
      Napoleon IIIrd - Christiania (Brainlove)

Singer-songwriter electronica is a combo that isn’t done well that often, but grabs my attention when it does (The Notwist, My Computer, Rob, Max Tundra). James Mabbett, as Napoleon IIIrd, is the latest to master the fairly simple concept — experiment with electronic sounds, but still write good songs. On his second solo album, he manages to fuse the grandiose electronica of Fuck Buttons with triumphant stadium-worthy crescendoes. Here you get thoughtful melancholy/funny lyrics but three times the catchy hooks as an Arcade Fire album.

All the above albums can be purchased online, even the imports. See the Fast ‘n’ Bulbous Guide to Online CD Shopping for tips.

The rest of the Top 20 and Beyond

Just as there were few consensus favorites (Kanye West is main one, but with many vocal dissenters), no albums really dominated my list, with nothing earning the rare 10 or 10- rating. Which means there’s not a great difference between #1 and #40. This is not a bad thing. I’d rather there be 40 excellent albums than just a few undeniable classics that drops off quickly after that. It’s been a great year for music, with the biggest pop stars back to being being batshit crazy or at least interesting, and all sorts of wonderful and creepy weirdness bubbling up. Wonderfully creepy fits South African group Die Antwoord, mixing their country’s version of white trash culture with extremely savvy and professional artistic vision and well produced videos. Salem offended almost everyone, but also managed to sound like no one else. Both groups had repellant qualities, but are a good example of the wide range of fascinating stuff that’s out there. Post-punk influenced music made a strong showing here, including LoneLady, Sennen, Wild Nothing, Warpaint, Abe Vigoda, Anika, Grass Widow, Liars, Twin Shadow and Crocodiles. There’s a good number of albums that are difficult to categorize. The closest comparison I can think of for The Chap is the clever, funny art pop of Sparks. Flying Lotus comes from the chop-shop tradition of instrumental hip-hop, but takes it somewhere unfamiliar. How To Dress Well has an affinity for psych soul, but ends up closer to Burial than any Prince acolytes. Gonjasufi makes hippie psychedelia sound strange and fresh again. Norway’s Shining presents the first ever fusion of free jazz, prog (see cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” Ministry and extreme metal. Then there were simply a lot of albums full of great songs. On the strength of an impressive batch of singles, Yeasayer expanded their audience to the point where I had to practically wedge myself into their last sold-out show. Two years ago I saw them with a room of barely 100 hipsters, and the next one looked like a giant post-frat party. Good for them. Australia’s Tame Impala also struck a chord with their songwriting, drawing a slightly bigger and more enthusiastic audience than their Swedish psych rock brothers Dungen, who also added another beautifully crafted album to their pile this year. Like Julie Christmas, Nina Nastasia was a bit cheated this year, having been overlooked by most critics and fans in favor of Joanna Newsom and Laura Marling. Those two made very good albums for sure, but were no match for Nastasia’s seasoned intensity and powerful voice. Crippled Black Phoenix, with an intruiging mix of former members of Electric Wizard, Mogwai and others, call their music “endtime ballads,” and have been quite prolific, having just released the fascinating 200 Tons Of Bad Luck last year. I, Vigilante was actually just a housecleaning exercise to put some live favorites down, while they work on completing a more ambitious album. I can’t wait.

Beyond the top 20, there’s pretty much something for everyone. Dark and lush singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt, horny middle-aged pranksters Grinderman, post-punk god and grandfathers Swans and Killing Joke, Pink Floyd influenced prog metallers Intronaut, hard grinding metallers High On Fire, even harder and abrasive stuff (Årabrot, Black Breath, Envy, Nails). Janelle Monáe had a brilliant set of psych soul and dance pop, and Diddy Dirty Money surprised with a late entry that definitely eclipses Kanye West’s album, even if everyone else is too slow to acknowledge it. Hypnagogic lo-fi (Rangers, Lower Dens, Forest Swords, Autre Ne Veut), classic NWOBHM style metal (Slough Feg, Dawnbringer, Sahg, Ghost, Iron Maiden, Christian Mistress, Grand Magus), black metal (Nachtmystium, Enslaved), black shoegauze (Alcest), electronica (Oneohtrix Point Never, Caribou, Four Tet, Matthew Dear, Hot Chip, Moon Wiring Club, Actress) electro-psych (Emeralds, Prins Thomas, El Guincho), Icelandic and Finnish avant pop (Jonsi, Islaja), stoner/psych/doom/classic rock (Kylesa, Gozu, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti, Quest For Fire, Sleepy Sun, Torche, White Hills, Gypsyhawk, Electric Wizard), indie rock (Good Shoes, White Denim, The Walkmen, Wovenhand, Spoon, Beach House, Black Mountain, Three Mile Pilot), hip-hop (Black Milk, Diddy) and doom metallers turned singer-songwriters (Dax Riggs, Wino).

The good music doesn’t stop after 100. On my particular list, there’s at least 182 more I consider well worth listening all the way through. But if I thought everyone had the time and access to hear them all, I wouldn’t really have to bother with this year-end summary. Suffice to say that I don’t want anyone complaining about a lack of good music when quality artists like Blind Guardian, Besnard Lakes, The Radio Dept., Black Angels, Blue Hawaii, Afrocubism, The Books, M.I.A., N.E.R.D., Erykah Badu, Frog Eyes, Big Boi, Gil Scott-Heron, Triptykon, Autechre, Black Tusk, Melvins, No Age, The Roots, Yakuza, Sleigh Bells, Superchunk, Deerhunter and many others inhabit the next 100. Click here for the entire list.

