The Underdogs of 2010
You know? The other day one of our writer’s got called “whiny Klosterman-wannabe” [sic] on Facebook, and frankly, we laughed at him/her.
But then we looked in the mirror, took a deep breath and accepted our condition as social misfits/outcasts. So we stopped writing and went off to save the universe.
Afterwards, it did. I mean, we remembered we had to put this last (it is THE last, we promise) list.
So without any further ado, here’s our choice of underdogs of 2010. With Spotify links (when available)!
The Tallest Man on Earth – ‘The Wild Hunt’
Great acoustic guitarist with wonderful lyric writing abilities; the lyrics speak straight to my heart. I have no idea why this guy isn’t very well known, ‘The Wild Hunt’ is one of the most coherent and emotive albums of 2010. PM
Beach House – ‘Teen Dream’
A laid-back album of reverby guitars and echoey vocals, whose brilliance slowly creeps up on you more and more with every listen. Misky
Deerhunter – ‘Halcyon Digest’
Ethereal, delicate and otherworldly; I honestly believe ‘Halcyon Digest’ is a mind-bending phenomenal work of art. With a lead singer who doesn’t write lyrics until he’s standing up at the mic in the studio (the indie equivalent of ‘free-styling’) the record takes on such a unique sound that no other band can emulate it (although admittedly they do remind me a little of the Cocteau Twins!). Rather weird and wonderful. PM
Caribou – ‘Swim’
With a distinctive blend of electronica and soft vocals, ‘Swim’ is funky, danceable and vastly listenable. Misky
Liars – ‘Sisterworld’
This is one of the most peculiar and odd records I’ve heard this year (…possibly ever). I would go as far to say that it is downright creepy…doesn’t make it any less brilliant though. Misky
Foals – ‘Total Life Forever’
This is a very close runner for ‘Album of the year’ for me. I think that ‘Total Life Forever’ hasn’t been praised as much as it should have been. The fusion of prog-rock, indie and an unbelievably tight, funky rhythm section has created a truly special record. Foals have matured into a rousing and animated band that have reached farther than first expected to create a coherent, fresh album; simply leagues above their peers. PM
Sun Kil Moon Admiral Fell Promises
Mark Kozelek continues to take Sun Kil Moon into more intimate, almost minimalistic seas, with the album being basically him and a guitar being played in a very interesting mix of folk and flamenco. Kozelek’s voice is amazing in this release, and with a voice like that, why would you need any other instruments? Sam
Alter Bridge III
Proof that you can shake your not so glorious past away, the band finally loses that stupid tail that was pinned on them (creed with another singer). The powerful music this band can create finally has evolved into something glorious. Quinto
Filter The problem with angels
Richard Patrick and cohorts is angry and full of distortion and energy. Welcome back, don’t be a stranger. The balance between the heaviest anger with the sweet instrumentations is achieved again. Quinto
Someone Still Loves you Boris Yeltsin Let it Sway
Extremely quirky but never overtly so to be overbearing. Good natured fun with some witty lyrical stuff thrown in for good measure. Fave tracks definitely are ‘All hail Dracula’, ‘Sink/Let it sway’ and ‘Stuart gets lost dans le metro’. Orestes
Smokers Die Younger Smokers Die Younger
On a first look, it might look (and sound) tamer than their first album “X wants the meat”, but once you let the lyrics (and wonderful music) sink in, you realise the rawness of it. Great second album by these lovely Sheffield-based musicians. Bring out the tabla and Boss pedals. Sam
Deftones Diamond Eyes
Chino Moreno and company deliver yet again. Start with ‘You’ve seen the butcher’ and ’976-Evil’, then work your way around with this little gem. Quinto.
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals III & IV
It’s no secret that Ryan Adams makes brickloads of music. It’s no secret that we adore his music. And this double album, made up from leftover tracks from his Ryan Adams & The Cardinals sessions for “Easy Tiger” and “Cardinology” have some very sweet numbers (‘P.S.’, ‘Numbers’, ‘Stop playing with my heart’). A proper keeper. Sam.
The National High Violet
Massively depressing but great, this is a great follow-up to “The Boxer”. ‘Afraid of everyone’ and ‘Runaway’ would be my top two prime choices from this album that’s so introspective and stark that it might bring you down for a while, but it’s the good sort of depression: a music-based one. Sam.
Aloha – Home Acres
Folk and Prog Rock, mixed together. I’ll let that sink in. In the meantime, start listening to this band, another massive force from Polyvinyl’s ever expanding roster of monster bands. ‘Blackout’ is great and ‘Moonless March’ probably has one of the best drum intros of 2010. Sam.
Murder By Death – Good Morning Magpie
Yeehaw! Get the wooden cart out, lay out the straw and take comfort that as long as there’s whisky in the world, Murder By Death will continue to do their brand of punky western music. I certainly don’t know if it’s a concept album like the ones they done before, but it’s fun, catchy and entirely worth your time. Sam.
Anahis Mitchell – Hadestown
A pretty strange beast, half-conceptual album, half-musical, but completely mesmerising. It’s very folky, interesting and it includes cameos from Ani Difranco and Justin “HOLY SHIT! HE FROM BON IVER!” Vernon. And, by the way, it’s a retelling of the Orpheus and Euridyce. If you need to google it, go for it, but you should know the references. PS: I have a crush on her. Orestes.
A one-two punch delivered by this workaholic band, which also toured it heavily, showing why they are a force to be reckoned live. From the slow-burner perfect opening track that is ‘Mountainhead’, to the manic moments of both ‘Weak04′ and ‘Crash Tactics’, these two releases are just perfect, cohesively completing each other. Sam
Helmet – Seeing Eye Dog
It’s hard not liking Page Hamilton and his love for weird tunings. It’s also hard not to like every single Helmet album. Sure, there’s a formula being followed, but there’s always a little trick here and there that makes you stop and reconsider before dismissing it. “Seeing Eye Dog” will not change your life, but, damn, what a fun record is! Special kudos go for ‘Welcome to Algiers’ and ‘Morphing’, that strange, strange tune that makes me think of the movie ‘Heat’ (on which Mr. Hamilton participated on guitar duties). Sam