December 14, 2010

Top 50 Albums of 2010: 31-40

Cursor Miner
"Requires Attention" (Uncharted Audio)

Sometimes it takes artists a while to hone their craft. Other times an artist is just too ahead of the game. Cursor Miner is probably both, but he is finally getting the attention he deserves with this latest album. Elements of Synthpop, IDM and Dubstep converge to form his most accomplished release.

Drum Eyes
"Gira Gira" (Upset! The Rhythm)

Drum Eyes is Shige Ishihara (AKA DJ Scotch Egg), E-Da (ex-Boredoms drummer), and K-Power and is yet another hard to categorise album. Clocking in at just 36 minutes, it's short but far from sweet. Drone rock, Japanoise, space-age synth, Fuck Buttons-eqsue digital noise and Krautrock rhythms meld together in one furious blast.

"Halcyon Digest" (4AD)

I have never understood the hype around Deerhunter. Having been unimpressed by previous albums, and their live show, I wasn't expecting to love this release but it is a huge step forward. By far their best album, it builds upon their sound with far stronger songwriting - no doubt partly a result of Bradford Cox’s tireless work as Atlas Sound.

Black Angels
"Phosphene Dream" (Blue Horizon)

Like Tame Impala, The Black Angels’ antennas are tuned back to 60s and 70s psychedelia, in this case to the fuzz-laden garage-pop of 13th Floor Elevators and Silver Apples as much as Barrett-era Floyd. Darker and more authentic than other sonic revivalists around today, Phosphene Dream feels more akin to time travel than pastiche.

Broken Bells
"Broken Bells" (Columbia)

You couldn’t go anywhere this summer without hearing “The High Road”, the blissful opener from Broken Bells’ debut album of luscious indie-pop. James Mercer (lead singer of The Shins) and Brian Burton (AKA Danger Mouse) initially conceived this collaboration as a one-off but there is now thankfully talk of a second release.

Four Tet
"There Is Love In You" (Domino)

There Is Love In You constitutes Kieran Hebden’s fifth album proper as Four Tet and his strongest since 2003’s Rounds. On this release, Hebden solidifies his gradual move away from his noodly headphone roots and towards tasteful dance club beats without sacrificing the distinctive sound that made him so popular in the first place.

Brian McBride
"The Effective Disconnect" (Kranky)

Another soundtrack that works superbly as a standalone album is The Effective Disconnect. Composed for “Vanishing of the Bees”, an ecologically conscious documentary about the importance of bees to the ecosystem, it is a sumptuous, ethereal album of modern classical from Stars of the Lid member Brian McBride.

Thomas Fehlmann
"Gute Luft" (Kompakt)

There were a lot of strong soundtrack releases in 2010 and Fehlmann’s, released on Köln's famed Kompakt label, is one of the most compelling. Composed by the Swiss dub techno legend and ex-member of The Orb, Gute Luft was originally scored for the TV documentary "24H Berlin" yet works equally well as a standalone album.

Flying Lotus
"Cosmogramma" (Warp)

Less cohesive than Los Angeles or his excellent Pattern+Grid World EP, also of this year, the success of this album is a sign of the massive respect Flying Lotus commands as well as maybe a sign of where music is headed. Cosmogramma is an album for the ADHD generation – unapologetically frantic and eclectic.

"Go" (XL Recordings)

This year the Sigur Rós front-man released his first solo album and despite its beauty, it falls foul of the common criticism of not sounding different enough from the band he's known for being in. That aside, Go is full of positivity, energy and those gorgeous baroque strings you come to expect from Iceland's second most famous musician.