This year we have mostly been Indiepop. Some fantastic gigs, starting with These New Puritans and ending with The Yummy Fur, but what’s been more important are the actual songs.
2010 hasn’t been a year for your big band names and dance floor killers. The masses have stuck with their Kings of Leons, Muses and Kasabians, but we know better. It’s actually been an amazing year for songs, as such we present our top 50 of 2010. There are some notable exclusions, Johnny Foreigner and Blur narrowly missed and PJ Harvey doesnt really count as this year but will probably top 2011.
So here you are, The Guild starts with what has passed…..Enjoy.
Listen on spotify (except for three tracks)
50- Vaccines- Weckin Ball (Ra Ra Ra).
This makes me feel like Gary Glitter having a dirty little secret. Honestly, I do hate it and know I shouldn’t, but sometimes it just feels so good.
49-Chapel Club- All the Eastern Girls
A great radio song, but I have a niggling feeling they’re really a trendy Keane. I’ve got secret gossip about the drummer.
48- Cloud Nothings- Didn’t you.
A perfect pop number crossing They Might Be Giants with the Pixies. This American newcomer Dylan Baldi will be fucking huge next year.
47-Mona- Trouble on the Way.
Pretty much the new Kings Of Leon, as such I can’t like them. This song is a damn catchy rock record though so it’s here on merit but from now on all acknowledgement of Mona is banned.
At the Great Escape a few years back Miles Kane band The Rascals replaced Santogold on one of the stages. I was gutted and they were shit. The Last Shadow Puppets was pretentious toss that makes Gorillaz look edgy. So imagine my surprise that the new Paul Weller wannabe’s effort was pretty decent and well structured. There I said it, well structured. Plus Leighton Baines likes it.
45-Twin Sister- All Around and Away We Go
Will always be in the shadow of Warpaint but this is so smooth it can nuzzle its way between the sheets of the closest lovers and not leave seedy risqué thoughts.
44-The Crookes- Back Street Lovers
Jolly simple indie pop is always awesome and this songs makes one smile every time. Has a perfect cheeky pause to make the DJs nervous and the listener extra excited.
43-Count And Sinden- After dark
Another excuse for an indie dance crossover but actually pulled of pretty well. It used to get the kids dancing but has quickly died away. Expect a career of trudging remixes.
It sounds like Mason’s Exceeder and that was an awesome tune. The only reason why its here.
41-Broadcast 2000-Rouse Your Bones
A quirky little number with xylophones, crashing cymbals and strings building into a folk jamboree, proving there is still life in waistcoats and ukuleles.
The echo, fading Hammond, and dusty electronica transports you to the foot of Brooklyn Bridge; Manhattan lies ahead but your loft, your pals and your Macbook are behind you in Williamsburg. Turn around, head home and freak out.
39- Silvershock Stardust
A fantastic electro pop record with hints of Blondie’s Rapture in there. A ray of electro sunshine in an often grey and saturated genre, from the remnants of We Start Fires.
38-The Duke Spirit-Everybody’s Under Your Spell
A rare opportunity to hear a decent guitar riff at the core of a song. A fine rock song built on layering, and a fade out. It arrives, it kicks ass, than saunters off like spellbound lovers parting on a drizzly Parisian morning.
Remember when you were 14, going out with your first girlfriend, heading to gigs so amazing you’re not even bothered about a lack of beer. All you need is to sit cross legged near the front hoping you can get the set list at the end. Remember how fun and exciting it was. Listen to this and you’re back there.
36-Field Music Effortlessly
On a pretty much overrated album the simple groove of Effortlessly leaves one rewarded and thankful that there’s a genuinely likable track to play again. The second half breaks in to the best bits of The Week That Was album and shows the excitement that can be there, sometimes.
Such a simple melody, with confidence to leave space in the mix. Its’ a fine example of a modern folk song using technology and discordant post punk playing to great effect. Heavily influenced by Brooklyn bands, with an added traditional Englishness.
34-Gruff Rhys-Shark Ridden Waters
I admit bias, this man can do no wrong and here’s a fine example of basic song crafting and melody. Random samples of shop till, seagulls and squeaks, rather than distract, add a unique modern view of a 60s influenced Merry Melody.
