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LivingEars 51 Favorite Songs of 2010

Best Indie Music of 2010

What a year. Let me know what I got right and wrong in the comments. What was your favorite track of 2010?

51. Quadron – Simili Life


      Active Child - When Your Love is Safe

49. Flying Lotus – Do The Astral Plane


      Teen Inc. - Fountains


      Glasser - Apply


      Museum of Bellas Artes - Watch The Glow


      Harlem - Friendly Ghost

44. !!! – The Most Certain Sure


      Baths - Maximalist


      Male Bonding - Pumpkin


      Crystal Castles - Not In Love (ft. Robert Smith)


      Warpaint - Undertow


      Games - Strawberry Skies


      Mount Kimbie - Carbonated


      KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS - Running Out Of You


      Hard Mix - Had


      Dom - Living In America




      Korallreven - The Truest Faith


      Beat Connection - Same Damn Time


      Las Robertas - The Curse


      Japandroids - Younger Us

29. The Walkmen – All My Great Designs


      CFCF - The River

27. Girls – Carolina


      Earl Sweatshirt - Couch Featuring Ace Creator

25. Beach House – Better Times

24. Dum Dum Girls – Baby Don’t Go

23. Emeralds – Genetic

22. Deerhunter – Helicopter


      Young Galaxy - Peripheral Visionaries

20. Yeasayer – I Remember


      Teengirl Fantasy - Cheaters


      Neon Indian - Sleep Paralysist


      No Age - Glitter


      Delorean - Grow

15. Salem – Release Da Boar


      Cults - Go Outside


      Bullion - Say Goodbye To What


      Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union


      Twin Shadow - I Can't Wait

10. Sleigh Bells – Kids

When I hear this song now it always takes me right back to the Summer. I played this album on repeat for weeks. Along with ceo’s “come with me” it inspired me to make a mix that is my favorite thing I’ve ever done musically (The Sun is Like a Flower). When I hear either of these songs now I anticipate what comes next on the mix. It’s a near-perfect slab of cheap bubblegum that I can’t get enough of.

9. Joanna Newsom – Does Not Suffice

I wrote about this song in a short-lived column I did in a weekly here. I will repost it now.

For me, the worth of a poet can be measured in how well they perceive and can relate the details; be they mundane, minute or simply oft overlooked. After nearly two hours into Joanna Newsom’s new album “Have One on Me,” we get the gorgeous and heartbreaking “Does Not Suffice,” a song wherein the ordinary details of a breakup become overwhelmingly poignant and incredibly affecting.

As the narrator packs her things, “I will pack all my pretty dresses/I will box up my high-heeled shoes/A sparkling ring for every finger/I’ll put away and hide from view,” she explains that while she rose to the occasion of this relationship, her companion did not, opting instead to go through the motions as she continued to give more love than she received. “It does not suffice for you to say I am a sweet girl/Or to say you hate to see me sad because of you/It does not suffice to merely lie beside each other/As those who love each other do.”

The final stanza brings into sharp focus a simple, and often unnoticed, outcome of a failed relationship, “The tap of hangers swaying in the closet/Unburdened hooks and empty drawers/And everywhere I tried to love you/Is yours again and only yours,” but before it ends, and closes the album, we get 1:20 of thrashing piano to communicate, sonically, the oncoming emotional pain.


      Grouper - Vessel

This was a song I heard nobody talk about. I don’t know if people are unaware of it or if it did not have the same impact that it did on me. It is subtle, emotional, haunting and absolutely beautiful.


      Cee-Lo Green - Fuck You

Proving that he doesn’t need Danger Mouse to have a hit, Cee-lo dropped this bomb of pure pop glee. It is possibly the most fun breakup song ever. This is what the term ear-worm was invented for.

6. LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean

This and “Home” come up pretty close for me. They are both great but this track has a few more things going for it: 1) Possibly the greatest synth sound ever. 2) A fantastic build-up. 3)A keyboard line that I just can’t seem to memorize. These things come together to make it the LCD song I love and played the most through the year.

5. The Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

On an album full of truly great tracks this one was my immediate favorite. The day the album leaked I tweeted something like “Sprawl II is indie music’s “Heart of Glass.” And it still feels that way but in my opinion this song beats that classic. It’s the song that every time it comes on you have to turn it up, sing every word and close your eyes and dance to. It will never get old.


      ceo - come with me

Short, perfect songs like this one are the types of songs that I think I appreciate the most. It somehow seems easier to write a 9 minute great song than a 3.5 minute great song. Last year, Girls’ “Lust for Life” was my favorite song.This is sort of in that vein. On the surface it is all sunshine and smiles but the heart of the song is deeply emotional and very sad.


      Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Round And Round

I also covered this song in my column for InThisWeek.
With such an odd and trippy lo-fi production style, Ariel Pink, an alternative in the truest sense of the word, has traditionally been an artist with a small but loyal fan base. The emphasis seemed to be on taking pretty pop songs and burying them deep underneath all the haze and sound effects he could pile on. No longer …

“Round and Round” begins with a bit of an odd feel, a bit 70s AM radio, a bit psychedelic disco until, suddenly, the phone literally rings. It’s as if Pink finally got the call and realized he was writing great songs that people would love if only he would let the essence shine through a little bit more. Suddenly the whole song explodes into the most gorgeous sing-a-long of the year.

Apparently Pink has decided to shed a bit of the space oddity and is in fact making a more accessible record. “Round and Round” feels like the encapsulation of that initial idea and it being seen through to its conclusion. Already blogs are buzzing that this is a contender for song of the year and it just hit the Internet March 11.

