I haven't done a "year-end" list in a long while - mostly because I haven't been moved to in a while - but I think the time has come to list albums and songs of 2010. It's a new decade with new sounds.
A music buzz word I picked up on this year was "chillwave", likely coined by hipster satire blog HipsterRunoff.com and redistributed across various blogs and websites across the world. The music is characterized by "their heavy use of effects processing, synthesizers, looping, sampling, and heavily filtered vocals with simple melodic lines" according to Wikipedia including such bands as Toro Y Moi, Memory Tapes, and Neon Indian. Wikipedia also mentions that these bands derive musical styles from the 80s "often with a laptop at their very core", but re-interpret it with a less-aggressive, soft-focus and low-fi version of 80s synthpop, with a more "chilled out" sensibility, hence "chillwave".
I had the chance to see Toro Y Moi open for The Ruby Suns early on this year and even though he just had almost all of his gear stolen after a gig in Brooklyn (subsequently canceling 4 shows afterward). I was lucky enough to catch him on his first night back with The Ruby Suns after re-grouping and even with less gear, he still put on an awesome show.
Funny how these days, a genre is loosely based on a string of artists across the nation who all have similar musical qualities (maybe you can thank last.fm for that) rather than how it used to be - certain corners of the world. You had groupings such as Elephant 6 collective and grunge rock bands were generally born in Seattle until the proliferation of that sound. The internet and the way we share and listen to music has changed a lot for us in the past few years.
This year we also saw the demise of 2 music-related sites - one more important than the other. On May 31st, Lala.com shut down as directed by Apple Inc. after a buyout by them. The best thing about Lala was the way you could discover musical artists. Type in the artist, genre, album and BAM! there you had a full-song preview. Upload your own music to share with others, make playlists, favorite songs. Sure, after your first listen all you get later on is a 30-second sample, but it was a good way to find out if you liked a new artist or if they only had a good single.
Limewire met it's demise in September as an injunction from US Federal courts detailed that Limewire "prevent the searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality, and/or all functionality" of their program as mentioned on Wikipedia.org. People argue that Limewire was causing the deterioration of the sales in the music industry, but it will take far more than the halting of Limewire's services to revitalize the music industry to the way we bought music pre-Napster, pre-iTunes.
Enough of all this though, let's get down to the nitty gritty which is the list of albums and songs that I either fell in love with in 2010, took me on a journey through the entire album(s) (Rhode Island), or just will leave me with fond memories of a year gone by. Not all are necessarily released in 2010 but the majority are, if not 2009.
Top Songs of 2010:
1. Bloodstream - Evangelicals
2. Spring (Air France Remix) - Saint Etienne
3. Pretty Together - Sloan (from their B-Sides album)
4. Louderfilms - Glossies (from their upcoming release early to mid-2010)
5. Stylo - Gorillaz
6. Futures and Folly - Blitzen Trapper
7. Lover's Carvings - Bibio
8. Graceless - Crayon Fields
9. Low Shoulders - Toro Y Moi
10. Seventeen - The Nothingheads (http://www.myspace.com/thenothingheads)
Top albums of 2010:
1. Rhode Island - The Third Person/Internecine EPs (download both at www.rhodeisland.org.uk)(2010)
2. Evangelicals - The Evening Descends (2007)
3. Sloan - B-Sides Win Collection (2010)
4. Zeus - Say Us (2010)
5. Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue (2009)
6. Toro Y Moi - (2009)
7. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (2010)
8. White Denim - Fits (2009)
9. Procedure Club - Doomed Forever (2010)
10. 1900s - Return of the Century (2010)