33-Laura Marling-Rambling man
Rather than written, Rambling Man was found in Avalon amongst the mist, the breeze and the dawn. It’s always been there waiting to be roused. It eases in to the psyche taking you back to a utopian fairy tale of cider rivers and cherry rain.
32-School of Seven Bells-Windstorm
Basically an urbanised Cocteau Twins without the fairy wings. However what this achieves is the beautiful sound of hipster Angels getting with technology and using and Iphone4 face to face app rather than flying down to visit.
31-Sleigh Bells- Infinity Guitars.
This needs to be loud. Distorted guitars, heavy as fuck drums recorded in a tin can in a Chilean coal mine, or something like that. It’s dirgy, it hurts, and it just keeps on barraging you with beats. It’s exactly where music should be heading towards, on a crash course to 2011.
A pretty serious and big effort here which keeps on building like Nick Cave’s Mercy Seat, but with out the bleak, druggy edge. Gently crooning as the music flows around it headed by militant drums, the songs takes us into sidings to pull ourselves together after seeing the dark tunnels of imagination.
Decent dance music is in a more dire place than indie at the moment. Still feeling battered after the pounding R&B gave it to become the council estates genre of choice, it had to find solace in pop pap Calvin Harris toss or really bad electro crossovers. However, there are people out there looking to the root of dance, and taking it back to chilled techno at a sun rise. Sun is by no means an original track, but what it does is reinvigorate dance. Stealing from Aphex, the Orb, and FSOL, but adding the lessons learnt from the noughty electro wars, it’s gathering a new tribe sick of dancing to another Soundcloud fucking mash up. Sun put’s you on Glastonbury Tor, out of season but thankful you’ve taken the pilgrimage. Enjoy before to gets all Radio1.
28-The Fall- Mexico Wax Solvent
Nothing can be said about The Fall, you know what it will sound like. Here they’re in six minute, trudging ranting mode. There’s no build up, no respite, Just classic hypnotic Fall enveloping you with teasing tickles of xylophone and reverb through ten rounds of Tyson bass.
27-Sparklehorse & Dangermouse-Little Girl
A beautifully simple ditty perfectly crafted by Dangermouse with using a Sparklehorse toolbox. Julian Casablancas provides his typical give a shit drawl but, unusually, keeping interest to make it to the end. Always provides a sad smile knowing Mark Linkous can’t create any more perfect pop.
26-Slow Club- Giving Up On Love
Ok the album came out in 2009, but it was a single in 2010 so it counts. Sorry, no arguments. It’s my list and I love Slow Club and this song is amazeballs.
One of the slower tracks from their return to form album Falling Down a Mountain. It’s a typical dark, bar room love duet identifying the smallest aspect of what love is and what it means to be with someone. It’s positively jolly sad song for the Tindersticks and is the best song about Snoopy!?!?!
24-Allo Darlin’- If Loneliness was art
Bringing the twee back into indiepop: Jangly and gentle with LaLaLa’s, one listen makes you want to cycle to a picnic with a Dansette and a gingham cloth, wearing a neckerchief of course. It’s the loveliness of May morning on 7inch.
23-Sky Larkin- Angelica Houston
Indie goes stadium with a singalong stomper, ideally heard mid afternoon at Reading, you know when that view towards the NME tent gets dusty. Less guitary and reliant on the rhythm and a Hammond. It sees Katie turning trying to muscle her way higher up the pecking order and hang out with Courtney and Juliet.
22-Black Keys Tighten Up
A more adult and accomplished groove blues sound, built around song craft and commercial aim. With an intro straight out of a bad US sitcom purposely added to be reused on,..bad US sitcoms…and rake in the royalties, they’re able to play bigger venues and more audiences. One song, job done.
