Best of 2010: In Various Forms


2010 was an emphatic success for music in my opinion. The sheer number of releases that deserve to be in my top ten of the year makes settling on one list a gigantic task itself. I have decided to divide this list appropriately into label releases and netlabel releases. My growing interest in the netlabel scene and free, creative commons music has provided me with a vast number of high quality releases while contributing to my knowledge of electronic, ambient, experimental – and I think they deserve their own top ten. So, without further rumination, let’s have a look at what I found to be the best of 2010.

Best of 2010: Label (or self-released) Records

  1. Fang Island – Fang Island (Sargent House)

    This record dropped early in the year on the cusp of Australia’s summer and autumn. The lead single Daisy hooked me in with it’s rather intriguing video. Two weeks later I had the album in my hands and it was like being at a the greatest party in the world for half an hour. Unless you turned the repeat button on, which I did. I clocked over 100 plays for each song on this album this year alone which has never happened for me before. Catchy, energetic, fun, fast, nostalgic, robots.
  2. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty)

    Sufjan’s first “real” album since the critically acclaimed Illinois album was always going to be highly anticipated. After only hinting at electronic exploits in a few earlier releases Sufjan blew all expectations out with this release. If there is anything a soft spoken, quiet folk artist can do to wake people up it is make the most schizophrenic, busy and confronting music you can possibly make. Despite it’s overloaded nature this album is a necessary beast, for the listener and for Sufjan himself. The music is emotional, testing, overwhelming, but it is damn brilliant.
  3. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella Records)

    Kanye West is a big headed asshole. We all know this. But with this record he put together some of the most interesting, enjoyable and re-playable hip-hop/pop music this decade has seen. With more guest appearances than you can poke a stick at this album blew me away. From the aggression of Monster, the insane verse by Rick Ross in Devil in a New Dress to the bitter comedy in Blame Game you can’t go wrong with this release.
  4. A Great Big Pile of Leaves – Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex? (Self-released)

    From out of no where came AGBPOL with their first full length record causing huge buzz here there and everywhere. Intricate pop melodies provided a consistently fun album that sounds great on vinyl too. One of my favourites to just chill to on a sunny afternoon.
  5. Maps & Atlases – Perch Patchwork (Barsuk Records)

    Slowly evolving their sound over the years Maps & Atlases have gone from one extreme (super fast finger tapping rock) to the other (melodic and evocative pop). I’m not complaining about this one bit, with Perch Patchwork the group led by Dave Davison create cinematic pop masterpieces with just the four of them. Davisons distinct voice melds well with the colourful array of tracks on this album.
  6. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (Warp)

    Cosmogramma defies sensibility. The record is head strong and does not let up all the way through. Working without boundaries you jump from head bopping funk to lush electronic space walks. Steven Ellison surely had a mission in mind when creating this album, to re-define what we know instrumental music to be. Strangely though it is near impossible to define this album in anyway, you just have to listen to it.
  7. Fabrizio Paterlini – Fragments Found (Self-released)

    Paterlini caught my eye with his previous album Viandanze and I have followed him ever since. The solo pianist creates works of high quality and exquisite emotional depth. Fragments Found builds on his previous work in that it flows more freely, recalls the past and moves on into the future. Touching, plaintive and nostalgic are words that come to mind while listening to this record.
  8. Kristin Rule – The Knife That Cuts  a Tear (Self-released)

    Self-released in beautiful packaging is Kristin’s second album consisting of cello compositions. The unique thing about this album is that Kristin makes use of a loopstation rather intelligently. One would think that there are multiple artists playing at once, yet it is only one individual. These pieces find their place deep in emotion and thought, which makes this release highly progressive and provoking modern classical music.
  9. Tera Melos – Patagonian Rats (Sargent House)

    Tera Melos seemed to find the perfect balance between chaos and (relative) calmness on Patagonian Rats. Their is a pop sensibility without it being sensible at all. Anthemic swells of Kelly, shape shifting of The Skin Surf and the crazy fun of Westham United sum up this album pretty well. Fucking awesome.
  10. Bars of Gold – Of Gold (Friction Records)

    Post-punk never felt so good. Marc Paffi makes his long awaited return to vocals after Bear vs Shark disbanded in 2006. This album is just a huge sounding, but intimate listen. The combination of punk aesthetic with almost a soul/funk like feeling (It’s their, just rooted deep) provide for a wonderfully realised album.

So there you have it, WTYF top ten records of 2010 that were either released on a label or self-released. I think I’ll call it a day right now, and bring you the top ten netlabel releases of 2010 tomorrow!

One Response to “Best of 2010: In Various Forms”
  1. Scott says:

    I don’t think I quite “got” Age of Adz. I was excited for it when I Walked and Too Much were previewed, but I couldn’t get into the rest as much. I think I tend to prefer him when he’s simpler, like some of the acoustic stuff on Illinois.

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