Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Record Picks

We don't review records, and we don't listen to 1% of things that come out each year. But we still love sharing our favorites at year's end. We'd love to rank our 2010 releases: Gil San Marcos "Domes" LP and the Broke Beads "Wave High" LP as a tie for number 1... but they already rank so high on everyone else's list, we disqualified them.

7"s: Singles/7"s were back in 2010 baby so here's our top 5

5. Talk Is Poison "Rage To Infinity" (self) - Title track not so great, picks up after that. Still tough for this record to make this list after the real rager, which was their singles collection LP from a few years back.

4. Followed By Static "Smiles/Bones" (Sundae Records) - a ringer? maybe. good? indeed. These guys are locks to blow it up in 2011. "Smiles" is one of the best songs of the year.

3. California Love 7" (self) - Not even huge on grindcore around here, and didn't like their previous record, but this clear vinyl shredder has us wishing we were tight with some grinders so we could release something this good.

2. Lower Dens "I Get Nervous" (Gnomonsong) - Stuck on this band after only one listen. Indie press darlings Jana Hunter and co. live up to their hype. Very good stuff. Check their full length as well.

1. Pujol "Black Rabbit" blue series 7" (Third Man) - Really it was a tie between this excellent 7" and the Lower Dens one but this gets a nod because of the wonderful Third Man Records label. Solid vanity releases, live and spoken word records (the Conan O'Brien 7" also 2010 is surprisingly un-annoying), in-house turn-key operations, and series' that they actually follow up on. Putting out what they want instead of following trends. It's inspirational for a diapers label like us. Jack White has won us over.

REISSUES: we always do a wild-card category, this year we'll do top reissues.

5. John Wiese "Circle Snare" (Post Present Medium) - Technically a first time LP issue of a 2008 CD release, count it.

4. Washed Out "Life of Leisure" (Mexican Summer) - Ditto. 2009 release, on LP in 2010. They call it chill-wave, and you can too. Sounds better if you're drunk.

3. Dag Nasty "Dag With Shawn" (Dischord) - Finally released proper on LP after years of circulation as a boot tape. Basically the whole "Can I Say" record but the session where they had Shawn Brown on vox before 86'ing his ass to the shitter for Dave Smalley. Universally seen as a knife in the back, our take is that it was the right move. The "Can I Say" record is better. But this is still a solid as hell punk record with more holler-able vocals.

2. Pavement "Crooked Rain" (Matador) - Matador came through with lower weight budget reissues of a lot of their catalog in 2010. Solid move to bring the music (what's important here?) to the people. Gave us a shot to replace an old cassette copy of this that had basically turned to dust.

1. Thomas Koner "Teimo" (Type) - With all the great experimental releases that came out in 2010, it was phenomenal to see this one hit the shelves again (one of a 3-part reissue of Koner's first three LPs). You want to know what winter sounds like in the arctic circle? Listen to this. Glaciers moving across the tundra, frost crackling and refreezing. So good that if this was a brand new release it would have been far and away our top pick for the year.


Hon. Mench.

Surfer Blood "Astro Coast" - too much hype for a record with one catchy song

Mexican Summer Waterloo Records SXSW Comp - decent enough

Casual Victim Pile Comp - could have been better (or just sounded better, recording quality is a joke, sounds like every single band spent the studio budget on beer and did it on a tascam porta) even if you're picking beerland lineups.

10. Sun Araw "On Patrol" (Not Not Fun) - By most accounts a letdown compared to previous stuff. Combine it with the Sun Ark 7" and it's good for #10 spot on this list.

9. Medications "Completely Removed" (Dischord) - Didn't want to buy this LP but heard a few tracks and found it worthy. Side A is near perfect. Side B... well... it knocks it near the bottom of this list.

8. Infinite Body "Carve out the Face of My God" (Post Present Medium) - There were better experimental releases, but this one is solid top to bottom and sports probably the most interesting (so simple it's genius) record cover design of the year.

7. Shipping News "One Less Heartless To Fear" (Karate Body) - Under the radar till it's release due to the italian label it came out on and one member's illness keeping them mostly off stages. This record is strange: a couple of the songs were on their previous album, it's strangely heavy and rocking for a band that had been increasingly more ambient and symphonic in their compositions. A bright surprise, and a great record.

6. Dead Weather "Sea of Cowards" (Warner Bros.) - Downloaded illegally, which makes the cost vs reward a total win here. I think everyone's heard this band so what are we going to say that is going to influence you. Hustle and Cuss y'all!!!

5. OFF! "First Four EPs" (Vice) - Got it... good one. Former Black Flag member Keith Morris sounding almost exactly like his former band did in the days he sang for them, and even knocking on the eponymous record by said former band with the title of this record. Expensive joke. And with so many bands out there sounding like this, it makes you really wonder how much a band's pedigree comes into play, as this was praised everywhere. Still, there's no denying that these old dudes smoked almost every punk record to come out this year. Don't break the formula. It ain't that hard.

4. Jana Winderen "Energy Field" (Touch) - As previously stated, experimental records were big again in 2010. Tons of hype on Oneohtrix, Emeralds, and Keith Fullerton Whitman... Euro reissues... mainstays like Dan Higgs, Eric Copeland and Yellow Swans checking in... but the best one slipped by most people who looked for hip labels Load, NNF, or Editions Mego to drop the bomb. This record is beautiful ambient field recordings and enough processing to drone you out of a bad hangover.

3. Chicago Underground Duo "Boca Negra" (Thrill Jockey) - More like free jazz than experimental really, these dudes DO have some drone-like parts, but mostly it's jazzy cornet & trap kit featured here. Put this on at your next party and you'll be answering questions about it all night from people who want to hear more or buy it immediately.

2. Git Some "Loose Control" (Alternative Tentacles) - After struggling through a few early plays this big guy won out. Absolutely powerful punk rock played by longhairs from Denver who used to be in cheesy-ass Planes Mistaken For Stars. Still Single said in their review of this that the singer sounds like Bobcat Golthwaite. Please don't let that discourage you... IT WORKS. Heavy as shit punk for fans of Born Against, Dead and Gone, Jesus Lizard, Murder City... (could keep going)

1. Zola Jesus "Stridulum I & II" (Sacred Bones) - Lumping two EPs into one really isn't cheating cause Stride I would have probably been enough. "Witch House" is maybe the sub-sub- genre getting kicked around for stuff like this (or as Van Slyke calls it "Goth Britney Spears"). Not sure if it'll last, but looking back at this whole list... could just be a place and time thing. For now, this is our favorite of 2010. Two things to add here: 1. ) It's amazing how much difference a drummer makes to this band live. and 2.) it's amazing how much praise (worthy though) that a record can get when the best way to describe it is "like that Cranberries 'zombie' song... only if you weren't so sick of hearing it"