The Strangulation’s 25 Favorite Albums of 2010

Year-end lists are a difficult topic. The thing is, they are very personal and they very much depend on each person. Let’s make some stuff clear: I mostly listen to hipster music and I don’t exactly listen to as many music as other music writers do. I mean, I consider that I listen to a lot of “obscure” bands and I proud myself in my wide and ever-changing music library. But, I still read, let’s say, Pitchfork’s or NME’s yearly lists and I realize that I don’t know about half of the bands they mention. WHATEVER, DOUCHEBAGS. I listen to stuff that I like, not stuff that I’m fed. And this is the result of a year of constant, but apparently not enough music listening. It is not objective, it’s an entirely subjective list, because yes. That’s why it says “favorite albums” in the title, not “best albums”. I was gonna do a write up on each one of these, but I realized around number 8 that no one will read them and I don’t have that much time or stuff to say about this albums. I like them and that’s it. I don’t need no reasons.

Enter my list:

25. Heaven Is Whenever – The Hold Steady

24. Astrocoast – Surfer Blood

23. My Best Friend Is You – Kate Nash

22. Infinite Arms – Band of Horses

21. Contra – Vampire Weekend

20. The Wild Hunt – The Tallest Man On Earth

19. All Delighted People (EP) – Sufjan Stevens

18. Transference – Spoon

17. Beat The Devil’s Tattoo – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

16. Stuck On Nothing – Free Energy

15. The Drums – The Drums

14. Big Echo – the morning benders

13. Together – The New Pornographers

12. How I Got Over – The Roots

11.Broken Dreams Club (EP) – Girls

10. Total Life Forever – Foals

9. Teen Dream – Beach House

8. Brothers – The Black Keys
Brothers is a rock solid album, there’s no second spared in it. In this release, for the first time (I think), the boys brought on more instruments, but managed to make it without getting rid of their bluesy two-man band vibe. A great record, and I have not stopped coming back to it since it came out.

7. False Priest – of Montreal
Here’s a controversial choice. of Montreal is a thing of the past for most people, but honestly, I think False Priest is close to being their best release. I think it’s funny, catchy, lovable and charming. For once, the music isn’t the only cheery thing about Kevin Barnes’ music, as the lyrics also take place in the positive vibe of the album. I don’t care that they aren’t writing about drugs and addiction anymore, this new of Montreal is fun!

6. High Violet – The National
I highly anticipated this album, and it didn’t disappoint me. It might be The National’s saddest and darkest album, but it’s also a beautiful piece of art.

5. Age of Adz – Sufjan Stevens
Mr. Soofy returned with this album after (sort of) a 5 year hiatus, and it is very much hit or miss for most people. Personally, I love it, just like anything Sufjan does. In this album he took a more electronic vibe and his complicated arrangements got maximized and shot up to the sky. Despite its abstractness, it is very easy to get into it and it’s very relatable. It might be Sufjan’s most personal album. And “Impossible Soul” is probably the song of the year.

4. The Monitor – Titus Andronicus
One solid contender for the best of the year, and it was my favorite for the most part of the year. It was hard deciding its position, but the truth is their live performances are a buzz kill and the album does not age as well as I thought it would. Still, this album is very close to my heart. Teenage angst and mediocrity at its best.

3. This Is Happening – LCD Soundsystem
Here’s a band that definitely won’t be coming back, and this album was the perfect closer for their awesome carrer and trilogy of albums. Like them or not, they did create a new semi-genre and gave rise to dozens of new bands that would follow what they did. They took danceable music and mixed it with real lyrics, that talked about daily stuff with a clever air to it. I personally think they couldn’t have ended on a higher note, their live performances  are the shit and I totally agree with the whole “let’s kill it before it’s dead” train of thought. Maybe The Office should take a page out of James Murphy’s book of life (I would totally read that if it was a real book).

2. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West
It’s been at the top of most year-end lists, and even though there’s a lot of controversy around whether it should or shouldn’t be the best album of the year (as always). It truly is a piece of art and everything the media has made it to be. Kanye is a douchebag. He’s quite an eccentric character, and I find that very ballsy and cool. This is his masterpiece. Technically, everything he does after this should be mediocre compared to this, but we’ll have to see that.

1. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
The Monitor was my favorite record for a while, but it came out early in the year and boy, did awesome stuff come out after it. I heard The Suburbs heavily while I was temporarily living in another city, and it really stuck to that experience. Everything about this album was great. It was different from their previous album, but not that much of a surprising leap. The songs are structured differently but they achieve the same emotional tension that has become so characteristic in their work. It is the climax of a great band, and it was a beautiful evolution to presence. I saw them live back in October, in what could possibly be one of my best nights (even though everything around the concert was pretty boring, and I got really, really sick after the concert). I have never felt such a connection with a band as with Arcade, and I thank them for making awesome music.

Honorable Mentions:

The Social Network – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Inception (Music From The Motion Picture) – Hans Zimmer

Volume Two – She & Him

Everything In Between – No Age

Congratulations -MGMT

Sea of Cowards – The Dead Weather

Sit Down, Man – Das Racist

Amador – Adanowsky

Treats – Sleigh Bells

Albums I wish I had heard:

Plastic Beach – Gorillaz

The Adventures of Bobby Ray – B.o.B.

The Orchard – Ra Ra Riot

Surfing The Void – The Klaxons

Wake Up! – John Legend & The Roots

New Amerykah, Pt 2: Return of the Anhk – Erykah Badu

The Lady Killer – Cee Lo Green

Update:
Throughout the holidays I have gotten a lot of listening time with a few albums that I hadn’t had time for before. Especially, The Archandroid by Janelle Monáe and Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons, but also including Lisbon by The Walkmen, Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter, In This Light And On This Evening by the Editors, Odd Blood by Yeasayer, Man On The Moon II by Kid Cudi and The Winter of Mixed Drinks by Frightened Rabbit. I’m sure some of those would have made the list if I had listened to them previously.

A Collection of Short Reviews: Autumn Edition (Part 2)

Now that autumn is pretty much over I think it’s time to finish up my Autumn Jams series. Here are some of the albums that I’ve found relevant in the past months:

Living With Yourself – Mark McGuire
I heard this guy on some mix back in October and I thought “Well, this is some cool ambient music”. I eventually got his album and I can say that it’s pretty much the same song I heard (Brainstorm (For Erin)), in a whole album, which isn’t necessarily bad. If you like ambient/psychedelic/instrumental/spacey music this is beautiful. If you aren’t that kind of horrible person, move on with your boring life. The guitar work is amazing here, by the way.

Throat – Little Women

I don’t know if I should be even talking about this, but I was recommended this album earlier this year and for some reason I did end up getting it. I loathe dislike avant garde and this didn’t change much with this album. Except I can actually stand it, and it even peaks my interest sometimes. It’s stressful and annoying and I would even say damaging, but it makes me feel all those things, which is something. When I hear this album something happens in my brain and I start feeling strange and I want to scream and throw something at someone. It’s a different experience. It makes me want to kill myself.

This is Happening – LCD Soundsystem
As the hipster that I am, I love LCD. I will be seeing them live in December (don’t expect a huge “In Retrospective”, I have finals) and I am very eager to go there and get drunk and be mindfucked. This album is one of my favorites this year, and supposedly, LCD’s last. Well, it’s a great closer for a great career. “Dance Yrself Clean” is a surprising experience the first time you hear it, “All I Want” has that charm that made me fall in love with “All My Friends” and “Pow Pow” has that funny aggressiveness that is so characteristic in LCD’s work. It has everything, just like any other LCD album. Is it better than Sound of Silver? Perhaps. It’s a matter of personal taste.
Some people find them boring, but I love this band.

Inception Soundtrack – Hans Zimmer

Yes, I loved the film. I had to get the soundtrack. I did. It is amazing. Especially when I’m studying or doing something where I don’t really pay attention to the background music. Otherwise it’s just boring.

Stuck On Nothing – Free Energy
These guys were touring with Titus Andronicus earlier this year. That may or may not have influenced me picking their album. I don’t really remember.  But it’s good that I did get it, because it’s tons of fun. They have this awesome 80’s vibe to them with their simple sound and their crazy solos. They go along with Titus because Titus is kind of depressing and pessimistic and these guys are the opposite, yet they sound pretty similar to normal people (not me). “All I Know” is one of my favorite songs this year.