  1. The Chap – Well Done, Europe (Lo)
  2. Yeasayer – Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian)
  3. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (Warp)
  4. Sennen – Age Of Denial (Hungry Audio)
  5. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker (Modular)
  6. Nina Nastasia – Outlaster (Fat Cat)
  7. Crippled Black Phoenix – I, Vigilante (+1)
  8. Ed Harcourt – Lustre (Piano Wolf)
  9. Grinderman – Grinderman 2 (Epitaph)
  10. Wild Nothing – Gemini/Golden Haze EP (Captured Tracks)
  11. Dungen – Skit I Allt (Mexican Summer)
  12. Warpaint – The Fool (Rough Trade)
  13. Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope To the Sky (Young God)
  14. Killing Joke – Absolute Dissent (Spinefarm)
  15. Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) (Bad Boy/Atlantic)
  16. High On Fire – Snakes For The Divine (Relapse)
  17. Good Shoes – No Hope No Future (Brille)
  18. How To Dress Well – Love Remains (Lefse)
  19. Abe Vigoda – Crush (Bella Union/Post Present Medium)
  20. Intronaut – Valley Of Smoke (Century Media)
  21. Slough Feg – The Animal Spirits (Profound Lore)
  22. Kylesa – Spiral Shadow (Season Of Mist)
  23. The Walkmen – Lisbon (Fat Possum)
  24. Gozu – Locust Season (Small Stone)
  25. Maximum Balloon (Interscope)
  26. Grass Widow – Past Time (Kill Rock Stars)
  27. Anika (Stones Throw)
  28. Gonjasufi – A Sufi And A Killer (Warp)
  29. Zola Jesus – Stridulum II (Sacred Bones/Soulterrain)
  30. The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter (Domino)
  31. White Denim – Last Day Of Summer (White Denim)
  32. Rangers – Suburban Tours (Olde English Spelling Bee)
  33. Shining – Blackjazz (The End)
  34. Årabrot – Revenge (Fysisk Format)
  35. Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m Here? (Editions Mego)
  36. Lower Dens – Twin-Hand Movement (Gnomonsong)
  37. Liars – Sisterworld (Mute)
  38. Roots Manuva Meets Wrongtom – Duppy Writer (Big Dada)
  39. Black Breath – Heavy Breathing (Southern Lord)
  40. Spoon – Transference (Merge)
  41. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
  42. Dawnbringer – Nucleus (Profound Lore)
  43. The Sword – Warp Riders (Kemado)
  44. Forest Swords – Dagger Path (Olde English Spelling Bee)
  45. Dax Riggs – Say Goodnight To The World (Fat Possum)
  46. Prins Thomas (Full Pupp)
  47. Wovenhand – The Threshingfloor (Sounds Familyre)
  48. Errors – Come Down With Me (Rock Action)
  49. Caribou – Swim (Merge)
  50. Alcest – Écailles De Lune (Prophecy)
  51. Diddy Dirty Money – Last Train To Paris (Bad Boy)
  52. Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal (Editions Mego)
  53. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti – Before Today (4AD)
  54. Nachtmystium – Addicts – Black Meddle Pt II (Century Media)
  55. El Guincho – Pop Negro (XL)
  56. Enslaved – Axioma Ethica Odini (Nuclear Blast)
  57. Twin Shadow – Forget (Red General)
  58. Hot Chip – One Life Stand (EMI)
  59. Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can (Astralwerks)
  60. Matthew Dear – Black City (Ghostly International)
  61. Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart (Jagjaguwar)
  62. Moon Wiring Club – A Spare Tabby at the Cat’s Wedding (Geophonic)
  63. Four Tet – There Is Love In You (Domino)
  64. Torche – Songs For Singles EP (Hydra Head)
  65. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me (Drag City)
  66. Jonsi – Go (XL)
  67. White Hills (Thrill Jockey)
  68. Autre Ne Veut (Olde English Spelling Bee)
  69. Quest For Fire – Lights From Paradise (Tee Pee)
  70. Sahg – Sahg III (Indie Recordings)
  71. Sleepy Sun – Fever (ATP)
  72. Gypsyhawk – Patience And Persevereace (Creator-Destructor)
  73. Black Milk – Album of the Year (Fat Beats)
  74. Envy – Recitation (Temporary Residence)
  75. Islaja – Keraaminen Paa (Fonal)
  76. Electric Wizard – Black Masses (Rise Above)
  77. Crocodiles – Sleep Forever (Fat Possum)
  78. Ghost – Opus Eponymous (Rise Above)
  79. Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier (EMI)
  80. Nails – Unsilent Death EP (Southern Lord)
  81. Die Antwoord – $O$ (Interscope)
  82. Salem – King Night (Iamsound)
  83. Three Mile Pilot – Inevitable Past Is The Future Forgotten (Temporary Residence)
  84. Christian Mistress – Agony & Opium (20 Buck Spin)
  85. Grand Magus – Hammer Of The North (Roadrunner)
  86. Wino – Adrift (Exile On Mainstream)
  87. Actress – Splazsh (Honest Jon’s)

2010 Breakdown

Rock & Pop

Yeasayer - Odd Blood

I’ll comment on the albums not mentioned above. British singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt’s fifth album matches his best work, yet he still remains criminally underappreciated. I saw him open for a sold-out show packed with uninterested James fans. Crazy. The second Grinderman is even better than the first, packed with plenty of sick humor. Everyone seemed to be excited about Dungen back in 2004. They keep getting better, but not bigger, hence the translation of their fifth title to “fuck it.” The well of good UK indie pop seems to be dry this year, with The Rakes’ breakup, The Futureheads album not up to snuff, and no releases from Maximo Park or Pete & the Pirates, but Good Shoes delivered a very nice sophomore effort.

