Glen’s Best/Worst of 2010: Record Labels

Congratulations to Matador Records for taking the cake in this one. The three Matador/True Panther albums that I noted below were securely in my Top 10 Albums of 2010 list. So, good job, Matador! Keep it up and here’s to 21 more years! Sub Pop and Fat Possum, two other large independent labels, put out some great records as well. On the smaller scale, Goner Records, based in Memphis, released a handful (probably even more) of quality records and I can only guess that 2011 will be another great year for that label and store. Burger Records, which has garnered national attention for its release of cassettes, is small as well, but their devotion to music and the bands that they put out is overwhelmingly large. As far as “better luck next year” labels go, we’ve got In The Red. In The Red has been a consistent favorite for me, but nothing that they put out this year really floored me. It was a bit of an off-year for Domino Records as well. Of course, that can go out without saying the year after releasing two stellar records, Merriweather Post Pavilion [Animal Collective] and Humbug [Arctic Monkeys]. EMI did pretty awful, but that’s expected too…it is a major label after all. Warner Brothers was a mixed bag; Devo’s LP was pretty good, but nothing else really tickled my fancy. I know a lot of people were feeling Dr. Dog and the Black Keys (especially) this year. 

Top 5!
1. Matador/True Panther Records – Notable Releases: Hippies [Harlem], Gay Singles [Hunx & His Punx], Memphis [Magic Kids]
2. Sub Pop – Notable Releases: Teen Dream [Beach House], I Will Be [Dum Dum Girls], Everything In Between [No Age]
3. Fat Possum Records – Notable Releases: King of the Beach [Wavves], Lisbon [Walkmen]
4. Goner Records – Notable Releases: First Blood [Nobunny], Melted [Ty Segall]
5. Burger RecordsNotable Releases: Cum Stain [Cum Stain], Shame, Shame [APACHE]

Worst!
1. EMI – Un-notable Releases: Of the Blue Colour of the Sky [OK GO], Sea of Cowards [Massive Attack]
2. Domino – Un-notable Releases: There Is Love In You [Four Tet], Hidden [These New Puritans]

Glen’s Best of 2010: Songs


Rock and Roll/Pop/Etc
1. “Linus Spacehead” – Wavves
2. “Walk In The Park” – Beach House
3. “Cum Stain” – Cum Stain
4. “Gay Human Bones” – Harlem
5. “Motorhead With Me” – Nobunny
6. “Fresh” – Devo
7. “My Sunshine” – Ty Segall
8. “Chem Trails” – No Age
9. “Be Brave” – Strange Boys
10. “Candy” – The Magic Kids

Honorable Mentions:
“Roxanne” – White Wires
“Sea Lion Goth Blues” – The Growlers
“Girls FM” – Happy Birthday
“Broken Dreams Clubs” – Girls
“He Would Have Laughed” – Deerhunter
“Summer In The Kitchen” – Prismo Perfect
“Chem Trails” – No Age
“Angela Surf City” – The Walkmen
“Waiting For Me” – Mark Sultan
“It Only Takes One Night” – Dum Dum Girls
“Ambling Alp” – Yeasayer
“Brian Eno” – MGMT
“Broken Up” – Wheels On Fire

 

Rap and Hip-Hop
1. “Power” – Kanye West
2. “Black and Yellow” – Wiz Khalifa

Glen’s Best/Worst of 2010: Albums

With over one hundred reviews in the books (108 to be precise), I think I’m  all done with reviewing music in 2010. Going forward, I plan on exclusively publishing reviews of music that I like. I’d rather not be an influence in turning away people from music. If someone likes something that I don’t, that’s just how it is! Ain’t nothing I can do. It turns out that I liked most of the music I heard this year; the mean score for a CD Review was 84. In the grand scheme of albums that I’ve heard over the course of my lifetime, there weren’t any top-to-bottom gems. A top-to-bottom gem, in case you are wondering, is an album with at least 75% “A+” songs. Such albums would be considered instant favorites. That said, I gave out “A-” or better to 23 albums.

Best Albums [Album, Band, Label]:
1. King of the Beach – Wavves – I listened to this pretty much non-stop during the summer of 2010. It was perfect listening material, whether it was blasting from the inside stereo as I chilled outside or blasting in the car radio on my way to work. I like my music loud and pretty much every instrument is mixed really loudly on this record. That might be annoying to some, but for me, it was pleasantly nice. A record that never gets boring despite numerous listens over a lengthy period of time is a sensational record. The songs (which I was skeptical of at first) that dabble in experimental rock/psychedelia (“Baseball Cards,”When Will You Come, and “Mickey Mouse”) fit right in with the warm vibes that is King of the Beach. This is the best.

2. Teen Dream – Beach House – Sub Pop – Let me give you a little history of my experience with this album. I first heard it in early December 2009…it leaked really really early. This was also when I was grading albums kind of funky. As a result, I really nit-picked this one to the bone. Early in 2010, I revisited this mainly after reading nearly universal acclaim. Could I have possibly missed something? Surely. There was a time in February/March when I obsessed over Teen Dream. It’s a powerful mesh of dreamy tunes that are extremely uplifting, yet direly haunting. The atmosphere that surrounds the album is truly what wins me over. It’s unlike anything I really heard before.

3. The Maine Coons – The Maine Coons – Spent Planet – I have to really give a bunch of credit to The Maine Coons. When I first heard them open for Nobunny, I thought they were a great opening band, but not so noteworthy as to further look them up after the show. I then heard this album sometime later and thought, well, this is a good album! Upon further investigation, it turned out to be my most highly rated one. It’s garage-pop, at its finest. It’s almost as if the ghost of King Khan & BBQ Show past revived itself, but with a big ole’ keyboard on top of the traditional guitar/drums/tambourine set-up. This is 2010’s Invisible Girl.

4. Hippies – Harlem – Matador – Way back when, I was pretty convinced that this was going to sit at the top of the list. While it’s not #1, it is #4 and #4 is damn good. For a 16 track record, there’s surprisingly little-to-no rough patches along the way. Every song can’t be “Gay Human Bones” after all, but a whole bunch of them continue the spirit that commenced when Harlem released their fine 2008 debut LP Free Drugs ;-). While they sometimes get compared to some KLYAM-recommended contemporaries, these guys are pretty unique in their style of song and Hippies exemplifies that at length.

5. First Blood – Nobunny – Goner – Let me start off with something: Nobunny is a great songwriter. While he often (unfairly) gets lumped into the gimmick or rip-off-dead-punk-legend-wearing-bunny mask-and-nothing-but-underwear category, he’s got skills that allow him to successfully dabble in a variety of rock and roll styles. He can manipulate his voice to quasi-Joey Ramone on punk songs, while on others he toys around with a more country or power-pop twang. My favorite Nobunny songs are the fast ones, but he can get all romantically twisted and confounded on a lot of the slower ones. The enhanced studio production of First Blood should give the bunny-man more recognition than ever before and he deserves it more than anyone in music.

6. Cum Stain – Cum Stain – Burger Records 
7. WWII – White Wires – Dirtnap Records
8. Memphis – Magic Kids – True Panther Records
9. Gay Singles – Hunx & His Punx – True Panther Records
10. Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter – 4AD

Honorable Mentions: Be Brave (Strange Boys), I Will Be (Dum Dum Girls), Melted (Ty Segall)

Worst Album
1. There Is Love In You – Four Tet – Domino Records – I might be the only one who disliked this album, but man was it painful. It’s like a bad hangover…it’s something you’d rather forget than ever bring up again.