Here we provide you with a short list of 20 solid albums from 2010 that might make good gifts for the music lover in your life.
By Michael Borrelli
Published December 17, 2010
With Christmas fast approaching and 16-year-old nieces and nephews to placate, isn't it your turn to be the "cool" relative by contributing to their musical education?
Though big labels and corporate radio stations would have you believe that everyone wants Justin Beiber under the tree this year, Myboytheriotgirl is happy to disabuse you of this notion.
Here we provide you with a short list of 20 solid albums from 2010 that might make good gifts for the music lover in your life. Happy holidays all round!
-- Megan & Mike
This debut LP from Toronto's Hooded Fang is hands down our favourite album released by any Canadian band this year. The septet, named after Jacob Two-Two's friend, blends energetic multi-instrumental pop with quirky, sometimes dark lyrics. A must-have for any lover of Canadian indie-pop, this band is poised to explode in 2011.
The music speaks for itself: "You know, you know that the things we say/Cut through the air like a cold wind calling/I know, I know that the highway steam/Runs through our veins at the break of reason"
Ear candy: Hear Highway Steam
At barely more than half an hour long, Crazy for You packs a dozen tracks together into a package that evolved from our favourite songs of summer into our favourite true "album" of 2010. Bethany Cosentino sometimes sounds like Courtney Love, but she sure knows how to get a lot out of a simple premise without getting boring: almost every song hits on the themes of unrequited love, mental illness, and weed, but the music stays fast and punchy.
The music speaks for itself: "I lost my job/I miss my mom/I wish my cat could talk/Every time you leave this house, everything falls apart."
Ear candy: Hear Happy
I'm not sure if it's because we share a northern climate, but we love Scandinavian bands, and The Radio Dept. is one of Sweden's best. This third LP from the dream-pop trio clocks in at only 35 minutes and leaves you longing for more.
The music speaks for itself: "I want to/I always wanted to belong to/The Freak scene/Or anyone who had their mind to/Never follow suit again"
Ear Candy:* Hear Heaven on Fire
Folkie Kristian Matsson (aka The Tallest Man on Earth) does his best Dylan impression on his critically acclaimed The Wild Hunt. This is another beautiful, must-hear Swedish album that is in no danger of leaving our ears now that the snow is falling.
The music speaks for itself: "Oh, but rumour has it that I wasn't born/I just walked in one frosty morn"
Ear Candy: Hear You're Going Back
After years of touring with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Yo La Tengo, and Grizzly Bear, this four-piece indie rock band originally from Berkeley, released Big Echo to strong reviews. Songs go from chamber-pop to shoegazing rock, and even though it's one of those albums that takes a few listens to appreciate, persistence is rewarded.
The music speaks for itself: "And I made an excuse/And you found another way to tell the truth/I put no one else above us/We'll still be best friends when all turns to dust"
Ear Candy: Hear Cold War
The Suburbs is a very strong release from a band that already has their name on two of the most talked about Canadian albums in past 10 years. The Grammy-nominated disc is a superb concept album that's heavy on the social commentary while remaining impeccably listenable.
The music speaks for itself: "I feel like I've been living in/A city with no children in it"
Ear Candy: Hear The Suburbs
Although once rumoured to be James Murphy's last album as LCD Soundsystem, we think that this raucous, disco-inspired ode to 21st century modern life signals there's a lot more to come from this NYC-based dance-rock outfit.
The music speaks for itself: "You on the outside/Me on the inside/There's advantage to both/(Advantages to both!)"
Ear Candy: Hear Pow Pow
Receiving glowing reviews upon release, High Violet and has already taken home an award from Britain's influential Q magazine. It has a melancholic streak running through it which projects a dark mood without overwhelming the listener.
The music speaks for itself: "I think the kids are in trouble/Do not know what all the troubles are for/Give them ice for their fevers/You're the only thing I ever want anymore"
Ear Candy: Hear Anyone's Ghost
Though just as easily lumped in with some of the cream of the crop, above, these artists stand out because of their connection with our fair city.
Hamilton's own Dan Snaith follows up on his Polaris Prize winning Andorra with a brilliant piece of organic electro-pop that was short-listed for this year's Polaris. The lead track, Odessa, might be the best Canadian song of the year.
Burlington's singing, songwriting beauty is back after nearly five years with a return to a pop sound after exploring folk on I'm a Mountain.
Though born out east, Luke Doucet has adopted Hamilton as home, and the former Veal front-man's 2010 disc encourages people to do as he did: trawl the city for its beauty.
Maybe not strictly local, but this release from the Montreal post-rockers certainly lives up to its name.
After a 2009 EP that showed a lot of promise, the Toronto-based pop-rock band that used to back up Jason Collet doesn't disappoint.
For the adventurous music lover on your list, perhaps try one of these more conceptual, esoteric and imminently "alternative" musical selections that spent a lot of time in our heads:
Beach House, Teen Dream - Warm dream pop with a compelling edge
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Before Today - Experimental psychedelic pop that confounds as much as it pleases
Deerhunter, Halcyon Digest - The Atlanta-based band continues to defy easy categorization with this collection of memories as songs
Gorillaz, Plastic Beach - 20 years after Britpop, Damon Albarn's ever-evolving "virtual band" is more proof creativity ages well
Mogwai, Special Moves - Live disc from Glaswegian post-rock pioneers leans heavily on fan favourites
Sufjan Stevens, Age of Adz - Ambitious and daring dive into electro-noise by this acclaimed American singer-songwriter
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