Clif’s Top 20: #1 through #5

Moving along…time to finish:

5. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs:  I can’t be sure why it took me so long to come around on this album, but it did.  Maybe I get sick of all the Arcade Fire sycophants who think Win Butler craps ice cream, and are quick to pronounce every thing this band does as being the greatest thing ever.  I don’t know… I can be a real stick in the mud.  That stated, it’s an excellent album,  it’s an ambitious album, and it solidifies their place as one of the best bands of the last 10 years.   As with the past two albums, Suburbs is an album that is grand in its design and scope. The album starts with the melancholy title track, which describes the compromises that are made daily under the auspices of responsible citizenry and family life.  It plows buoyantly into this phase with the second track, Ready to Start, which affirms a willingness to accept these circumstances. The rest of the album focuses on some of the ugly challenges and trade-offs that mark modern life.  It’s an album that demands attention, and one that is best heard in its entirety.  Highlights include: The Suburbs, Ready to Start, Modern Man, and Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains). [Buy it at Merge]

4. The New Pornographers – Together:  One day after the release of Together, the Aquarium Drunkard wrote a review that I thought was right on target.  To summarize it, Together was an apt title because it reflected a synergy that was absent from the previous album, Challengers.  Let’s face it, none of the principal players (Newman, Bejar, Case, and Calder) need to be in the New Pornographers, but when their hearts are into it, the results are excellence as exemplified in Mass Romantic, Twin Cinema, and the Electric Version. Together fits in well with the aforementioned trio, and it may be their most accessible album yet.  Highlights include: Crash Years; Your Hands (Together); Silver Dollar Jenny; Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk; Up in the Dark; and Valkyrie in the Roller Disco (a personal fave).  [Buy it at Itunes]

3. The National – High Violet:  Matt Berninger’s sad baritone is one the most distinct and compelling in modern rock.  Being part of a great band helps too.  The compositions on this album are ordered in such a way that the album does not get mired in one mood too long. High Violet is not nearly as dark as the album that preceded it, Boxer, but it still toils in anxiety, human frailty, and the travails of modern existence without coming off pretentious or becoming too laborious to endure (like this blurb).  Highlights include: Terrible Love, Sorrow, Anyone’s Ghost, Afraid of Everyone, Bloodbuzz Ohio, Lemonworld, England, and the closer, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks. [Buy it at Amazon]

2. The Black Keys – Brothers:  The Keys made their best, most complete album in 2010.  They continue to make simple, straight forward blues rock that gets inside and makes you want to howl and cry.  While visceral, the Keys did enough to keep it interesting.  Dan Auerbach experiments with a falsetto on tracks like Everlasting Light and The Only One.  They deliver ballads like Too Afraid to Love You and I’m Not the One.  However, it’s the blues and soul driven tracks that make it distinctly Keys with Unknown Brother, Tighten Up, Next Girl, and an excellent cover of Jerry Butler’s Never Give You Up anchoring this effort. [Buy from the Black Keys]

1. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening:  Murphy did not deviate much from past efforts, but did just enough to make this recording unique. It’s rumored that This Is Happening is a farewell album from James Murphy and company.  If this is so, he’s left me wanting more.  From the catharsis/absolution of Dance Yourself Clean to the cheeky Drunk Girls to the knee scraping pleas of I Can Change, this recording got under my skin like no other in 2010.  He riffs like mid-70’s Bowie on All I Want,  eschews the recording industry and pop music consumers on You Wanted A Hit, and exclaims at his electro punk best on Pow, Pow, Pow. This disc flipped and flipped and flipped and burned up my ears through spring, summer, fall, and even now.  This Is Happening was my favorite album in a great year for music.  Here’s hoping that 2011 is just as good. [Buy from LCD Soundsystem]

Clif’s #6 thru #10
Clif’s #11 thru #15
Clif’s #16 thru #20

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, peoples…


One response to “Clif’s Top 20: #1 through #5

  1. Pingback: The Dadada “Collective” Top Ten Albums of 2010 «·

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