Time for the annual tradition. The best music you’ve never heard rated by Kent and Brent, who have deemed themselves some kind of critics worthy of being listened to.
11) Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People EP
Sufjan Stevens put out this EP, and then he put out an electronic LP. Everyone loves the electronic one. I don’t get it. This EP is the best thing Sufjan Stevens has ever done. Maybe I should now offer up that I don’t really care for Sufjan Stevens. But this is a collection of needlessly long songs that still somehow won me over. How did he do it? I don’t know. The title track is particularly good. Anyone who wonders what Simon and Grafunkel’s “Sound of Silence” would be like if it was spread out over a start-and-stop over-orchestrated eleven minute song. Wonder no more.
Best Song: All Delighted People (Original Version)
10) Phosphorescent – Here’s to Taking It Easy.
This is a band that I have always listened to once, and put down. I never really gave them a shot. But this album is a) perfectly named, and b) really beautiful. It’s just standard alt-country fare, and the lead singer sounds like a wiener. But they do what they do very well. And I like to listen to them while I do my dishes. And look out the window. And dream about what I’m going to do when Chelsey gets out of jail.
Best Song: The Mermaid Parade
9) Vampire Weekend – Contra
This should probably be higher, but it’s no longer summer, and I am only able to appreciate Vampire Weekend in the sun. This was my favorite car album. Driving around, listening to “Run”, or “I Think Ur a Contra” were some of the best moments of my summer. My one regret is that I never got to listen to them on a beach this year. Actually I have two regrets. I wish “Holiday” had not been co-opted by Tommy Hilfigger, or whoever the fuck that is with the car and the table and the driving dog. I hate the people in those ads. I hate the people in all ads that have to do with name bands that one could find in a department store. What fantasy are you selling? There’s a polo ad on right now that is just so dumb. There’s a recession, and it’s about this douchebag who plays polo, and yachts and all this rich shit. Fuck you, polo guy, there’s double digit unemployment. We would all like to burn your boat to the ground and eat you. Well, maybe not all of us.
Best Song: Taxi Cab
8 ) Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM
More remarkable than the fact that I like this album is the fact that Beck produced it, and I like this album. I haven’t like anything Beck has done in like 8 years. I just assumed he was lousy now. But this album is a) terrific, and b) sounds like Beck produced it. He’s all over it. And CG is very smouldery on it. This album is really sexy, and it sounds like it was carefully made. What more can you ask for?
Best Song: Heaven Can Wait (featuring Beck!!)
7) She & Him: Volume Two
Not as good as their first album, but still very charming. I like music that sounds like its from AM radio, and I feel like S&H know this, and cater to my likings. They put little touches in their songs that make them feel worn in. I feel confident they are just robbing Phil Spector and Burt Bacharach blind in the process. But I don’t care. We also saw them in concert this summer, and they sound EXACTLY how they sound on their album. EXACTLY. It was actually a little creepy.
Best Song: Me and You
6) Wolf Parade: Expo 86
First let’s start with the name. Excellent album name. Ok. Moving on. I love Wolf Parade, which I think is the only reason it’s so high on this list. Because I just kept giving it chance after chance. And now it’s paying me off by tricking me into thinking every song on here is awesome. This literally happened sometime last week. Before then, I would just go to sleep on it. Now I can pretty much put on any song and be happy. So I guess you can say that I have lost touch with this album. And I wouldn’t disagree with you. But I think it’s good? Oh – and it sounds like typical WP. Hard driving. Singer is neurotic and insane. Wait, now the other guy is signing. Oh. He’s insane too. And so on.
Best Song: All the song are about the same level of good. Here. Try this one: Yulia
5) Dr. Dog: Shame, Shame
I was listening to this album today, and wondering about whether my enjoyment of it said anything bad about me. I still haven’t come to any conclusions. I don’t think they sound like anyone else I listen to, but they also just kind of sound like hippy rehash music from the 60’s. And I don’t like any music like that. I think the reason they appeal to me is their delivery. They just sound rough when they record, which gives their little songs a certain good-time quality. They also use multiple singers. I am a big fan of that.
