Song, by Toad Favourite Albums of 2010: 1-5
There’s not much which really distinguishes this records from the two preceding, but when I sat down to give it some consideration, I came up with one simple reason: emotional range. Micah P. Hinson goes from the sentimental to the heartbreaking to the furious to the playful and back at the drop of a hat, whereas Perfume Genius and The National pretty much find their level and stay there. Having interviewed the man, he is someone I am not at all surprised to see has the ability to sustain that burning desire to make music which deserts so many musicians as they reach a level of personal comfort after a few well-received albums.
Micah P. Hinson – The Striking Before the Storm
2. Perfume Genius – Learning
This album is in some ways a one-trick pony, but I find it completely captivating nevertheless. The lyrics are personal and poignant, something the drowsy, woozy production only serves to emphasise. It’s the kind of album I tend to stick on and listen to in its entirety as well – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever done anything else. I struggle to really articulate what it is I like about this album, for some reason, and I can easily imagine people not liking it, but it’s just one of those which grabbed me from the very start for some reason and in the six or seven months since I first heard it rarely has a week gone by when I haven’t played it at least once.
Perfume Genius – Write to Your Brother
3. The National – High Violet
I am, as you probably know by now, something of a contrarian. The fact that this fucking album is in every bloody end of year list imaginable means it irks the living shit out of me to put it on this one as well. Honestly, though, there is no escaping the fact that after a very, very slow start indeed I have completely fallen for this album. What turned the slow build of an album I was initially indifferent to into a complete about-face was probably seeing the band at Glastonbury. They mixed the new songs in with the old, and despite a fairly low-key performance, it was still obvious that I had come to love pretty much everything on High Violet. I now have it on two slabs of gorgeous purple vinyl (alright, alright ‘violet’ vinyl) and even my bloody mum loves it. Alright you National bastards, you win.
The National – Anyone’s Ghost
I knew virtually every song on Broken Records’ first album, and that robbed me of a little bit of excitement on hearing it, but this one was (almost) all new, which was brilliant. In terms of the music itself, this record harnesses Broken Records’ instincts to wind themselves into a frenzy and gives it a real sense of purpose. It’s also very much a whole album, with fantastic dynamics from start to finish. In fact, there have been a lot of these this year, which somewhat contradicts the popular assertion that digital music has killed the album. Maybe for people who were never that fussed about albums in the first place it has, but not for most of the rest of us.
Broken Records – Dia dos Namorados!
5. Sam Amidon – I See the Sign
I still feel this album tails off a little, and I still can’t stand that bloody R Kelly cover, but neither of those gripes stop this being a fucking amazing record. The lush orchestration is never intrusive, and complements the more traditional elements with rare beauty. Sam’s voice is truly an amazing thing, which gives him something of a head start, but almost every element of this record is lush and captivating. Every time I hear Sam Amidon’s music I find it baffling that I actually had to listen to his previous album for about six months before I realised that I loved it. It really, really should have been obvious.