2010 - The Best Albums
36 8.51. Have One on Me - Joanna Newsom
The most awaited album of early 2010 for me. I nearly CRIED of sheer joy when I heard that Newsom wasn't only releasing a new album but a damn TRIPLE album. I imagined an epic sequel to Ys with the same crazy orchestrations and songs stretching near 20 minutes and all.
The album, however, toned down the craziness of Ys, closer to the mellow song-centricity of The Milk-Eyed Mender. In fact it's a bit like a crossing of these preceding albums of hers: the down-to-earthness of lyrics a la The Milk-Eyed Mender and the massive orchestrations of Ys. Overall she still goes in a new direction introducing instrumentation unheard on her previous albums such as electric guitars and the drum kit.
While Have One on Me is not as wonderful as Ys I can't say I'm disappointed. Each of the three discs has a bit differing sound so I can either listen to one of the three "records" or sit through the whole two hours of it. The problem is that the songs on Have One on Me are very subtle and lyric-centered so I have to pay attention to really absorb its beauty. This leads to the fact that listening to the record straight through can be a chore and the album can sound kind of boring.
Still the record is filled with some absolutely beautiful songs, my favourites including "'81", "Good Intentions Paving Company", "Baby Birch", "In California", "Go Long", "Soft as Chalk" and "Does Not Suffice". It's a great, ambitious album and I'm really interested to see how Joanna's career continues from here.
NOTE: My feelings towards this album have changed a little, to a more positive direction. I almost could call this a masterpiece. May change the review.
78 8.12. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West
I'm simultaneously really happy and amazed that Kanye made this album. I have never been a huge fan of his music before but My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy completely floored me right on the very first listen and has continued to do that over and over again.
As an MC, he is still not the best, but damn if he isn't one of the greatest hip hop producers OF ALL TIME (OK, enough of these jokes). The production here is one of a kind as the songs aren't beat-centric but actually composed, well, songs. Each song's production is full to the brim with details and hooks so that listening to the album is like taking a rollercoaster ride.
The flow, that starts from "Monster" and ends with the modest applause that closes the album, is pretty much perfection. Especially Nicki Minaj's verse on "Monster" and the whole of the art-pop-rap-prog-symphony "Runaway" just make me glad I still exist. I am so pleasantly surprised that hip hop can still sound this fresh.
7 9.13. Marrow of the Spirit - Agalloch
"They Escaped the Weight of Darkness" opens with a sad cello accompanied by soothing running water sounds (I do have an inexlicable love for the sound of rivers, rain and all things H2O) and always manages to take me right into that forest depicted on the cover.
And suddenly the calmness is GONE as the furious black metal blastbeat avalanche of "Into the Painted Grey" falls. This is why metal music still matters in the 2010s decade. The intensity later calms down a bit with "The Watcher's Monolith".
After the opening trio, behold: BLACK LAKE NIÐSTÅNG. A very strong contender for song-of-the-year, it is a 17-minute, crushing, awesome piece of work with its eargasmic tormented screams (starting at 7:22, the most jaw-dropping moment on the album), a calming & spacy Moog build-up (which somehow reminds me of the Mass Effect OST) and a black metal coda.
"Ghost of Midwinter Fires" is a melodically strong piece which feels a bit lighter in atmosphere in-between "Niðstång" and the closer which is my second favorite song on the album, "To Drown". Starting with sounds of breaking waves, chamber music and neofolk, going through a post-rock tremolo build-up and ending with a pagan melody and pounding timpani, "To Drown" is just a beautiful, fantastic closer.
Marrow of the Spirit brilliantly captures the essence of nature and the ancient, primitive soul of man which has been smothered by these modern times. Agalloch must have had the pagan gods on their side while writing and recording this album.
51 84. High Violet - The National
High Violet, my first introduction to The National, is filled with genuine melancholy beauty that today's indie rock bands often lack. The songs aren't really instant hits. They are subtly written atmospheric compositions which gradually grow on you.
That is a little problem I have with High Violet: it needs a certain mood to really get into its world of fragile beauty. But when I am in that mood, it really works. When I'm not, it still sounds decent.
Good thing is that the album gets better on the later half so that it leaves a good feeling about it afterwards. I'd recommend you to check out songs like "Sorrow", "Afraid of Everyone", "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and "Conversation 16".
7 85. All Delighted People - Sufjan Stevens
Listening to All Delighted People EP on headphones in the middle of the night just left me absolutely speechless a moment ago. And Sufjan's music, thus far, has never really clicked with me.
My only complaints are about the Classic Rock Version (the title track is brilliant but I'd rather not hear such a long track twice on the same record) and Arnika (which felt like the only song I didn't find amazing). But Original Version, From the Mouth of Gabriel, The Owl and the Tanager and Djohariah definitely make up for them.
Maybe I should seriously try to give his preceding records a chance. And get "The Age of Adz" too.
3 96. Majakanvartijan Uni - Ville Leinonen
18 7.17. Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Du... - Big Boi
I'm in love with the world through "Shine Blockas". God that song's a classic.
Too bad that most of the album is ruined by annoying guests with the chorus of "Follow Us" being the worst example. Gucci Mane, however, shines on "Shine Blockas", Janelle Monáe isn't bad (though had her song a bit more variation, it would be a really great pop song) and I actually kinda like the Yelawolf feat too.
Anyway, Big Boi himself is mostly great on this album. I still miss Andre 3000 quite much.
Highlights include "Daddy Fat Sax" (really great beat), "Shutterbugg", "General Patton", "Be Still", "Shine Blockas"
1 78. Stained Glass (2011)
25 8.29. Diamond Eyes - Deftones
21 7.510. There Is Love in You - Four Tet
8 6.211. Causers of This - Toro Y Moi
To me Toro Y Moi is one of the most interesting representatives of the chillwave/glo-fi genre that had its birth in the late '00s. The melodies are great, especially on my favourite track "Minors" and I really like the electronic sounds slightly leaning on '80s nostalgia.
However, Causers of This faces the same problem as Contra: the songs sound too much like each other. Let's hope it's just a fault of the debut for this guy has some potential.
Oh yes, and the rating might go up with further spins.
1 712. Coyote - Kayo Dot
review to come
109 8.113. The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
review to come
25 7.514. The Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens
10 7.615. Le Noise - Neil Young
review to come
3 616. Seili - Jenni Vartiainen
3 7.517. Sahara - Anna Puu
Anna Puu is one of the more interesting artists that the Finnish "Idols" has brought up. Sahara is an albumful of folksy pop songs in the vein of a popular Finnish band, Egotrippi, a member of which has also written songs for Sahara.
The album starts out pretty well with the melancholy first single "Riko minut" which is followed by a nice, upbeat song "Anna ja merikarhu". Unfortunately the album delves into mediocrity after those.
Gladly it improves as it goes further: the title song has a cool, not as polished, sound and a chamber pop track "Sinä olet minä" is among the finest songs of the album with its great melody.
Actually, thanks to this record, Anna Puu might be my favorite "Idols artist".
10 818. Écailles de Lune - Alcest
I haven't heard Alcest's debut album Souvenirs d'un autre monde in its entirety but the little I've heard of it sounds more interesting than this.
Ècailles de lune feels too polished and the melodies don't affect me the same way as the ones on "Printemps émeraude" off the debut, for example.
Still has its highlights though, such as "Écailles de lune (Part II)".
74 7.319. Contra - Vampire Weekend
One of those records you first think you'll love from the bottom of your heart but as it plays on, it begins to annoy you.
A shortish album with some nice pop songs but all the songs sound a bit samey which is very irritating in the long run.
Don't believe it stands the test of further listening.
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