  1. Vampire Weekend – Contra (XL)
  2. LoneLady – Nerve Up (Warp)
  3. The Soft Pack (Kemado)
  4. New Young Pony Club – The Optimist (PIAS)
  5. These New Puritans – Hidden (Domino)
  6. Yeasayer – Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian)
  7. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker (Modular)
  8. Ed Harcourt – Lustre (Piano Wolf)
  9. Grinderman – Grinderman 2 (Epitaph)
  10. Dungen – Skit I Allt (Mexican Summer)
  11. Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope To the Sky (Young God)
  12. Killing Joke – Absolute Dissent (Spinefarm)
  13. Good Shoes – No Hope No Future (Brille)
  14. Abe Vigoda – Crush (Bella Union/Post Present Medium)
  15. The Walkmen – Lisbon (Fat Possum)
  16. Maximum Balloon (Interscope)
  17. Grass Widow – Past Time (Kill Rock Stars)
  18. The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter (Domino)
  19. White Denim – Last Day Of Summer (White Denim)
  20. Spoon – Transference (Merge)
  21. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
  22. Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart (Jagjaguwar)
  23. Three Mile Pilot – Inevitable Past Is The Future Forgotten (Temporary Residence)

Electro/Dream Pop

The Chap - Well Done, Europe
Looks like last year’s terms, “dreambeat, chillwave, glo-fi” are cooling off a bit, though “hypnagogic pop” is being kept alive and well by fans of the Olde English Spelling Bee label. Wild Nothing was a notably great find for me, with a lovely gauzy sound that sounds like a long lost early 80s link between Factory post-punk and shoegaze.

  1. Napoleon IIIrd – Christiania (Brainlove)
  2. The Chap – Well Done, Europe (Lo)
  3. Sennen – Age Of Denial (Hungry Audio)
  4. Wild Nothing – Gemini/Golden Haze EP (Captured Tracks)
  5. Warpaint – The Fool (Rough Trade)
  6. How To Dress Well – Love Remains (Lefse)
  7. Lower Dens – Twin-Hand Movement (Gnomonsong)
  8. Rangers – Suburban Tours (Olde English Spelling Bee)
  9. Forest Swords – Dagger Path (Olde English Spelling Bee)
  10. Alcest – Écailles De Lune (Prophecy)
  11. El Guincho – Pop Negro (XL)
  12. Twin Shadow – Forget (Red General)
  13. Autre Ne Veut (Olde English Spelling Bee)
  14. Hot Chip – One Life Stand (EMI)
  15. Sleepy Sun – Fever (ATP)
  16. White Hills (Thrill Jockey)
  17. Crocodiles – Sleep Forever (Fat Possum)
  18. Kisses – The Heart Of The Nightlife (This Is Music)
  19. Ellen Allien – Dust (BPitch Control)
  20. Sufjan Stevens – The Age Of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty)
  21. Baths – Cerulean (Anticon)

Avant Rock & Out Pop

Anika
Anika has a very singular sound that you’d think would be repetitive, but totally works for this album – stark and spare, like if Nico collaborated with Young Marble Giants. Zola Jesus’ droning style has grown on some people as her EP has done quite well after her debut album going mosty unnoticed last year. Emeralds and Liars also topped a few notable lists this year, well worth checking out.

  1. Teeth Of The Sea – Your Mercury (Rocket)
  2. Crippled Black Phoenix – I, Vigilante (+1)
  3. Anika (Stones Throw)
  4. Gonjasufi – A Sufi And A Killer (Warp)
  5. Zola Jesus – Stridulum II (Sacred Bones/Soulterrain)
  6. Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m Here? (Editions Mego)
  7. Liars – Sisterworld (Mute)
  8. Prins Thomas (Full Pupp)
  9. Errors – Come Down With Me (Rock Action)
  10. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti – Before Today (4AD)
  11. Jonsi – Go (XL)
  12. Islaja – Keraaminen Paa (Fonal)
  13. Red Sparowes – The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer (Sargent House)
  14. Kayo Dot – Coyote (Hydra Head)

Experimental & Ambient

Shining - Blackjazz
Moon Wiring Club have been fascinating since thier first release, loaded with odd samples from spoken word records. On this album, they’re more musical than ever, making repeated listens a less daunting proposition.

  1. Shining – Blackjazz (The End)
  2. Moon Wiring Club – A Spare Tabby at the Cat’s Wedding (Geophonic)
  3. The Books – The Way Out (Temporary Residence)
  4. Teebs – Ardour (Brainfeeder)
  5. Sun Araw – On Patrol (Fun Not Fun)
  6. Mike Patton – Mondo Cane (Ipecac)
  7. Master Musicians Of Bukkake – Totem Two (Important)
  8. Eluvium – Similes (Temporary Residence)
  9. Faust – Faust Is Last (Klangbad)
  10. Owen Pallett – Heartland (Domino)
  11. The Knife In Collaboration with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock – Tomorrow, In A Year (Mute)
  12. Gnaw Their Tongues – Arrivée de la Terne Mort Triomphante (Crucial Blast)
  13. Cold Cave/Prurient – Stars Explode EP (Hospital Productions)
  14. Eleh – Location Momentum (Touch UK)
  15. FM Einheit + Irmler – No Apologies (Klangbad)

Electronica, Techno & Dance

Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Daniel Lopatin, a.k.a Oneohtrix Point Never, just won’t let up. Last year he compiled three albums into Rifts. Now he’s got another one that has critics eating out of his hand. And for good reason. My taste for electronica has been somewhat limited, so it takes something extra special to engage me. Even though it doesn’t quite have the impact and range as the triple set, it beats out strong competition from Caribou, Matthew Dear, Four Tet, Salem and The Wire‘s album of the year by Actress.

  1. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (DFA/Virgin)
  2. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (Warp)
  3. Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal (Editions Mego)
  4. Caribou – Swim (Merge)
  5. Matthew Dear – Black City (Ghostly International)
  6. Four Tet – There Is Love In You (Domino)
  7. Salem – King Night (Iamsound)
  8. Actress – Splazsh (Honest Jon’s)
  9. Autechre – Oversteps (Warp)
  10. Lindstrøm & Christabelle – Real Life Is No Cool (Smalltown Supersound)
  11. Digital Mystikz – Return II Space (DMZ)
  12. Gatekeeper – Giza (Merok)
  13. Walls (Kompakt)
  14. Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers (Hotflush)
  15. Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner (Notown)
  16. James Blake – CMYK EP (R&S)

Heavy Rock

Kylesa - Spiral Shadow
Just like fellow Savanna, Georgia mates Baroness, Kylesa have been kicking around for nearly a decade, churning out sludgy metal, and gradually evolving to their current incarnation, incorporating a good bit of psychedelic rock, a nice improvement over last year’s Static Tensions. Gozu will scratch that itch if you crave an early Queens Of The Stone Age sound, while Norwegians Årabrot seem to have discovered a cache of Amphetamine Reptile albums.

