December 12, 2010

Top 50 Albums of 2010: 41-50

Alasdair Roberts & Friends
"Too Long In This Condition" (Drag City)

Alasdair Roberts’s raison d'être is to revive traditional Scottish folk music but to make it relevant, not to put it behind a glass case as a musical archivist might. A big improvement on last year’s rather disappointing Spoils album, it comes much closer to the giddy heights of his first four solo releases.

The Chap
"Well Done Europe" (Lo Recordings)

The Chap is a bunch of weirdoes from London who make music that escapes any serious attempt at categorisation. This is their first release since their acclaimed Mega Breakfast, which put them on the map and on the road. Manic and odd, they manage to make the least accessible pop imaginable.

To Rococo Rot
"Speculation" (Domino)

Berlin-based trio To Rococo Rot situates themselves comfortably in the nexus of electronica and post-rock. Delicacy and groove sit side by side in their softly spoken yet powerful Krautrock-influenced sound. Their first album proper since Hotel Morgen in 2004, it is a rewarding listen, even if it doesn’t live up to their City Slang days.

Konono Nº1
"Assume Crash Position" (Crammed Discs)

Konono Nº1’s sophomore album on the Crammed Discs label fails to match the immediacy of 2004’s Congotronics but despite some iffy vocals on the opening track it is a solid album and a real grower to boot. As ever their sound is based heavily on the use of likembé (thumb piano) and strikingly energetic percussion.

"Oversteps" (Warp)

Autechre albums are highly anticipated events. Prior to this release, a band that deserves to remain unnamed ‘accidentally’ mis-tagged their album as Oversteps. Disappointing as an Autechre release it did strike listeners as a welcome departure, highlighting the quality yet predictability of the Warp mainstay's sound.

Max Richter
"Infra" (FatCat)

As well as contributing tracks to Shutter Island, Max Richter has released three full soundtracks this year, including Infra, originally composed as a score for the ballet of same name in November 2008. A subtle, emotive album of ambient and modern classical interwoven with the haunting static buzz of radios.

Tame Impala
"Innerspeaker" (Modular Recordings)

Tame Impala’s Beatles-laden psychedelic stoner-pop isn’t breaking new ground but it is an unashamedly fun summer album. A well-executed debut that evokes John Lennon, early Pink Floyd, Cream and The Shins, these Aussie newcomers will no doubt be festival favourites next summer, if luck is on their side.

"Retold" (Serein)

Nest is the collaborative project of Otto Totland, one half of the excellent Deaf Center, on Type Records, and Huw Roberts. Retold is a re-release of their excellent eponymous EP in 2007, extended to full-length. Electronics, minimal percussion, strings and piano converge to create a haunting experience.

Frank Bretschneider
"EXP" (Raster-Noton)

German electronic artist and founder of the acclaimed Raster-Noton label, Bretschneider makes minimal glitch music out of white noise and sine waves. The achievement of EXP, seems somewhat diminished compared with his previous, and spectacular, full length Rhythm. Still, the spacious static-laden sound creates plenty of intrigue.

Lower Dens
"Twin Hand Movement" (Gnomonsong)

In an Indie scene dominated in part by understated, dreamlike acts like The XX and Beach House it’s no surprise that there would be interest for Lower Dens. They contain elements in common with the aforementioned bands yet trashier and more urgent. An engaging and atmospheric debut suggesting even greater things to come!