Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sarah V's Top 10 Albums and Concerts of the Year 2010

1) Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz: Yes! Yes! YES! Sufjan may have diverged from his tried and true sound but I think this album put a breath of fresh air into his style. This album was locked into my top spot when he played it in its entirety when I saw him in October.

2) Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid: Dear God, this woman can SING. This album perfectly blends classic and modern with so many musical influences throughout space and time, and yet it all sounds seemless.

3) Arcade Fire – The Suburbs: At first, I wasn’t all that impressed by this album. But I kept listening, and listening, and eventually I couldn’t stop listening. From start to finish, this album is solid. It also happens to have the perfect tempo for brisk walking – a must for any city dweller.

4) The National – High Violet: Shortly after its release, a heavy, vinyl copy of High Violet unexpectedly showed up on my doorstep (courtesy of my boyfriend and one of the National’s biggest fans, Paul Smaxwill). This album is yet another gem in their catalog. They also have one of the most commanding live shows I’ve seen.

5) The Black Keys – Brothers: I seriously respect two-member bands that can make a lot of noise. Though this album is so much more than noise. Every song grabs me – it’s an album I can sink my teeth into. Also, using the harpsichord earns extra points.

6) Sharon Van Etten – Epic: It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s just like Sharon Van Etten. This album was the perfect progression from her first album, Because I Was In Love. She’s picked up the pace and lost none of her rawness.

7) Freelance Whales – Weathervanes: Oh, the harmonies. Oh, the harmonium. Every member of this band sings, creating a depth to their sound that is irresistible to my ears. Fun to sing and bounce along to.

8) Band of Horses – Infinite Arms: Speaking of harmony...This album is pretty at times, and rocking at others. And the album cover is just so pretty...Also, I’m a sucker for slide guitar.

9) Cloud Cult – Light Chasers: If Cloud Cult puts out an album, it’s a safe bet it’s on my end of the year list. This certainly isn’t my favorite album of theirs, but it has everything that I like about them: existential lyrics that leave me tearing up with the joy of being alive, swelling strings, and a quirkiness that I will always appreciate. Cloud Cult’s music strikes a deep chord in me that’s hard to articulate and is felt most keenly during their impressive live shows.

10) Bonobo – Black Sands: This album is nothing but sexy grooves. A perfect album to chill (and/or do drugs) to (if you’re into that sort of stuff).

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order! After the excruciating process of picking just ten for my list, I simply cannot bring myself to rank these):
The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You, Matt and Kim – Sidewalks, New Pornographers – Together, Vampire Weekend – Contra, Breathe Owl Breathe – Magic Central, LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening, Wolf Parade – Expo 86, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – I Learned the Hard Way, Gorillaz – Plastic Beach, Gayngs – Relayted, Beach House – Teen Dream, Junip – Fields, Broken Bells – Broken Bells, Laura Veirs – July Flame, Stars – The Five Ghosts

What can I say? It was a good year for music!

Top Concerts of 2010
1) Sufjan Stevens – Portland

2) Of Montreal with Janelle Monae –Portland

3) LCD Soundsystem - Sasquatch

4) Arcade Fire with Calexico - Portland

5) The National - Sasquatch

6) Passion Pit - Sasquatch

7) Vampire Weekend – Milwaukee

8) The xx with jj and Nosaj Thing – Portland

9) Shout Out Louds with Freelance Whales – Portland

10) Junip with Sharon Van Etten – Portland

Biggest Disappointments:
Album: Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s – Buzzard: It just lacks that special something of their other albums. Maybe I need more time...

Concert: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros – Wonder Ballroom, Portland: At my fourth ESATMZ’s show I sadly realized they need to take a break already. And what was with all the douchebags in attendance?

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