  1. Ufomammut – Eve (Supernatural Cat)
  2. Motorpsycho – Heavy Metal Fruit (Rune Grammofon)
  3. Kvelertak (Indie Recordings)
  4. Julie Christmas – The Bad Wife (Rising Pulse)
  5. Sungrazer (Elektrohasch)
  6. Kylesa – Spiral Shadow (Season Of Mist)
  7. Gozu – Locust Season (Small Stone)
  8. Årabrot – Revenge (Fysisk Format)
  9. Black Breath – Heavy Breathing (Southern Lord)
  10. Electric Wizard – Black Masses (Rise Above)
  11. U.S. Christmas – Run Thick In The Night (Neurot)
  12. Torche – Songs For Singles EP (Hydra Head)
  13. Quest For Fire – Lights From Paradise (Tee Pee)
  14. Gypsyhawk – Patience And Persevereace (Creator-Destructor)
  15. My Sleeping Karma – Tri (Elektrohasch)
  16. Hypnos 69 – Legacy (Elektrohasch)
  • Rotor – 4 (Elektrohasch)
  • Sasquatch – III (Small Stone)
  • Ramon Zarate – Oyster (Freebird)
  • Envy – Recitation (Temporary Residence)
  • Nails – Unsilent Death EP (Southern Lord)
  • Melvins – The Bride Screamed Murder (Ipecac)
  • Voltax – Fugitive State of Mind (Blower)
  • The Austerity Program – Backsliders And Apostates Will Burn EP (Hydra Head)
  • Black Tusk – Taste The Sin (Relapse)
  • The Body – All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood (At A Loss)MetalHigh On Fire - Snakes For The DivineHigh On Fire have developed their own unique voice for sure, but they remind me of Motörhead at their 1979-1983 peak as a force of nature that simply will destroy you. Spine pummelling shows and albums that evolve enough to stay interesting, what more can one ask for? Slough Feg is another band that just keeps getting better over the course of a dozen+ years, while Dawnbringer is the newcomer. The Sword, Sahg, Ghost and Grand Magus have made highly entertaining albums that draw inspiration from various NWOBHM styles of the early 80s. While originators Iron Maiden have come out with their strongest album in a decade. Black metallers Nachtmystium experimented with some Killing Joke and Ministry-style industrial influences with great results. It’s been a good year for metal.
    1. High On Fire – Snakes For The Divine (Relapse)
    2. Intronaut – Valley Of Smoke (Century Media)
    3. Slough Feg – The Animal Spirits (Profound Lore)
    4. Dawnbringer – Nucleus (Profound Lore)
    5. The Sword – Warp Riders (Kemado)
    6. Nachtmystium – Addicts – Black Meddle Pt II (Century Media)
    7. Enslaved – Axioma Ethica Odini (Nuclear Blast)
    8. Sahg – Sahg III (Indie Recordings)
    9. Ghost – Opus Eponymous (Rise Above)
    10. Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier (EMI)
    11. Christian Mistress – Agony & Opium (20 Buck Spin)
    12. Grand Magus – Hammer Of The North (Roadrunner)
    13. Cough – Ritual Abuse (Relapse)
    14. Blind Guardian – At The Edge Of Time (Nuclear Blast)
    15. Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
    16. Yakuza – Of Seismic Consequence (Profound Lore)
    17. Knut – Wonder (Hydra Head)
    18. Darkthrone – Circle The Wagons (Peaceville)
    19. Cathedral – The Guessing Game (Nuclear Blast)
    20. Black Sun – Twilight Of The Gods (Future Noise)
    21. White Wizzard – Over the Top (Earache)
    22. Crystal Viper – Legends (AFM)
    23. Unearthly Trance – V (Relapse)
    24. Ludicra – The Tenant (Profound Lore)
    25. Sigh – Scenes From Hell (The End)
    26. Ihsahn – After (Candlelight)
    27. Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore)
    28. Orphaned Land – The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR (Century Media)
    29. Triptykon – Shatter [EP] (Century Media)
    30. Watain – Lawless Darkness (Roadrunner)
    31. Thou – Summit (Gilead Media)
    32. Salome – Terminal (Profound Lore)
    33. Twilight – Monument To Time End (Southern Lord)
    34. Scorpions – Sting In The Tail (UMe)
    35. Witchery – Witchkrieg (Century Media)

    Global

    Roots Manuva Meets Wrongtom - Duppy Writer
    Roots Manuva’s arty take on British garage and hip-hop is colorful enough, one would think remixing would be redundant. But Wrongtom dubs his tunes up to great effect.

