Arcade Fire, Warpaint, Foals, The National, Manic Street Preachers - GIITTV's Best of 2010

GodisintheTV 20/12/2010

As you the reading few huddle up against the snowy wilderness outside that has in the last few days led you to increasing states of cabin fever. Here at GIITTV we are here to hopefully cheer up your day, mainly in the form of our albums of 2010. This is a subjective communal list voted for by the majority of the writers on site. Like this year's general election showed(where nobody ended up with the government they voted for but instead a dastardly fudge dominated by a Tory party intent on making the next few years bloody miserable!) democracy isn't perfect so if you feel we've made a mistake or over looked an album feel free to leave your comments below.We included the top fifty albums album that received enough votes to give you an idea of the breadth and scope of our musical pallette's here at GIITTV towers. So enjoy our potted highlights of what are in our opinion the best long players of this year!! Merry Christmas!

1. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

What we said: The entire record is definitely more 'refined' than the Arcade Fire of old; gone are the overblown strings arrangements and the huge, goosebump-inducing anthems. But, despite this, one thing remains that makes it a very, very special album indeed - the mere fact that it's Arcade Fire. It seems that absolutely everything that Win and Co. lay their hands on turns into pure musical gold. It doesn't matter if it sounds how Arcade Fire 'should' sound. The simple fact remains: 'The Suburbs' is a flawless album. I'm sure that plenty of people will disagree, but I reckon it's safe to say that it's easily as good as their previous two albums - if not better. Would it be as good if it was anyone other than Arcade Fire? Probably not. But that's half of the beauty of it, isn't it?

Read full review here.

2. Warpaint - The Fool

What we said: This is the kind of subtle elocution that won Esben & the Witch a record deal with Matador and The XX a Mercury award. Combined with their own unique and gruesome touch, it's enough to earn them a stronghold over the alternative music scene for years - so long as hype doesn't take its toll. Opener “Set Your Arms Down” puts their skills to good use; boiling over into post-rock territory, the ethereal vocal is an unsettling addition to the understated instrumentation. Just as effective is the guitar, which echoes a technique last used during the mid 1990's by bands like Radiohead. It's not a new tactic, but it's refreshing all the same. Elsewhere “Bees” introduces a reverberated call-on-call and “Composure” oozes exactly that - a mellow approach to lo-fi punk.

Lyrically, Warpaint don't underpin a profound message, they more than make up for their lack of literary direction in an astonishing explosion of style. The Fool blends celebrated genres effortlessly, and in doing so creates something that is as unprecedented as it is unpredictable. This is without a doubt a late contender for album of the year."

Read the full review here.

3. Foals - Total Life Forever

What we said: (Total Life Forever) is without a shadow of a doubt is Foals' 'coming of age' album. This new long player is split into two segments: the first half packed with math-rock staccato riff tunes that display Foals' talent for writing monstrous pop hooks like the one present in the destined to be hit 'Miami' or the sing-along charm of title track 'Total Life Forever'. And the latter half bringing to light Foals' experimental side with offset vocal reverbs, fuzzy baselines, glacial vocal harmonies and stuttering instrumentals all seen in the come-down solemn track 'After-Glow' and dreamy shoe-gazey pop '2 Trees'.

But it's album closer 'What Remains' that's the cream of the crop with the possibility that it could be the best thing to come out of Foals' existence with its taut groove melody that harks back to the Rumours era Fleetwood Mac, and marching rhythmic percussion crescendo resulting in both a momentous and atmospheric finale meaning it's the perfect track to finish Foals stunning sophomore effort. Where at times I found Antidotes to be quite one dimensional in its sonancy, Total Life Forever is a mature exploration and more importantly an evolution in Foals' already irresistible angular math rock genre.

Read the full review here

4. The National - High Violet

What we said: Without question the triptych of 'Alligator', 'Boxer' and now, 'High Viole't represent one of the most consistently brilliant and moving release runs of the last decade or so. Just in case it was ever in question, this record is renewed confirmation that The National are a very very special proposition indeed; carving out a position alongside Joy Division, 'Nebraska' era Bruce Springsteen, Blue Nile and REM whilst yoking those suburban sensibilities to a broader (arguably neo-classical) backdrop- we are witnessing a genuinely great band at the peak of their powers.

