The Year in Music So Far - Fave Picks 2010

Nils Frahm - The Bells
I'm putting this comtemporary classical solo piano album on the list. Its what I want to work on this year - hauntingly beautiful

Lonelady - Nerve Up
I'm a little hesitant to put this one on the list. There is a slight retro sheen to this record. Its like listening to a busker with a guitar, fuzzbox, a tiny amp, and a lappy for the beats!! But somehow this is the most refreshing sound I have heard so far in 2010. Give it a whirl. You may just succumb to its nervy lo-fi charm.

Marina and the Diamonds - The Family Jewels
I know ... she's the female equivalent of Mika, and probably twice as irritating to some. But whatevs haters!! I like this. Its my guilty pop pleasure and the fact that it has failed miserably after an extended period of hype just makes me warm to it even more. You can keep your La Roux and Florences ... I'm happy to sup on these family jewels.

Liars - Sisterworld
I don't want to come across as desperately craving some kind of street cred or worse musical validation by adding this album to the list. So let me preface this by saying that I have always been interested in the music that this band puts out and have rarely been dissappointed. This is a more disciplined effort in that the songs have relatively tighter structures than in previous efforts ... perhaps coming across too much like The Flaming Lips and other bands of that ilk but you seriously cannot doubt this band's bona fides after listening to promo track Scissor - clever and creepy video to boot.

Liars - "Scissor" video
Uploaded by naivepromo. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

VA: Minimal Wave Tapes Vol 1
This is a must have for all electronic music afficianado ... moreso then any of those laboured but lovingly fashioned Musique Concrete compilations that exist out there .. mainly because the tracks here have been curated from limited edition cassettes and vinyl by artists with a DIY approach and pop sensibility. In the words of Boomkat this is essential listening. It reminds me of those early BEF compilations .. which is of course a good thing!

This is just a melange of beats, bleeps and sampled sounds. Its dense and lush like an ever so slightly too rich confection ... every mouthful is a swirl of richness that is making you increasingly full with each successive bite ... but still you keep munching on. Its cosmic hip hop balm to soothe the jaded generation. And those strings and harps floor me!

The Knife in collaboration with Mt Sims & Planningtorock - Tomorrow, In a Year

For all intents and purposes this is more classical than it is electronic. The vocals are operatic and the phrasing atonal. But if you approach it with an open mind, and treat this as a contemporary classical piece then you will fully grasp its brilliance. Can the Knife put a foot wrong? (there I've just jinxed it!!!) Could very well be album of the year for me.

Sleigh Bells - Treats

Starting with what sounds like a gameboy flottilla of artillery firing a shuddering gun salute whilst a calvacade of electronic missilles cuts a sonic swathe across your brain, the pace doesn't let up on this brilliant debut album from newcomers Sleigh Bells. This is no "wonderful life". This is Robot Santa with guns a-blazing. A punch under the mistletoe ... my kind of yuletide scratchings.

Crystal Castles

Does anyone remember Atari teenage Riot? Well this lot kinda remind me of them except maybe a little more subtle, less germanic!! Sophomore albums are tricky. And really the formula hasn't changed that much, but there is a greater sense of identity playing out here which makes for a more consistent and ultimately more satisfying album.

This is crying out for a limited edition including postcards, stickers, comic book, poster, and a short film accompaniement. Damn you GFC, damn you digital downloads, there's no money in the coffers for Pop music as cheekily daggy as this. Yes its a concept of sorts, yes it sounds like white soul, but Janelle is such a boundless packet of energy its hard not to be swept up in the sheer sci-fi glee of it all. I can't wait to see what she does next.

John Grant - Queen of Denmark

This is softcockrock at its finest. It would be what my friend M would add to the playlist he calls moderate rock. There is something almost baroque in its folk sensibilities and John has an ardent lover's tone ... the sort of voice you want whispering to you in the throes of passion. It was love at first sight when I heard the single "I want to go to Marz" although M took exception at the stretching of the word frapp-e over 2 notes with a seeming breath in between ... whatevs M. This is beautiful. And there's a song about Sigourney Weaver - genius!!!

"Baby, you're where dreams go to die
I regret the day your lovely carcass caught my eye
Baby, you're where dreams go to die
I've got to get away, I don't want to, but I have to try"

It starts with a rumble, a plaintive cello, and a ghostly yelp, before the drums kick in and we're off on a mythical scandinavian carpet ride into something undefinably new and exciting. There have been so many organic electronic albums this year with plenty more to come. This has to rank at the top. It is short, sweet and to the point. Filled with amazing sounds that develop with repeated plays, it provides quiet moments and moments when you just want to skip down the street and shake every limb in your body. Why do the Swedes seem to have such a handle on melodies ... its coz Abba's in their blood!!!

"Don't fucking tell me what to do" Need I say more? Ok, look this is one short sweet and extremely fun album. It has a pounding teutonic beat that pulses the record along and a sassy, feisty, hipster chick with a killer fringe holding the reigns and mc-ing us through modern life and its trials, tribulations and small victories. Is that enough?

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