The end of the year is a bountiful time on music blogs. If you only read these things on occasion then the end of the year is surely the best time to visit, as we all indulge in our annual roundups. It is also fair to point out that there’s an over-abundance of these charts, so you have to be pretty selective before the list-fatigue sets in.
We’re confident that The Recommender’s roundup will be easily digested with this ‘Best Tracks of 2010′. Last year’s effort turned out to be one of the most popular posts from the whole of 2009, (see that post here), with many precious gems located within it.
Before you question us, please note that the only rules for a tune to earn an entry is to have either; A) been officially released this year as part of a single or album, or B) arrived into our music folder during 2010. They are in order with the number one track being our favourite.
As in previous years, we provide an mp3 of each track, a short summary review, and if you want to hear more about why we think this artist/track is so awesome there’s a few links to any available post that we’d previously done on them, where applicable. Enjoy.
MARATHON – TENNIS
REVIEW: Understated, yet it stands out from any peers. This is music that’s as strong as it is twee. The 60s never seemed so fresh and so perfect. Candy sweet and deadly.
ONE – YEASAYER
REVIEW: Alternative indie pop at it’s bravest and best, with it’s off-kilter vocals and fizzing energy. It breathes air right through you, like a rush of bubbles.
TAKE THIS NIGHT – TROPHY WIFE
REVIEW: This hot new band from Oxford shine on these early signs. Intricate, but simple. Organic but driving. This is alternative music at it’s most enchanting.
THE GREEN ROOM – THE TINS
REVIEW: This captivating alt indie is full of enjoyable layers and rich textures. Theatrical throughout and split into clear sections, like a classic film. At over seven minutes long, your patience has never been so rewarded.
SICK TONIGHT – DAN LES SAC VS SCROOBIUS PIP (DOCTOR P REMIX)
REVIEW: Dubstep lurched through 2010 like Godzilla, occasionally powerful and scary, but often clumsy too. This track can seal a deal with any doubter though. Watch it drop onto a club floor, or hear it wave from side to side in your headphones and you’ll know precisely why it made this list. Huge.
FIVE LITTLE ROOMS – MENOMENA
REVIEW: After all this time, they’re still producing thumping, crashing indie music as good as anything we’ve seen on previous albums. Towering.
EYES ABOVE YOUR HEAD – ZARRYLADE
REVIEW: Smooth, sumptuous and grooving. Lead by the squelching bassline, it guarantees to have you singing along by the second chorus and whistling it well beyond it’s close. If Zarrylade was a woman she’d be curvaceous, but firm and hot as it gets.
OFF OUR BACKS – MEN
REVIEW: JD Samson returned to us from Le Tigre on brilliant form with this sexually charged hit. It’s enough to make even the most liberal of people blush head to toe.
ALL THE WORLD IS ALL THAT IS THE CASE – PARLOVR
REVIEW: Dozens of bands have aimed to push the same buttons as Arcade Fire, but this was the closest we’ve heard anyone get. The secret? They played every second of the song like their lives depended on it.
LIMIT TO YOUR LOVE – JAMES BLAKE
REVIEW: It’s perhaps a little cheeky to include a cover, but James Blakes’ rendition of Feists’ song is a lesson in how to do covers. It’s just a little bit special and has helped catapult James into the wider public’s gaze and onto the BBC’s Sound Of 2011 Poll, before finally adding a Brits nomination.
CHOICE NOTES – ALEX WINSTON
REVIEW: Cute, dinky pop hasn’t sounded this good since Motown, but there’s also some seriously great details tucked away in Alex’s timeless songwriting and this is a great example. One to watch for sure.
MIAMI SPIDER – GALLOPS
REVIEW: If you prefer your pop to have an element of menace and a razors edge, then this instrumental track feels like you’re being attacked by a thousand robots, before an angel lifts you from the carnage mid-way through.
THE MIDNIGHT BELL – THE HIGH WIRE
REVIEW: It succeeds in grabbing your attention by the aorta and doesn’t let go. Ever. It’s like being arrested by a glance across the room from a beautiful woman. Stunning.