High Violet is a triumphant record without a single second of triumphalism. It is full of heroic restraint, the sound of someone trying not to cry as they leave, the quiet and trembling dignity of a last goodbye that is not aware of its own status. By any standards this is an album of rare, singular quality, it would be jewel in the crown of lesser bands; for The National it is further confirmation that they are amongst the very finest we have.

Read the full review here.

5. Manic Street Preachers - Postcards From A Young Man

What we said: '[This is our] last shot at mass communication' was the war cry hollered by Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers, during an interview discussing their latest longplayer Postcards From A Young Man. Possessing the mantra 'If you've got something to say, say it to as many people as possible', it's now down to them, and them only, to form the last rearguard for 'real' music, as opposed to the deluge of nondescript 'indie' nothingness we are now forced to swallow.

Postcards From A Young Man will certainly need to embrace a great deal of muscle and clout if it's to live up to the expectations of another Manics album
Postcards from a Young Man continues the journey of Manic Street Preachers with admiral polish and steel. It contains one thing that a lot of modern music fails to boast - a
soul. As long as bands like this are still fighting the fight, then we might yet stand a chance of usurping bland mediocrity in music.

Read the full review here.

6. Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can

What we said: There is no doubt that 'I Speak Because I Can' is a different being to 'Alas I Cannot Swim' and in many ways, this will alienate previous fans as Marling blatantly tries to push from her underground success and ride the wave of money that folk artists Mumford & Sons have created and in all honesty, I was alienated until I really paid attention to the album. 'I Speak Because I Can' is keeping to what we expect from Marling, but building on it three fold and there is no way that this won't make it onto every journalists album of the year list come the end of 2010. It will make it onto mine, that is for sure.

Read our full review here.

7. Beach House - Teen Dream

What we say: Victoria Legrand, the shoegazers Stevie Nicks, laments and rasps over ethereal, encapsulating songs of pulchritude; dreamily resigned to her fate in between a state of loss and remembrance.

The production for this ambitious songbook of cinematic rich layered hymns is stepped up, with a display of transfixing and diaphanous startling memorable melodies and full electronic symphonic sound. Intoxicating and evocative, 'Teen Dreams' will wrap you up in its beguiling evocative charm.(Dominic Valvona)

8. Villagers - Becoming A Jackal

What we said: Villagers is the chosen moniker of Irish songwriter Conor J. O'Brien a startling new talent, spending his formative music education in critically acclaimed Dublin band The Immediate. After a few years writing, he now emerges solo, and fully formed as a new signing on the well respected imprint Domino Records. With his short dark hair and intense eyes, and a name like Conor he has been compared to Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes but despite the obvious it's somewhat of a red herring. His voice is at once familiar yet individual: perhaps you can compare his dark literate folk-pop to the melodrama of Patrick Wolf's 'Wind in the Wires' album, or the tender poetic presence of Paul Simon's folk pop and while he clearly owes a debt to the intimacy of Eliot Smith, right here in 2010 he sounds like no one else - sometimes frail and confessional. at others confident and self aware; his words tumbling into vivid life creating characters on a page, from hypnotic tone to howl, each prosaic lyrical piece detailing intertwining autobiography and character study above expertly produced musical journeys through his world. 'Becoming a Jackal' is his magnetic debut album and these are my impressions of it.

'Becoming a Jackal' introduces us to a fascinating talent. I urge you to delve deep into each act of his diverse debut album, from folky intimacy to wide screen pop, each song feeding into the sense that when backed up by his musical comrades, O'Brien has clearly read and listened well. This is an artist that promises in the future to provide us with yet more expertly produced soundtracks to his tales of love, insecurity, hope, horror and obsession as he puts it himself “I don't want this ever to be the finished product, but to be constantly changing, moving and growing. I can hear so much more.” In the meantime his first chapter is riveting.

Read the full review here.

9. Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo

What we said: Avi Buffalo is the adopted name of Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, a 18-year old singer songwriter with quite the most astounding new voice I've heard so far this year: a bittersweet tone that runs like water down the glistening Long Beach ravines, a tone that joins the majesty of legendary elementor of folk Neil Young and awe-inspired falsetto of Wayne Coyle of The Flaming Lips. Indeed, Avi's gleeful yet yearning vocals are so high pitched that sometimes your ears do a double take: is this really a male singer? The confusion is aided by the twin melodies of keyboardist (and ex-girlfriend) Rebecca Coleman. But more than that, with their self released debut album Avi Buffalo - Sub Pop's most exciting new signings - are purveyors of the kind of timeless melodies that are at once familiar and yet somehow fresh, exciting and sometimes quite surprising. Wonderfully tripped out and blissful Americana is underscored by heartbreak and uncertainty, and it very quickly becomes clear that this is the perfect soundtrack to our unexpected sunny spell in dear old Blighty.

Avi Buffalo's debut is hands down the most timeless record I've heard this year. Musically it could have been produced at any point in the last 50years, but it's filtered through the eyes of uncertain teenage self-discovery, the confusion of first love, the first time you made love, and at times simple, unexpected occurrences, and thus Avi Buffalo and his band have produced an album of not just enormous promise but wonderful realisation. One of the most satisfying long players I've heard in 2010 so far, this self-titled debut might just be the soundtrack to a summer that's yet to come.

Read the full review here.

10. Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks

What we said: Frightened Rabbits last full length album, 'The Midnight Organ Fight' was well received by critics and fans alike with myself personally thinking it was a touch of genius, blending indie, pop and folk sensibilities with a lyrical content that was emotional and relate-able whilst still remaining slightly tongue in cheek. It is this that makes the Scottish five piece almost a shoe-in for the break through British band to the start of the new decade, especially when you consider the pure tripe that we had to suffer during the tale end of the last one. Is 'The Winter Of Mixed Drinks' an album that is going to help Frightened Rabbit break through the ice and into the media eye or will it push down upon them, causing them to sink faster than the Titanic post iceberg?'The Winter Of Mixed Drinks' is much like its predecessor in many ways, vocal tone wise, Hutchinson still sounds very Biffy Clyro like but with more emotion, this is something I admired before and it is something that still heavily works on this album. Opener 'Things' is sonically challenging with feedback creating the background of the track as a snare roll builds up accompanied by a bright guitar melody as Hutchinson repeats 'I never need these things'. Lead single and one of the stand-out tracks 'Swim Until You Can't See Land' is bright, poppy and media friendly with its sing-a-long chorus, which given time, will stick into your skull so comfortably you'll be unsure as to how you ever lived without it.

It isn't without its negative sides though, both 'The Loneliness & The Scream' and 'Man/Bag Of Sand' come across as pointless tracks that you would happily skip, especially interlude 'Man/Bag Of Sad' which offers absolutely nothing in terms of sound or invention but on the whole 'The Winter Of Mixed Drunks' is what I, as a fan of the band expected. A more mature well rounded release, more capable of mainstream success than the previous albums but on the whole, is it really as good as 'The Midnight Organ Fight', I'm going to side with the negative.

Read the full review here.

11. Sleigh Bells - Treats

What we said: NY noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells, Derek Miller (noisemaker) and Alexis Krauss (girl singer) released a mixture of demos last fall. They quickly became noticed for their weird but brilliant audio juxtaposition; a foundation of brash metal riffs and break-beats supplied by Miller with Krauss delivering some deliriously euphonious cheerleading hooks. Needless to say when meshed together it was to great musical effect. You may think this sum of sonic parts seems random, outlandish and altogether non-sensical: you'd be wrong. Previous to Sleigh Bells, Derek was the bassist for the hardcore band Poison the Well, with Alexis's humble beginnings entailing a stint in a generic pop/rock band Ruby Blue that never managed to quite take off. After an encounter in a restaurant that seems only worthy of Hollywood movie status Sleigh Bells were born. The idiom 'opposites attract' seems to be Sleigh Bells' main philosophical muse for their debut disc.

Read our full review here.

12. Caitlin Rose - Own Side Now

What we said about her: Texas' Caitlin Rose writes the kind of country that could spin an uninitiated listener on their heels; it's blissfully heart wrenching, sung by a woman with a voice decades older than her soul. Highlights thus far come from her cover of The Rolling Stones' “Dead Flowers”, “Sinful Wishing Well” and “Shanghai Cigarettes”. Her song “Things Change” offers an awe-inspiring glimpse at material to come and remotely echoes Laura Marling's “Darkness Descends”.

