Well, 2010 wasn’t the zen escape from the wreckage of 2009 that I’d hoped it would be.
Aside from a much-longer-than-anticipated convalescence period (5+weeks) wherein I had no choice but to explore ‘inner space’ (& all four seasons of Felicity); massive terrifying reconstructive surgery; re-learning how to walk; avoiding the siren song of oxycontin in periods of extreme pain; switching gigs (again); travelling to LA & NYC to work on doc fests; pathetic attempts at surfing (again); speaking at SXSW (bucket list); moving into a beautiful new home; breaking hearts; & solving crimes…I guess it was calm-ish.
One thing that kept me going, as usual, was music. Less live gigs, more oldies/reissues/vinyl & less new album purchases/downloads. Still, it wasn’t easy to whittle down a final ten for 2010. A tip of the hat must be directed at journo extraordinaire Waub (soon to be published author) for starting this tradition over 10 years ago.
Local Lurv – Top Toronto Releases of 2010
- The Strumbellas – S/T EP – Within a 100 mile radius of the Cameron House while these lads work their residency? Go. They’re destined for great twangy things.
- William Del Ray - n/a – Anything Wm releases on Myspace, Bandcamp or burns onto a CD-R. Mark my words (again): he’s our generation’s Ron Sexsmith.
- Zeus – Say Us - Proud to be a long-time proselytizer. Finally, a full-length that captures all the great tunes they’ve perfected with a relentless touring regime.
- The Sure Things – Two Dollar Bottles – Extra points for having a gracious lap steel player who’s suffered a fool during her couchsurfing days & emo undergrad years.
- Woodhands - Remorsecapade – Nothing will ever be as great as experiencing this band live. Ideally, they’ll release a concert DVD. In the meantime, buy this already.
- Shad – TSOL – Top-notch world-class hip-hop from the Old Prince. Even Kanye agrees.
- Ian Kamau - Mixtape Vol. 3 Love and Other Struggles – Blown away by the thoughtful/interesting samples, interview excerpts & sweet lyrics.
- Hands & Teeth – Enjoy Your Lifestyle – Not just another adorable-mixed-gender-high-energy-hipster-bait-brouhaha. They’ve been building buzz & receiving high-indie-praise for a reason.
- Evening Hymns – Spirit Guides - Released late last year. Back off, I’m getting too old to stay on top of these things. So, so hauntingly beautiful, let this ’09 one slip & check it out, please.
- Royal Wood – The Waiting – Slick & far richer than previous releases. Definitely proves that he’s earned his place alongside veteran singer-songwriters/tourmates like David Gray.
Worldwide Lurv – Top 10 LPs of 2010
- Caribou – Swim – Admittedly, I’m a sucker for trippy psychedelic tunes of any origin. The fact that Dan’s dramatically evolved his sound from Manitoba days into such a unique, identifiable soundscape – & can pull it off on tour no less – makes it much more impressive.
- Spoon – Transference – Y’all know that I left my heart in Austin (among other sundry items). Consistently strong, well-thought-out, interesting records keep this band at the top of my playlist year-round.
- Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt - Just wow. Dylan reincarnate. One of many new artists I must thank Paul at Criminal Records for turning me onto. You should shop there, too.
- Rufus Wainwright – Songs for LuLu – Absolutely hated the performance piece that accompanied this raw album. But I’ve forgiven Rufus for indulging in his OOTT (operatic-over-the-top) ways. His simplest record – with piano-only accompaniment of his a gorgeous, stronger-than-ever-voice – will hold its own in his growing discography.
- Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Learned the Hard Way - Anything Daptone Records releases is guaranteed to be warm, soul-stirring R&B. Anything Sharon sings on is guaranteed to whip your ass into shape. Ballsy, brassy, bold & badass. Buy it twice, you’ll be compelled to give it to someone in need of a break-up care package.
- Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart – Again with the trippy psychedelia. But Black Mountain’s sludgier, trudgier stoner rock is oh, so very different than Caribou. Makes you want to buy a nasty old van & drive it across the country.
- The Black Keys – Brothers – As far as I can tell, these two can do no wrong. Even last year’s risky BlakRoc collaboration confab stayed in heavy rotation throughout 2010. I’m sure it’ll be the same for this gem.
- Robyn – Body Talk 1 (…& 2 & 3) – The official soundtrack of fag hag heaven.
- LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening – Actually prefer James Murphy’s 10+ lower-key stripped-back tracks on the Greenberg s/t , but full-length-album-wise, this is as close to perfect as electropop gets.
What was your list? Any glaring omissions? I preferred older Deerhunter & Yeasayer records to the stuff they put out this year, but that might be general laziness on my part. Excited to discover some new tracks & get some snarky feedback…