Music 2010

Here’s what I really liked this year:
#1. Salem – King Night (Dark, insane, bedroom witch house, a soundtrack for Earth in 2010 where somehow Dario Argento is responsible for never-ending wars, religious nutbaggery and the socio-economic annihilation of the greater midwestern United States. )

Pop albums:
Best Coast – Crazy For You
The Drums – The Drums
Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be
Wavves – King Of The Beach

Cee-Lo – “Fuck You” Song of the year by a mile.
Daft Punk – “Game Has Changed” Overall, I’m a little disappointed with the new Tron soundtrack. I wish it was all as good as this. (I will wish the movie was as good as the second trailer as well)

Atlas Sound/Deerhunter – What, only 5 albums worth of material this year? Considering how much he throws out there, it’s consistently good.

Folk stuff
J Tillman -Singing Ax / Tillman Sings ‘Tonight’s The Night’ Tillman’s new album is another wonderful slow folk record, but his cover of Neil Young’s record is a ballsy move, and is excellent.
Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore – Dear Companion
Doug Burr – O Ye Devastator
Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer of the Void
Whispering Pines – more southern classic rock than folk, but great songs and guitar solos.
Death Seat – Wooden Wand
Dave Rawlings Machine – A Friend of a Friend

Abstract / Noise
Nurse With Wound – Huffin Rag Blues / Automating Volume Three
Actress – Splazsh
White Moth – White Moth
Soisong –

Virtual box sets – this has to be the coolest development in music I saw this year: Lovingly compiled huge sets of music that would be impossible to produce physically:

Written in Blood – Vol. 1-5. compiled and designed by Nate Ashley for The Left-Handed Label. Posted first at, it’s a huge set of classic and unreleased horror movie music.

L.A. Gemstones: The Pop Box Vol. 1-5 The first of two box sets of 1960s LA music. From

44 volumes (at last count) of Mambo tunes posted on Twilight Zone

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion reissues – these albums still sound great.
Heavy Trash albums – this year I discovered Spencer’s “new” group. All their albums are good.

Record Labels:
Everything on Ghost Box, Esp. Focus Group, Roj, Eric Zann
Everything on 12k
Every Witch House record Esp. oOoOO, White Ring, Salem 7″ singles, Mater Suspiria Vision, Vâ–²GINA WOLF, Lâ–²KE RADIO and the roster of Disaro.

Warpaint – The Fool
Morrissey – Bona Drag reissue
Magic Bullets – Magic Bullets
The Glass Jars – Not Waving but Drowning

Beck – He didn’t release a “real” album, but did have a good ten or so amazing releases: His record club covers/collaborations (Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen, INXS, Yanni) / Scott Pilgrim soundtrack / Charlotte Gainsbrough’s album whichhe produced, played on and co-wrote) / His Soundcloud mix-tapes

J.G. Thirlwell – There was a new Foetus record and a new “classical” album by Thirlwell (called Manorexia The Mesopelagic Waters), but his soundtrack for The Venture Bros. from 2009 tops both.

Old Brits still making excellent music:
Manic Street Preachers – Postcards from a Young Man
James – Morning After
Ron Wood – I Feel Like Playing
Killing Joke – Absolute Dissent
Lloyd Cole – Broken Record / Folksinger series, Small ensemble album. I listened to Lloyd Cole a ton this year. Outstanding stuff.

Trent Reznor / Atticus Ross – Social Network OST.
Hurts – Happiness

Paul McCartney – Mac’s solo stuff is way underrated. The production destroys a lot of his 80s work (he’s not alone), and admittedly there’s some weak stuff, but his work ethic and his melodic chops still astound me.

Beta Radio – Seven Sisters
Zola Jesus – everything.
Jay Bennett – Kicking At The Perfumed Air
The Books – The Way Out
Karen Elson – The Ghost Who Walks This is so much better than it had any right to be.

Instrumental / classical
Ólafur Arnalds – …And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness
Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m Here?
Bas van Huizen – Plooibaars
Benǫt Pioulard РLasted
Scott Tuma – Dandelion
Max Richter – Infra

Reincarnation of Harry Nilsson circa 1970:

Thom Hell – All Good Things

And oh yeah:
Black Keys – Brothers
Peter Wolf – Midnight Souvenirs
The Radio Dept. – Clinging to a Scheme
Vampire Weekend – Contra
Morning Benders – Big Echo

Boring and/or disappointing:
Sufjan Stevens
Belle & Sebastian
No Age
Pretty much all hip-hop
Gorillaz – An unforgivable waste of the reuniting of Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of the Clash.

Heartbreaking deaths:
Alex Chilton (and as a kicker Big Star’s bassist Andy Hummel also died this year)
Rowland S Howard (Birthday Party, Crime and the City Solution)
Solomon Burke
Jay Reatard
Malcolm McLaren
Yabby You
Henryk Gorecki
Sleazy (Sonic architect of Throbbing Gristle, Coil, Threshhold Choirboys, Soisong)
Iain Burgess – creator of the Chicago sound.
Dannie Flesher of Wax Trax – and therefore another creator of the Chicago Sound.

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Mark Mauer likes movies cuz the pictures move, and the screen talks like it's people. He once watched Tales from the Gilmli Hostpial three times in a single night, and is amazed DeNiro made good movies throughout the 80s, only to screw it all up in the 90s and beyond. He has met both Udo Kier and Werner Herzog, and he knows an Irishman who can quote at length from the autobiography of Klaus Kinksi.

9 thoughts on “Music 2010”

  1. Wow. Thanks, Mark. Only about 10-15% of the above is recognizable to me. But I’ve never thought I could ever compete with your knowledge of music–what’s going on out there, from the center to the fringe.