Caitlin's debut album 'Her Own Side Now' was recorded with producer Mark Nevers, who has previously worked with Eef Barzelay and Clem Snide. Of her future sound, Caitlin admits, “This record will be a far cry from the acoustic EP. I play live with a band now and want to work within the noise we've been making, inspired in part by hearing Linda Ronstadt sing "Tumbling Dice" and all those strange dreams I keep having about Tom Petty's teeth!”

Read an interview with her here.

Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Fire

Channelling the spirits of Dennis Wilson, Mike Love and Jeff Lyn, The Besnard's Jace Lasek's vocals serenade us, as they twist and turn through a richly ethnographical landscape of unidentified wars, sorrow and pained lose; following the antics and tribulations of a pair of mysterious spy's.
Lushly spun Axlerod-esque compositions are immersed with inventive bouts of shoegazing (yes that old genre again!) and sophisticated progressive rock. Dare I say it, but this could indeed be an improvement on their last majestic suite, '…Are The Dark Horse'.(Dominic Valvona)

14. Meursault - All Creatures Will Make Merry

What we said:As it wheezes into life, 'All Creatures Will Make Merry' wears its heart on its sleeve, harking back to, if not channelling the spirt of, early British freak folk pioneers Incredible String Band. It's a fine lineage and not one to be ashamed of, especially when it also picks up a dual heritage of traditional Ceilidh bands somewhere along the way

Meursault are from Edinburgh. Formed in 2005, this was originally a one-man outlet for Neil Pennycook. It has now grown somewhat to a five pieceNot just in Pennycook's wildly celtic voice, it feels Scottish through and through, that folk heritage now melded alongside more modern indie conventions, without anything being drowned in the process.As with that fellow subverter of tradition Ray Raposa, All Creatures Will Make Merry really does repay the effort of more concentrated listening. Give it a tiny bit of space and time, and fruit will surely be borne.

Read the full review here.

Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid

What we said: This 18 track LP carries on with the narrative/concept that was established earlier on in Monae's debut EP Metropolis (Suite I: The Chase) where listeners were introduced to the futuristic time setting of 2719, and the tale of a mass-produced android called Cindi Mayweather who becomes an fugitive, once threatened with 'death' by the powers that be as a result of falling in love with a human named Anthony. The Archandroid continues in following the plight of Cindi whose now become a messianic android trying to free a race of fellow cyborgs who are being oppressed by a secret society where freedom and love are banned within the android community.

Now if that isn't ambitious I honestly don't know what is, but the truly great thing about this LP is the manner in which Monae manages to communicate these outlandish ideas in a way that is both experimental and accessible, with her sonic being an eclectic mix of the true greats - the aforementioned David Bowie, Prince, James Brown and Michael Jackson etc. For every orchestrated cinematic score like the strikingly beautiful duo 'Neon Gumbo' and 'Sir Greendown' there's a straight-laced melodic futuristic r'n'b/pop/funk stomper like 'Cold War', and it's this balanced tipping of the scales, so the speak, that stops the listener feeling like they're listening to an album that's straying into territories that are either too watered down or 'out there', thus widening the album's demographic.

Read the full review here.

Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring

What we said: “You're pouting in your sleep/I'm waking still yawning/We're proving to each other/That romance is boring”

Romance is Boring runs off on a different tack to its precursor, 'We Are Beautiful We Are Doomed'. The pretentions gone; the fun is back. The title track runs off with an Oasis-ripped cocksure guitar and drum intro flowing almost immediately into the sing-a-long chorus of the year. From there the angular guitar returns, the syncopation, the words of disenfranchisement, apathy and inadequacy. The heavy aspect of Tom's lead guitar balanced with Aleksandra's more prominent vocals throughout the verses of the first few songs show a renewed confidence to change the structure of each composition without losing those founding principles the band adhered to, a bitterness which works with the tongue-in-cheek sound rather than limiting it whilst remaining distinctly Los Campesinos!.

There are confused moments, interludes which shoot off in all directions without developing any interesting ideas. It is a relief to hear 'We need more post coital/and less post-rock' kick in with a firework display of a guitar riff and a joyous chorus chant which come together to form 'Straight in at 101'; a song about sexual inexperience which gets you dancing in a way only Los Campesinos! could. Still, there are times when what is being reached for does not come quite so easily.

