favorites of two thousand ten

Instead of a “Best Of” list, M|H is presenting you with a favorites list. There were too many purportedly great albums, songs, and shows we didn’t get around to hearing/seeing. The albums are listed chronologically, but other than that there’s no particular order to our selection. Please point out our glaring omissions.

Spoon – Transference – 01.19.10
-Essential Track: Written in Reverse
Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More – 02.16.10
-Essential Tracks: White Blank Page, The Cave, Sigh No More
Local Natives – Gorilla Manor – 02.16.10
-Essential Tracks: Wide Eyes, Airplanes
Horse Feathers – Thistled Spring – 04.20.10
-Essential Track: Cascades
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – 08.02.10
-Essential Tracks: Suburban War, We Used to Wait
The So So Glos – Low Back Chain Shift EP – 10.12.10
-Essential Track: Lindy Hop

Courtship – Ride
Delta Spirit – Bushwick Blues
The Naked and Famous – Young Blood
Cults – Go Outside
The Love Language – Heart to Tell
Yeasayer – O.N.E.
Let’s Wrestle – We Are the Men You Will Grow to Love Soon
Broken Bells – The High Road
The Shout Out Louds – Fall Hard
Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore – Something, Somewhere, Sometime
Vampire Weekend – Run
The Black Keys – Tighten Up
The Soft Pack – Answer to Yourself
Frightened Rabbit – Swim Until You Can’t See Land

Paul McCartney
Owen Pallett
Janelle Monae
The Antlers
Matt & Kim
Sleigh Bells
Horse Feathers
Great Lake Swimmers

Want a more in-depth analysis of some of 2010’s best? Keep an eye out for Jonk Music‘s Best Songs of 2010 list. Jon was kind enough to ask us to weigh in on some of year’s best songs.

a savior right there amongst the cars

Liars – Scissor (lost at sea)
Vampire Weekend – Giving Up the Gun (just incredible)
Bobby Birdman f/ YACHT – You’d Be Surprised (Mr. Wizard gets hip)
La Roux – Bulletproof (more 80s than the 80s)
Mumford and Sons – Little Lion Man (beautiful all around)
Broken Bells – The High Road (the desert highway is a strange place)
Hot Chip – One Life Stand (it’s all about perspective)

videos apparently inspired by late-90s teen comedies
Rival Schools – Used for Glue
Saves the Day – Shoulder to the Wheel

half of me is the gasoline and the other half’s the surf

Somehow while reviewing Vampire Weekend’s debut album, I managed to avoid explicitly comparing them to Paul Simon – a feat which I didn’t remember accomplishing until re-reading the post two minutes ago and one that must have been done through sheer force of will because they are inexorably linked in my mind. In any case, Contra still cozies up to Simon’s influence, but pulls in so much more.

Contra‘s first half delivers a continuation of the island swing and tribal rhythms explored on Vampire Weekend. Broadening the sound is a base built on synthesized and electronic elements. Like VW, punk informs the band’s sound without actually the final product sounding like punk at all. Though the first half is highly enjoyable, the second half is really where things take off and show growth.

“Cousins” is tight and upbeat, and “I Think UR A Contra” provides a contrast with airy, flitting guitars, wafting piano, jazzy undertones, and orchestral swells. “Diplomat’s Son” drags at first, seeming like it will be far too long and repetitive at 6:01, but halfway through it dramatically breaks down. The song returns to its original theme fairly quickly, but with some added embellishments. Though somewhat interesting, after a couple listens I still can’t decide if it’s going to grow on me or if I’ll grow bored now that I know what’s coming.

Two of the songs on Contra have already lodged themselves in my brain – “Run” and “Giving Up the Gun”. “Run” is a delightfully sap-free love song, complete with an instrumental chorus of joyous abandon.  “Giving Up the Gun” has the potential to be a club hit with some pumped up bass, and thus a complete departure from anything Vampire Weekend has thrown our way before. Even singer Ezra Koenig’s voice has taken on a different quality. Too-cool kids may dismiss the track as too poppy or mainstream, but there’s no doubt they’ll be blasting it in their bedrooms as they get ready to go out for the evening.

Contra drops January 12, 2010.
Stream the entire album at www.vampireweekend.com.