Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tops for this particular pops...

Well here you go - after 70+ records that didn't make the cut, here's the rundown on what survived the longlist to end up on my Top 20 for 2010.

20. Clive Tanaka y su orquestra - Jet Set Siempre No. 1 (Tall Corn Music)

I'm guessing from the .jp on his (their?) website, Clive Tanaka is actually Japanese, but regardless of origin, this music is unquestionably beautiful chillwave.

19. Basia Bulat - Heart Of My Own (Secret City Records)

It's quite something when your unquestionable #1 from a few years ago releases a solid sophomore record and can only hit #19 - but Heart Of My Own held on for dear life to crack the Top 20 from the very start of 2010.

18. Toro Y Moi - Causers Of This (Carpark)

Dude dropped an amazing debut in 2010 and will follow it up with Underneath the Pine this February. Might have to reserve it a spot on my 2011 longlist...

17. Christian Scott - Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord Jazz)

Big ups to Paul Nolin and the rest of the folks at the Jazz Winnipeg festival for bringing in New Orleans' native Christian Scott. Not only was this the highlight of the festival, it was a top 5 show ever for me - and I've been to A LOT of shows.

16. Bei Bei & Shawn Lee - Into The Wind (Ubiquity)

West Coast meets Far East on this collaboration between the musical chameleon Shawn Lee and Bei Bei, who plays a two-thousand-year-old stringed instrument called the gu zheng.

15. Kacey Johansing - Many Seasons (Porto Franco)

I had never heard of Kacey Johansing prior to this album arriving at the station this past summer and it was one of the best discoveries of the year. Fantastic songwriter, stellar arrangements, beautiful tunes.

14. Breathe Owl Breathe - Magic Central (Hometapes)

I wrote about this record in October.

13. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Merge)

I was just as happy to watch opener Calexico when Arcade Fire played the MTS Centre this year, but was pleased to note how touring has tightened the communication between AF's members since they played the Walker years ago - there was definitely charm to their sloppiness back in the day but they're quite the polished unit now.

12. The Roots - How I Got Over (Def Jam)

Okay, for a lot of folks THIS was the highlight of the Jazz Winnipeg festival this year and the Roots crew brought their best. I had a blast, it just was on a different level than the magic that happened with Christian Scott.

11. Ana Tijoux - 1977 (Oveja Negra / Nacional)

French/Chilean MC Ana Tijoux dropped some serious science on this partially autobiographical and partially socio-political effort. Hip hop is a global form and while I might need to look up translations of her lyrics on Google, the beats and cadence of her delivery can be appreciated in the same way that not understanding Sigur Ros doesn't detract from enjoying them.

10. Yeasayer - Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian)

I agree with Pitchfork when they declared this one of the worst covers of the year - the artwork is terrible. But as we all learned in the historic case of Book v. Cover, it's what's inside that counts.
Check out "Ambling Alp" which unfortunately can't be embedded.

09. Sam Amidon - I See The Sign (Bedroom Community)

This one skirts dangerously close to the edge of my rules about qualifying for the year-end list. The lyrics aren't original, but the the musical arrangements Sam Amidon has written for this 19th century folk and spiritual songs are. In the same way I considered Mermaid Avenue eligible back in the day, I See The Sign made the cut. What a tremendoustly beautiful record.

08. Baths - Cerulean (Anticon)

I gushed about this record back in July. Also, this video rules.

07. Cris Derksen - The Cusp (Independent)

All credit for this one goes to my lovely wife. She put me on to Cris Derksen after catching her performance at Manito Ahbee - she came home raving about the music Derksen makes. Using her cello and looping and effects pedals, Derksen crafts works at the intersection contemporary classical, folk, electronic and Aboriginal traditional musics. Amazing.

06. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma (Warp)

Like what Cris Derksen is doing to point to the future of classical music, FlyLo is strongly suggesting where jazz might be headed.

05. Boats - Cannonballs, Cannonballs (Majestic Triumph)

Full disclosure - I sang on a couple songs on this record and am credited as the Moustache Tree. But that's not why this made the list - my contributions account for only a few bars on this fantastic rock record.

04. Beach House - Teen Dream (Sub Pop)

While Baltimore gets credit for being known for The Wire, Beach House stake a strong claim to being great ambassadors for B-more.

03. Quadron - Quadron (Plug Research)

Much as I love me some Sade, this was the soul/beat-driven record of the year.

02. Shad - TSOL (Black Box Recordings)

First he gets robbed for the Polaris this year, then I rob him of top spot on my list. I waffled back and forth on this one and the eventual number one - I even considered naming them both 1.5 as a shared top pick. This was a record that stood up to a LOT of repeat listens.

01. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)

Phenomenal. Dude just keeps on doing what he does, so very well. The song below slays me every time I hear it.

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