five albums from 2010

So, here we are - halfway through 2010. Time to look back and see what its given us in music so far.

Truthfully, I was expecting to be a bit underwhelmed looking back. In all the excitement over These New Puritans' 'Hidden', Active Child and School of Seven Bells' 'Disconnect From Desire' - which doesn't really count as it technically didn't come out in the first half of the year - I remembered the year giving us little else. Turns out I was wrong as there were about 10 other albums I quite enjoyed plus an ever growing queue of albums to dedicate more listening time to. Good thing I'm disappearing into the mountains of Vermont next week with lots of quality listening time to fill.

Anyways, here are my five favorites so far:

Erykah Badu - Return of the Ankh
05: Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two [Return of the Ankh]

The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
04: The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
03: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today

Active Child - Curtis Lane
02: Active Child - Curtis Lane EP

These New Puritans - Hidden
01: These New Puritans - Hidden

With an honorable mention, as always, to:

Ash - A-Z
Ash - The A-Z Series

It has, predictably, gotten a bit less exciting as the weeks have gone on, but it's still a fantastic project and I'm very excited to see that they're going to carry it through to the end. [It totally had "abandon half-way through" written all over it - hooray for being wrong.] The five-star songs have gotten fewer and further between, but every other week we still get a solid track with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. [Who expected single "Q" to be one of the best?]

It's also been a great year for reissues, with the long-awaited 'Disintegration' set finally making an appearance, the first and third Duran Duran albums getting the box treatment with 'Notorious' and 'Big Thing' imminent, and a nicer-than-it-needed-to-be Rhino Handmade edition of 'The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees' leading the back. Of course, we've also got the deluxe 'Fables of the Reconstruction' and first two a-ha albums to come in the very near future.

Oh, and did I mention Jagz Kooner is producing the new Whip album? Incredible.


'Hidden', you have some competition

After what seems like an eternity of waiting, School of Seven Bells are streaming the whole of forthcoming album 'Disconnect From Desire' from their website.

Now, this may be the overexcited thirteen year old this album has turned me into talking, but holy shit amazing. My first impression is that it is as 'Alpinisms' but in its own way. The drum machines really stick out on this one - they sound so crisp and harsh [in a good way] and are wonderfully offset/complimented by the Deheza's harmonies, which are in top form throughout.

'Alpinisms' flaw was its flow - the run of "For Kalaja Mari" through "Sempiternal/Amaranth" [so the middle third] sound like they belong to another album. 'Disconnect From Desire' suffers no such issue - each song ebbs and flows into each other, creating a very cohesive whole. You could argue that the LP is a bit front-loaded with the "up" moments and the second half showcasing a more subdued side of the band, but it totally works. And Christ, the studio version of "Heart Is Strange"? Ri-dic-u-lous.

I see no reason why this won't be competing with These New Puritans' 'Hidden' for my LP of the year - and I certainly don't see anything on the horizon that has the potential to come close, especially with The Whip's LP not coming out until 2011. [Boo!]