10. Death Cab for Cutie Narrow Stairs: I’ve been a huge fan of Death Cab since the first very time I heard the album We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, particularly the song “405.” Ben Gibbard, the lead singer of Death Cab, is one of the single greatest talents in contemporary “popular” music, a strange thing to admit for those of us who absorbed his music in the backrooms of small clubs eight years ago, way back when the band was just another Seattle-based upstart attempting to resurrect the scene’s primacy after the suicide of Kurt Cobain, and Ben and his band were the farthest thing away from being popular. But Death Cab is not and would never attempt to replicate Nirvana; Death Cab relishes in sentimentality and in rigorously workshopped lyrics and rhythms.
If it weren’t so mature and self-aware and slickly produced, I’d probably like Narrow Stairs a lot more, but considering my respect for their musicality and musical sentience, Narrow Stairs easily makes my top ten.
9. Cut Copy In Ghost Colours: I normally don’t care for dance or techno music, but this was a particularly great year for the genre and Cut Copy is a particularly fantastic band.
8. Iron and Wine The Shepherd’s Dog: Sam Beam and the gang are easily one of my favorite bands of all-time. He effortlessly composes and performs some of the most beautifully subtle and understated melodies of the past decade. Although their latest album isn’t my favorite in their catalog, it’s still an incredible body of work and a reminder of Beam’s quiet songwriting genius.
7. Ryan Bingham Mescalito: I just can’t shake it. This is my favorite kind of music– the sultry, cigarette-scarred voices of displacement, people who sing about long-lost Louisiana byways, people like Lucinda Williams and Ryan Adams. Mr. Bingham has produced a brilliant album, which, to me, is more remniscient of Bright Eyes’s I’m Wide Awake; It’s Morning than anything in contemporary pop country. And I intend that as the highest of compliments.
6. Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes: I don’t care what my friend Lizz says.
5. Girl Talk Feed the Animals: I have no idea how many copyright violations this could be subjected to, but Girl Talk is one of the most inventive samplers and DJs in the world.
This is NOT SAFE FOR WORK.
4. Black Kids: Partie Traumatic: I became addicted when this Jacksonville, Florida band leaked their EP on MySpace.
3. Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend: There’s absolutely nothing quite like disaffected upper-class earlytwentysomethings making snarky music (Paul Simon meets Peter Tosh) about East Coast privilege.
2. MGMT Oracular Spectacular: I can’t say enough. All I can ask is that you listen. If you don’t get it, then you never will. But this is a brilliant and groundbreaking album.
1. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago. Sounds for itself. Here is the entire album:
The Wolves (Act I and II)