    1. Roots Manuva Meets Wrongtom – Duppy Writer (Big Dada) – UK/Jamaica
    2. Chico Mann – Analog Drift (Wax Poetics) – U.S./Cuba
    3. Tamikrest – Adagh (Glitterhouse) – Mali/Niger/Algeria
    4. Calle 13 – Entre los que Quieran (Sony U.S. Latin) – Puerto Rico
    5. Khaira Arby – Timbuktu Tarab (Clermont Music) – Mali
    6. Choc Quib Town – Oro (Nacional Records) – Colombia
    7. Afrocubism (World Circuit) – Mali/Cuba
    8. Mulatu Astatke – Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut) – Ethiopia
    9. Kemialliset Ystävät – Ullakkopalo (Fonal) – Finland
    10. Konono No. 1 – Assume Crash Position (Crammed Discs) – Congo
    11. Seu Jorge and Almaz (Now-Again/Stones Throw) – Brazil
    12. Luisa Maita – Lero Lero (Cumbancha) – Brazil
    13. Horace Andy – Serious Times (Groove Attack) – Jamaica
    14. King Sunny Ade – Babá mo Túndé (Mesa Blue/IndigeDisc)
    15. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars – Rise & Shine (Cumbancha)
    16. Nneka – Concrete Jungle (Decon) – Nigeria/Germany
    17. Angelique Kidjo – Oyo (Razor & Tie)
    18. Salif Keita – La Difference (Universal Music France)
    19. Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM (Elektra) – France
    20. Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle (Columbia) – Ukraine/U.S.
    21. Marcelo Jeneci – Feito Pra Acabar – Brazil
    22. Tulipa Ruiz – Efêmera – Brazil
    23. Holger – Sunga – Brazil
    24. Apanhador Só – Apanhador Só – Brazil

    Country, Folk & Americana

    Nina Nastasia - Outlaster
    I already ranted how Nina Nastasia deserves more credit for her brilliant work. Check her album out pronto! As a heavy rocker, Dax Riggs’ solo work barely fits into the Americana category. His song titles are like wry parodies of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds songs, and he taps into a similar dark vibe, as well as some Tom Waits. Wovenhand is David Eugene Edwards, formerly of the mighty Sixteen Horsepower. I don’t know why I didn’t get around to hearing his post-HP band, but better late than never.

    1. Nina Nastasia – Outlaster (Fat Cat)
    2. Dax Riggs – Say Goodnight To The World (Fat Possum)
    3. Wovenhand – The Threshingfloor (Sounds Familyre)
    4. Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can (Astralwerks)
    5. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me (Drag City)
    6. Wino – Adrift (Exile On Mainstream)
    7. Alasdair Roberts & Friends Too Long in This Condition (Drag City)
    8. Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song (Mercury)
    9. Willie Nelson – Country Music (Rounder)
    10. Johnny Cash – American VI: Ain’t No Grave (American)
    11. John Grant – Queen Of Denmark (Bella Union)
    12. Laura Veirs – July Flame (Bella Union)
    13. Man’s Gin – Smiling Dogs (Profound Lore)
    14. Jane Weaver – The Fallen By Watchbird (B-Music)
    15. Taylor Swift – Speak Now (Big Machine)

    Hip Hop & Rap

    Diddy Dirty Money - Last Train To Paris
    Sean Combs, aka Puff Daddy, aka P. Diddy, and now, for his latest album, just Diddy (Dirty Money is the vocal duo he collaborates with). Man I used to hate that guy. Earlier in his career, I thought he represented everything that sucked in hip-hop. Now that I’m kind of used to the narcissism and ego of the likes of Kanye West, Diddy doesn’t seem to annoy me like he used to. And he’s gotten better. Much better. Better than Kanye and any other hip-hop I’ve heard this year. Take that with a grain of salt — while I’ve liked hip-hop since 1983, it currently takes up less than 1% of my listening time.

    1. Diddy Dirty Money – Last Train To Paris (Bad Boy)
    2. Black Milk – Album of the Year (Fat Beats)
    3. Die Antwoord – $O$ (Interscope)
    4. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam)
    5. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot The Son Of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)
    6. The Roots – How I Got Over (Def Jam)
    7. Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy (Alliance)
    8. Eminem – Recovery (Polydor)
    9. Yelawolf – Trunk Muzik 0 To 60 (Interscope)
    10. Drake – Thank Me Later (Universal-Island)
    11. Waka Flocka Flame – Flockaveli (1017 Brick Squad/Warner Bros./Asylum)
    12. Curren$y – Pilot Talk / Pilot Talk II (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
    13. Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday (Universal Motown)
    14. Rick Ross – Teflon Don (Def Jam)
    15. Tyler, The Creator – Bastard (Tyler)
    16. The Streets – Computers And Blues (Vice)
    17. RJD2 – The Colossus (RJ’s Electrical Connections)

    R&B, Soul, Funk & Dancepop

    Janelle Monáe - The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)

    When I heard Janelle Monáe’s first EP, I was blown away. Here’s someone working in the soul/R&B arena with a totally raging intellect and imagination, with all sorts of great sci-fi themes going on. Her full-length pretty much fulfills that promise. It’s so diverse and ambitious, it can be overwhelming in one sitting. I’m even guilty of neglecting it for much of the year, letting it sink in and return later. It was a rewarding revisit. N.E.R.D. has had a tough run their last couple albums, and the new one has been even more severely critically bludgeoned. They’re all wrong though, this is the closest they’ve ever gotten to their inspired debut.

    1. Robyn – Body Talk (Interscope)
    2. Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) (Bad Boy/Atlantic)
    3. N.E.R.D. – Nothing (Star Trak)
    4. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part Two – Return Of The Ankh (Motown)
    5. Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here (XL)
    6. Kelis – Flesh Tone (Interscope)
    7. Bilal – Airtight’s Revenge (Plug Research)
    8. Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone (Anti)
    9. Georgia Anne Muldrow – Kings Ballad (Ubiquity)
    10. Bruno Mars Doo-Wops & Hooligans (Asylum)
    11. John Legend & The Roots – Wake Up! (Columbia)
    12. Cee-Lo Green – The Lady Killer (WB)
    13. The-Dream – Love King (Def Jam)
    14. Rihanna – Loud (Def Jam)
    15. Ke$ha – Animal (Sony)
    16. Sade – Soldier Of Love (Sony)

    Older albums discovered in 2010

    Albums I missed before I made the lists

    No matter how hard I try, I always miss possible top 100 contenders. Here’s some good albums I’ve heard in the week since Xmas.