ICON PARADE – JUKEBOX COLLECTIVE
REVIEW: This is indie with a razor sharp edge and a rattling pace, falling into the chorus as easy as a rock star would a bed of babes. It’s drunk with confidence and perfectly carved for your Friday night.
WHEN O WHEN – IS TROPICAL
REVIEW: This Camden anthem takes it’s time, but just as you find yourself savoring it like a good wine, it smashes the room to pieces. The Libertines for Generation Y?
GROOVE ME – MAXIMUM BALLOON feat. THEOPHILUS LONDON
REVIEW: Introducing the horny and direct Theophilus London to Dave Sitek’s collaboration album seems the perfect move on what was already a sexy and confrontational LP. Hot.
WAYS TO AN END – MIRRORS
REVIEW: This is the new single from Mirrors and we find them uncovering more and more talent with every track they release. One of the most hotly anticipated debut LPs of 2011 just warmed up a little more with this single.
DIVISIVE – WE HAVE BAND
REVIEW: This band do certain things better than anyone else – namely kick ass beats, riffs that hook you like a harpoon and intelligent, layered vocals that become more than the sum of their parts. Electro pop done perfectly.
ASYLUM – NOT SQUARES
REVIEW: Don’t let it’s serrated edges fool you, because this is as fun as it is sharp, with more bang and crash than your average Hollywood blockbuster This was tune was the antidote to a year that was washed in Lo-Fi Chillwave.
IN THE SUMMER – CRYSTAL FIGHTERS
REVIEW: This was a strong highlight on a good album. It gave us what they’re good at – high octane, alternative, hook-heavy dance music.
WATCH THE GLOW – MUSEUM OF BELLAS ARTES
REVIEW: The Swedish four piece arrived late in the year with this exceptional song. Harmonic and utterly beautiful, but juxtaposed with a distinctive beat that plods like a horse pulling a cart with square wheels.
UNFOLD/FOLD – WE//ARE//ANIMAL
REVIEW: Gutsy, raw and as brave as any stomping, rocking blues tune around. Within it’s construction you get energy, talent and a pair of balls. What’s not to like?
TAKE IT IN – HOT CHIP
REVIEW: This song was like someone reminding you of good news when you need it most. Rewarding, satisfying and uplifting. What starts out with 8-bit bleeps and a thunderous beat, reaches an end with the smoothest, most heartfelt we’ve arguably ever heard Hot Chip get. Special.
THE GAUDY SIDE OF TOWN – GAYNGS
REVIEW: They created an astonishing album, with many highlights, but this is the tune that first grabbed our attention and held onto it for the full seven minutes, without blinking. Smooth, classical and just a little bit stunning.
I CAN CHANGE – LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
REVIEW: Fans of this blog will know just how much we adore LCD, so seeing this at number 16 may be a surprise, but it was frankly impossible for the new album to be the life-changer that Sound Of Silver was. However, this still showed us that when Mr Murphy gets it right, he gets it very right indeed.
BLOW IT UP – THE VACCINES
REVIEW: Throwback 50s indie, with the kind of carefree, slacker punch that Kurt Cobain would have been proud of throwing. When reflecting in years to come, will this track be regarded as the turning point anthem that the indie kids were longing for in 2010?
O – IAMAMIWHOAMI
REVIEW: The secrecy campaign that’s surrounded this artist has gone on all year and they’re yet to fully reveal it’s climax. That’s too long in our opinion, however, it’s the strength of their well produced, polished songs, with this being a favourite, that has us keeping one eye fixed upon them. More-ish.
AIN’T NOBODY – CLARE MAGUIRE
REVIEW: The easiest prediction for stardom in 2011 that there is . This hit is as mature and grand as pop gets, sounding as much Tammy Wynette as it does Florence Welch. It’s got ‘big’ stamped all over it.
TIGHTROPE – JANELLE MONAE feat BIG BOI
REVIEW: If you could bottle talent then this is the sound of a woman that’s downed gallons of it, emerging with what seems like a dance through the history of black music. It sounds as contemporary as it does classic.
