The Best Albums, Songs, and Music Writing of 2010

Trust me on everything here. If I say buy it, buy it.

JOHN GRANT — Queen of Denmark:

Grant is previously known as the ghostly but commanding vocalist of the Czars, and Mike Patton notwithstanding, he’s the best singer on the planet. He’s been called the male Karen Carpenter, which is sad because it implies an eating disorder, then that death is around the corner. But the comparison is apt, because his voice is essentially perfect. And he knows it. His confidence, plus the anger, can be plain intimidating. I saw him a few years back in London, and when he met my wife, he proceeded to speak to her in fluent Russian. Without an accent. The guy’s a genius or something. Anyway, Grant writes and sings the most powerfully emotive songs on earth – funny, bitter, beautiful screeds – and they scar your brain like crack. It’s criminal this guy isn’t bigger than that ugly monster Billy Joel.

Check out song four, “Sigourney Weaver,” it’ll make you buy. Or bi:

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TOBACCO — Maniac Meat:

If I rated these records by the amount I played ’em, then is my album of the year. I predict it will define the direction of pop music for the next decade – a heavy syrup of perverse, florescent darkness – pure pop for creeps. Each song is packed with perfect hooks, hypnotic melodies and subversive distorted vocals – reflecting a singular vision that – despite being “electronica,” is every bit as heavy as Sabbath. It’s bubble gum played by backwoods Satanists. You will love this album, and you will love the follow-up “LA Uti,” which features songs from Maniac Meat reworked by various hip-hop artists. Crap, I’m like a school girl waiting for every release.

TORCHE — Songs for Singles:

Total heaviness, bottomless riffs, sky high melodies. This is a band, that can’t even fathom how big it could be – they’re THAT big. I was drunk and stupid in a bar when I told them that. “You will be big, and I love you because you don’t know that.” I think that’s what I said. Or maybe it wasn’t them. Maybe I dreamt it. Anyway, this is a short album, maybe 24 minutes -but it delivers more soaring highs than a fistful of percocets. The confidence in the songwriting is so high, that they can deliver a fully realized song in under one minute. This band rescued me from the rabbit hole of electronica. I never would have listened to another guitar if it wasn’t for Torche. In five years, I predict they will be the next U2, and the subsequent hugeness will require that they do not return my phone calls, or my underwear.

TAME IMPALA — Innerspeaker:

They’re an Australian band, a cross between Cream and Dungen, and that’s their only problem: they sound too much like other great bands. But they write such awesome songs, with incredible choruses and melodies – that you know if they avoid overdoses, they will be big rock stars, and turn into massive jerks. The lead song, “It is not meant to be,” is such a great song, you will vomit from its greatness. Aim for the curtains.


This magical pop album is handicapped by a performer who refuses to let the songs stand on their own. “Round and Round” may be the song of the year, or decade – but I wonder if that’s because the critics find all the bells and whistles amusing. If you removed the bells and whistles, though, it might have been a number one song in any era – something Neil Sedaka would have written and the Captain and Tennille would have performed. But it couldn’t have been done by Pink, I guess. That’s the problem. Buy the album. I don’t care what’s wrong with this guy.


KYLESA — Spiral Shadow:

After I saw them open for Torche and High on Fire, I immediately went out and got this album (“I immediately went out…” what b.s., I bought it on Itunes). It has all my favorite stuff: metal, psychedelics, screaming, riffs, solos, and a chick singer. They also write great songs and look very cool onstage. I wish I had bought a shirt at the concert though (I arrived shirtless).

MATTHEW DEAR — Black City:

This album is better than most of what Bowie has done in decades, and more fun than LCD Soundsystem. “I Can’t Feel” is super-funk disco from hell. This is drinking/smoking/driving/killing-your-gardener music.

