Favorite Albums of 2010 — Crawf



Here's the word I typed the most in 2010: "Oof." It's because I'm officially exhausted. Confused, bewildered and flat-out pooped. My iTunes library is so ridiculously stuffed, I'm about ready to transfer my one 250 GB hard drive to a new 500 GB drive, assuming I can afford one, just to keep space open for what will certainly be even more music next year. I'm at the point now where I need another shelf to hold all my records. I even need to find one of those cassette organizing holder thingies for all the tapes I've gathered this year (yes, I bought a cassette deck. A nice one, too, so a.) don't give me no crap, and b.) everyone out there who has a cassette release coming up, take heed: we want a copy). To sum up my year in music for 2010 goes a little something like this: I got "serious" this year.

And at what cost? Getting "serious" proved trying on my patience, my soul, my heart, my ears, my band (in terms of just having time to practice as well as having a focus on my own music instead of someone else's), my time, my love life, my job, my bank account... Yikes (there's another one I found myself typing a lot... I need a better vocabulary to describe my pain). Is this killing me? 

But the truth of it is that I couldn't be more excited or feel more alive than right at this very moment. For as many doors that were closed (or are perhaps still closing), about a million jillion new ones were opened. Getting "serious" about writing also meant getting serious about "music" in a much more general sense, and keeping my mind open to just about anything I could. 2010 introduced me to a slew of exciting new scenes, trends and ideas. People started actually sending us stuff to review here at the Tome on a consistent basis, and the list below deservedly includes selections from a lot of those folks. I can't thank them enough for their unwavering confidence and for including us in the few blogs of that bottomless pit called the internet for their "who to send this to" lists. I also met an ungodly number of new friends on the internet, artists and bloggers alike, from literally around the globe who consistently challenged me to address exciting new sounds and styles, showed me things, taught me things, were generally welcoming and friendly, and supported what we've been trying to do here at Tome-central. It's all affected me as a writer and listener, of course, but it's also had a dramatic affect on how I approach my own music and work as a drummer. To all who read this blog now, have read this blog before, or will read this blog in 2011: Thank you. Let's stay in touch.

Unfortunately, this whole "serious" thing does come with some potential to lead me in even more new directions... only time will tell where I'll land, I suppose. But don't worry, I'll let you know. And in the meantime, please feel free to stop by to see what we're up to whenever it strikes you.

Here's my countdown for the year. Hope you enjoy it!


Favorite Albums of 2010

25. RangdaFalse Flag (Drag City)

24. 2muchachosFormanta (Parallax Sounds)

23. A Faulty ChromosomeCraving to be Coddled So We Can Feel Fake-Safe... (Yelping Hill)

22. WomenPublic Strain (Jagjaguwar)

21. James BlakeCMYK EP (R&S)

20. Chris RehmSalivary Stones (Self-Released)

19. Lars Ludvig LöfgrenHeterochromia (Häleri)

18. Kyle Bobby DunnA Young Person's Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn (Low Point)

17. First Dog to Visit the Center of the EarthColossus Archosaur (Self-Released)

16. Flying LotusCosmagramma (Warp)

15. GrimesGeidi Primes (Arbutus)

14. TjutjunaTjutjuna (Fire Talk)

13. Max RichterInfra (Fat Cat)

12. Chris SchlarbPsychic Temple (Asthmatic Kitty)

11. Tame ImpalaInnerspeaker (Modular)

10. Keijo — Boom Town (Ikuisuus)

The amount of "much" that I want for people to listen to and love this record cannot be quantified using standard digitry.

[——————————————————————————————] This much?

Not even close. A painful, ramshackle record of a deep-south blues that isn't dirty so much as it is dusty. From Finland. Yeah, it's weird. Just trust me on this one.

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9. Green Gerry — Odd Tymes (Self-Released)

If Green Gerry wasn't absolutely killing me with this album's beauty, he was giving me nightmares with its freaky effects, ghostly samples and torrential noise. One of the most creative interpretations of the "folk" model in years, and one that blindsided me completely out of nowhere. This kid is a genius.

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8. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti — Before Today (Paw Tracks)

Any list without this record is kidding itself. What's not to love about a band that sounds like coked-out ghosts on a heavy Michael Jackson kick?

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7. Goldmund — Famous Places (Western Vinyl)

Famous Places is a record that invokes some of the most cinematic, vividly clear visions with but a simple piano. It's a journal of real experiences and places, and those memories belong to one Keith Keniff, who appears here under his Goldmund guise. But what's so special about this album is how these are also instantly your memories as well. Each track is named after a specific place in Keniff's life, but as you listen, inserting-your-own-places-here on a track-by-track basis was one of the more effortless, beautiful joys of 2010.

