It's the end of the year! I thought about compiling a ten-best albums list, but whenever I do it just feels arbitrary. Rather than do that, I decided to put together a long list representing individual songs and albums that I loved.
"Everlasting Light" - The Black Keys
A great way to start a terrific album.
"She Was a Vision" - Active Child
Lovely and haunting. It must be the harp.
"Crazy for You" - Best Coast
Fun, poppy, and totally sounds like the best coast.
"Terrible Love" - The National
My favorite song from what could be my favorite album of the year. They were also terrific the two times I saw them live this year. They keep getting better.
"Yulia" - Wolf Parade
Wolf Parade bounced back from a disappointing second album with a pretty good one in Expo 86. "Yulia" was the highlight.
"Hurricane J" - The Hold Steady
Another solid song from a solid band.
"Diplomat's Son" - Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend came back strong with their second album. Lots of great, catchy songs, but "Diplomat's Son" is tops.
"Barbra Streisand" - Duck Sauce
I don't like to dance, but this song makes me want to.
"Infinity Guitars" - Sleigh Bells
My kind of cheer squad.
"Power" - Kanye West
Everyone else has him on their list, why can't I?
"Round and Round" - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Ariel Pink's lo-fi songs have a certain charm, but the studio sheen of this song really does bring out the best in Ariel Pink's sound.
"Trust" - Generationals
Generationals' LP Con Law came out in 2009, so I couldn't count them for 2010, but this song from their 2010 EP is equally as infectious as anything from the album. Their sound makes me happy.
"Better Times" - Beach House
A great song for meditative moments.
"You Are Not Alone" - Mavis Staples
It's hard to ever feel alone after hearing this beautiful song from Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy.
"I Can Change" - LCD Soundsystem
Another superb album from LCD Soundsystem that includes this heartfelt highlight.
"King of Spain" - The Tallest Man on Earth
This Dylan soundalike also captures Dylan's sly wit, and he's cheeky enough to even make a Dylan reference in the song.
"Christchurch Woman" - Justin Townes Earle
Justin Townes Earle delivers on the promise of his earlier albums. Harlem River Blues is terrific.
"Laredo" - Band of Horses
Band of Horses offer nothing particularly new or different from the roots rock sound they have mastered in their previous two albums, but when they consistently deliver catchy and indelible songs like "Laredo," it's difficult to fault them for doing something consistently well.
"Flare Gun" - Owen Pallett
Owen Pallett's songs sometimes feel partly developed. You sense a great idea in there that hasn't been completely developed. Heartland finds Pallett (giving up the Final Fantasy moniker) growing as a songwriter. He's still not transcendently good, but in his best moments--as in this song--you look forward to what's to come.
"The Suburbs" - Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire delivers another sweeping set of songs. Thanks, Canada!
"Animal Arithmetic" - Jonsi
This song makes me want to run as fast as I can. In fact, many of the songs on Jonsi's solo album will do that to you.
Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens
Anyone who feels lost by Sufjan Stevens's new album need only start with this song to find their way. It's quintessential Sufjan--epic yet intimate--but with spacy, electronic flourishes. It's my favorite song of the year and the whole album dukes it out with The National for album of the year honors. Coincidentally, Sufjan and The National are artistic collaborators.