Posted on January 3rd, 2011 in Music,Year End

Top 15 Songs of 2010


#15. (Tie) Kurt Vile – Early Dawnin’


Kvile has been on fire this year; ‘Early Dawnin’‘, which appears on Vile’s exceptional In My Time 7″, combines the emotional fragility and acoustic-electropop tendencies of a Benoît Pioulard or Sufjan Stevens with the devil-may-care cool of Adam Green or Evan Dando.



#15. (Tie) Perfume Genius – Mr. Peterson


One of the most emotional songs from an incredibly emotionally-charged record; ‘Mr. Peterson‘ details the story of a gay relationship between a student and his teacher that ultimately results in the teacher’s suicide. Mike Hadreas’s delivery is somehow both full of emotion and completely detached, giving this song a white-knuckled tension that is only accentuated by brilliant lyrics like “He made me a tape of Joy Division / He told me there was a part of him missing / When I was sixteen / He jumped off a building”.



#14. Caribou – Jamelia


Jamelia‘ features an intense tribal vocal melody that sounds oddly at home with the song’s backing bubble-bouncing synths and wintry timbre. Random orchestral and keyboard glitches give additional intensity to its climactic buildup, which is somewhere between danceparty and hypnotized.



#13. Women – Eyesore


Women have a stunning mastery of dissonant melody—rivaling Engine Down mastermind Keeley Davis’s—and ‘Eyesore‘ displays this at its fullest. The sluggish track features a slowly building vocal arc that playfully dances atop a dissonant guitarscape and waltzy drum fills, but never really resolves the tension, which is sort of Women’s game.



#12. First Aid Kit – When I Grow Up


The B-side to First Aid Kit’s ‘Ghost Town‘ single, ‘When I Grow Up‘ emphasizes the surreality of the Fever Ray original while staying true to its bleak temperament. I like to think of this song as the soundtrack to a timelapse of a frozen Disko Bay sunset; with First Aid Kit’s version playing during the day while Fever Ray’s takes place when the sun sets.



#11. Warpaint – Undertow


Warpaint is the hip band right now, but honestly, they deserve it. I admit, the dark and sexy sedation of ‘Undertow‘ did not hit me on first, second or even fifth listen, and the rest of the album took even longer. But when that perfect moment finally hit, it was damn near impossible to turn this song off repeat. Plus, every time I listen to this band, I am given a reason to remember the film Rules Of Attraction (starring former Warpaint member Shannyn Sossamon), which in turn gives me reason to laugh at one of the most hilariously self-indulgent film scenes ever (Dawson Leary James Van Der Beek taking a dump).



#10. Deerhunter – Desire Lines


I got a chance to see Deerhunter in October, and they opened with a near-8 minute version of ‘Desire Lines‘, which only intensified the shoegazey hypnotism of the breakdown. I think it’s odd that a Lockett Pundt-sung song can sound so “Deerhunter”, but this might be the most quintessential Deerhunter song on Halcyon Digest.



#9. Les Savy Fav – Let’s Get Out Of Here


Pitchfork called Les Savy Fav’s latest album a victory lap, which I think misses the point. The fact that the last few years of Les Savy Fav seem so effortless—yet somehow poppy but punky but artsy but experimental—doesn’t mean they’re mailing it in; it’s the opposite: these dudes are really, really good at writing songs. I cannot point to a single song off either of their last two albums that I would consider a poorly written, lazy effort. I think because they have become so easy to listen to, their artsy tendencies can go unnoticed. Somehow Tim Harrington can make an unconventional art-punk song sound like a Can’t-Stop-Believin’ style singalong. That’s the genius of this band.



#8. Beach House – Walk In The Park


I saw Beach House at Pitchfork 2010, and it is uncanny how much Victoria Legrand resembles Nico—both in looks and in sound. ‘Walk In The Park‘ became a hypnotic anthem for me in large part because I was introduced to it during a period of major life transitions last winter, but also because it is simply an incredibly well-written bit of happy/sad indie pop bliss.



#7. oOoOO – Sedsumting


oOoOO is my favorite band from the Witch House fringe genre, and though that genre has probably run its course, I will be listening to this song for a long time. oOoOO generally stays away from the slowed down hip-hop favored by other witch housers (Salem), focusing instead on tight songwriting that happens to be valium-paced.



#6. Salem – Killer


The retards in Salem are undoubtedly the douchiest people making music right now. If you haven’t seen the atrocious live performance of them at Levi’s Fader Fort Tent, you are probably a happier person. [Warning, seriously do not watch that video if you like this band but are unable to appreciate music made by douchebags.] Fortunately, I learned how to separate idiots from great music back in my Smashing Pumpkins days; and as much as I’d love to punch these guys in the face, I cannot deny my love for this song.



#5. Kanye West – Power


Kanye’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is not perfect, despite Pitchfork’s willful, godlike praising of it—and of Kanye in general over the years—but aside from Chris Rock’s laughably terrible appearance, it is definitely an outstanding record. Other than the fleeting Nicki Minaj (BRILLIANT) and Bon Iver moments, my favorite track is easily ‘Power‘, with its biting lyrics and awesomely megalomaniacal tone. ‘Power‘ is so overconfident, but Kanye’s cleverly sculpted rhymes give this song’s message—and Kanye’s supreme ego—all the cred it needs. And how amazing is that synth riff?



#4. Crystal Castles – Vietnam


Crystal Castles seem to be the Bob Dylan of electronic indie these past few years. (That is, zigging when everyone else is zagging, and doing it brilliantly every time. Don’t confuse that statement with a comparison of Dylan’s historical importance or decades-long genius, though. Also, CC seem to be similarly assholish, albeit in a much more annoying way.) On this year’s record, CC has shed most of their 8bit/chiptune skin to experiment with a darker trance sound that at times sounds like something Sasha & Digweed—or even a hard trance dj like DJ Micro—might have once played. And they did it at the peak of the genre’s popularity.



#3. Abe Vigoda – Beverly Slope


Abe Vigoda is one of the few bands whose switch to a more poppy sound seems to have been welcomed with open arms. Their latest record is loaded with melodic hooks, of which ‘Beverly Slope‘ tops my list. This song is pretty reminiscent of a lot of the neo post-punk that has been coming out in recent years (Sound Team, any post-Interpol band, etc., etc.), but with those superior Smell style tendencies we all love so much.



#2. Japandroids – Heavenward Grand Prix


Japandroids have been releasing singles all year long in lieu of a full-length, and every single one of them has been amazing. ‘Heavenward Grand Prix, though, is on another level. What I especially love about this song, and a lot of recent Japandroids songs, are the 90s space-rock/math-rock/post-hardcore influences. I have no idea if these dudes were into bands like Hum, Girls Against Boys, or Shiner, but I have certainly been noticing some (good!) similarities lately.



#1. Health – USA Boys


Health is one of the absolute best bands alive right now. Their Tweets are hilarious; they have played two of the best shows I have ever seen (once in front of about 15 people when Crystal Castles inexplicably canceled and most of the crowd left; and once in front of a sold-out crowd at 7th St. Entry—two completely different experiences that were amazing on equally different levels); and even their remixes are incredible. ‘USA Boys‘, one of the best moments at that 7th St. Entry show, as well as one of the best songs they have written, exhibits all of Health’s strengths simultaneously: an unstoppable hook; apocalyptic, dancey beats; and watery, hypnotic vocals, all backed by an experimental art video.

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