MIKE PATTON — Mondo Cane:

It’s a bunch of old Italian pop songs sung live and backed by an orchestra somewhere not in the United States. It’s what Patton-philes hoped for: the purest evidence that says, “this is our generation’s Sinatra.” Fans would love to see Patton achieve world stardom, as a way to validate our own slavish fandom. But it’s not necessary. This is an album of pop music perfection – it should sell millions, and maybe it will, long after we’re dead. No one is supposed to sing like that, so effortlessly. He doesn’t think about it, nor should you.

FOUR TET — There is Love in You:

It’s nighttime music – simultaneously cold and warm – like alternating between iced coffee and Nyquil until you’re buzzing on the front lawn at three a.m. in your undies. Also great for walking down busy streets too. Makes you feel like you’re in a movie (about busy streets!).


This is music not to play when you get up, but when you get home. “In the Rain,” makes you wish you were high, just so you could come down from being high. This should probably be played at my funeral, provided I’m buried with a cowbell.

BLACK ANGELS — Phosphene Dream:

Now that Clinic is fading off somewhere, these guys enter the picture. They aren’t as innovative as Clinic, but they rock hard, produce riffs and melodies – and at least they’re showing up. More than you can say about Clinic (sad face).

THE MELVINS — The Bride Screamed Murder:

Another solid metal effort, with some weird stuff thrown in. “I’ll Finish You Off” is another classic metal anthem that the Melvins seem to deliver without fail, every year. Smartest, goofiest band around. They’re like the big hairy sheepdog of metal.


Queen of Denmark — John Grant:

Please, just listen to this song. Listen to this guy. I’ve never heard more personal music done more majestically, since…maybe Queen. Play it now:

[youtube b_oNylzsY7I nolink]


Round and Round – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti:

I played this for a friend of mine who’s written some of pop music’s most famous songs (you probably sang his stuff at karaoke). He emailed me back: “Damn.” I played it six or seven times in a row, and stopped not cuz I was sick of it, but because I was worried there was something wrong with me. Listen for yourself:

[youtube wiLqAu4s-_s nolink]


Overheater – Tobacco:

This is a perfect example of Tobacco’s art: a vicious groove, sinister vocals, monster hooks. And, well these lyrics:

Make me into a milkshake

Pull my arms out

Pull my legs out

Put me into your milkshake

Smash my eyes out

Brush my hair now


[youtube hau6lEgcZKo nolink]


Throw – LCD Soundsystem:

It’s a propulsive manic dance monster – Neu! on overdrive – it’s what a Stairmaster would listen to, if it were using a Stairmaster.

Little People (Black City) – Matthew Dear:

A spooky upbeat dance thingy that sounds like a happier version of the Knife. A very long song that seems over in minutes – i believe it’s the cowbell that makes it so irresistible. I think that’s a cowbell. Or maybe I have tinnitus.

I Don’t Really Mind – Tame Impala:

Great hook, awesome melody. This song will make you really, really happy and want to have lots of sex with someone you really care deeply for (Ernest Borgnine).

In the Rain – Teengirl Fantasy:

This song is what you want to hear sitting inside a warm cab, in a downpour, heading somewhere (home, hotel, another bar) way too early in the morning. Hours later, you’ll probably want to die.

Face the Wall – Torche:

Glorious slab of metal. But every one of their songs is a glorious slab of metal. This is fist pumping, lip biting music. No wonder Governor Huckabee endorsed them!


Mark Prindle:

Most music critics desperately try to insert themselves in their reviews, flexing intellectual superiority with references to obscure bands and other crap. Mark Prindle inserts him into his reviews, but not for the sake of showing off how smart he is. It’s the opposite. In his reviews, he reveals his personal failings, like the disintegration of his marriage over the last year. Go to, look up a review, and you may find yourself reading about the time he almost died from drinking too much, getting rolled by two female thieves, him ending up in a mental hospital.

His writing about music is always spot on, but his writing about himself is just, plain, brutal. IF Rolling Stone had balls, they’d give him a permanent gig and let him write whatever he wants.


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