2010 in Review – MUSIC (Part 1 - Miscellany)

What a year for music. Here are some of the highlights:

(best albums and best songs are still on the way)

Best Live Concerts I Saw:

2) The National (w/ Okkervil River) at Marrymoor concert-lawn

1) Sufjan Stevens at the Paramount Theater

Best Websites to Discover Music:

Best Album Reviews – Pitchfork

Best News Source – Stereogum

Best Full-Album Streaming – NPR

Best Monthly mp3 Sampler – Paste (But Stereogum’s Is Free)

Best Year-End List – The AV Club

Weird/Honorable-Mention Music Awards:

2010’s Best Music Video:

3) LCD Soundsystem (& dir. Spike Jonze) – “Drunk Girls”

2) Arcade Fire (& dir. Chris Milk) – The Wilderness Downtown (a.k.a. “We Used to Wait”)

1) Arcade Fire (& dir. Spike Jonze) – “The Suburbs”

Best use of “Fuck” in a song: Sufjan Stevens - “I Want to Be Well”

Funniest Album Art: Weezer “Hurley”

Worst Album Art: Yeasayer “Odd Blood”

Most Annoying Song: Justin Bieber - “Baby”

Runner-Up: Cee Lo Green - “Fuck You”

Most Annoying Musician: Lady Gaga

Runner-Up: Kanye West

Stupidest Career Move: MGMT – “Congratulaitons” (instead of “Oracular Spectacular 2”)

Runners-Up: Kanye West’s VMA tantrum, Kanye West’s inarticulate Twitter feed

One Hit Wonder: The Weepies – “Please Speak Well of Me”

Two-Pump Chump: Band of Horses “Trudy” & “Bartles + James” (Infinite Arms)

Diminishing Returns Award, for less excellence since 2009: Mumford and Sons - “Sigh No More”

Leftovers (Great 2009 records I discovered late):

Caspian – Tertia

Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul

Free Energy – Stuck on Nothing

Ivan and Alyosha –The Verse, The Chorus

Laura Gibson – Beasts of Season

Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

Loch Lomond – Night Bats EP

Miike Snow – Miike Snow

Old Canes – Feral Harmonic

Phoenix – Live & Unplugged

The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack

Sufjan Stevens – Gloria: Songs for Christmas Vol. VI (actually 2007 but still)

Sufjan Stevens – Astral Inter Planet Space Captain Christmas Vol. VIII: Infinity Voyage

The Welcome Wagon – Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing EP

The Top 6 EPs of 2010:

6) Now, Now (a.k.a. Now Now Every Children) – Neighbors

5) Lord Huron – Mighty

4) The Lonely Forest – The Lonely Forest

3) Tyson Motsenbocker – Until It Lands [buy it here]

Ok, I won’t pretend I’ve got too much critical integrity or whatever to throw Tyson a bone here. Because he is my friend, and I do owe the guy a few favors. But this isn’t a favor; it isn’t a case of friend-rock style nepotism. “Until It Lands” is a great EP that meditates on the weight of loss via songs about TM’s friends (Empty 25) and family (Until It Lands 1 & 2), and an ex-girlfriend he’s mostly managed to quit writing about (Lie Down and Die). The lyrics, packed with Northwest landmarks and biblical references, are a bit closed if you don’t know the stories behind them, but so are The National’s and (early) Death Cab’s. And the occasional line pierces that barrier and feels genuinely poetic to boot. e.g.:

She told me dying is not what people think,

“not like the endings in the books you love to read;

it’s more like finding that the sky will meet the sea

with no line in between.”

Tyson’s voice has matured considerably, and the arrangements & mixing backing it are totally solid (especially drums), though they’re sometimes a bit too prominent. It’s been really cool to see a college buddy put out an impressive, professionally produced record; but even more to the point, Tyson’s most recent songs are his most personal and deliberate, and they make me miss the Northwest even while I still live there.

2) Junip (a.k.a. Jose Gonzalez) – Fields

1) Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People [listen free here]

Top 25 Promising 2011 Albums [via Stereogum]:

25) The Cave Singers – No Witch (2/22)

24) The Lonely Island – TBA

23) Blind Pilot – TBA (probably)

22) Chad VanGaalen – TBA

21) Cold War Kids – Mine is Yours

20) Coldplay – TBA (speculation)

19) Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die but You Will (2/15)

18) Bright Eyes – The People’s Key (2/15)

17) DeVotchka – 100 Lovers (2/15)

16) Okkervil River – TBA (probably)

15) David Bazan – TBA (probably)

14) Noah and the Whale – Last Night on Earth

13) The Strokes – TBA

12) Godspeed you! Black Emperor – TBA

11) Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean (1/25)

10) M83 – TBA

9) Panda Bear – Tomboy

8) The Decemberists - The King is Dead

7) The Streets – Computers and Blues

6) Explosions in the Sky – TBA (speculation)

5) Modest Mouse – TBA (speculation)

4) Fleet Foxes – TBA

3) Bon Iver – TBA

2) Death Cab for Cutie – TBA

1) Radiohead – TBA


  1. Mike Edel is coming Jan. 2011. Thanks for letting me stop by for a visit.

  2. Looks like 2011 has the potential to be as good as 2010 if not better!