Yes! Tonight Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti is finally performing in the Netherlands. I’m not able to find the last time this happened, nor when it will happen again, so I think it’s very special.
And rightly so, because I think this is the most friggin’ original music that’s been produced in a decade, at least in the indie scene. These guys are good. Not only does every song have a very nice layer of haziness across it; there’s a million things happening at once in them all of the time, making every track as surprising as the next one. Lots and lots of references too, to The Doors, the Beach Boys, the Velvet Underground, 1960s Britpop (The Monkees), Phil Spector, synth music, and so forth. At the start of a song, you have no idea where it’s going to end, and there’s a dozen of twists and turns in between that, every detail crafted yet sounding spontaneous.
Everyone’s heard Round & Round by now, I hope, so here’s some stuff from the Before Todayalbum. Mind you: all of this is great, just great.
Here you go, my top 10 of 2010. It has definitely been a good year in quality pop music!
(Nice list btw Adriejan. Though I must say I was a bit surprised by it as well, because the only tune I’ve heard you playing all year is this one. Oh well, gotta keep up the hipster appearence I guess.)
For me this has been the year of the revival of acid and rave. In dance music, artists like Boys Noize, Housemeister, Fake Blood (and in a way, Richie Hawtin) dusted off the old 303′s and 808′s and fully embraced this part of dance music history. But who would have thought that the smiley faces would also turn up in indie? Artists like Delorean, Pictureplane and Teengirl Fantasy took all the happy vocals, house piano’s and acid synths and poured some hipster sauce on it. This track by Teengirl Fantasy is the epitome of this resurgence of house. The old soul vocals are mixed brilliantly with the uplifting rave vocals and a slow but strong beat is the icing on the cake. The result is an extremely powerful track, which works great on the dancefloor in the early hours.
Beach House is a very good young band. This song from their debut album Teen Dream especially caught my attention. After I heard them playing an amazing live version it became my absolute favorite. The high position of this song on the list is also based on my iTunes “played” count of this song. Be sure to also check out other tracks from Teen Dream!
Crystal Castles (II) is a great album and I like most of its songs. Vietnam, Suffocation and Violent Dreams, I all love them. Empathy is just a tad better than these songs in my opinion. That’s why this is the one that made the list.
Pantha Du Prince spent months in the Austrian Alps to work on the Black Noise album. The result was fantastic and this song is the best of the lot. I love the way it swells up in the beginning. Worked well on the “Big Wheel” stage at Melt!
At first I was pretty negative about MGMT’s second album. Months after its release I gave it another good listen and it turns out that there are actually quite a few good songs on it. The title track is my favorite. It’s very relaxed and soothing.
The masters of electronica were back in 2010 with Oversteps. This is the best track from the album in my opinion. It takes many unexpected turns and you need to listen to it at least five times to fully appreciate its richness.
It was a must to see The National live in 2010. About this song, what can I say? It’s both uplifting and melancholic, which is true for many great songs. When you look back in ten years at 2010, this will be one of the songs you remember.
It was hard to pick the best song from Real Estate’s debut album, because there are many great tracks on it. Suburbaban Beverage and Green River could easily have occupied this spot on my list. I finally went with Beach Comber though because it’s the most catchy and it’s still fresh after listening to it dozens of times. (I know, this album is from November 2009. I put it on this list anyway, because I can)
Below is my bonus list. These are the tracks that just didn’t make it to my top 10, but are worth your while nonetheless.
Montreal act Young Galaxy is like a happy version of Sweden’s The Knife. In a way, this pulls out the angle from it, but it’s still great poppy, dreamy music with nice rhythms, synths and steel drums. You can support them and buy their music here.
Maybe you’ve already heard this one, but it flew under my radar. It’s already an oldie in indieland (2009), but very cool nonetheless. It fits right into the lo-fi R&B- and rave- inspired family of Delorean, Teengirl Fantasy, Gala Drop and Teen Daze.
Also check out this track. They’re not afraid to raise the ol’ bpm, which is always a good thing.
They will perform next saturday in EKKO in Utrecht, as will Baths and Saroos.
Earlier, we blogged about Teen Daze as the producers of dreamy, summery chillwave music. Now, the summer’s over, and these new tracks sound decidedly different, yet familiar. I really like the spacy, Kraftwerk-esque sound of these new tracks.
From the indiest of indie comes Luftwaffe: a couple of guys from West Philadelphia who spent their summer recording their first 7” Quiet Summer, entirely on their own. You can listen to it for free on their Bandcamp site. Very relaxed, very chillwave.
I particularly like the hypnotic track Old Friends. Click for mp3.