Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shanies: Album of the Year

Intense competition filled the ranks of this year's album of the year award, particularly near the top.  While it can be difficult to make the hard decisions, they had to be made, and ultimately, victors will emerge.  Bear in mind, this top 10 is only my opinion.  I'm sure you have one too, but it is wrong, so treat this list as though it were gospel and worship it.

10) Neil Young - Le Noise
What can I say... this Neil guy apparently knows how to right songs.  Just listen to the crunchy, thick chords on the opening track Walk With Me, to get an idea that while Young's songs are much the same old same old, he is still finding a way to reinvent elements of his music.

9) C'Mon - Beyond the Pale Horse
Instant party, just add rock.  While I have been a fan of C'Mon from the moment I heard Blurton was leaving Bionic to link up with Katie from Nashville Pussy (in more ways than one) I still recall my original concern with C'Mon songs being too simple.  Blurton has now build these tracks into hard rock opuses (opi?) with more riffs than a tectonic fault.

8) Jordan Cook - Seven Deadly Sins
I waited long enough, so it had better have been a damned good album.  To be honest, had this been an EP, this album could have been a lot higher on the charts.  Half of this disc is filled with some of the most epic riffs, solos, and songs I've ever heard, but unfortunately, the other half got stuck with filler... at least, filler when considering what I've come to expect from Cook.

7) Sufjan Stevens - Age of Adz
This is going to sound a little strange and perhaps not all that complimentary, but the best way to describe this album is as the digital suicide note left behind by a depressed robot.  Unquestionably beautiful and exceptionally complex, Sufjan once again redefines himself and produces an album which is both unsettlingly strange and still accessible.

6) Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social network
Like I mentioned in my ‘Most Original Project’ post, this album was just a really cool experiment that went very right.  Just listening to it took me back to old days of high school sitting around my computer playing around with code, all the while creating a beautiful musical portrait.

5) The Damned Things - Ironiclast
I'm still not sure where to place this album.  Is it a rock album?  Is it hardcore?  Is it punk?  It is power pop?  Is it metal?  The answer to all the previous questions is... yes.  Somehow, this disc incorporates so many different styles from 3 very different bands and blends them together in a way which makes them click; and they click really fucking loudly.

4) Pigeon Hole - Age like Astronauts
While I championed Shad's Rose Garden as my song of the year, Pigeon Hole was another hip hop album which was on heavy rotation for me in 2010.  One of the sub-projects of Sweatshop Union, I apparently found the portion of the group which appeals most to me.  An album which trips all over its self, this slow moving, head bobbing disc is filled with fat beats galore and some of the more clever lyrics you'll ever hear.

3) The Black Keys - Brothers
Dear Dan & Patrick... I'm sorry, not this year.  While the Keys have claimed top prize in the past, might be my favourite band of the past 10 years, and did produce one of their best efforts to date in Brothers, it simply wasn't enough this year.  Maybe I'm still addicted to the fuzzy, stripped down garage sound from the days of thickfreakness.  Still, Brothers was an incredible piece of work and on any other year, could have easily been a couple of spots higher.

2) The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards
I'm waiting, seriously waiting, for Jack White to do something bad in this world.  After claiming last year's top album with the Raconteurs, he was then able to turn around with a different project altogether and innovate in a completely different direction.  Dean Fertita's guitars soar on this and push Alison Mosshart's creepy, big voice into your face.  This album doesn't ask you politely to listen... it tells you to.  And me... I paid attention and did just what it said... a lot.

1) Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart
You could chalk this one up to my style.  You could call me a bleeding heart Canuck.  The fact is, Wilderness Heart was a true album.  Start to finish, this disc was beautifully assembled with songs that flowed from one to the next, each telling a tale which built up to a greater part of the whole story.  Epic head bangers like Rollercoaster are juxtaposed by the gorgeous fragile melodies of songs like Sadie.  All in all, Steve McBean has outdone himself, even after everyone said it couldn't be done again after In the Future.

It's been fun!  Hope you enjoyed this year's Shanies.  Now everyone go do something stupid for NYE and then make a resolution to prevent yourself from ever doing it again.

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