Best Releases of 2010

Most years I spend a lot of time trying to find the best new music. This time it was a bit different. Thanks to the joys of VCE I spent almost every waking moment studying or on one of my many sanity savinghttps://electricskeleton.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=785&action=edit trips to cafes and the pub. The only music I really found myself listening to was stuff that I could sleep or study to, which narrowed my listening habits down to Sigur Ros and Belle and Sebastian.

Because of this I’ve decided to make this a list of best releases rather than albums because it contains a live album and few EPs. Also, I want to give a huge thanks to anyone who’s recommended or sent me music over the past year and saved me from my Dear Catasrophoe Waitress hell.

20. The Drums Self-Titled

While there are many acts jumping on the lo-fi bandwagon, The Drums are one of the best. Their debut album is satisfying mix of 80’s britpop and Beach Boys style surf. While it isn’t the most original album out there, there are enough hooks to keep you interested and is the perfect soundtrack to a summer road trip.

19. John Steel Singers- Tangalooma

I had a hard time deciding if Hungry Kids of Hungary or The John Steel Singers should take this spot, however I gave it to the latter for improving on the EPs (if only slightly). Like you would expect, this album is full of the catchy and off-kilter pop songs John Steel Singers are known for.

18. Girl Talk – All Day

While we could get into all sorts of debates about the legality of Girl Talk’s (AKA Greg Gillis) mash-ups, you can’t deny that they are extremely entertaining. All Day is his fifth album and contains, 373 samples from the likes of The Arcade Fire and Jay-Z. Hearing Ludacris rap over Black Sabbath still hasn’t lost its novelty value and probably won’t for quite some time. The album was released as a free download with no prior notice and is meant to be heard as a seamless mash-up, with tracks added for convience. Highly recommended for long train trips.

17. Washington I Believe You  Liar

It’s been a big year for Washington with an album release, record-breaking shows at The Corner Hotel and an epic ARIAs performance that managed to be the one redeeming feature of this years awards ceremony. While the endless radio play, shopping centre soundtracks and festival appearances have dampened the enjoyment of this album for many people, it still stands out as a great collection of pop songs.

16. Scott Spark- Fail Like You Mean It

This is one of those times you shouldn’t judge an album by its cover. Because while it looks like the kind of comedy you’d generally find in an op shop, it’s actually a collection of smart and touching indie-pop songs that cover everything from Christmas to Elvis. If you’re a fan of piano-playing songwriters then you’ll be a massive fan of this record.

15. Outoto- Pip

In the wrong hands this album could come off as being arty for the sake of being arty, but Outoto turn it in to a highly listenable album of quirky and off-kilter pop songs.

14. Darren Hanlon- I Will Love you At All

I couldn’t have an end of year list and not include Darren Hanlon. I Will Love You At All continues his tradition of mixing detailed lyrics about the everyday with gentle folk. While this album isn’t as playful as his previous releases, tracks like the 7 minute ode to visiting your old house and the call and response of All These Things make it an enjoyable listen.

13. Los Campesinos!Romance Is Boring

On Romance Is Boring Los Campesinos! sound frustrated.  The title pretty much gives away the main theme of the album, with plenty of songs detailing failed relationships while the music, while noisier contains all the shouts and claps we are used to hearing. While it could all come off as being too much for one release, Gareth Campesinos’ gift for witty and attention grabbing lyricism holds it all together.

12. Steering By Stars- Cables

Post-rock often gets branded as repetitive and inaccessible, because let’s face it, 10 minute build-ups to a one minute crescendo aren’t exactly the most entertaining thing to listen to. However when it is done right, the results are amazing. Steering By Stars are an Adelaide band whose music could stand up against the likes of Sigur Ros. There is so much going on musically that it draws you in and makes you forget you’re listening to largely instrumental album.

11. Vampire Weekend- Contra


The success Vampire Weekend’s debut album was the catalyst for every band and their dog deciding to add tribal beats and jangly guitars to their sound. unsurprisingly, their second album Contra didn’t have the same impact. That said, it does see the band branch out. California English sees the use of auto-tune and Diplomat’s Sun features a very effective M.I.A sample.

10. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy


This album does nothing to disprove Kanye West’s reputation of being completely bat-shit insane, but this time it’s a good thing. This whole album is crazily ambitious and features guests ranging from Nicki Minaj (who is surprisingly not annoying on this album) to Justin Vernon. Hell, even Pitchfork gave it a 10.

9. Local Natives- Gorilla Manor

For those of you disappointed that we didn’t get to hear the promised Fleet Foxes release last year, this album is a godsend. Featuring three-part harmonies, hand claps and a Talking Heads cover, Local Natives are one of the best things to come out of L.A in quite some time.

8. Jonsi- Go

For years Sigur Ros fans have been attempting to decipher Jonsi’s icelandic lyrics, however when we hear him sing in English on Go, it feels like some of the magic is gone now we can understand what he’s singing. That said, the music is still amazing, and quite surprisingly, mostly upbeat.

7. The Jezebels- Dark Storm


The Jezabels have gained a lot of attention this year but it’s for a very good reason. The songs off Dark Storm sound like they belong to a band who have released a number of albums rather than a few EPs, combining soaring female vocals with the atmosphere of  The National.

6. Laura Marling- I Speak Because I Can

When Laura Marling released Alas I Cannot Swim at the age of 18 many people were surprised at the quality and depth of her song-writing, which seemed to reflect the life of someone much, much older. On I Speak Because I Can she shows even greater maturity with folkier accompaniments, more serious lyrics and enough variety to prove she is one of the best things to come out of the London folk scene.

5. Boy & Bear- With Emperor Antarctica


I love it when Australian bands make music that can stand up against the international acts we all obsess over. Case in point: Boy & Bear’s debut EP With Emperor Antarctica. They play indie-folk like nobody’s business,  have got the harmonies thing down perfectly and write some incredibly catchy tunes.

4. Arcade Fire- The Suburbs

Many people hoping that Arcade Fire would release another funeral were disappointed with this album. But truth be told, I don’t think we’ll ever get another album like that from these guys. The element of surprise is defenitly absent now and it seems we expect them to release brilliant albums, rather than it being a bonus of sorts. The Suburbs may lack the orchestral swells of their previous work and at 16 tracks it can be a long listen for some. However, when they get it right on tracks like Ready To Start and Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) it is a very rewarding listen.

3.The Basics- The Basics

The Basics recently played what could be their final show, however for those of us who miss seeing them live, they’ve released The Basics, which was recorded at the Northcote Soical Club. This album is a definitive album of sorts featuring tracks from all their albums as well the obligatory cover or two. The Basics are more of a live band than a studio band and if you’re yet to hear them, this is the place to start.

2. Dan Kelly- Dan Kelly’s Dream

There was only a tiny difference between this album and my #1 album and Dan Kelly’s Dream and I have feeling most of it came down to my strange listening patterns this year. This album is Dan Kelly’s first with his dream band and features songs about indie bands blowing up power stations and playing classical music at one of Melbourne’s more interesting train stations, all set to catchy and slightly psychedelic pop music.

1. The National- High Violet


The National have always sounded unhappy, but never more so than on High Violet. The moment the demo-like Terrible Love kicks in you know it’s going to be a dark album and even the more soaring moments such as the brilliant Bloodbuzz Ohio seem restrained. What makes this album so great however, is the way it sounds like a complete album. It does not overstay its welcome and like all The National’s releases, it slowly draws you into to its multiple layers until you cannot stop listening. Addictive and amazing.

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Best Albums of 2009

Before I start this highly subjective list, I would just like to thank anyone who’s ever read this blog, recommended or submitted music or has  linked to Electric Skeleton over the past six or so months.

When I first started this blog my aim was to simply write about music that I thought was awesome and hopefully someone would  read and fall in love with a band or two. I never imagined that anybody would ever want to send me their music, take what I write even remotely seriously or that I would meet all kinds of awesome people on the internet. So thanks.

Anyway, back to the list-making. You know the rules: no compilations, no EPs and no Animal Collective.

10. Arctic Monkeys-Humbug

It would have been very easy for the Arctic Monkeys to cash in on the success of their debut album and make the same record for the next five years. Luckily they chose the harder option, which was to vary their sound to a degree. Enlisting the help of Queen of the Stone Age Josh Homme as a producer,  Humbug is the band’s  most mature album and a sign that they are more than just a one trick pony. It defenitly is much slower than their other releases and even features a ballad in the song Cornerstone, which is the best song on the album. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.