21-Maximum Balloon Groove me
Absolute brilliance. Spaceships are powered by this as it approaches Earth. Little squeaks over a rumbling engine detect life forms, getting louder as it passes the moon. Scanners doubleover seeing so many cities and power sources as it finds somewhere to land. The quiet descent is greeted by little people with guns and war and pain and hate expecting war of the worlds. Realising a world of Vampire Weekend and Biffy Clyro isn’t what was expected, the Spaceship takes off with one last glance back. Earth doesn’t deserve Groove Me, we’ve done too much wrong. Please come back, take us with you we can’t stand more Florence.
20- Darwin Deez- Radar Detector
The unlikely hero of 2010, with synchronised dance routines in the live set, and album of pure joy, he’s created this years indie disco anthem. Unashamedly dancey and fun in an indie climate where everyone’s afraid to dance, Radar detector is the ultimate cross over track without even trying.
19-The Pains Of Being Pure at Heart- Heart in your Heartbreak
If the Dandy Warhols had stuck with their Duran Duran fixation and tried writing decent songs then we may not have needed The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Instead this song is essential indiepop itching for a remake of Pretty in Pink to soundtrack. It has all the hipster kudos with the pretention replaced with melodies.
18-Yeasayer- Madder Red
To be honest this band bugs me and I don’t want to like this song. I want it to be midtempo mediocrity. Unfortunately for me it actually quite epic; Genesis drums and squelchy bass with prowling sincere vocals. It’s a blatant attempt as mass appeal but, so what is worked on me. I won’t take any notice of the rest of Yeasayer, but this song’s simply a belter.
Electro so heavy the vocals are buried deep below with no escape. You can’t tell whether Alice is pleading to be rescued or seriously pissed off. As with all good techno it goes a tad cheesy and bleepy but degenerates into filth. You need cleansing after hearing the devil speak to, but Baptism won’t help, you’re just left disturbed.
16- Male Bonding- Years Not Long
Everyone loves noisy indie punk. Nothing better than snotty young upstarts with a fuzz box and amps so shit they need to be loud. Melody and technique are all very MOJO so I’m going to jump into a mosh pit throw myself at fat kids and love every minute of it.
15-Dutch Uncles- Fragrant
All a bit angular and XTC to start with before going a bit Ear Drum Buzz era Wire. Can obviously widdle those guitars for England but refuse to go off all guitar solo on us. Instead it’s a battle between guitars as the rhythm ejaculates. I want to see great things from these next year, and judging by the album sampler, ooh lala.
14-!!!-Jamie, My Intentions are Bass.
Still keeping the disco funk spirit alive after the likes of Radio4 and drummers, (Oi don’t- Bad Taste Ed) have fallen, it is unsurprising the bass which makes this song. It could easily be a forgettable funk opus if it wasn’t for the best breakdown this year; When bass key change on the bridge superpunches your face towards the speakers, is simply awesome.
13-The Neat-In Youth Is Pleasure.
More cocky young upstarts this time grounded in synth rather than punk. Ministry to Male Bonding’s Melvins. Hailing the virtues of being cheeky bastards and not giving a shit this burst of energy is a better fuck you to Skins culture than any Facebook group.
12-Archie Bronson Outfit- Magnetic Warrior
Magnetic Warrior is a brooding monster of a track which skips the elves and goblins bollocks, in fantasy stories, skipping straight to the wizard versus demon, fire and lighting excitement. Working with Tim Goldsworthy has added a dirty disco element to their stoner doom punk and Magnetic Warrior has a guttural repetitive groove which infects the mind and grips your lungs. It’s as if the air is toxic from the filth from the bass and the rhythm skips around, watching as you’re consumed.
11-Veronica Falls- Found Love in a Graveyard
Latest bearers of the Indie standard with a classic two boy two girl line up. Resurrecting the ghost of c86 Found Love in a Graveyard has been created from different organs of current indie and with the ashes of Sarah Records. Powered with a lighting bolt of spellbinding song writing an indie creature has risen to haunt our hearts. Rarely has indiepop embraced goth but this jangly stomp isn’t scared to throw new styles into their twee cauldron.
10-Seal Cub Clubbing Club-Made of Magic
Starting with a fog horn bass dirge, mayhem quickly ensues with scattergun vocals and skiffle band rhythm. The Mark Freegard TK9 mix adds an extra anxiety to the track with a short robotic middle period to straighten your hair before jumping in the mixer again. Hi-Nrg indie crossover which can still break new ground for them.