Best Song: It
4) The Black Keys: Brothers
The Black Keys finally made an album that doesn’t bore me. They did so by expanding their sound a little, and maybe being a little less hard hitting. I very much appreciate this. I realize that it was probably not a popular move with a great many of their fans, and I thank them for thinking of me this year. Also, I saw them live this year, and they were incredible. Even for someone who doesn’t really give a crap about them, it was worthwhile.
Best Song: Everlasting Love
3) New Pornographers: Together
There is something unsinkable about this band. They make really great pop songs, and they have been doing it for years. The usual problem is that they try to cram too many of their ideas into one album, and many times their idea of a new idea, as just a couple clicks away from the last good idea they had. They also usually have too much of the Destroyer guy on there. But this time they pared things down a little, and low and behold, the Destroyer guy actually put a song on that works with the rest of the album (he also has one that doesn’t really work – but it’s a start). It was great to get a good album from them, and even better to have that album looked over by everyone but me. In your face everyone.
Best Song: Valkyrie In The Roller Disco
2) The National: High Violet
I’m not ranking this number one, because it’s really just more of the same for a band that never really takes a wrong step in my view. I love listening to a new National album, because a) I relate to the sentiments so much, and b) because their songs manage to be about things without ever spelling them out. They do a great job of splitting the difference between growing up and fitting in, despite still feeling like a misanthrope.
Best Song: Bloodbuzz Ohio
1) Sleigh Bells – Treats
This is a complete no brainer. It is the only album I liked from the very first time I heard it. It reminds me of Crystal Castles (who by the way made a lousy record this year), from a couple of years ago. I don’t understand why more people aren’t doing this. Find a girl who writes nonsensical lyrics. Pair her with a dude who likes to fuck around with sound and noise. Set them loose. How hard is it? There should be one of these bands in every city? Maybe Chelsey and I could start one….
Best Song: Rill Rill
I’m not ranking albums this year. There were so good ones, and there were some ok ones.
- Contra – Vampire Weekend – I was afraid their second album would not be as good, or would be exactly the same as their first. I was wrong. They have expanded musically, without losing what makes their sound great. Why do good bands insist on having crummy names?
- High Violet – The National – I wasn’t sold on this one when I first heard it. Very slow, very sparse. But there is no doubt that this one has some of their best songs on it.
- Brothers – The Black Keys – The Black Keys make rockin’ blues music, and they do it really well. This album they add in some soul songs, and they are fantastic.
- Ya-Ka-May – Galactic – I know what you are thinking: Really? a New Orleans generic funk band? Come on, there are 1000 of these bands. This album is different, they’ve brought in vocals from all sorts of NOLA styles (Irma, Toussaint, Big Freedia, Sissy Nobby, Bo Dollis, etc) and crafted a different genre song for each. Great songs. I would like to apologize to Galactic for lumping them in with Papa Grows Funk for all these years.
- Reservoir – Fanfarlo – Released in 2009, but I didn’t get my hands on it until 2010. Along the lines of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, without the spastic twitching.
- Big Echo – The Morning Benders – This one is pretty. Soundscapey. The first three songs blow you away.
Other good albums that I listened to a lot.
- Mines – Menomena – I am the only person in the world that likes Menomena.
- Love Remains – How to Dress Well – R&B vocals over weird electronic sounds. Probably the most original of the albums listed here.
- Preservation – Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Friends – all the old standards, now with folks like Tom Waits, Jim James, and Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird.
- Treats – Sleigh Bells – the second most original album on the list, and if I got into it earlier, I may have put it up into the higher category. I don’t think the excitement of this album’s sound every found a place in my life this year. It’s good though.
- The Monitor – Titus Andronicus – I love the idea of Titus Andronicus. I love the execution of Titus Andronicus. I love the way the singer just screams his heart out. Just try and keep the 8 minute songs to a minimum, Titus Andronicus.
- Astro Coast – Surfer Blood – Somehow they make every single song on the album sounds like it comes from a different band.
So-so albums, that probably deserve a more thorough listen.
