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review of 2010

We think it's been a great year for music, so much better than last year as Bruce Forsyth would say. So our writers have had their thinking caps on and provided us with a their high points from 2010:

Wolfgang Guenther

Top 3 albums of 2009:
1. The National - High Violet
A timeless masterpiece
2. Beach House - Teen Dream
A modern piece of timelessness
3. Bombay Bicycle Club - Flaws
No neo-folk, no weird folk, no anti-folk, no hipster folk, just contemporary folk by a band that proves a variety of songwriting skills

Top 3 Singles:
1. The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
Anger, disappointment, resignation, comfort and hope
2. The Drums - Best Friend
Minimal effort, maximal joy. Epic.
3. Gorillaz - Stylo
Pop-music in 2011-13

Favourite Gig 2009
Beach House, 19/8/2010, E-Werk Erlangen, Germany
These mysterious triangles on the stage, these stars, these lights. The voice! Oh boy, this voice! That really was magic.

Band to Watch for 2011
1. Yuck
The missing link between 2010s lo-fi/shoegaze and future American Alternative revival.
2. Tina Refsnes
Norwegian-English girl in the footprints of Laura Marling
3. Just Handshakes (We're British)
1986 applied in 2010/11. And brilliant name btw.

Will Columbine

Top 3 singles:
"Dancing On My Own" - Robyn
"On Melancholy Hill" - Gorillaz
"Crazy For You" - Best Coast

Top 3 Albums:
"Gemini" - Wild Nothing
"Astrocoast" - Surfer Blood
"Sit Down, Man" - Das Racist


Live Show:
Mark Kozelek, Union Chapel

Bands to Watch in 2011
I'll tell you next December!

Matt Brown

Top albums of :
1. The National - High Violet
2. Sufjan Stevens - Age of Adz
3. These New Puritans - Hidden

top 3 singles
1. Tiny Tempah - Pass Out
2. Robyn - Dancing On My Own
3. Janelle Monae - Tightrope

favourite gig:
The Mountain Goats at Brudenell Social Club,Leeds

End of the Road in Dorset

3 to watch for 2011:
1. Trophy Wife
2. Odd Future
3. Chapel Club

Andy Glynn

Top 3 albums:
Underworld - Barking
A band I never realised I cared much about until this year. But Barking makes a pretty convincing argument for the uninitiated. Its one long euphoric headrush of lush synths, waspish beats and Karl Hyde's patented mystic gibberish. 'Scribble' makes me want to stand on a hilltop and throw shapes to the sun god. Simply awe-inspiring.

The Indelicates - Songs for Swinging Lovers
Still the only traditional guitar band in Britain worth a damn. '...Swinging Lovers' takes the bile and energy of their debut and applies generous lashings of it to Weimar-era cabaret, Blondie-style electro pop and, at one point, what sounds like skiffle. Gloriously pretentious and spiteful, the Indelicates are cleverer than you and their songs have more 'hairs on the back of your neck stand up' moments than you've had hot dinners.

Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
There are decent musicians and performers, and then there are stars. When the androgynous, elfin lady with the quiff starts talking about how shes a time-travelling robot on the run from the law for daring to love - you should really start listening.
The lovechild of Prince and Grace Jones, with songs that can appeal just as easily to your average west-coast hip-hop head as your broadsheet culture-section chinstroker, The ArchAndroid is eclectic in a way that makes all previous uses of the word 'eclectic' seem pretty trite.

Top 3 singles:
Robyn - Dancing on my ownIt just... so... sad. If you've had your heart broken its perfect and if not you'll consider going off and getting your heart broken just so you've got an excuse to listen to it on repeat while staring into the middle-distance, muttering and weeping.

Fools Day - Blur
Blur's secret weapon was always the slight, almost-not-there-at-all, songs that they seemed to be able to pull out of the hat effortlessly, (End of a Century, You're so Great, Best Days). Fools Day carries on that tradition. Its that tiny post-credits scene at the end of the film that lets you know that everything was actually ok for all the main characters in the end.

65daysofstatic - Tiger Girl
They were probably one of the most exciting bands in the world anyway, but 2010 was the year 65DOS discovered dance. This is the sound of 'post-rock' or 'math-rock' or whatever the fuck its called these days, getting dragged kicking and screaming out into the sunlight. This song manages to be quite good for 7 minutes, 39 seconds. Then it starts being bloody brilliant.

