Flashflooder’s Top 50 Albums of 2010

I’ve been annually making a “Best of” albums list since my college days (thanks to KALX) in order to document the albums I personally find most interesting during the year, while also conveniently creating a future reference point for all of the moments and memories associated with that music and time of my life (and for me, those often go hand in hand). Add in the fact that I like making lists of this sort, and it’s fun to put a little competition into my favorite hobby (listening to music).

This past year I made an effort to keep track of my favorite albums starting in January by creating a spreadsheet where I inputted pretty much every new album I listened to (all the way through) in rough order of liking, which allowed me to  freely move albums around as they grew on me or in some cases, got tiring and lost their pizazz.

Nonetheless, (regardless how hard I try) I’ve found that whenever I try to put this list together at the end of the year there’s always a ton of music to catch up on; and as a result, it’s hard to put in perspective the overall impact of an album upon its first few listens, and even more difficult to evaluate the lasting value of an album upon continued listens.

To be completely honest, despite my year-long spreadsheet efforts, I have still been doing a fair amount of December/January music cramming by trying to give every album that’s garnered any critical acclaim at least one solid listen through. And even though I try my best to be objective, there is no denying that personal taste plays a big factor in my album picks.

This list is by no means definitive, and proof of that is the fact that I’ve moved albums around every day I’ve opened up this list in the past two to three months. So basically, they’re all worth listening to and I’ll let you figure out the rest. With that said, if you’re interested in reading what other critics thought about 2010, go and check out Metacritic’s comprehensive summary of various end of year lists.

So after many months of deliberation, what follows are my picks for the top 50 albums of 2010 with download links this year(please note that I did not upload any of the albums, so the the links are subject to being removed or taken down). All in all, I just hope you find some new music to enjoy!

50. Lindstrom & Christabelle – Real Life Is No Cool [Smalltown Supersound]

49. Bag Raiders – Bag Raiders [Modular Records]

48. Spoon – Transference [Merge]

47. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today [4AD]

46. Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal [Editions Mego]

45. Wolf Parade – Expo 86 [Sub Pop]

44. Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night [Jagjaguwar]

43. Avey Tare – Down There [Paw Tracks]

42. James Blackshaw – All is Falling [Young God]

41. Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m Here [Editions Mego]

40. The Chemical Brothers – Further [Virgin/Freestyle Dust]

39. Walls – Walls [Kompakt]

38. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach [Virgin]

37. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast [Kanine]

36. Grum – Heartbeats [Heartbeats]

35. Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites [Mau5trap]

34. Deadmau5 – 4×4=12 [Virgin/Mau5trap Recordings]

33. Swedish House Mafia – Until One [Virgin]

32. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker [Modular]

31. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record [Arts & Crafts]

30. Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles [Fiction/Last Gang]

29. Teengirl Fantasy – 7AM [True Panther Sounds]

28. Delorean – Subiza [True Panther]

27. The Black Keys – Brothers [Nonesuch]

26. Miami Horror – Illumination [EMI]

25. Actress – Splazsh [Honest Jon’s Records]

24. Booka Shade – More! [Get Physical]

23. Broken Bells – Broken Bells [Columbia]

22. The National – High Violet [4AD]

21. Lower Dens – Twin-Hand Movement [Gnomonsong]

20. Wavves – King of the Beach [Fat Possum]

19. James Blake – CMYK EP/Klavierwerke EP/The Bells Sketch EP [R&S]

18. Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise [Rough Trade]

17. Bonobo – Black Sands [Ninjatune]

16. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz / All Delighted People EP [Asthmatic Kitty]

15. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest [4AD]

14. Best Coast – Crazy For You [Mexican Summer]

13. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening [DFA]

12. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs [Merge]

11. Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner [Ghostly Intl]

10. Women – Public Strain [Jagjaguwar]

9. Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers [Hotflush]

8. Toro Y Moi – Causers Of This [Carpark]

7. Caribou – Swim [Merge]

6. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me [Drag City]

5. Wild Nothing – Gemini [Captured Tracks]

4. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella]

3. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma/Pattern + Grid World EP [Warp]

2. Four Tet – There Is Love In You [Domino]

1. Beach House – Teen Dream [Sub Pop]

Swedish House Mafia – The Making of “One”

The Swedish House Mafia is the epic super DJ trio consisting of Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso, & Axwell, and if the names don’t ring a bell, chances are that one of their songs would (trust me). 2010 was a huge year for them bolstered by their blockbuster hit single “One” which quickly became the rave/party anthem of the year with good reason.

With “One”s slick production and catchy bass riff (which as they explain, is really not a bass line at all) it’s not hard to see why the song is so popular; but how does one (or three in this case) go about thinking up and creating such a song? I often think about things like this when I hear a song that really does it for me, and luckily in this case, I don’t have to do much of the thinking.

Thanks to FutureMusic magazine, you can watch the entire Swedish House Mafia explain just how they crafted, layered, and composed the banger we know as “One” (from their debut compilation mix album Until One). Pretty interesting stuff.

Bassnectar Live at the Fox Theater

Last month I got the privilege of going backstage for the Bassnectar/Eskmo/Amplive show at the Fox Theater on Dec. 11 for work reasons (I helped build some custom Midi Fighters for Amplive which you can check out here). To say the least, the show was pretty entertaining, especially from the vantage point of backstage and the vip areas.

But don’t just take my word for it, check out some pictures and video I took below with a work camera (that puts my regular one to shame). Sorry for the terrible audio quality on the videos though, being right behind the speakers that he personally brings to every show (to ensure he gets adequate bass) makes it quite a challenge.

And in case you were wondering, (as you can see in some of the footage) Bassnectar plays live with two laptops running Ableton Live controlled by two M-Audio Trigger Fingers and an Allen & Heath Mixer.

Bassnectar also worked in some classic Jimi Hendrix samples (see video below) and honestly I’m not sure if it’s from a remix he made or it’s just something he’s working into the mix but either way I like the idea of Hendrix + anything.

And here’s a  video (from the viewpoint of the crowd) of Bassnectar playing “Basshead” where you can see the visuals from his impressive hanging led light screens, which are damn sweet. I wish I had one of those (let alone 5+).

And some more pictures…

The Books Live at the Palace of Fine Arts

The Books played live at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, CA a while back on Tuesday Nov. 30 and they were great. I had meant to write a proper review but never actually got around to it so I’m just going to leave a couple videos instead. Unfortunately I forgot my camera and only had my phone to take a few pictures. However, I must say that the venue was amazing and the lounge area (in the picture below) outside the theater was also really nice.

 

Also, (in case you didn’t know) The Books are the duo of cellist Paul de Jong and guitarist/vocalist Nick Zammuto. However, they have recently added a new musician Gene Back, and the story goes that after meeting them he showed them how he could play most of their songs on various instruments and shortly after he was signed up for touring duties. It’s a pretty awesome story, and the guy is a ridiculously impressive musician.

Check out a video below of him playing the entire guitar part for their song “Tokyo”, which (when I saw them) they explained that they only started putting the song back in their set because he could physically play the guitar live for it.

Also, check out the music video for one of their new songs “A Cold Freezin’ Night” that is comprised entirely of kids samples taken from old Talk-boy cassettes (see below) that they found.

And just for kicks, here’s the video for an old favorite of mine “Smells Like Content” that will test your speed reading skills like you never imagined.

And if you’ve come this far and you’re still interested in The Books, you should check out this informative description about them as a band and their new album “The Way Out” that Jefferson Theater wrote.