- Stuck on Nothing – Free Energy – I was really excited by this album the first time I heard, and then I realized I had already heard it 100 times before in the form of Bruse Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and the Hold Steady.
- IRM – Charlotte Gainsbourgh – Why couldn’t I ever get into this album? Every time I heard a song off of it, I liked it. Just never listened to it as a whole. I think the album is too long.
- Crazy for You – Best Coast – I like the lo-fi sound, just way too many songs on the album to make it really enjoyable.
- King of the Beach – Wavves – See notes for Best Coast.
Now this is the real treat. The Scientific Best of List. Where Brent makes a list and Kent makes a list, and we average them out into a combined list. This is what it is all about people:
1. Taxi Cab – Vampire Weekend [Kent #1; Brent #3]
2. Rill Rill – Sleigh Bells [Kent #4; Brent #1]
3. Everlasting Light – The Black Keys [Kent #2; Brent #14]
3. Excuses – The Morning Benders [Kent #3; Brent #13]
5. Fuck You – Cee Lo Green [Kent #19; Brent #4]
6. Bloodbuzz Ohio – The National [Kent #18; Brent #7]
7. Runaway – The National [Kent #10; Brent #30]
8. Sinister Kid – The Black Keys [Kent #13; Brent #32]
9. All Delighted People – Sufjan Stevens [Kent: unranked; Brent #2]
9. Theme from “Cheers” – Titus Andronicus [Kent #28; Brent #25]
11. Conversation 16 – The National [Kent #5; Brent: unranked]
11. To Old Friends and New – Titus Andronicus [Kent: unranked; Brent #5]
13. Dark Fantasy – Kanye West [Kent: unranked; Brent #6]
13. Heart Of Steel ft.Irma Thomas – Galactic [Kent #6; Brent: unranked]
13. TAOS – Menomena [Kent #8; Brent #49]
16. No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future – Titus Andronicus [Kent #7; Brent: unranked]
17. The Ghost Who Walks – Karen Elson [Kent: unranked; Brent #8]
18. The Mermaid Parade – Phosphorescent [Kent: unranked; Brent #9]
18. I’m A Pilot – Fanfarlo [Kent #9; Brent: unranked]
20. Infinity Guitars – Sleigh Bells [Kent: unranked; Brent #10]
21. Double It ft.Big Freedia – Galactic [Kent #11; Brent: unranked]
21. You Wanted A Hit – LCD Soundsystem [Kent: unranked; Brent #11]
23. It – Dr. Dog [Kent: unranked; Brent #12]
23. You Won’t Need Me Where I’m Goin’ – How to Dress Well [Kent #12; Brent: unranked]
25. King of the Beach – Wavves [Kent #14; Brent: unranked]
26. Half Light II (No Celebration) – The Arcade Fire [Kent: unranked; Brent #15]
26. Month of May – The Arcade Fire [Kent #15; Brent: unranked]
28. BOTE – Menomena [Kent #16; Brent: unranked]
28. Vanderlyle – The National [Kent: unranked; Brent #16]
30. Tell ‘Em – Sleigh Bells [Kent: unranked; Brent #17]
30. Yulia – Wolf Parade [Kent #17; Brent: unranked]
32. These Days – The Black Keys [Kent: unranked; Brent #18]
33. Soundtrack To The End – Communist Daughter [Kent: unranked; Brent #19]
34. John the Determinist – Jeremy Messersmith [Kent: unranked; Brent #20]
34. When I’m With You (Bonus Track) – Best Coast [Kent #20; Brent: unranked]
36. Catholic Pagans – Surfer Blood [Kent #21; Brent: unranked]
36. Obscene Queen Bee – Flashy Python [Kent: unranked; Brent #21]
38. Promises – The Morning Benders [Kent #22; Brent: unranked]
38. Heaven Can Wait – Charlotte Gainsbourg [Kent: unranked; Brent #22]
40. Little Faith – The National [Kent #23; Brent: unranked]
