Well, better late than never, but at least a couple of people have asked what our picks of 2010 were, so here goes:
1 – Connan Mockasin “Please Turn Me Into The Snat” It has to be, really. At just 36 minutes in duration, it is one of those weirdly, immaculately perfect little albums that you find yourself returning to again and again, hearing something new every time, yet never feeling like you are really unraveling the mysteries of a set that variously recalls Barrett’s Floyd, Tiny Tim and Skip Spence –plus, Johnny Marr got it from us this year – big, big tick…
2- The Phoenix Foundation “Buffalo” The fourth, and I would maintain best album from our favourite local beardies is a delightfully considered affair; from the reverby wash of opener ‘Eventually’ all the way through to the glacial closer ‘Golden Ship’. The title track is a veritable galumphing indie anthem, ‘Wonton’ dreamy , drippy summery pop; in fact, the whole album is just a fantastic set of songs that doesn’t need to jump up and down and proclaim its’ excellence – it is a genuine ‘grower’, and sounds particularly wonderful as the first vinyl release through our ‘boutique’ Slow Boat Records imprint.
3- Sun Kil Moon “Admiral Fell Promises” Terrifically monochromatic third album proper from former Red House Painter Mark Kozelek, performed solo, exclusively on nylon string acoustic guitar. This is really one of those ‘you’re in or you’re out’ situations, where this is a record unlikely to win over new fans, but it really does contain some of the most gloriously beautiful and melancholy music made by anyone at all in the last few years, and, for me, is a lot more likable than the slightly turgid 2008 effort “April”.
4- Vampire Weekend “Contra” It almost had to be a letdown after their exhilarating debut a few years back, but somehow it wasn’t. Or, rather, the things that didn’t sound anything like the first record weren’t – flagship single “Cousins” was a terrible red herring for a set whose strongest songs (“Horchata”, “Diplomat’s Son”, “Giving Up The Gun”, “I Think UR A Contra”) suggest a group whose kaleidoscopic musical vision stretches a bit further than Paul Simon’s “Graceland”.
5- Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti “Before Today” This year’s late run came from a record I had thought was just too patchy to be a serious contender – other than the glorious, anthemic single “Round And Round”. Best described as some sort of ‘shiny lo-fi’, and sounding at first like a total mish mash of corny 70’s AM radio pop and 80’s indie rock, it achieves the unique feat of sounding kooky as hell and also being amazingly accessible. Another grower.
1- Robert Plant “Band Of Joy”
2- The National “High Violet”
3- The Phoenix Foundation “Buffalo”
4- Dave Rawlings Machine “A Friend Of A Friend”
5- Bruce Springsteen “The Promise”