Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oh, the long of it all...

This year proved trickier than most when it came to narrowing down my favourite albums of the year and assembling my Top 20 (which will once again be announced as part of my annual UMFM countdown show on December 31st prior to being posted here).

I keep a running longlist of albums that I particularly enjoy as the year goes along and then, come December, I start whittling it down. In recent years, the longlist has run around 60 entries - meaning I had to reduce it by two-thirds to come up with my Top 20. I knew 2010 was a pretty decent year for music with lots of great albums I enjoyed throughout the year, but I was still pretty surprised to discover that my longlist contained over NINETY (90) albums!! Ai-yai-yai...

Which meant that I had to scratch roughly four-fifths of my list to get down to 20 selections. I've been agonizing over what to include and what to cut (I've had people say I take this entirely too seriously. I'm inclined to agree), and have my "final list" finished. In previous years I've posted a little bit about each album on my longlist, but due to the sheer volume I'm going to try to post some videos and links, but go easy on the write-ups.

Here's part one of what didn't make the cut, but is still highly recommended, in alphabetical order [aka, Seriously that didn't make your Top 20, wtf? pt1.]:

Aloe Blacc - Good Things (Stones Throw)

Best song of the year, hands down, was "I Need A Dollar."

Amiina - Puzzle (Ever Records)

Like a folky, bookworm version of Sigur Ros.

Andreya Triana - Lost Where I Belong (Ninja Tune)

I've already praised this album here.

Autre Ne Veut - Autre Ne Veut (Olde English Spelling Bee)

This one made me think of if Yeasayer and Teen Daze had a oddball pop/chillwave baby.

Azure Ray - Drawing Down The Moon (Saddle Creek)

I wrote about this one as well.

Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love (Matador)

It's quite a year when Belle & Sebastian release a great record and it doesn't crack my Top 20 considering what a big place in my heart this band holds.

Belleruche - 270 Stories (Tru Thoughts)

Go back and read this...

The Besnard Lakes - Are The Roaring Night (Outside)

This is one of those great moments where an album's title perfectly matches the material.

Bilal - Airtight's Revenge (Plug Research)

Kinda killed me not to find a place for this in the Top 20 - soooooo close. Killer r'n'b from Bilal, who finally returned with a sophomore record after a lengthy hiatus.

The Black Keys - Brothers (Nonesuch)

This one is on a lot of year-end lists, deservedly.

Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart (Jagjaguwar)

HOW IS THIS NOT ON MY TOP 20? I honestly could have done like three separate Top 20 lists and each of them would have been different and fantastic.

Brian McBride - The Effective Disconnect (Kranky)

Beautiful, spare, captivating.

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts)

I didn't hate on this one the way some folks did, but I didn't pick it for the Polaris the way some folks did...

Calibro 35 - Ritornano Quelli Di... (Nublu)

If you slept on this band when I wrote about them, you need to wake up.

Casiokids - Topp stemning pa lokal bar (Polyvinyl)

I have no idea what they're singing about, but it's so exuberant you can't help but caught up in the excitement.

Cheering For The Bad Guy - To The Last Drop (Independent)

Of course these guys don't have any videos to post - they're too busy drinking or writing great songs about drinking..

Cursed Arrows - Telepathic High Five (NoYEs Records)

My very first entry on Ear To The Sound was about this band, but they were called Arrows back then. They may be Cursed now, but they're still great.

Damien Jurado - Saint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian)

I reviewed this for Stylus earlier this year and as I said at the time, I've never heard Damien Jurado sounding more hopeful than on this song:

The Darby & Joan Club - Everything Is Fine (Independent)

Fantastic pop from Lethbridge. I think the good folks at CKXU might have sent this one along.

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest (4AD)

Yeah, this one's on a lot of lists, and somehow didn't make the cut. I'm as boggled as you are. My Top 20 has a lot to answer for.

Dem Hunger - Caveman Smack (Independent)

Amongst the more challenging listens on this year's longlist, I found this fascinating.

Diamond Rings - Special Affections (Secret City)

If you're a fan of the D'Urbervilles, as I am, you may have been surprised by John O'Regan's other project, Diamond Rings, but the through-line is the love of pop hooks and some nice nods to pro sports fashion.

DJ Brace presents the Electric Nosehair Orchestra - Synesthasia (Nostomania)

Brace follows up his Juno-award-winning Nostomania with a record that is even better.

El Guincho - Pop Negro (Young Turks)

Here's a record that could have made it on the strength of one fantastic track (below, but NSFW) coupled with eight very good songs. "Bombay" is just soooo catchy.

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