9-Standard Fare- Philadelphia
Laid back indie pop from this Sheffield three piece gently oozes in with talk of missing loved ones and how hard it is to be parted. Nothing cynical, simply being in love and wanting to be with them. It’s difficult to know that someone you care for could be having more fun, and refusing to admit the inevitability. It’s something we’ve all experienced but Standard Fare identify the frustration of not knowing what to do and realising you could be wrong. Simple quiet loud, quiet loud song about being a teenager in love. Beautiful.
8-Edwyn Collins-Losing Sleep
Fantastic to see Edwyn returning with what is his best song since Rip it Up. The brief intro sets the tempo for the song before the energetic chorus kicks in. It’s a statement of intent from the out. Spelling out, “All the things I treasure, All the things I miss, about my life,” it’s nothing short of a miracle that he wants to share what he’s been through in the only way he knows. There’s no digression from his style, the Big Star and 60’s influence is a badge and the “Do Do Do” backing vocals exhole his love for pop songs. It’s beyond fashion and cynicism and just a wonderful song. Indiepop is a better place because of him.
7-Los Campesinos- Romance is Boring
The undisputed kings of indiepop, yet this years album was criminally under appreciated. Romance is Boring is a football chant for those that read for fun rather than kick leather for fun, filled with a gang mentality that has discovered a weakness in culture and needs to tell everyone. Where most lyricists use shit 6th form poetry and couplets, Gareth uses prose. The CD inlay reads like an essay and is only comparable to fellow Welshie Ricky Edwards in expanse and insight. Romance Is Boring sees Los Campesinos more grown up and less buttons and cherry pie but also sets a new barrier in song writing for themselves.
6-These New Puritans- White Chords
The most accessible track on Hidden by far, sees TNP more early Aphex Twin than tribal big band. The melodic space achieved comes as a sanctuary from the venomous attack (music) of the rest of the album, a window of melancholia with vocals bordering of tearful. The stark contrast of White Chords immediately thrusts at you and as such has to be the stand out track from a perfect album.
5-Deftones- Do You Believe
Deftones are cool, they give the hipsters an excuse to go to Download without having to admit to once being their 13 year old metal self. Not only that, but they actually, really are awesome and this Cardigans cover sees them harking back to the Around the Fur era sound; simple, repetitive and fucking heavy. Chino’s vocals sound mellow and vicious producing a very adult and accomplished metal track.
Despite being a rip off of Nirvanas Polly, this is just a wonderful laid back song for times when excitement has been cut back and we need to take a deep breath and look for the positives around us. If they played this to the Met Police before demo’s, then they may be less worked up and inclined to batter people cleverer than them with sticks.
3-Abe Vigoda-Dream of My Love
Arguably the most claustrophobic song of the year. It feels like it’s only held together by a fading Casio keyboard and about to implode from the mass of its tension. Sounding like the Associates twisted by the Hadron Collider this will be the anthem of the 80’s Goth revival. It’s a genuinely scary track which cocoons you and shits your comfort zone. Pure cutting edge genius.
2-The Walkmen-Angela Surf City.
Now come on lets be honest, who’s been following The Walkmen’s career since Little House of Savages, and even then we resort to The Rat instead. Hearing the thundering repetitive power behind THOSE drums on Angela Surf City however, is the musical equivalent of the shot of adrenalin scene in Pulp Fiction. It reminds us of how good strangled screeched vocals can be and why we’ll all be saying we were fans of The Walkmen through all their records.
1-Best Coast- Boyfriend.
Not since Bryan Wilson skipped though San Francisco has a song embodied so much of summer. Every line takes you to June afternoons, the air hazy with pollen and sensi, a new found love on your arm and meadow shimmering in the distance. It’s perfect indie, not too cool nor quirky, hardly fashionable, just kicking back with some pals and a few records, pretty care free. Beautiful indiepop to remind you of wine in the park, essential to lighten up these dark and cold… end of year polls.
So do you completely agree or have I got it spot on? Leave your comments abuse and suggestions.