This was ridiculously hard to do for a year where there were a lot of really good albums but not many great ones. Still, when I had done a lot of cross examinations and listened til my ears bled, I was left with some twenty albums that were still floating my boat. As Paul and I found common ground there, as a collective Paul and I have come up with a definitive top ten for tomorrow (with the only exception being our final entry - wont say much until tomorrow), so I'm showcasing a couple that may have slipped through the cracks. And from the above pic I guess you know where we are starting...
1. Mark McGuire, Living With Yourself
I only heard this a month ago, but have not been able to put it to bed. This is guitar collage by a consummate professional (1/3 of the inimitable Emeralds), but with an inherent personal narrative that is more emotive than almost anything you'll come across. Mindblowing.
2. Ceremony - Rohnert Park
This album upset a lot of the hardcore purists that had been swept up by the bloodlust that was Ceremony's initial propulsive drive. Yet its the melodic change of gear and emphasis on early twenties ennui that underpins this album - Ceremony may be in 'The Doldrums', exhibiting lo-fi stargazing with the best of em, but unlike the likes of Beach Fossils et al (many of which are great), these guys will still tear you a new arsehole.
3. Puffy Areolas - In The Army 1981
Puerile, nihilistic trash, screaming and buzzsawing their way through an obnoxious forty minutes that you can never get back, Puffy Areolas are unabashedly bashing their head repeatedly against a wall, whilst holding you in a headlock. And it may take a while, but rest assured you'll have a bloodied grin smeared across your face. A lot of bands (some even from the same Siltbreeze stable) tried for reckless wanton abandon, but none did it like Puffy Areolas.
4. Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts
This album is still up there for me even though it was on relentless rotation early in the year, and was an almost there contender for Sonic Masala's definitive top ten. In some ways I could alternate this album with Harlem's Hippies - both exuded that bright, snotty, scuzzy garage punk with pop sensibilities emblazoned across their chests. But I came to the Dalston trio's brand of sound first, therefore it wins the kudos here. Still incredibly addictive - pretty much my 2010 dance album, albeit drunken and inevitably staining the carpet with red wine and cigarette burns.
5. Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra - Kollaps Tradixionales
We all need a guilty pleasure... I know a lot of people hate Efrin Menuck's voice, and the G!YBE reunion certainly has overshadowed things, but Kollaps Tradixionales is here, not just because it is an impressive, audacious, sprawling, memsmeric listen, but because of their amazing live show in February at Electric Ballroom, and for the epic opening track 'There Is A Light'. And I like Ramirez's voice, so fuck you.
6. Heirs - Fowl
I wanted to put Helms Alee's Night Terror here, but seeing as it is a 2009 release, that cant be done. Instead I bring you Heirs, a hard post-metal outfit from Melbourne that managed on Fowl to squeeze every iota of emotion out of the blackest riffs this side of death metal without resorting to guttural growls, yelps and the gnashing of teeth - which is why I love this genre. Furthermore, it has balls. Big, big balls. They played the tiniest of venues in Camden this year and I saw a man spontaneously combust. FACT. (NB - facts may not be factual).
7. Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Rush To Relax
Another Aussie outfit, but one you might be more familiar with - ECSR's 3rd LP has been largely overlooked almost everywhere, which is a travesty. I know that the release of the first two albums (Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Primary Colours) only came here last year, but its a shame that this garage juggernaut missed the target. They are terse yet fun, brooding yet energetic, manic yet throwaway - and their simple chugging sonics coupled with lead Brendan Suppression's iconic Aussie bark/drawl makes for a unique and amazing sound. They have toured with Pissed Jeans of recent times - expect for more bite next time around.
8. Merchandise - (Strange Songs) In The Dark
Another band I only came to last month - the exact same day as Mark McGuire - this Florida act have put out an amazing EP and a bunch of demos and such (Gone Are The Silk Gardens Of Youth), but the album is something so much more. The loudest, most feedback riddled, brooding pop songs ever. One of the most breathtaking albums of 2010 in my opinion - underneath all that white noise and dissonance is abject beauty.
9. Sex Church - 6 Songs By...
These guys were all the rage in the middle months of 2010, then the hype seemed to die away. Shame really, cos Sex Church (not to be confused with another amazing band, Megachurch, who just miss the cut here) are producing some of the most exciting garage rock right now. When bands such as Tyvek and Sic Alps are all jostling each other for obvious reasons, Sex Church came along and quietly drank everyone under the table and slept with all their girlfriends. And they are from British Columbia. Shit.
10. Tjutjana - Tjutjana
The biggest surprise of the year I reckon, as this is actually a release sent to me by the band themselves. Hailing from Denver Colorado, Tjutjana are relentless in their pursuit of the Dark Side of psych rock. And whilst there were some great psych records out this year, Tjutjana brought forth a fresh, albeit disturbing, take, and blew away the competition.
I feel I've left out some other stellar releases too, so here's a few others that have gotten serious airplay this year.
The Austerity Program - Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn (my fave EP of year)
Forest Swords - Dagger Paths
The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream
Weekend - Sports
Besnard Lakes - ...Are The Roaring Night
PVT - Church With No Magic
And I better stop there before I get carried away!