A FEW KIND WORDS – MEURSAULT
REVIEW: This song starts at the top and goes up from there. Great lyrics, “with their hearts touching their teeth and the clouds reaching down to touch concrete“, great riffs and a relentless beat. What more do you want?
SHAPESHIFT – DELS
REVIEW: The pretty opening bars drop into the kind of thumping hip hop that sends shivers over your skin. Touched by brilliance, especially at the hands of it’s producer – Joe Goddard from Hot Chip.
ONE EYE CLOSED – COCKNBULLKID
REVIEW: One of the finest new vocals in pop hits notes nobody else is hitting, literally as well as metaphorically. We’re already in love with the debut LP and it’s not even out yet. Roll on 2011.
ON MELANCHOLY HILL – GORILLAZ
REVIEW: Pop music is what Damon Albarn is best at. With the new album and all it’s astonishing hits he showed off a seemingly endless talent. This track pulled a special trick that all great pop songs do – upon listening to it for the first time it sounded like you had always known it.
GOLD CANARY – CLOUD CONTROL
REVIEW: Almost perfect pop. Vocal harmonies that really penetrate, washed down with hooks and catchy melodies. Addictive, instant, a proper middle eight, choruses to sing along to, just beautiful.
TELL ‘EM – SLEIGH BELLS
REVIEW: Has a debut LP ever launched with an opening tune containing this much ferocious energy from the outset? As equal parts hardcore as it is nursery rhyme, this is the sound of schizophrenia. Gorgeous and scary.
DROP THE OTHER – EMIKA
REVIEW: It makes Portishead sound like a Disney soundtrack, as this is so wonderfully dark, brooding and magnificently produced. Add in her inflected vocals, her direct lyrics (“You see now I got nerve for asking what I’m worth“), and we’re served up a pitch black tune that’s seriously good.
TRUTH – ALEXANDER
REVIEW: It’s quite simple – when Tarantino films the drawn out final death scene for the biopic of my life – this tune will be it’s soundtrack. Cinematic, timeless and authentic.
ARCADE FIRE – SPRAWL II (MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS)
REVIEW: It just felt different from anything else we’ve heard from the world-dominating Canadians. It had the classic pop feel of an ABBA hit, but with desolate lyrics such as “I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights“. It was a confident and brilliant juxtaposition that bounces along over the one thing they’ve always managed – exceptional melodies.
SPANISH SARAHA – FOALS
REVIEW: We don’t think we ever recovered from this song after first hearing it. It penetrated deeper than most artists can even conceive, let alone produce. It’s like running in mist, or swimming in the dark – it’s lonely, it’s scary, but once you’re fully immersed you see its beauty. Slow builds really don’t get much better.
SUFFRAGETTE SUFFRAGETTE – EVERYTHING EVERYTHING
REVIEW: Originally released as a single before 2010, it finally found it’s proper form whilst contained in the centre of one of the best albums of this year. Nobody else could write a track like this. It’s challenging, special and unique, pressing the reset button with almost every turn. Powerful releases, outlandish vocals, sweet moments of calm, dramatic guitars, all wrapped up in a melodic mantra. It’s astonishing concept and it’s breathtaking execution meant that it had winner written all over it.
THE BAND’S RESPONSE: “‘Suffragette Suffragette’ was one of the very first songs we ever wrote together. It’s a song that’s taught us a lot. It almost didn’t make it on to (our debut album) ‘Man Alive’ and we wrestled with ourselves for ages over it’s inclusion, but we thought it was an important part of our history to date and had a valuable place there. It’s great to receive this accolade from The Recommender and to know that we did the right thing and that it’s really connected with people this year. Thank you”.
Like all good lists we know this will cause a raging debate, so why not let us have it in the comments if you’re feeling passionate? Hopefully you will agree with at least something on it, right? However, there was no place for Mount Kimbie, Best Coast, Two Door Cinema Club, Arcade Fire, Warpaint, Hurts, among lots of others, so have we failed, tried too hard, or got it roughly right in your opinion? Who would be your number one? Considering it’s 2010 why is there a lack of dubstep or chillwave? Lot’s to discuss…