Best Music of 2010 (So Far): Rachel Dovey, Assistant Editor
On day six of our Best Music of 2010, I give you some jazz, some country, some pinball-machine samples and a whole lot of innovative, messy-sounding goodness.
10. Hot Chip, One Life Stand
Indulgent, sugary, full of escalating, diverse beats and creepily enticing falsettos, Hot Chip’s fourth full-length is one to hit the repeat button on again and again.
9. Gary Lucas & Dean Bowman, Chase the Devil
Guitar virtuoso Gary Lucas and Downtown Scene vocalist Dean Bowman pair up for this blistering gospel compilation on which they reimagine some classics, pen some new songs and generally sound like they’re having way too much fun.
8. Venice Is Sinking, Sand & Lines
Athens quintet Venice is Sinking recorded this album over the course of a week in their native town’s Georgia Theatre, which has since burnt down. The historic space’s echoing acoustics add a mournful tinge to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and Galaxie 500’s “Tigboat” and the lilting “Sidelines” is heartbreakingly beautiful. Overall, it’s a gorgeous meditation on a place that no longer exists.
7. Elizabeth Cook, Welder
Mullets and moonshine, Elvis and El Caminos—Nashville songstress Elizabeth Cook’s latest is her wittiest and most poignant to date.
6. Rhymefest, El Che
Though it’s no match for the utter brilliance of Michael Jackson-centric mixtape Man in the Mirror, Rhymefest’s El Che is a sonically eclectic, thoughtfully-worded handful of hits, from the pounding “Give It to Me” to the chilling “Chicago.”
5. Janelle Monae, The Archandroid
Janelle Monae’s long-awaited debut full-length doesn’t disappoint, with “Tightrope,” “Cold War” and “Dance or Die” as the tightly-wound concept album’s high points.
4. Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma
Part jazz, part hip-hop, part sampled pin-ball machine clicks (as promised) Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma is an unprecedented study in electronic nuance.
3. LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening
James Murphy’s final full-length is an hour-plus offering of awesome lyrics (“Drunk girls know that love is an astronaut / It comes back but it’s never the same”) and explosive beats. The jarring bombast of opener “Dance Yrself Clean” is a tough act to follow, but, thankfully, eight equally wonderful tracks come after it.
2. Sleigh Bells, Treats
Sleigh Bells’ debut is one-of-a-kind; an album that challenges the “basic assumptions of how music can (and should) sound.” It’s the logical conclusion of what NPR called the Loudness War (music is getting louder) and WIRED called the Good Enough Revolution (mp3s are making music crappier). It’s blown-out, dirty, distorted and it trades shamelessly on that aesthetic. Alexis Krauss’ uber-sweet vocals are the whipped cream on this WTF Sundae, a strange and delicious blend of hip-hop, hardcore and sugarpop.
1. Mumford and Sons, Sigh No More
Mumford and Sons’ debut is uncanny—an album that references ancient hymnography, John Steinbeck and Shakespeare and still, by virtue of some mean banjo-playing, manages to be danceable.