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6. Future Islands — In Evening Air (Thrill Jockey)

A lot of bands did the Arcade Fire thing better than the Arcade Fire did this year. Baltimore's Future Islands did it best. But that's not really fair—these Thrill Jockey up-and-comers (seems there is always at least one of these sneaking their way onto my lists) are certainly in a league of their own. No one has a voice like Sam Herring, and In Evening Air is just packed with (all of) my favorite synth lines of 2010. Stunning.

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5. Four Tet — There Is Love In You (Domino)

Kieren Hebden made a bold return with his best album yet. Infinitely rich in color and texture while also minimal to the max, this is a softly brilliant electronic dance album—one that pulls much more from minimal techno (see: Wolfgang Voigt) than it does hip hop, which marks a major turning-point in the progression of Four Tet's work. The best of its kind all year.

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4. Evan Caminiti — West Winds (Three Lobed)

The year's most affecting work of drone. Climbing these cliffs and traversing this record's monumental peaks is both a pleasure and a workout. The best part is the dive when you get to the top, though. That long breathless descend; the refreshing splash in the bay below. It's like a psychic vacation to anywhere you want. Take that trip and send me a postcard. I want to know what you saw.

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3. Big Boi — Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)

I have to admit, it feels a little weird posting a record like this at #3. Definitely a surprise for me. But sheesh: When I needed hip hop. When I needed beats. When I needed flows. When I needed clever. When I needed boogie. When I needed a hilarious phone call between some idiot doofus and a bimbo. I went to Big Boi. I'm still trying to figure out how anyone (edit: EVERYONE) was shaking it like a Polaroid picture in 2003. It is CLEARLY much sexier to shake it like a tambourine right here in 2010. You feel me? Actually, wait. How is this not my #1 again?

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2. The Fun Years — God Was Like, No (Barge)

In an interview with Foxy Digitalis, both members of The Fun Year's cited Master of Puppets as their favorite album of the 80s. Which is so. Awesome. Of course God Was Like, No sounds nothing like Metallica, nor does that fact really have any bearing on my little write-up here. The Fun Years do, however, slay—perhaps in a different (very different) way than Hetfield & co. Everyone and their dog has been talking about this one, and for good reason. It's the most unique angle on ambient music since Fennesz's Endless Summer.

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1. Sufjan Stevens — The Age of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty)

Here's what happens when the most talentedest, thoughtfulest, and my most favoritest artist/musician/vocalist/lyricist currently recording music happens upon the best record of his career: It gets a #1 slot on Crawf's list. Sufjan has grown up a lot since those bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked, oboe-laden, xylophone-running, mixed-metered tunes outlining his unbelievably naïve, grandiose and ultimately pre-defeated 50-states project. This is Sufjan Stevens vers. 2.0. Completely reinvented, reinvigorated, more mature, and (somehow) remarkably more ambitious. Even though the album has a slough of amazing musicians and voices crowding this unbelievably lush music with electronics, vocal harmonies, keys, drums, vocoder, strings and horns... Stevens still feels at his loneliest, most vulnerable ever. It's just an incredible thing to hear his fragile voice admitting something like, "When I die, I'll rot." This kind of honesty matched with such an immense, unwavering and intimidating confidence makes The Age of Adz 2010's most thrilling listen. The one question reamins: is it toppable? Methinks not, but Stevens already proved me wrong once by dropping this masterpiece on my skull like a ton of bricks.

...and why is this album really all the way up here? Quite simple, my friends (and I've said this before): Sufjan F-bomb.

For. The. Win.

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And what would a year-end recap be if I didn't shout out to my bestest buddy on the planet, Mr. Ryan Hall, who graciously took me under his wing at the Tome a little over a year ago and has pushed me to listen, write, and create more than I ever have in my lifetime. He was the first to write about my band outside of Denver and inspired me to send my music out, something for which I will never be able to fully repay him. I continue to be humbled by his excellent writing skills, sharp wit, impeccable taste and endless kindness and patience. Ryan, thanks for everything, and good luck on your exciting new journey, you will be missed. Merry Christmas, dude, I'll be out in SLC to visit before you know it. Hugs to Addy :)

December 17th, 2010  


Good list my friend! Thanks for 2muchachos. I be compiling my chart of the year soon. I agree with you about "Fright Night" by Ariel Pink, such an awesome track.

hey, i'm really not familiar with quite a few of the artists on this list, but i'm right there with you on the sufjan album and it will be on my playlists for a while to come. :)