Total Life Forever – Foals

Foals were here last month. They played some festival and I heard they did great, I was too busy hearing Arcade Fire give the concert of their lives. I wish I could have seen them, I fell in love with their stuff the first time I heard it. Their sound is hard to explain; all I can really say is that I love their bass, and that they have a very natural, flowing sound. I guess the keyboards are what does it, but I honestly don’t know what makes them sound so original. Perhaps it’s the nearly monotonous voice, or the stereo beats. Whatever it is, it makes these guys sound awesome! Get this, now.

Sit Down, Man – Das Racist

I recently presented this to a dear friend of mine and he fell in love with the “hahaha jk” song. I don’t know why I listen to this. It pretty much is the music that you’d expect to be done by a stoner. With some really genius lines. Don’t listen to this, you’ll get hooked.

Brothers – The Black Keys

I used to hate these guys. I don’t know why, I had never heard them and I’d never seen them but for some reason I didn’t like them. Then I heard one of their songs somewhere and quite loved it (I think it was “Lies” from their previous album Attack & Release). I was eagerly anticipating this album and I’ve been constantly listening to it since it came out. I heard a friend say that it sounds like what they’ve been aiming for since they started and I can agree with that. Even though there is more instrumentation than their previous releases, they still sound simplistic and bluesy. Great album, perhaps their best to date.

Teen Dream – Beach House

I got this album because I heard someone say, and I remember this clearly, “I didn’t know I needed another dream pop album until I heard Teen Dream“. That pretty much sums it up. It’s not anything new or amazing but it is beautifully done. It’s catchy and relaxed. For some reason I don’t take it very seriously but I do like it a lot. These kids were here earlier this year and I deeply regret missing their concert.

Infinite Arms – Band of Horses

Band of Horses, in my opinion, are a band that has gotten progressively worse. Their debut album was really, really good. I liked it a lot. Alt country at its best. Nostalgia surrounds this record in my mind. Simpler times, I hear it say. Then I could never get into their second album. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like it. I was pretty indifferent towards this album when it came out. I think I got it about a month after its release or something like that. At first I didn’t pay much attention to it and swore it was nothing worthy of my attention. Then, a few months later I decided to give it another chance and my opinion on it changed. It still doesn’t come close to Everything All The Time, forever and ever the best Alt Country album in recent years. But it’s still a good, solid album. Perhaps I should even give another chance to their second album, whatever it was called.

That pretty much sums up the most relevant albums that I’ve been listening to in the past months. There are still plenty more, but either I don’t like them a lot, or I don’t have much to say about them.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West

The lunatic is on the grass…

He’s also rapping. And sending chicks pics of his dick. And interrupting award shows. And calling out presidents. But damn, he really knows how to make good music. That was a Pink Floyd reference, by the way. Continue reading

The Strangulation reviews Call of Duty: Black Ops

I was thinking recently about how I have a category for games but I haven’t actually talked about any games in this blog. The thing is, I don’t play a lot of games, mainly because of money but also because I don’t have a lot of free time. This year I have only bought Red Dead Redemption, Starcraft II, Worms, Fat Princess, Borderlands and The Godfather II. And most of those just because they were on sale. I do, however, rent a lot games or borrow them from friends. Hopefully now that I have a substantial and somewhat steady income I’ll be able to play more games, like the upcoming Gran Turismo 5, Killzone 3 and LBP 2. Also Mass Effect 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Need for Speed and a wheel to play GT5 the proper way.

With that cleared out, now it is time to talk Call of Duty. Continue reading

A Collection of Short Music Reviews: Autumn Edition (Part 1)

Perhaps you remember the “Summer Jams” post from way back in July. Well, seeing how I haven’t reviewed much lately because of fucking concert crazy season I’ve decided to go ahead and write the Autumn Edition of my collection of short reviews. This is what I’ve been listening to in the last few months, as well as a few albums that I missed earlier this year:

How I Got Over – The Roots
I’ve never been a big R&B/hip hop guy, but man do The Roots make it sound awesome! I was turned into this album when I heard that they used “Dear God” from the Monsters of Folk as a sample in one of their songs. Amazing, or what? They also had Joanna Newsom, John Legend and the Dirty Projectors girls as guests (or samples, whatevs). I especially like how everything in this album flows, even the transition from one song to the next. It starts very strong, but gets a bit boring near the end. Funny story, the weekend I got this I was on vacations in this really awesome town and I couldn’t stop listening to this album. Now everytime I listen to it I remember walking in the streets of that town.

