Bear in mind that we're narrow-minded. We like what we like, and we just don't have the time and energy to give every new sound a chance. Our self-esteem is so unbelievably bloated that we're among the lucky few who can be absolutely confident that there was no other worthwhile music out there this year. Also, we only have so much Photoshop stamina, which once depleted means our best music of 2010 post must end, and we'll have to return to the world-forsaking shelter of our sunscreen and velveteen gloves. So if you didn't buy a single one of these albums, you're probably listening to total shit. And, let's face it, you're probably an asshole, too. What the do you think of that, big boy?
Happy holidays, scabs.
Twin Shadow :: Forget
This one almost didn't make the list. I wanted to make this list noisy, I wanted the bands represented here to feel like they were grating against your skin, bearing away invaluable brain tissue with each listen. But here it is: we like the eighties at Machine Dream. And the sweet sounds of Twin Shadow satisfy some younger part of ourselves.
The Mantles :: Pink Information
I'd like to get this San Francisco act out to the east coast a little more often. Their songs take on great span, which sort of classes them out of the more narrow garage genre. On last year's full length album, they converted us. "Don't Lie" sounded plaintive and honest without losing any of the edgy High Plains-masculinity that steers my waking dreams. For the Pink Information EP, the song that hollows me out, revealing the walls of my core has to be "Situations." At 2:46, the song comes on like an old western, poncho draped across the face, cigar clutched in the cheek. The space they give to the drums and guitar really speaks to the breaking of the waves when the drifters reach the west coast and find out they must turn back if they're going to continue.
The Young :: Voyagers of Legend
I couldn't have been happier to find out about these guys. They don't sound at all like how I remember Austin bands from the years I spent there. I only wish they hadn't skipped over touring through DC in favor of Baltimore and Richmond (even though I can't say I blame them). It just would have been a good show, under-attended or not. I'm sure I would have had too much to drink, and at some point, I probably would have clasped the lead singer by the shoulders, shaken him, and thank him for not fucking around.
Royal Baths :: Litanies
We've written enough about this song, but we didn't mean to mask the fact that the rest of the album holds up magnificently on its own. From the opening chords of "After Death" to the humming exit on "Pleasant Feeling," this is a psych album that sounds like it's being played from the other end of a drain pipe, and it convinces you to strain your neck and head further into the sink to listen.
Future Islands :: In Evening Air
Singer Sam Herring runs the game here. Out of the whole Baltimore scene his band is the most likely to draw me out to a show even if it's just to watch the cool kids dance in the corner by themselves. But what's most worthwhile in attending is the chance to hear the sound of Herring when he finds a pressure point in his soul that he's willing to press down on publicly, pushing harder and harder with his thumb until he comes out of the chorus growling, sweating and curling his lip despite what's ostensibly a dance-synth act. These are hometown heroes, and when they pass through DC, they can't leave without triggering some compulsion in us to follow them back to Baltimore. Needless to say, we find ourselves forlorn in the parking lot. Curse you, Mr. Herring, we hope you never find your salve.
Flight :: The Lead Riders
Turns to Blood
Fuck subject/verb agreement. Hands down the coolest album of the year. Past by the mailbox on the way to meet a friend for morning beers and eggs. Slipped it from the Zoo Music cardboard package and set it on the bar. Marveled at the feather-masked character in the chair. Dropped it on the turntable during the after-beers, pre-video games nap. Shit, I feel bad pressing this guy between so many other gutless acts. Every track stings. Every track puts me in a back alley fight with my better angels. Knowing that what people want to hear and what I want to hear are two completely different things and finding someone out there who's completely unapologetic about releasing the latter into the wild. I hope the pretty boys and girls of Oxford, MS in their pastel Polos and sheer summer dresses get mildly creeped out by this man when they catch sight of him in the square.
Deerhunter :: Halcyon Digest
Pulling the bone-white slab of wax from the grayscale sleeve of this album was a great pleasure for us this October. Bradford Cox seems to make a point of releasing new material during holiday seasons (see: Thanksgiving Week Atlas Sound demos, new Christmas songs this week, etc...) and the haunted vibe of this record could only logically surface for the Halloween season. Take the phrase "victorian vampires" (from 2008's Microcastle), put the needle down on Side A, shut yer eyes real tight-like, and the term Southern Gothic immediately makes sense.
Wild Nothing :: Gemini
Jack Tatum's girlfriend is pretty damn cute, or she was after I drank 18 Schlitz at the Wild Nothing show at DC9 last summer. She took my $15 for the limited pressing of Gemini on clear vinyl, but she didn't take my dribbling come-ons, at all. After one listen to this record, it's clear that she has plenty of hazy compliments to sift through already. Something about lightning storms and innocent lust... girls love that shit. Apparently, so do most music bloggers at the end of 2010.
Ty Segall :: Melted
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ty Segall is the cackling messiah of garage rock. He's impolite, he's noisy, and you just get the sense that he's telling it like it is. After he met all of our expectations at a frighteningly loud Comet Ping-Pong show, I felt at ease with this over-the-top opinion. Hell, I felt in awe of my burgeoning psychic powers, like my third eye was about to burn a hole through my forehead. There's nothing better after a rough day hacking a living than to come home and piss your neighbors off with this record on your turntable.That's right, motherfucker, my stereo goes to eleven, and you'll eat every last decibel like the guard slid it under the door.
Beach House :: Teen Dream
No surprise here. The third record from this Baltimore duo feels like a re-introduction, embracing the abyss of their previous two records while pulling the guts to the fore-front. Fortunately, the seance remains intact and provides a communion from past to present. Teen Dream arrived in DC last February during a blizzard that saw my liquor cabinet grow exponentially -- from zero bottles to one gigantic bottle of Jameson. I drank the entire thing before the snow could stick, listened to "Real Love" thirteen times in a row, and told all of my roommates that I was deeply in love with them, individually, in private, and completely naked. I was fired from my job the next day, and replaying this record now reminds me of unemployment and humiliating desperation in equal measure. Congratulations, Victoria Legrand, you win.
And now that we've got that all out of the way, we'll be retreating to the familial estate where we'll likely return to our hobby of mail-ordering rare animals and plants only to discover that they all disgust us. Eh, ignore the babble: we hate ourselves more than we hate you. But do yourself a favor and give these albums a chance.