9.M.Ward- Hold Time


I have the music director at Triple R to thank for this one. I did work experience there for a week and instead of money they give you two CDs as the end and this was one of them. It is one those albums that I enjoy every time I listen to it but often forget about. I think it is because it was released with very little hype and is consistently good rather than patchy with a few exciting tracks. If you’re into folk and haven’t heard it, I highly suggest you get yourself a copy.

8.  Oh Mercy-Privileged Woes

I have only owned this album for a week or so and it is already a clear favourite with great songwriting and laid-back pop. Admittedly it can be a little samey at times, but it is still excellent.

7. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart- Self Titled

Also winning the award for the most long-winded band name is  American band The Pains of Being Pure At Heart who write great pop songs with boy-girl vocals, which are hidden under a layer of fuzz. While it is not a particularly original concept, it is a highly enjoyable one. If you don’t believe me, have a listen to their track Come Saturday which is fuzz-pop perfection.

6.Philadelphia Grand Jury-Hope Is For Hopers

It seemed like Philadelphia Grand Jury, or the Philly Jays are they like to be known, appeared out of nowhere. There is a reason for their sudden popularity: they are extremely good at writing short, fun pop songs. While some of the tracks on their debut album are a little cheesy, it’s hard not to smile along anyway. And you’ve got to love a band who run a label called Normal People Making Hits and end their album with a party song abut not wanting to party. Genius.

5. Sunset Rubdown-Dragonslayer

Dragonslayer is an album full of off-kilter epic tracks that manage to be memorable and engaging, rather than long-winded and dull. Most of the album was recorded live and doesn’t sound overproduced. The use of backing vocals from Camilla Wynne Ingr  also adds to the album and contrasts quite nicely with Krug’s unusual voice. The album’s highlight comes in the track  Idiot Heart which is the closest thing to a rock song on the entire album and features the memorable lyrics “I hope that you die…in a decent pair of shoes/you’ve got an awful lot of walking to do.”

4. The Decemberists-The Hazards of Love

Shapeshifters, forest queens, infanticide. If a lesser band had attempted such a concept album, it would be a disaster. However in the hands of The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love is a highly enjoyable twisted fairytale of an album. Mixing both folk and prog influences, the album is essentially a one hour piece of music with track names added in for convenience. While it is not everyone’s cup of tea, you must admit that is a brave move for a major label band to make when most people would rather play music on shuffle than listen to an entire album.

3. Yves Klein Blue- Ragged and Ecstatic

Ragged & Estatic is by far my favourite local release this year. Yves Klein Blue flip between pop, rockabilly, country and indie while still creating a consistent album. While most of the songs are upbeat, they can also have darker subject matter, which makes it worth listening to more than once. Highlights include Polka and Getting Wise.

2.Phoenix-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

I don’t think anyone thought that Phoenix would become so popular this year. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is an almost flawless pop album that appeals to both indie kids and mainstream pop fans. It isn’t all catchy pop songs either with the mainly instrumental track  Love Like A sunset in the middle of the album. The reason this one isn’t the number one album is because even though it’s instantly likable, it isn’t the kind of album that requires multiple listens. In five years time I think that album number one will sound less dated.

1.The Antlers-Hospice

“What! No Animal Collective!?” I hear you gasp. Well, this is my highly subjective list, not yours. And to be honest, I don’t really care about Animal Collective. What I do care about though, is depressing concept albums and Hospice is the mother of all depressing concept albums.
Hospice is the most depressing albums of 2009 and also one of the best. It’s a concept album about a man who works in a hospital and falls in love with a cancer patient, which was written by Peter Silberman during a self-imposed exile. It’s an incredibly sad listen and deals with grief, love, loss and isolation. It is not instantly likable but it is a rewarding listen with memorable lyrics and electronic fuzz that almost sounds like hospital machinery over the instruments. Peter Silberman’s vocals are wispery and intense, which makes getting all the way to Epilogue without wanting to burst into tears very difficult. While this may not sound like the kind of album anyone would want to listen to, very few bands can create such haunting and emotional music, which is why Hospice is my album of the year.

What your favourite albums of 2009? Did I leave something out? Is my taste in albums completly crap? Let me know in the comments section.