    1. Chico Mann – Analog Drift (Wax Poetics)
    2. Ceremony – Rocket Fire (Killer Pimp)
    3. John And Jehn – Time For The Devil (Naive)
    4. Sungrazer (Elektrohasch)
    5. O.Children (Dead People)
    6. Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History (Kitsune)
    7. Bo Ningen (Stolen)
    8. Tweak Bird (Soutterrain Transmissions)
    9. 65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway (Phantom Sound)
    10. Tamikrest – Adagh (Glitterhouse)
    11. Yellow Swans – Going Places (Type)
    12. Current 93 – Baalstorm, Sing Omega (Coptic Cat)
    13. Alasdair Roberts & Friends Too Long in This Condition (Drag City)
    14. Calle 13 – Entre los que Quieran (Sony U.S. Latin)
    15. Choc Quib Town – Oro (Nacional Records)
    16. Nico Muhly – I Drink The Air Before Me (Decca)
    17. The Posies – Blood/Candy (Rykodisc)
    18. Jonathan Richman – O Moon, Queen Of Night On Earth (Vapor)
    19. Mystery Jets – Serotonin (Rough Trade)
    20. Jaguar Love – Hologram Jams (Fat Possum)

    Reissues
    Orange Juice - Coals To Newcastle (Domino, 1979-84)[7CD]

    Reissues provide a good reason for me to keep buying physical CDs. I’m a sucker for good packaging, liner notes, and hopefully a pristine remastering. There’s been plenty of exciting releases, the top one being the entire Orange Juice catalog, which has been maddeningly out of print for ages.

    1. Orange Juice – Coals To Newcastle (Domino, 1979-84)[7CD]
    2. Wilson Pickett – Funky Midnight Mover: The Atlantic Studio Recordings (Rhino Handmade, 1962-1978) [6CD]
    3. Iggy and the Stooges – Raw Power (Legacy, 1973) [3CD]
    4. The Method Actors – This Is Still It: Early Recordings 1980-81 (Acute)
    5. TV21 – Snakes And Ladders Almost Complete: 1980-82 (Cherry Red)
    6. Godflesh – Streetcleaner (Earache, 1989) [2CD]
    7. Squeeze – Argy Bargy (A&M, 1980) [2CD]
    8. David Bowie – Station To Station (EMI, 1976) [3CD]
    9. Syl Johnson – Complete Mythology (Numero, 1959-70) [4CD+6LP]
    10. The Church – Heyday (Second Motion, 1986)
    11. Thin Lizzy – Vagabonds Of The Western World (Island/Mercury, 1973) [2CD]
    12. The Chameleons – What Does Anything Mean? Basically [2CD] (1985)
    13. The Buggles – Adventures In Modern Recording (1982)
    14. Bruce Springsteen – The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge of Town Story (Columbia, 1978) [3CD, 3Blu-ray]
    15. Wire – Send Ultimate (Pink Flag, 2000-2003) [2CD]
    16. The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street (Polydor, 1972)
    17. Miles Davis – Bitches Brew (Sony, 1969) [2CD/DVD]
    18. The Fall – The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall (Beggars Banquet, 1984) [3CD]
    19. The Church – Of Skins And Heart (Second Motion, 1981)
    20. The Church – The Blurred Crusade (Second Motion, 1982)
    21. The 13th Floor Elevators – The Psychedelic Sounds Of… (IA/Charly, 1966) [2CD]
    22. The Jam – Sound Affects (1980) [2CD]
    23. Madness – Absolutely (1980) [2CD]
    24. R.E.M. – Fables of the Reconstruction (1985) [2CD]
    25. Judas Priest – British Steel 30th Anniversary: Deluxe Edition (1980) [3CD]
    26. Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine (TVT/Halo, 1989)
    27. The Boo Radleys – Giant Steps (Cherry Red, 1994) [3CD]
    28. Bill Withers – ‘Justments (1974)
    29. Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg – Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus (1969)
    30. Dieter Moebius – Tonspuren (Bureau B, 1983)
    31. John Foxx – The Complete Cathedral Oceans (Edsel, 1997) [4CD]
    32. Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Searching For The Young Soul Rebels (1980) [2CD]
    33. Big Audio Dynamite – This Is Big Audio Dynamite (1985) [2CD]
    34. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Tender Prey (1988)
    35. Tom Zé – Estudando a Bossa Nordesta Plaza (Luaka Bop, 2008)
    36. The Dream Syndicate – Medicine Show (1984)
    37. John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band (1970)
      Esther Phillips – Capricorn Princess (1976)
    38. The 13th Floor Elevators – Easter Everywhere (IA/Charly, 1967) [2CD]
    39. Various – The Minimal Wave Tapes, Vol. 1
    40. Bill Withers – Making Music (Reel Music, 1975)
    41. Smokey Robinson – The Solo Albums, Vol. 2 – Quiet Storm (Hip-O Select/Motown, 1975)/Smokey’s Family Robinson (1976)
    42. The Miracles – City Of Angels (Motown, 1975)
    43. Nona Hendryx (T-Bird, 1977)
    44. Various Artists – The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970’s Nigeria
    45. Junior Murvin – Police & Thieves (1977) [2CD]
    46. Ras Michael – Dadawah: Peace & Love (1974, Dug Out)
    47. Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R (2000) [2CD]
    48. The Flying Lizards (1979)
    49. Peter Gabriel (Real World)
    50. Bill Withers – Naked & Warm (Reel Music, 1976)
    51. The Cure – Disintegration [3CD] (1989)
    52. The Soft Boys – A Can Of Bees (1979)
    53. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Welcome To Pleasuredome [2CD] (1984)
    54. The Church – Seance (1984)
    55. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Damn The Torpedoes (1979) [2CD]
    56. Georgie Fame – Mod Classics 1964-66
    57. George Jackson – In Memphis 1972-77
    58. Madness – 7 [2CD] (1981)
    59. The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight (1980)
    60. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Good Son (1990)
    61. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Henry’s Dream (1992)
    62. Slowdive – Just For A Day [2CD]
    63. Slowdive – Souvlaki [2CD]
    64. Slowdive – Pygmalion [2CD]
    65. Thin Lizzy (1971)
    66. Thin Lizzy – Shades Of A Blue Orphanage (1972)
    67. Catherine Wheel – Ferment (1992)
    68. Heaven 17 – Penthouse and Pavement (1981) [2CD]
    69. The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight (1980)
    70. Galaxie 500 – Today (1988)
    71. Dollar – The Dollar Album (1982)
    72. A Flock Of Seagulls – Listen (1983)
    73. King Crimson – Lizard (1970)
    74. Virgo (1989, Rush Hour)
    75. The Colourfield – Virgins And Philistines (1985)
    76. Cheap Trick – One On One (1982)/Next Position Please (1983)
    77. The Spoons – Talk Back (1983)
    78. The Railway Children – Recurrence 88

    Click here to see the entire list of reissues.