Favorite gig:
Janelle Monae - Manchester Academy 2
...and the girl can dance too (shit painter mind).

Festival of 2010
Didn't go to any festivals in 2010. I'm not a peasant.

3 to watch for 2011:
Prinzhorn Dance School - Shouty!
Hotpants Romance - Also quite shouty!
Nicola Roberts - Probably not all that shouty, but still the dark heart of Girls Aloud. Prophecy says she will return in 2011 to slay GaGa and save pop.



Top 3 albums of 2009:
Lots and lots to choose from but my personal top three probably looks like this:
1) Four Tet - There Is Love In You
2) Oh No Ono - Eggs
3) School of Seven Bells - Disconnect From Desire

Top 3 singles 2009:
Ok, instead of being all alternative and hip with this list, I'm gonna be a bit commercial so I don't repeat myself (also because I can't really think of any alternative/indie/dance singles). However I did genuinely love these songs, even if one of them is bloody Kylie who is normally ultra irksome:
1) No Tears To Cry - Paul Wellar
2) Cee Lo Green - Fuck/Forget You
3) All The Lovers - Kylie Minogue

Best Live Show:
I went to see Irish math metallers Bats this year who were touring small venues off the back of their 2009 album. They were amazing. I also went to see post-doom mongers Anathema who have a loyal following and every gig they do is fantastic. Finally God Is An Astronaut at the Islington Academy was pretty spectacular. For a post rock band they were utterly exciting.

Best Festival:
I have avoided festivals for the past few years after I realising I didn’t like shitting in a glorified bucket, sleeping rough or listening to Fake Plastic Trees. Again. Bah humbug.

Three to Watch in 2011:
Well, all I can base this on is hearing some excellent unsigned or small indie bands and thinking 'blimey, they're great'. So look out for:
1) Strange Birds
2) Seapony
3) Superhumanoids
And perhaps a special mention to ex-Cherbourg singer Andrew Davie who's starting to release his solo work.

Eloise Quince

Top 3 albums of 2009:
Foals – ‘Total Life Forever’
Mystery Jets – ‘Serotonin’
Villagers – ‘Becoming A Jackal’

Top 3 singles:
The Count and Sinden ft. Mystery Jets – ‘After Dark’
Egyptian Hip Hop – ‘Rad Pitt’
Everything Everything – ‘My Kz Yr Bf’

best live show
Jamie T and the Pacemakers, 24th June, Lincoln Engine Shed. Jamie T’s warm up show for Glastonbury. Fainting, dancing, sweating, bruising and a whole crowd sing-a-long to ‘If You Got The Money’ in key and in time. Phenomenal.

best festival
Underage - Great atmosphere, great acts and so much more than just music. Almost a little world of its own. Fantastic to enjoy music and not get covered in beer/piss. Instead it was warm Diet Coke, but you can’t have it all.

Band to watch for 2011:
IS TROPICAL - Deliciously mysterious electronica.
Gold Future Joy Machine - Big band = big sound. Feisty, yet soothing.
Youth - Same distant mathcore time signatures of Foals, but much more melancholy.


Thom Curtis

Top 3 albums:
The aforementioned Black Sands by Bonobo is certainly a contender for best album of the year. The quality of this guy's albums is so consistently brilliant, and this new release is impeccable. The beautiful string-led Prelude slithers effortlessly into Kiara, one of a few upbeat tracks on the album. And from then, Kong, Eyesdown, El Toro and Black Sands make this a fantastic album. Post-party chill-out at its best. Yes.

Next up is the simply fantastic Gorilla Manor by Local Natives – an album whose greatness is only emphasised by flawless live performances. Folky indie with awesome guitar licks and gorgeous vocal harmonies – sometimes incorporating all four band members. My top picks are Wide Eyes, Airplanes, Sun Hands, Shape Shifter, Camera Talk, and Warning Sign. You may notice that is a majority of the album – which just goes to show how incredible this album is. And all the songs work so well together, there's a nice theme which runs through all the songs – and factor which, after all, makes an album an album instead of just a collection of songs.

