(Originally posted as Facebook note on December 20, 2010. For my first music blog, I only covered ten albums and only gave additional context to the top 4 albums of the year.)
I spent quite a bit of time alone in the car on my way to and fro last weekend. Wisconsin is not a very exciting state to drive across. No offense, Wisconsinites, there isn't really much to see. Not from the 90/94 vantage point anyway. I suppose we can debate the beauty of the extended tundra in another note, if you wish, because I'm sure some will want to debate (or at least throw their opinion at) what I have decided are my Top Ten Albums of 2010, which I came up with while staring blankly at the many pastures and... pastures.
As I was saying, I spent a lot of time circling through my 120GB Zune (mostly full) and thought it'd be fun to come up with a top ten list of favorite albums from this last year. To be honest, I do listen to A LOT of music, and I listen to wide variety of tuneage (except country--zero country in these pipes), so I won't purport to be a music snob or aficionado. These are the albums that I couldn't stop listening to in 2010, and, if I were going to give a list to one of my friends of albums that I thought they should check out from this past year, this would be that list.
So, friend, you may not like these. Hell, in ten years, I may not like them either. But this is my Top Ten Albums in all genres of music this year. They're not popular (mostly). They're not sexy (mostly). But they're mine.
Enjoy. And happy holidays. Please try out the music of one of these artists. Truthfully, they're the most diverse bunch I can offer, and would probably surprise you.
THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS
This is War
American Porn Songs
A Thousand Suns
IN THIS MOMENT
A Star-Crossed Wasteland
I am so new to the genre of Pendulum. Introduced to me this summer by a friend, I am really new to the world of... well, industrial/electronica/metal. I don't think this Australian band can be pegged well. Pendulum can be all things, and all things well. It's no surprise that they parterned with some of the greatest artists in the world on "Immersion" and created an album of crazy color, depth and dance. It is an album that dashes and grooves, bops and trip-pops, thrashes and scratches, yet has the patience to dive deep into its DJ roots on a regular basis. Each song is an aural adventure, an immersive experience unique from beginning to end. Favorites: "Comprachicos", "Self Vs. Self", "Salt in the Wounds", "Witchcraft"
A Badly Broken Code
I can't tell you how cool it is to put the works of a local Minneapolis artist in my top ten list again. As someone that once spent too much time in the Minneapolis music scene, I grew very weary of the attitudes and self-importance of artists in this scene. In most cases, the attitudes and self-importance was far from warranted (ie. they sucked, but rock star attitude got them what they wanted). I was introduced to local hip-hop troupe Doomtree last year via MySpace, and immediately gravitated toward Dessa and her style. A well-studied artist, skilled poet and talented entertainer, she has the perfect combination of musical traits that don't sound broken at all. In fact, "A Badly Broken Code" displays Dessa's amazing range as a vocalist and storyteller, with gutsy style and kiss-kiss-bang-bang bravado. To consider her music pop is next to slander: "A Badly Broken Code" is an honest musical trip through the wise eyes of a kid that was born in books, raised with sweet hooks and sports the looks of someone that should someday cradle a Grammy. Favorites: "Dutch", "The Chaconne", "Mineshaft II", "Matches to Paper Dolls"
Blood Like Lemonade
My love affair with the United Kingdom's Morcheeba goes way back. Scratch that-- my love affair with Skye Edwards, goes way back. Her departure from the band to do solo work generated some great material from her, and disappointing material from her former band. Her return the fold proves "powerful" (cue to my favorite song from her solo CD) and mesmerizing, in a rare and complete form not achieved by the band in their history. Every song is thick with story and light sarcasm, delivered wistfully by Skye's unique range. Favorites: "Blood Like Lemonade", "Self-Made Man", "Crimson", "Even Though"
The Medication Generation
Cyanotic''s masterpiece has so many layers and statements on addiction that I find myself rediscovering the album every time I listen to it. The Chicago industrial act created a very rugged, edgy album, with controlled imperfections, gritty anger and raw magic. I think it echoes the rage of the addict, a symphony of the symbiotic relationship we modern humans have with our prescriptions. When appreciated, the album should serve as a loud, brutal wake-up call to the medicated masses. But, trust me, you won't fully understand this musical trip until you've walked it many times over. "The Medication Generation" is a long, dark ride--one that begins with "Videodrome" and ends with "A Scanner Darkly". Each sample was meticulously picked and tweaked for sake of song-art. And it is a brilliant trip. Favorites: "Monochrome Skies", "Programmed", "Efficacy", "f@510n v1k+um5", "Dissonant Dissident"