    Singles

    1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero
    2. Phoenix – 1901
    3. The xx – Crystalised
    4. Cold Cave – Love Comes Close
    5. Maxïmo Park – Wraithlike
    6. Franz Ferdinand – Send Him Away
    7. Fool’s Gold – Surprise Hotel
    8. The Fiery Furnaces – Even In The Rain
    9. YACHT – Psychic City (Voodoo City)
    10. Wild Beasts – Hooting & Howling
    11. The Rakes – 1989
    12. Passion Pit – Moth’s Wings
    13. fun. – All The Pretty Girls

    Shows

    1. Iggy & The Stooges – Aragon, 8/29
    2. Rush, Charter One Pavilion, 8/23
    3. Buzzcocks, Double Door, 5/23
    4. Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth – The Rave/Eagles Ballroom, 10/16
    5. Baroness, Torche, Valkyrie – Subterranean, 7/31
    6. Gary Numan – Metro, 10/26
    7. Killing Joke – Empty Bottle, 12/10
    8. New York Dolls – Double Door, 6/17
    9. Monotronix, Schubas, 4/19
    10. Tame Impala – Double Door, 11/26
    11. Dungen – Lincoln Hall, 10/7
    12. High On Fire, Lincoln Hall
    13. Boris – Metro, 8/13Also: Tony Allen, The Sword, Psychedelic Furs, Ed Harcourt, The Interiors.
    14. Tony Allen – Pritzker Pavilion, 6/24
    15. The Sword – Metro, 12/12
    16. Psychedelic Furs – Metro, 6/11
    17. Ed Harcourt – The Vic, 10/2
    18. The Interiors – Lincoln Hall, 8/19

    Movies

    I approach movies a slightly different way than music. I listen to so much music, for so many hours a day, I crave a wider range, from fluffy entertainment to challenging, even difficult listening. I’m not so fond of difficult viewing. Too much reality (or violence, or depressingly tragic themes) shoved back in my face is not entertaining. Lighter comedies and rom-coms always get the short end of the stick by critics and the annual awards. They should be reminded that laughter is physically good for your health. It’s really as essential as a good diet and exercise. Sadly there seems to be a lack of screamingly funny comedies. For doctor’s orders, you’ll need to get your laughs from television.

    1. Toy Story 3
    2. Kids Are All Right
    3. Inception
    4. How to Train Your Dragon
    5. Kick-Ass
    6. Salt
    7. The Other Guys
    8. Get Him to the Greek
    9. Rush – Beyond The Lighted Stage
    10. (Untitled)
    11. Please Give
    12. Runaways
    13. Hot Tub Time Machine

    Worth seeing: The Social Network, Legend of the Guardians, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Greenberg, Flipped, Exit Through The Gift Shop, The American, Iron Man 2, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Letters To Juliet, Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief, Shrek Forever After, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, When In Rome, The Wolfman, Alice In Wonderland, Going The Distance, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Karate Kid.

    Haven’t seen yet:
    Black Swan, The Trouble With Terkel, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, I Am Love, Winter’s Bone, Chloe, Hereafter, True Grit, The King’s Speech, Tangled, Micmacs.

    Television

    Fortunately it’s a great time for comedies right now — Modern Family, along with 30 Rock, is truly one of the all-time greats, like Arrested Development and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Providing solid laughs with heart are also The Big Bang Theory, Community, Raising Hope, The Hard Times Of RJ Berger and How I Met Your Mother. Cougar Town and Parks And Recreation are supposedly much improved after shaky starts, but I haven’t been sold on them yet.

    Californication - Season 3

    It confounds me how audiences seem to be titillated by awful books filled with vivid sexual violence, yet they could be put off by the sex in Californication. Semi-successful novelist Hank Moody (David Duchovny) is transplanted from New York to L.A. to be near his daughter Becca. He’s still madly in love with her mother Karen (Natascha McElhone), but his attempts to woo her back are haplessly unsuccessful. He hates L.A. and suffers from a writer’s block. Hank is picked up by a woman in a bookstore who is a fan of his books. Mia (Madeline Zima) is young but seems sophisticated, at least college age. He sleeps with her, only to find out she’s the 16 year-old daughter of Becca’s fiancee. Things only get crazier in the following seasons. The writing is always good and often brilliant, and the characters are developed nicely. Those put off by the shocking events in the first couple episodes need only to hang on for one more to see that Hank does indeed have heart. Evan Handler (Sex In The City) does an amazing job as Hank’s publisher and long suffering best friend Charlie Runkle. There’s tons of wicked cameos by the likes of Peter Gallagher, Rick Springfield, and in Season 3, an astoundingly unhinged performance by Kathleen Turner as Sue Collini that has to be seen to be believed! The writers have even published Hank’s book, God Hates Us All as a real book. Now that’s committment! This just might become one of my favorite shows of all time. Season 3 ends with Hank getting arrested. Season 4 begins on Sunday, January 9th!

    Every 90 minute episode of Masterpiece Mystery is so well produced, they compare favorably against any Hollywood feature. From the brilliant modern day, kinetic Sherlock, to the melancholy Inspector Lewis, every episode is highly recommended. True Blood takes Charlaine Harris’ poorly written novels and creates something much greater. A truly twisted, kinky series that reclaims the sexy danger that was robbed of vampires and other creatures by those other series of books and movies.