Finally, Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up by Oceansize. I got into this band way too late – I had fallen in love with their debut Effloresce and got stuck there, when the prospect of a fourth album loomed. Whilst I liked a bunch of tracks from Everyone Into Position, I found Frames a very difficult album indeed and was subsequently intrigued as to what the new album would present – especially as front-man Mike Vennart had been closely involved with Biffy's live performances throughout the year. And the album doesn't disappoint, it's got high octane mental songs, and it's got softer ones. All in all, it's a real winner. My personal favourite is Oscar Acceptance Speech which was omitted from the set-list during the Autumn tour, but such is life.

Top 3 singles:
Firstly Eyesdown by Bonobo, a chilled track with a mesmerising gentle bass wob-wobbing away. The lead vocal is provided by featuring artist Andreya Triana, whose solo album this year Lost Where I Belong is a real treat to the ears – simply stunning if you dig incredible up-and-coming female vocalists. In this Bonobo track, she's on top form and the song is a real winner – and one of many from the album Black Sands which is incredible from start to finish.

Next up is Bubbles by Biffy Clyro – which I cannot deny is a cracking song, even if I have my own reservations about the band recently. Whilst the album Only Revolutions was released in 2009, Bubbles was released in 2010. It's no That Golden Rule but it pisses all over that Many of Horror nonsense or that God And Satan waffle.

Finally, Call Out by Feeder. Since Feeder's drummer topped himself after the incredible Echo Park, the band never really recovered – and sure enough, the number of great tracks on each subsequent album was getting smaller and smaller. There was some great tracks coming up in every release but the overall package just wasn't there. Whilst the singles collection offered fans a hope with the new tracks Shatter and Lost and Found being fantastic, the following albums only had one, maybe two stand-out tracks on them. Call Out is the energetic masterpiece that claims top spot on the latest album Renegades. It's got some balls, something the band had lacked over the past three or four albums – and I hope with all my heart that Feeder write some more songs about things worth getting energetic over, and not some dead guy that used to drum with them.

Favorite gig 2009:
Radiohead at Reading Festival. For a few hours afterwards I felt like someone had slipped me some Class As. My heart was beating faster than Napalm Death's bass drum. It was probably finally getting to see "Paranoid Android" that pushed me over the edge. If festival sets don't count as gigs, then Billy Talent at Southampton Guildhall. I'd seen them 6 times previously, and the Guildhall in Southampton is a dreadful vanue for sound. But somehow it was the best time I've ever seen them. It isn't just their music that has evolved and matured. They're a real treat to see at their own shows.

Best Festival
Well, I only went to two this year – Reading and Glastonbury. Reading 2009 had disappointed me, and the orgasmic performances of Manchester Orchestra and Radiohead didn't do enough to raise my spirits. In comparison, 2010 was a blast and I really enjoyed myself. Although the line-up remains to be fairly good every year, whilst I get older, the kids seem to get younger. And I understand, I started attending when I was 16 but... it's just kidfest5000. So, Glastonbury wins my best festival award. Don't go thinking it only got it because I don't like the Reading kids though – it's the biggest music festival in the world, and its line up is incredible and diverse and, faultless. Maybe Glastonbury shouldn't be included in such a thing as this. Maybe it's above that, while all the other festivals fight for the honour of being nearly as good as it.

Best Live Show
Muse at Wembley Stadium, London, September 11th. Muse have been my favourite band for a long time, discovered during the glorious Origin of Symmetry era and then watched as they slowly but surely fell apart. Well no, not really but, I miss the old days. There's no denying the sound has changed – and I always have mixed feelings about it, changing my opinions on things. It's still good, but misses the underlying grungey edge of the old stuff. That said, I do realise that I am no longer a teenager and there might be other emotional ties with the older stuff. But anyway, I digress. While they've gone a bit mainstream, they can still write some great songs. And fuck me sideways – they are just getting better and better live. This show at Wembley was phenomenal, not to mention getting to see Biffy Clyro, White Lies and I Am Arrows in support. With Bliss back in the set-list, and the rock epic Citizen Erased rattling me to the core, there was never any doubt that this wasn't going to be the best gig of the year.

Shane Blanchard

Top 3 albums:
Crystals Castles - Crystal Castles 2
Chickenhawk - Modern Bodies
Performance - Red Brick Heart

Top 3 singles:
The Guilty Hands - Razor
South Central - Demons
The Twilight Sad - The Wrong Car

Favorite gig:
Future of the Left @The Cockpit, Leeds

Bands to watch:
The Good Natured
We Are Enfant Terrible

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