2. James Blake – Limit To Your Love

James Blake put out a LOT of great music this year. “CMYK” and “Klavierwerke” (the songs) could both easily be in this spot but I found true love in this track, a cover of a Feist tune and a song that is coming out on his full length in early 2011. Every article I read about Blake talks about the space and the depth of his music. This is what I would consider the prime example of both of those traits. The keyboard and his voice initially come off as warm and inviting. Then 0:57 hits and everything you expected is shattered by the most intense bass line of the year. It wobbles hard and makes your ears hurt in the best way possible. I love his sound so much. It is unlike anything out there –alien. I would not be surprised to see his track “Wilhems Scream” at the top of my (and many other’s list) next year. He’s a man on fire.

1. Kanye West – Runaway (feat. Pusha T)

It was really easy to pick my favorite track of the year. I think we all like a story of redemption and Kanye had a year full of it. Dropping “Runaway” was a way to say, “I get it, you love or hate me. I will take both and make myself better every day for it.” A song about a man’s ability to falter, to feel regret and to admit to his mistakes.

The samples, the vocoder, the strings, THAT PIANO! It is a perfect song that will live on forever. 2010’s greatest musical gift. And let’s be honest, “Let’s have a toast for the douchebags” is the greatest lyric of the year. You will never forget it.

Favorite EPs and Remixes are already available.

Check out last year’s lists:

Creep – Days

I certainly understand wanting to make money off your work. I even understand wanting final say over released product but when the video for “Days” leaked a few weeks back the band scrambled to contact the few sites (and youtube) that had posted an early cut of the video. It needed some post-production to tighten it up but the concept is not going to change. It was an early preview for fans who cared. But the band went on the offensive and asked me to pull my post. I kind of find that lame. I find it lame that I complied as well. I am essentially a music journalist and isn’t it our job to cover whatever is happening as it is happening?

Anyhow, here is the song.

CREEP / Days by Young Turks

The So So Glos – Live Like TV

The So So Glos – “Live Like T.V.” from Matthew Greeley on Vimeo.

I somehow missed that the Glos released a new EP this year until just a couple of days ago. This song in particular is stuck in my head. This is probably their best song yet. The whole EP is great and overall it is better than the Tourism/Terrorism album from last year. They’ve brought the ruckus down and brought the songs up.

Chase & Status – Blind Faith

Anything that samples “Good Vibrations” is alright in my book. Sometimes a song so completely over the top really feels good. This jam from London duo Chase & Status is one of those jams. This sounds like it needs to be played in the biggest club in the city at the loudest volume possible. Perfect for your New Years party.

Chase and Status – Blind Faith [feat. Liam Bailey] by Brandinio

The Opaque Sounds Of oOoOO

If you were looking for something intensely dark to celebrate The New Year then look no further than this mix from San Francisco based oOoOO (a band I have covered here extensively). You can hop on over to their site for an article or just get the mix below.

      Quietus Mix 003: The Opaque Sounds Of oOoOO

Emeralds – Genetic

As I mentioned, I’ve been going nuts over the James Blake album but just before it leaked I was going through some additional year end lists (wait for mine!) and came across Emeralds. They always sounded like they’d be too glitchy and not my thing but this track “Genetic” off their latest Does It Look I’m Here is really something. I mean REALLY SOMETHING. The album is fantastic but this is my highlight.

When something great leaks so far in advance…

So, in case you’ve been in an avalanche in the past week you probably know that James Blake’s debut album, James Blake, has leaked (btw, side-note, do you italicize an album or underline? or are both acceptable? Or is it quotes?). I was thinking back to early leaks of yore and realized that Beach House’s Teen Dream leaked in late 2009 and back in 2008 I remember Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavillion” leaking on Christmas Day. So while this may be just some ‘thing’ and honestly I am not that into Teen Dream as it is but I can’t help but feel like the best album of 2011 leaked this week. And it is a goddamn work of beauty. Nobody has made this album or anything like it. The most comparable artist to Blake is Miles Davis. Davis knew when to let the space seep in. When to hit you with the right note and when to let it scream. Blake has a similar perspective and executes it with a marksman’s aptitude.

Here is a crappy live version but it’s all I can share for now. You know where to look.

I marked the album version of this song with 5 stars right after my first listen. For all of 2010 I have just 8 songs with 5 stars. This one is special.

Bright Eyes – Shell Games

The People's Key

I have been running this site for 2.5 years now and as I logged into my ftp to upload this track to my server I was shocked to learn that I do not have a Bright Eyes folder. It has been a while since we last heard from Bright Eyes though Conor Oberst has definitely been active. Always one of my favorite bands I found a lot of the Mystic Valley Band stuff very similar and though I’ve never wavered as a supporter I am glad to have Oberst putting out new Bright Eyes material.

I mentioned to my friend Jeff that I am kind of surprised I like this song because if I had to pick a previous album for it to fit on I’d probably choose Digital Ash in a Digital Urn which is by far and away my least favorite Bright Eyes album. This track has those annoying synthesizers that he uses in many of his bad songs but this song is a total jam while also feeling comfortable and sort of soft.

The People’s Key is due out Feb 15th on Saddle Creek. I learned from this interview that the date is also Conor’s birthday. I also learned this is likely NOT the last Bright Eyes album. Check out the rest of this great interview with John Norris.

      Bright Eyes - Shell Games

jj – Let Them

yours0158 from Sebastian Järnerot on Vimeo.

God I love this band. When I saw them earlier this year I wondered if they were a couple. This video kind of points to yes but who knows. Even though they put out a lackluster album this year their sound is one of my favorites and I think one of the most unique out there right now. Can’t wait for that “Kills” mixtape to drop in a couple of days…