Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mid-Year Report

I'm a month late on this mid-year report but I'm still interested in getting a discussion going. There's been some great releases out in the media world in 2010. I wanted to list all of my favorites of this year so I can take a look back and compare at the end of 2010. After all, I am a big fan of lists. I'll try to keep the rambling commentary to a minimum so without further ado, I bring you my favorite releases of 2010 so far:

Top 10 Albums:
  1. The Black Keys - Brothers
  2. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
  3. Future Islands - In Evening Air
  4. Wolf Parade - Expo 86
  5. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
  6. Phantogram - Eyelid Movies
  7. Deftones - Diamond Eyes
  8. Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis
  9. The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
  10. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
Honorable Mentions:
Menomena - Mines
Wavves - King of the Beach
Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine

This has been a great year for music and I have a feeling that this list is going to change significantly with so many of my most anticipated albums being released later in the year. My top 3 will probably at least remain somewhere on the list as I have played them to the point where I know every lyric.

Debut Full-lengths:
Phantogram - Eyelid Movies
Suckers - Wild Smile
Sleigh Bells - Treats
Fang Island - Fang Island
Maps & Atlases - Perch Patchwork

There were a lot of debuts I thought deserved attention this year. Sure, everyone has been going ga ga over Sleigh Bells (including yours truly) but I still found albums by Phantogram and Suckers to be more worthy of hype since they were steeped with inspired new ideas brought out to their full potential.  

Fang Island deserves all the praise they have been receiving for creating one of the most fun listening experiences you will have in 2010.  

Maps & Atlases have established their own unique voice and released a debut with adventurous songs that don't get stale after several listens.

Wolf Parade
Dr. Dog
Royal Bangs, Bad Veins, and We Were Promised Jetpacks

I've seen a lot of great shows this year by bands who have also released excellent new albums. Read all about them at the links. There are plenty more ahead of me and some of my favorite bands are playing in the near future. Two nights of Built to Spill, my favorite live band ever, are enough to make me restless with anticipation.

Vampire Weekend
M.I.A. - /\/\/\Y/\
The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards
Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer of the Void
Owen Pallett - Heartland

These releases weren't bad by any means but, for me, they definitely fell from the potential of previous releases. Each one has a few great songs but consistency is the name of the game and it is certainly lacking on these releases. Every year I end up revisiting the albums I deemed disappointments and one of them ends up sneaking into my top 10 so I haven't given up on these just yet. In fact, Owen Pallett is starting to climb its way back into my listening cycle already.

The Chemical Brother - Further
Tokyo Police Club - Champ
Unkle - Where Did the Night Fall
Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Devo - Something for Everyone

The Chemical Brothers have made a great return to form with Further and I could not be more happy with the results. It's great to see a band that holds one of the most significant albums in their genre (Dig Your Own Hole) return to making fantastic records again.

I loved Tokyo Police Club's EP, A Lesson in Crime, but I was less than ecstatic about their debut full-length, Elephant Shell. I find myself listening to their second album, Champ, quite a bit and think of it as the debut they should have had.  

Unkle's last albums weren't horrible but everyone kept the knowledge that this is the group that released Psyence Fiction in the back of their heads. Where Did the Night Fall is their best since that album. Even though the style is much different, its hard not to be taken by the captivating psych-rockers on their latest record.

While not technically huge comeback since it is his solo debut, Big Boi's Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty almost makes us forget that the last thing released from the Outkast camp was Idlewild. Let's not kid ourselves; after Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, a blues and jazz influenced period piece seemed like a confusing joke to fans. Sir Lucious Left Foot brings back the funk and swagger in a big way.

Resurrecting a career has to be one of the hardest things to do. With Something for Everyone, Devo has released the album their fans have been anticipating for 30 years and it still seems oddly fresh and appropriate. Seriously, "Don't Shoot (I'm a Man)" ends with them repeating the line "Don't taze me bro". It's awesome.

Kyle Kinane - Death of the Party
David Cross - Bigger and Blackerer
Lewis Black - Stark Raving Black
Nick Thune - Thick Noon
Aziz Ansari - Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening

I've always been a comedy buff but there hasn't been much that caught my attention within the last few years. This year Kyle Kinane has released one of the better comedy albums I've heard in some time. His everyman approach to comedy is much more observant and introspective than his peers. Listening to him describe the monotony of work and the struggle of insomnia is much more rewarding than what we've heard from other comedians who have tried to tackle similar subjects.

David Cross also released another classic, solidifying himself as one of the best comedians of our time. I was actually at the taping of this performance and he is one of the most skilled performers you will see on the comedy circuit.

Lewis Black is as insightful and angry as ever on his new one which always results in a great record. I had the pleasure of seeing himn live while attending Northeastern University and he is even more intense when you can see the veins popping out of his head right in front of you.

Nick Thune comes off as a more clever incarnation of Dimitri Martin.

I had been a fan of Aziz Ansari way before he hit mainstream and as such, I found myself disappointed with his debut. It's still on the list because it has memorable and hilarious anecdotes but you can't help but feel his Randy character is actually spilling into his actual stand-up routine and becoming a monster that can destroy his more insightful material instead of being its own entity.

Get Him to the Greek
Shutter Island

This year has been absolutely horrible for movies. The only two movies I thought were exceptional were Inception and Kick-Ass.  

Greenberg was notable for being a classic, introspective Noah Baumbach movie with a script as intelligent as anything he has penned in the past.

Get Him to the Greek runs away with best comedy and was a more than adequate Forgetting Sarah Marshall spin-off.

Shutter Island was entertaining enough but I didn't think it was the mindbender that everyone else did. My other disappointment came in the form of Iron Man 2, a franchise that has consistently let me down despite the fact that I may be the only one who feels this way. I almost bumped Shutter Island for Hot Tub Time Machine in my Top 5. Hot Tub Time Machine won me over with it's surprisingly creative and nostalgic story arch.  

Youth in Revolt was an extremely underrated movie but didn't make the cut because it was technically released on a limited run in 2009. The same goes for Fish Tank which had some of the best cinematography I have seen in some time.

Lastly, I'd like to give a quick nod to The Crazies for being a remake that was actually impressive. This year isn't a complete loss as there are plenty of indies that i still have yet to see and anyone one of them could be a classic waiting to be discovered. Here's to hoping that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World lives up to its promise.

Well, that's everything for now. We'll see how this holds up by the end of the year. I'll leave you with this list of my most anticipated fall releases:

(08.24.10) Maximum Balloon - Maximum Balloon
(08.24.10) The Sword - Warp Riders
(09.07.10) Interpol - Interpol
(09.07.10) The Thermals – Personal Life
(09.14.10) Grinderman - Grinderman 2
(09.14.10) The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream
(09.14.10) Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart
(09.14.10) Of Montreal – False Priest
(09.14.10) The Walkmen - Lisbon
(09.21.10) Torche - Songs For Singles EP
(09.28.10) Deerhunter -- Halcyon Digest
(09.28.10) No Age - Everything in Between
(09.28.10) Women – Public Strain
(10.05.10) Marnie Stern - Marnie Stern
(10.19.10) Zach Hill - Face Tat

Anticipated albums that were announced but are most likely not coming out this year... or possibly ever:
The Avalanches
The Wrens

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