Adgy's top 10 albums of 2010
I lost the job I'd had for over a decade in January. I was unemployed for about six weeks, found a job that I held for about six weeks before being let go again, was unemployed for another six weeks or so and then found the job I've currently been at for about six months. Neither my current position nor the one I had for about six weeks allows me the ability to listen to music at work. Unlike the job I had for over a decade, I share an office now with multiple people and am usually busy enough that even if I did have music on, I probably wouldn't be able to give it much attention. And the workplace used to be where I did the majority of my music listening.
This is added to the fact that my car is old enough not to have an auxiliary audio jack for an iPod, and is even old enough that it has immense difficulty playing CD-Rs. Enough so that I don't bother.
This means that if I want to listen to music, the only way for me to do that is on actual, physical CDs that I purchase. Downloading does me no good currently, and so I haven't really done it much all year. And I'm not going to drop $15 on something I've never heard of, or not at least reasonably sure will be worth the investment. Whereas last year I listened to enough music to have a top 10 list and 30 runners up, when it came time to write out my possible contenders for this year, I think it totaled about 15.
I don't recall a single purchase this year that was by an artist I was not already familiar with.
All this to say that I'm doing a top 10 list, but with the caveat that it feels very incomplete to me.
Even worse, this year will the first in a few that I'm not including sample tracks with all of my list, which defeats a good portion of the entire reason I do lists like this: to try and pimp out the music I love in the hopes that someone previously unfamiliar will seek it out, thus increasing the likelihood of that artist being able to continue making music. As well as any possible cultural butterfly flapping it's wings and creating a hurricane on the other side of the world effects. The sad fact is, I haven't even bothered ripping most of these to mp3s yet. Why bother, when I won't be listening to them in that format? There will be a few, with tracks that I'd already uploaded earlier in the year for one of LJ's music communities (that I haven't contributed to in quite some time).
Part of the reason I do these lists is for my own personal reference as well, though. Which is why I'm here.
I will go ahead and include a link to purchase the album on Amazon, where I believe you can still preview tracks for free. Or maybe just buy an mp3 or two if you want to.
And now, finally,
Daft Punk - Tron: Legacy OST
I have to confess to not being much of a Daft Punk fan before this. What music of theirs I'd heard was a little to dance-y for me. So I've never really heard much more than what you used to hear everywhere, like "Around The World". After seeing the film, though, I wanted to buy this disc immediately. In the booklet for it, Daft Punk thank Hans Zimmer for his generosity. This is interesting to me because the score sounds very Zimmer-ish to me. Which is a good thing. Zimmer-ish orchestration + electronic music = WIN.
Oren Ambarchi / Jim O'Rourke / Keiji Haino - Tima Formosa
Sample track: "Tima Formosa 2"
I remember almost wetting myself when I found out about this disc. Three incredible experimental musicians playing a live show together, caught on tape. I'm not entirely sure if this was improvised, but I'm assuming it was. Despite being split up into multiple tracks, it's all one, continuous piece of music. It starts off slowly with Ambarchi doing his drone thing, and it slowly builds up as Haino and O'Rourke join in. The payoff is fantastic. Highly recommended for people with patience and an ear for the weird.
Emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here?
Sample track: "Now You See Me"
A damn fine piece of ambient work. It reminds me a lot of Tangerine Dream. Makes excellent background music. Very cinematic.
Autechre - Move Of Ten
It's been a while since I actually purchased an Autechre disc without having heard it first. A friend of mine recommended this to me, though, and his word carries enough weight when it comes to electronic music that I went ahead and bought it when I came across it. And I'm really glad I did. It's a little short, but it feels a lot like a return to form of sorts for Autechre, without sounding like they're just going back to what worked for them before. It's not as ambient as their last couple of discs and has a little more structure. I love it.
Clint Mansell - Black Swan OST
I recently wrote a bit about Clint Mansell on this blog before I heard this album, and I'm happy to say that it only reinforced my feelings about the man's work. I'm not familiar enough with Tchaikovsky's original music for Swan Lake to know just how much of the music on this disc is Mansell and how much is Tchaikovsky, but I know it's different enough to be more than just a cover album. Mansell takes it and runs with it, adding his own bits and pieces and making what is, in my opinion, one of his best releases to date and a score that fits it's film perfectly.
Michael Giacchino - Let Me In OST
Put simply, this is the best horror film score I've heard in a while. I don't think Giacchino's done horror before. He's best know for his work with Pixar and JJ Abrams movies and tv shows, so it's really nice to see him branch out to another genre and nail it so well. This score mixes eerie, creepy and beautiful almost seamlessly and without ever feeling over the top or cheesy. I feel like I'll have to pay a little more attention to his work from now on.
Massive Attack - Heligoland
Sample track: "Splitting The Atom"
Massive Attack has been a favorite band of mine since I discovered them in the early 90's, right before Mezzanine came out. This is their first and only album, though, that I can listen to front to back without wanting to skip any tracks. Massive Attack like to use multiple vocalists on their albums and sometimes I don't particularly care for them (sorry, I've never really liked Horace Andy's voice, though sometimes it works with the track). This time, though, they all feel like they work. Here's to hoping they don't wait 6-7 years before recording their next album again.
JG Thirlwell - Manorexia: The Mesopelagic Waters
Sample track: "Flourescent Radiation"
JG Thirlwell, also known as Foetus, is a longtime favorite of mine. He does a lot of work, in a lot of different styles, and he does it all really, really well. This particular disc, the third release under his Manorexia project, is probably my favorite non-Foetus release to date. Strings, piano, percussion and his laptop, the disc sounds very soundtrack-ish and at certain parts reminds me of Jonny Greenwood's score for There Will Be Blood. Beautiful at times, haunting at others. Awesome throughout.
Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
I cannot possibly express how happy I am to see that when Michael Gira came back to Swans after a decade of working on other projects, he didn't miss a step. Loud and angry, that's what I want to hear. Not all of the tracks on this disc follow that pattern, one of them actually reminds me a lot of Nick Cave, but there's still a lot of... I don't know how to describe it. It feels like a Swans record and it kicks ass. That's good enough.
Hans Zimmer - Inception OST
By FAR, the disc I listened to most often this year was this one. I knew it would be even before I'd heard it. After the soundtrack for The Dark Knight, which was my favorite album of 2008, I knew that any future collaborations between Zimmer and Nolan would be right up my audio alley. And I've been so excited about this project since it was announced that it was almost as if I'd made up my mind about it beforehand. This disc kills. It's epic and exhilarating in all the right ways. It makes you want to speed when you're driving. I haven't decided if I like it better than The Dark Knight, but... damn, it's pretty close.
Grinderman - Grinderman 2
Deftones - Diamond Eyes