The Drums – The Drums
The first time I heard of The Drums, they were playing “Best Friend” on some late night british show. I kept hearing their name and I decided to get their album. Best. Decision. Ever. I love their surf-ish rock sound and their 80-ness, they remind me of The Smiths and some of the non-dark times of The Cure. This album is a blast and it totally deserves all the hype it once got. Now I guess it’s time to go get their first EP, “Summertime”.

The Avalanche – Sufjan Stevens
This is old. Like, 5 years old. But for some reason, I never listened to it before. This are supposed to be “B-sides” from the Illinois album, but they are so good it’s hard to think of them as leftover material. It could very well be the second part of Illinois, but Illinois is long enough already. And let’s just say I can never get enough of “Chicago”, or the 2 alternative versions included here. I love you, Sufjan, in a completely non-gay way.

Pavement
In my constant hunt for new music I never actually got through 90’s indie acclaimed band Pavement. Well, this year with the heat of their reunion and the release of their greatest hits album Quarantine The Past I thought it would be a great time to give them a chance. And I loved them. First I got Crooked Rain and then about 2 days later I got their whole discography. Then after a week they got 255 plays in my Last.fm. Now they are in my top ten most played of all time. In a week, that’s a very big accomplishment for any band. Expect a big post covering them, soon.

the morning benders
Back in the Summer Jams post I gave a not so enthusiastic review of their recent release Big Echo. Well, they grew on me and I even went back and got their debut album Talking Through Tin Cans. I especially liked the thing they did for La Blogotheque recently. It’s hard to put a label on them, and I’m finding it especially hard describing why I like them. Let’s just say I like their hooks and leave it at that.

The Social Network Soundtrack – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
One of the best things about David Fincher’s new movie The Social Network (the Facebook movie) is the soundtrack made by Trent Reznor. And it is a pretty great movie, but perhaps that has to do with the fact that I wasn’t expecting anything good to come from it. Like I said, it is done by Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, and it is filled with NIN-isms. The whole “industrial rock” thing flows through the whole album. Great, great soundtrack.

High Violet – The National
Back when this came out I was desperately waiting for it. I first heard them play “Terrible Love” at Jimmy Fallon’s and it blew my mind and awoke my hunger for material from this guys. The album came out and it didn’t dissapoint. It was very dark and sad and different from Boxer and Alligator, but it was great. You don’t really expect happiness to come out of an album with song tracks like “Sorrow”, “Little Faith”, “Terrible Love” and “Afraid of Everyone”. Back when it came out I remember thinking how it could be a great contender for Album of the Year, but seeing what has come out since, I guess High Violet will have to conform with a top ten spot.

That’s the end of the first part of Short Reviews for Autumn. Part 2 is coming soon!

Arcade Fire @ Teatro Estudio Cavaret, GDL 10/16

On the 16th night of October, Arcade Fire gave their last concert in their North American tour, and in their visit to Mexico to a very enthusiastic Guadalajaran crowd. The writing writer happily attented, and this is his story. The writing writer tried to get some photos, but for some reason all the Flickr ones were prohibited. Videos are not those of the writing writer.


It was a sunny and promising Saturday when my friend arrived. He didn’t know much about Arcade Fire but somehow I had convinced him of going to their concert. We arrived at the bus station around noon, bought tickets and immediately boarded. The first hour we were very talky-talky, but then he said he wanted to get some sleep and changed seats. Then this vendor arrived and started making some retarded conversation with him, which he didn’t manage well. He stayed there for a good half an hour talking, while I was preparing for the concert with my headphones on. Later my friend told me how much he hated that guy and how he thought there was something off with him. There was. Continue reading

Arcade Fire In Retrospective (Part 2): Neon Bible

This the second (and last) part of series about Arcade Fire, in preparation of the concert that the writing writer who maintains this blog will be attending.

 

Neon Bible

 

Here we arrive to the second album in the short, yet successful trajectory (so far) of acclaimed indie art-rock band Arcade Fire. The year was 2004 when they released, to unexpected success, their debut album Funeral. 3 years had to pass until we got another taste of their twisted canadian minds. The year was 2007, and the album was called Neon Bible. Continue reading