    1. Californication
    2. Modern Family
    3. Masterpiece Mystery (Sherlock, Inspector Lewis, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple)
    4. True Blood
    5. 30 Rock
    6. Community
    7. United States Of Tara
    8. The Good Guys
    9. Weeds
    10. Hung
    11. Archer
    12. Gossip Girl
    13. The Big Bang TheoryWorth watching: Raising Hope, The Hard Times of RJ Berger, Millionaire Matchmaker, How I Met Your Mother, Glee, Chuck, Better With You, Hot In Cleveland, Check Please, Glory Daze, Mike & Molly, American Dad, In Treatment, South Park, Family Guy, 90210, Robot Chicken, Saturday Night Live.Don’t watch regularly but probably good: Boardwalk Empire, Treme, Sons Of Anarchy, Party Down, Dexter, The Amazing Race, The Walking Dead.
    14. Glee
    15. Check Please
    16. Glory Daze
    17. How I Met Your Mother
    18. American Dad
    19. South Park
    20. Family Guy
    21. 90210
    22. Robot Chicken
    23. Saturday Night Live

    Books

    China Mieville - Kraken

    When I read the description of China Miéville’s Kraken months before it was published, I knew I was going to love it. A seemingly normal modern day setting turns upside down when the world’s only intact specimen of a giant squid impossibly disappears, tank and all. Suddenly Cthulu-like end-of-the-world cults emerge, witches roam the earth, animals talk, and ghostly spirits rock out to iPods.

    The books with no date next to them were published in 2009.

    1. China Miéville- Kraken (2010)
    2. Ian McDonald – The Dervish House (2010)
    3. Patti Smith – Just Kids (2010)
    4. William Gibson – Zero History (2010)
    5. Michael O’Flaherty – Shiny Shiny (2010)
    6. Sylvie Simmons – Too Weird For Ziggy (2004)
    7. Matthew Specktor – That Summertime Sound (2009)
    8. Cathi Unsworth – Bad Penny Blues (2009)
    9. Rob Sheffield – Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time (2007)
    10. China Mieville – The City & The City (2009)
    11. Robert Charles Wilson – Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America (2009)
    12. Louise Wener – The Half Life Of Stars (2006)
    13. Cathi Unsworth – The Singer (2009)
    14. Joe Meno – The Great Perhaps (2010)
    15. Cherie Priest – Boneshaker (2009)
    16. David Gaffney, Martin Edwards, Nicholas Hogg, and Lane Ashfeldt – Punk Fiction: An Anthology of Short Stories Inspired by Punk (2009)
    17. Louise Wener – Goodnight Steve McQueen (2003)
    18. Rob Sheffield – Talking to Girls about Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut (2010)
    19. Cathi Unsworth – The Not Knowing (2005)
    20. Trevor Byrne – Ghosts And Lightning (2009)

    Avoid: Bret Easton Ellis – Imperial Bedrooms (2010), Jennifer Egan – A Visit From The Goon Squad (2010)

    Santa/Krampus forgot to give me:

    1. Andrew Earles – Husker Du: The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock (2010)
    2. Nick Kent – Apathy for the Devil: A Seventies Memoir (2010)
    3. Jonathan L. Howard – Johannes Cabal the Detective (2010)
    4. Richard Kadrey – Kill The Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel (2010)
    5. Susan Hubbard – The Season Of Risks (2010)
    6. Jordan Krall – Fistful Of Feet (2010)
    7. Grace Krilanovich – The Orange Eats Creeps (2010)
    8. Peter Clines – Ex-Heroes (2010)
    9. Keith Richards – Life (2010)
    10. Michael Chabon & others – Sympathy For The Devil (2010)
    11. Alan Goldsher – Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion (2010)
    12. Cory Doctorow – Makers (2010)

    Monthly Comics

    Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson - The Boys
    Things have changed a lot since the 80s and 90s. I’d like to think it’s partly because of Alan Moore and Warren Ellis, two of the all-time best comic writers who showed that comics can be intelligent and literary. It’s a unique experience that books and movies can’t duplicate, which is why these writers and artists tolerate the heavy workload and lousy pay. With the bar raised, a whole new group of writers have risen to the challenge this past decade. And it’s fun to look forward to the next issues every month.

    1. Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson – The Boys
    2. John Layman & Rob Guillory – Chew
    3. Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips – Incognito (Just resumed after hiatus)
    4. Alan Moore & Jacen Burrows – Neonomicon (Just started, 3 issues)
    5. G. Willow Wilson & M.K. Perker – Air (Concluded)
    6. Mike Carey, Peter Gross & Vince Locke – The Unwritten
    7. Bill Willingham & Marc Buckingham – Fables
    8. Mike Mignola – Hellboy
    9. Warren Ellis – FreakAngels
    10. Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, Jim Clark – Ex Machina (Concluded)
    11. Chris Roberson & Michael Allred – iZombie
    12. Garth Ennis, John McCrea & Keith Burns – Highland Laddie
    13. Jeff Lemire – Sweet Tooth

    Music Coverage

    The Word MagazinePrint isn’t dead yet, and it’s still good to have something to read on the train. Lately I’ve been spending my money most consistently on The Word, a UK magazine staffed by a bunch of veteran writers/geezers who may not veer too far from the Uncut/MOJO path tastewise, but at least have more interesting freeform think pieces that are not your usual boring interviews with entertainers marketing their latest product.

    Since noticing their stellar albums-of-the-year list in 2008, I’ve kept an eye on Rock-A-Rolla, and the writing has gotten better. They cover heavy but arty releases that slip through the cracks of most rock and metal magazines. Whether you like metal or not, a seasoned music rag reader would have to admit that Decibel is a great publication.

    1. The Word (Print)
    2. Rock-A-Rolla (Print)
    3. Decibel (Print)
    4. The Quietus
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