Read the full review here

17. Mount Kimbie - Crooks And Lovers

What we said: "Vocals are often considered essential to many music fans and not without reason: it's the way most people connect with the music they listen to, and more importantly it's one of the main triggers that instigates emotion in the listener - or it used to be. It's now 2010 and we're now feeling more at home with the sounds of electronic bleeps and gloops than ever before, and why shouldn't we when Mount Kimbie do it so well.

The overwhelming sense of calm ambience that peppers the majority of the album creates a pleasant sense of escapism, thus resulting in a universal sonic that is both appropriate to soundtrack a commuter's journey home after a long busy day at work, and one that would be equally perfect as background music for someone who just wants to beaver away with everyday household chores. Basically, it's idyllic beat music for the masses; a debut that is as effortlessly sleek as it is utterly captivating from start to finish and one that's also destined to fill countless spots on numerous album of the year polls come this December and leave you craving for more.

Read the full review here.

18. I Am Kloot - Sky At Night

What we said: Over a decade down the line and I Am Kloot have managed to keep themselves well out of the limelight up to now! Their only crime is the fact that they have, frankly, been somewhat unremarkable. They're the kind of band that fit the 'nice' tag too neatly, with a decent back catalogue and cameo appearances on a variety of compilation albums. You will all have heard (and probably liked) something by the band, but might not know it! Well all of that may be about to change.

The Manchester trio have made a staggering leap forward and produced their most complete work yet, by some way. The 'assist' from Garvey might give them a leg up, but the finished article is all theirs. Elbow gathered the much coveted/maligned Mercury Prize two years ago with their own leap forward, The Seldom Seen Kid. Sky At Night puts I Am Kloot right in line to achieve a similar feat (you read it here first!). A moving album to be cherished and worshiped!

Read the full review here.

19. The Last Dinosaur - Hooray For Happiness

What we said: The Last Dinosaur are an Essex based two-piece who proudly proclaim that Hooray! For Happiness was recorded in their home, often late at night (much to the delight of their neighbours I'm sure), on a 16-track and without a single computer to aid them. When I first read this on the album inlay it got my retro White Stripes garage rock senses tingling and surely I can't be alone? But the question is are The Last Dinosaur Essex's answer to the retro chic of that American duo who commandeered the world's attention for much of the noughties?

Read the full review here.

20. These New Puritans - Hidden

What we said: These New Puritans' debut release, 2008's Beat Pyramid, was a mish-mash of angular guitars, glitchy beats and grimey indie-tronica. A fresh sound in the slowly dying British indie movement. But now, Jack Barnett and co. have taken their forward thinking approach to music one step further and, with the help of a children's choir and a vast array of instruments including oboes and pastel pianos, crafted the first truly great release of the year in the form of Hidden.

These New Puritans' Hidden is an ambitious album, unlike anything the band, or most other people for that matter, have done beforehand. It still manages to retain something almost indescribably similar to the first record in terms of tone at least, and TNPS established fan-base will no doubt be satisfied by this latest effort. While not an easy listen, give it some time and an open mind and it is an album you can easily find interest and intrigue in.

Read the full review.

21. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
22. The Unwinding Hours - The Unwinding Hours
= LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
= Dinosaur Pile-Up - Growing Pains
= Thee Silver Mt Zion - Kollaps Tradixionales
= Steve Mason - Boys Outside
= Mark Ronson - Record Collection
= Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
= Lissie - Catching A Tiger
= Alex Dingley - Built in the Ruins of a Monday Morning
31. Wolf Parade - Expo 86
= The Domino State - Uneasy Lies The Crown
= Oceansize - Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up
= The Xcerts - Scatterbrain
= Crocodiles - Sleep Forever
= The Drums - The Drums
= Bonobo - Black Sands
= H.Hawkline - A Cup Of Salt
39. This Is The Kit - Wriggle Out The Restless
= Northern Portrait - Criminal Art Lovers
= Charlie Douglas - The Lives of Charlie Douglas
= The Morning Benders - Big Echo
= Adam Gnade - Trailerparks
= Foxy Shazam - Foxy Shazam
= Johnny 5th Wheel - Tales Of...
= Yeasayer - Odd Blood
47. Marina & The Diamonds - The Family Jewels
= Insect Guide - Dark Days and Nights
= Gabby Young & Other Animals - We're All In This Together
= The Phantom Band - The Wants