The Best of 2010

Alright, alright.  Settle down.  Here’s 20 through 16.

20.  Frightened Rabbit – “Winter of Mixed Drinks”

This year’s foray into the Scottish emo thing.  “Winter of Mixed” drinks is best described as a solid rock record reminiscent of the Hold Steady and Wilco circa “AM.”  The songs are about surviving cancer or something, and the sound is large with a fairly generous drone from time to time.  But mostly it’s folky and earnest.  Too earnest?  Some would say so.  More on that later in the count down.  If you want something that is simultaneously loud an unoffensive, “Mixed Drinks” is for you.  It’s the kind of thing you can listen to in the car when you’re taking your granny to the eye doctor, and no one will complain, but after you drop her off at the door you can turn it up pretty loud while looking for a parking spot, and be like, “this rocks in the same way that the Hold Steady and ‘AM’ rock.”


19.  Charlotte Gainsbourg – “IRM”

This isn’t the cover of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s new record.  But it is a picture of what Charlotte Gainsbourg’s new record sounds like to hipsters (It also happens to be a picture of CG herself).  Why?  Because Beck helped her make the thing.  Also a record about cancer or something, Gainsbourg sort of re-invents the indie cred thing that not-really-rockers can grab for themselves in the rock world.  How’s she do that?  Beck helped make the thing.  If you like PJ Harvey there’s no reason why you shouldn’t like “IRM.”  If you LOVE PJ Harvey, you probably won’t LOVE “IRM” because PJ didn’t need Beck to give her an edge.  The edge came to PJ (arguably she lost it, found it, and then threw it in the river, but we’ll probably talk about that this time next year).  Anyway, Charlotte is French, and yadda yadda, she’s Serge Gainsbourg’s daughter.  The record is quiet and loud all at once, which makes it one of those things I can never decide if I want to listen to or not.  When I do, I always discover something new in her voice or in the background twang.

18.  Quasi – “American Gong”

I love Quasi’s new joint.  It’s not quite as good as that old one from the 90s with “Birds” in the title.  But it’s back to the old snotty dueling girl-guy thing this divorced couple are known for.  It’s never quiet, often groovy, always snide, and there’s a dog at the end.

17.  Fresh & Onlys – “Play it Strange”

This is an intriguing thing from a group I had not heard of prior to this year.  I still know nothing about them.  What’s curious about the Fresh & Onlys is that on the surface they appear to have no ambition; they only seem to want to do that one thing that sounds like Crystal Stilts – the whole really mellow surf thing mixed with a little quiet haze and psych rock.  However, what the band lacks in ambition, they make up for in the quality of songs and seeming self-consciousness about what they’re doing.  Like, yeah, we listened to a lot of Cure and Echo and a little Joy Division.  We’ll be a little quieter and a little more surf.  How’s that?


16.  Besnard Lakes – “Are the Roaring Night”

Ok wow.  Besnard Lakes (from Canada, and I think Besnard Lakes is actually a place in Canada) definitely put out the biggest sounding record of the year.  They took shoegaze and clarified it so that every drum pound, and every droning guitar note sounds like something really expensive exploding.  But seriously, the comparisons to “Loveless” have to stop.

Till tomorrow



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