Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review of 2010 Part 2: Preamble and Honourable Mentions

In part thanks to streaming services such as Spotify, and in part thanks to taking up a reviewing role for musicOMH, I heard more new music in 2010 than ever before. I've never felt that this blog should be about being selective or about following a consensus, so my review of the year has gradually gone up from a top 50 to a top 75 and, in more recent years, to a top 100. This strikes me as the only way to capture the diverse range of music I enjoy and which has had a major impact on me in 2010.

My list, as always, is defiantly personal and subjective. There are numerous lists in print and on the web that aim to showcase a consensus view from a group of writers. In writing this blog, I am not in contact with any PR companies, and I feel little obligation to include some of the albums that seem to have been wildly overrated this year. With that in mind, my review of 2010 will be a strictly Paul Weller, John Grant, MGMT, Kanye West, The Black Keys and The National-free zone, amongst many others no doubt. That I could still find 100 albums and more for possible inclusion might shock some of the UK's more complacent music critics, many of whom seem to think that there is little music of importance. Some of my choices undoubtedly come from the margins, but I think everything in this list deserves at least a shot at wider attention. Looking at the relative success of Oneohtrix Point Never and Emeralds this year, I feel real encouragement that just about anything IS possible.

Much as I like to leave publishing a review of the year list until as close to the end of the year as possible, I inevitably have to draw a line somewhere. This means that there are some notable absences. Two albums of uncovered older music deserve special mention - the wonderful live recording of Loose Tubes called 'Dancing on Frith Street' and Bruce Springsteen's 'The Promise', which revealed some superb outtakes from the recording of 'Darkness On The Edge of Town'. As for contemporary recordings, Supersilent released two albums worth of music in 2010, neither of which I have managed to hear yet. I also haven't managed to hear the latest releases from Steve Coleman and Henry Threadgill, two particular favourite artists of mine. There are no doubt others still awaiting my ears.

There is though, this year, a substantial list of albums that could easily have made the list, but which I didn't include, either for reasons of balance within the final list, or because of a slight lack of consistency within the albums themselves, or because they didn't quite hit me on a personal level. So, here are some of my omissions, many of which deserve more than a mere mention:

Superpitcher - Kilimanjaro
Walls - Walls
The Books - The Way Out
Myra Melford's Be Bread - The Whole Tree Gone
Tom Jones - Praise and Blame
These New Puritans - Hidden
Mulatu Astatke - Mulatu Steps Ahead
Max Richter - Infra
Ellen Allien - Dust
I Am Kloot - Sky At Night
Morning Benders - Big Echo
Mark McGuire - Living With Yourself
Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner
Susumu Yokota - Kaleidoscope
The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Barn Owl - Ancestral Star
Beach House - Teen Dream
Teeth of the Sea - Your Mercury
Steve Mason - Boys Outside
Antony and the Johnsons - Swanlights
Teenage Fanclub - Shadows
Elephant9 - Walk The Nile
Bushman's Revenge - Jitterbug
Allo Darlin'- Allo Darlin'
The School - Loveless Unbeliever
Olof Arnalds - Innur Skinni
Diskjokke - En Fin Tid
Darkstar - North
Manu Katche - Third Round
Nels Cline - Initiate
Wooden Wand - Death Seat
Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal - Chamber Music
Solar Bears - She Was Coloured In
Moritz Von Oswald Trio - Live In New York
Paul Motian, Chris Potter, Jason Moran - Lost In A Dream
Billy Jenkins - Born Again (And The Religion Is The Blues)
Lindstrom and Christabelle - Real Life Is No Cool
To Rococo Rot - Speculation
The Magnetic Fields - Realism
S Carey - All We Grow
Nat Birchall - Guiding Spirit
Bandjo - Bandjo
CocoRosie - Grey Oceans
Gayngs - Relayted
Everything Everything - Man Alive
Mose Allison - The Way Of The World

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