40. I Remember – Yeasayer [Kent: unranked; Brent #23]
42. Dipomat’s Son – Vampire Weekend [Kent #24; Brent: unranked]
42. I Didn’t See It Coming – Belle & Sebastian [Kent: unranked; Brent #24]
44. Thee Oh So Protective One – Girls [Kent #25; Brent: unranked]
45. Queen Black Acid – Menomena [Kent: unranked; Brent #26]
45. Trick Pony – Charlotte Gainsbourg [Kent #26; Brent: unranked]
47. Crash Years – The New Pornographers [Kent: unranked; Brent #27]
47. Shake It and Break It – Andrew Bird [Kent #27; Brent: unranked]
49. Riot Rhythm – Sleigh Bells [Kent: unranked; Brent #28]
50. Lemonworld – The National [Kent #29; Brent: unranked]
50. What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way) – Wolf Parade [Kent: unranked; Brent #29]
52. Coronado – Deerhunter [Kent #30; Brent: unranked]
53. Shame, Shame – Dr. Dog [Kent: unranked; Brent #31]
53. Sun Hands – Local Natives [Kent #31; Brent: unranked]
55. Limit To Your Love – James Blake [Kent #32; Brent: unranked]
56. Carolina – Girls [Kent #33; Brent: unranked]
56. Valkyrie In The Roller Disco – The New Pornographers [Kent: unranked; Brent #33]
58. Mornin’ Time – Woods [Kent: unranked; Brent #34]
58. Time Has Practically Stopped – Shapes and Sizes [Kent #34; Brent: unranked]
60. Next Girl – The Black Keys [Kent #35; Brent: unranked]
60. We Don’t Want Your Body – Stars [Kent: unranked; Brent #35]
62. Run the Heart – Sleigh Bells [Kent: unranked; Brent #36]
62. We Are The Men You’ll Grow To Love Soon – Let’s Wrestle [Kent #36; Brent: unranked]
64. Hand Me Downs – The Morning Benders [Kent #37; Brent: unranked]
64. Not The Kid – Communist Daughter [Kent: unranked; Brent #37]
66. Four Dreams – Jesca Hoop [Kent #38; Brent: unranked]
66. Slippery When Wet – The Acorn [Kent: unranked; Brent #38]
68. Wasted Hours – The Arcade Fire [Kent: unranked; Brent #39]
68. Dark Trance – Free Energy [Kent #39; Brent: unranked]
70. Le Chat Du Café Des Artistes – Charlotte Gainsbourg [Kent: unranked; Brent #40]
70. Monster (Feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver) – Kanye West [Kent #40; Brent: unranked]
70. Never Give You Up – The Black Keys [Kent #49; Brent #42]
73. Working Part Time – The Henry Clay People [Kent #41; Brent: unranked]
73. Write About Love – Belle & Sebastian [Kent: unranked; Brent #41]
75. Doubt – The Corin Tucker Band [Kent #42; Brent: unranked]
76. Harold T. Wilkins, Or How To Wait For A Very Long Time – Fanfarlo [Kent #43; Brent: unranked]
76. Moves – The New Pornographers [Kent: unranked; Brent #43]
78. Giving Up The Gun – Vampire Weekend [Kent: unranked; Brent #44]
78. I Don’t Care If There’s Cursing – Phosphorescent [Kent #44; Brent: unranked]
80. Bombay – El Guincho [Kent #45; Brent: unranked]
80. Long Way Home – Mates Of State [Kent: unranked; Brent #45]
82. In the Sun – She & Him [Kent: unranked; Brent #46]
82. Richard II – Titus Andronicus [Kent #46; Brent: unranked]
84. It’s Hard to Be Humble (When You’re from Alabama) – Phosphorescent [Kent: unranked; Brent #47]
84. Take It Easy – Surfer Blood [Kent #47; Brent: unranked]
86. Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk – The New Pornographers [Kent: unranked; Brent #48]
86. Tootie Ma Is a Big Fine Thing – Tom Waits [Kent #48; Brent: unranked]
88. Echo – R. Kelly [Kent #50; Brent: unranked]
88. Let the Record Go – The Mynabirds [Kent: unranked; Brent #50]