    Most interesting to me are the virtual box sets you list. I’m looking forward to checking them out.

    Also, here’s one death you fail to mention, and I know you’re a fan of Throbbing Gristle: Peter Christopherson

    Not so heartbreaking death: Malcolm McLaren

    I agree about McCartney, whose 2005 release “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” was one of the best albums of that year. And “The Song We Were Singing” from the “Flaming Pie” LP is as good now as it was then. And the “Ram” LP is still due its just desserts. A fantastic album.

    Before I go further overboard, let me move on.

    I agree “Plastic Beach” was a disappointment, and not simply because of the Mick Jones/Paul Simonon collab.

    When I saw Cee-Lo do “Fuck You” on the Colbert Report (with “Fox News’ substituted for the naughty refrain) I was blown away. I agree. Great track. Best use of “fuck you” since Nilsson’s “You’re Breaking My Heart.”

    Speaking of Nilsson, how about best music documentary for 2010: “Who is Harry Nilsson? (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)” I know it was produced in 2006, but it only this year got a theatrical release.

    Sean O’Hagan and Tim Gane come up with another solid soundtrack this year with “Copacabana.”

    Mark, any thoughts on best reissues of 2010?

  2. Thanks John – “Sleazy” is indeed Peter Christopherson of TG and Coil, and I was really saddened by his death on Thanskgiving. His last few solo albums as Soisong and the two studio records that TG put out since reuniting are crazy-good. Throbbing Gristle played a few shows here last year, including Royce hall UCLA and I did not go. I will regret that for a long time.

    You may find it difficult to believe, but I haven’t seen the nilsson doc… I am afraid it won’t be up to the level a nilsson movie SHOULD be, so I’ve stayed away. Have you seen it? Am I wrong? I hope I am.

    Best reissues? Well, I had never even bothered listening to Rod Stewart’s Atlantic Crossing, but it’s not bad. And the 2nd disc is him working out demos with the MG’s, and it’s quite good. The 2CD set of his “Night on the Town” is something else. That album really is not that great in its production, whereas the album of attached demos is incredible. I’m not sure if they came out this year – or if they were even released in the US – but they’re both fantastic. There’s the box set of Scottish pop band Orange Juice – that’s a little overkill for me. But the earlier mentioned Bona Drag from Morrissey and the Jon Spencer albums: I was surprised by how good the originals of all those still sound. The Springsteen “Darkness” era stuff was pretty good. I don’t think there was a whole album’s worth of good material left out of the Stones’ Exile on Main Street, but shit, why not re-issue it? I listened to that album as much in 2010 as anything brand new.

  3. Aha, Peter Christopherson (aka Sleazy). Got it.

    I have seen the Nilsson doc. Sent you an email about it a while ago. It’s good–you should definitely see it. Great footage, good interviews with all the right people. One complaint I have is that it seemed to stay away form some areas–for instance, why Nilsson dumped his producer Rick Jarrard is never really addressed. The filmmakers didn’t bother to ask anyone–expect Jarrard and he has no clue.

    See it. I’m curious to hear what you think.

  4. Two other “virtual” box sets of sorts I came across this year: One is a collection of cartoon production music used in Ren & Stimpy. The first set is from John K’s days, and is thus a little more on target. It’s amazing stuff. Carl Stalling was by no means he be-all end-all in cartoon scoring. from the notes:
    “Some was written for the show, some are well known classical pieces, and there are quite a few works by Raymond Scott. For me, the most elusive stuff has always been the authentic “production music” from the 1950s….
    Put simply, these melodies have enriched my life. Play them on your drive to work and you’re the star of an instructional traffic safety film, turn it on during dinner and mealtime becomes 80% happier (but be careful.. play the wrong track and you could wind up with a touch of Space Madness).

    The other is unfortunately vanished – or hidden where I can not find it. There was a website called “Visit Me In Music City” and the posters there compiled replica sets of the old Chronological Classics discs, the French reissued of jazz players that are out of print now and wonderful. But they were making sets of classic country stars. I downloaded several before they got shut down (twice!) and then faded away. George Jones, Porter Wagoner, Buck Owens… They came complete with album art, liner notes, recording dates, studios, personnel. Of course what they were doing was not actually legal, but it was wonderful.

  5. The above list was really thrown together without a whole lot of thought. One thing I left off classical/ambient was Jóhann Jóhannsson – And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound Of Bees. I have it from ’09, but I think it was actually released in the US in 2010. (His 2008 album Fordlandia is also really good.)

  6. While wishing for Mark’s broad and unending range of musical tastes, I’ll settle for what got me listening. Does anyone else out there have tinnitus? Sadly, my listening pleasures have been compromised:

    Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz & All Delightful People EP
    The National – High Violet
    The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt
    Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
    The Radio Dept. – Clinging to a Scheme
    Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
    I Am Kloot – Sky At Night
    LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
    Janelle Monáe – the ArchAndroid
    Cloud Cult – Light Chasers
    jj n° 3
    Perfume Genius – Learning

    Plus, I just love Tracey Thorn’s “Oh, The Divorces”; what a beautiful song.

    Wish I knew more about James Blake.

    I need some kind of guilty pleasure in here. I did very much enjoy Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster (not to mention that kid who performed “Paparazzi” at his sixth grade talent show). I’m glad I discovered DeYarmond Edison (and I’m glad Kanye discovered Justin Vernon). If I didn’t only acquire it a few days ago, I’d say Robyn’s Body Talk would be on my list. Cee Lo’s “Fuck You” is certainly a highlight of the year.

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