…of Making Lists 2: Listing Harder

Cool Things from 2010
Some Cool Things (and Not Cool Things) from 2010

or: Another year of falling behind.

Rather than dwell on the failed plans, let’s just look at what came out, ok? A shorter list than last year, and no real suprises. Nothing you’re not going to see on anyone else’s list anyway. Music has been a bit up and down for me this year. Some of my most anticipated releases have failed to grab me, while I found a few bands who should’ve always been on my radar (I’m looking at you The National). So without any further adieu, and in the interest of getting this done before next year, here are the explanations:

The National’s High Violet: A definite highlight for me, and perhaps my favourite release. An almost perfect album.

Owen Pallett’s Heartland: It came out early on, but I’ve had it on pretty high rotation over the year. I’d been aware of Owen under his Final Fantasy moniker, but never got around to checking him out. And then I saw this video, and I was sold:

Warpaint’s The Fool: Discovered while researching for Laneway. It helped that they had the whole album up for streaming. I spent a whole day getting caught up in it. Beautiful.

Kyu’s Kyu: Despite only attending a handful of gigs that weren’t festivals, one of my live highlights was seeing Kyu open for Xiu Xiu at Amps. They weren’t even listed on the bill, but the twenty minutes they spent on stage I spent gobsmacked. An amazing surprise, and their debut album is fantastic.

Foals’ Total Life Forever: A departure from their first album, and a bit of a grower for me. Another potential highlight of the upcoming Laneway Festival.

Kanye West’s My Dark, Twisted Fantasy: However you want to label it (I’m going with Hip Hop for White People), and whatever you want to say about the man’s ego (yes, it’s gigantic), Kanye put out a great album.

Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs: I’ll be honest, this almost very nearly ended up on my disappointments list. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great tracks on The Suburbs, but it really didn’t grab me like their previous albums. And while both Funeral and Neon Bible growers for me, as much as I tried, I just couldn’t get The Suburbs to stick. I blame expectations for this one.

Batman, Green Lantern & Scott Pilgrim – It was a good year for comics. Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin and Return of Bruce Wayne has been spectacular. 2010 was also the year I started reading Green Lantern, which has been pretty rad (although I read it’s taken a dive of late), and everything Scott Pilgrim rocked my world. The books, then the movie, and then game, and then the soundtrack. Geeky goodness.

A notable exception and possibly my track of the year – if Triple J will please stop flogging it to death. I heard this one night in the car, and it’s the first time in a long time I’ve been knocked on my arse by a song. It’s everything I like about music, all rolled into one. An amazing drum line and fantastic beat, layers of noise and vocals, a nice build and a solid ending. It’s three minutes and twenty-nine seconds of perfection. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but my kind of amazing.

Disappointments

Interpol’s Interpol: When “Lights” was released early in the year, I could barely contain my excitement. Where-as there’s a common opinion that Interpol are working on a schedule of diminishing returns with each release, I’ve found myself falling deeper and deeper in fan as they’ve progressed. The move from Bright Lights, to Antics to Our Love… all seemed perfect to me. Enough of the same yet just the right amount of different to make it work. Interpol was said to be a “return to form”. Daniel had found the Bright Lights setting on his amp again, and they were excited about going back to their roots.

And then, not long before the album was released, came the news that Carlos had left the band. The beginning of the disappointing end. For me, Carlos’ bass had been integral to the band’s sound, and while he was still on the album, you could almost hear him phoning it in.

My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days: True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys: Sitting in a drafts folder somewhere is an open letter I started to My Chem explaining my disappointment, and while I won’t go into the gory details now, the long and the short of it was, you don’t follow this:

Grant Morrison with a ray gun
It's Grant Morrison, and he has a ray gun!

With an album full of synth-y euro pop/rock. It’s just not good. And yes, I should probably be ashamed of even mentioning this here, but you can’t release a video with Grant Morrison holding a fucking ray gun and not follow up with something kick ass. Here’s hoping Garrard Way has some more comics in him. He’s good at those.

Lost: Yup.

And I saw perform live*:

The Voltaire Twins, (avoided) Mumford & Sons, Whitley, Daniel Johnston, Echo & The Bunnymen, Sunny Day Real Estate, Clutch, Isis, Placebo & Paramore & AFI (all from a distance), Jane’s Addiction, Jimmy Eat World, Faith No More, Pavement, Dinosaur Jnr, Pixies (viva la Marchapalooza), Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mark Lanegan & Dave Rosser (as well as completing my Gutter Twin’s autograph collection), Band of Horses, (avoided, again) Mumford & Sons, The Strokes, Kyu, High Places, (the face meltingly good) Xiu Xiu, Silversun Pickups, Birds of Tokyo (against my will) and

* It should be noted, I may have seen (walked past) more bands at festivals, however the above were bands I either planned to see, or saw full sets.

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Author: Mark Ampersand

Budding writer, connoisseur of fine popular culture and Batman fan.

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