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LITERATURE» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
MUSIC» The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
+ There was no Radiohead this year. No Arcade Fire. No M.I.A., no Beruit, no Liars, no Joanna Newsom, not even a Sufjan Stevens album to contend with (that Christian Holiday stuff doesn't count). And it was still an amazing year. Out with the old, in with the new. Whatever the setup, it seems like there is always a clear "winner" in our year-end opining, and 2008 was no different. Why? ranked first by a landslide, Alopecia pretty much decimating everything else. Hooray for weird music.
+ Of a possible 220 spots, staff writers once again voted for well over 100 unique albums on their individual Top Ten lists (this does not include "Honorable Mentions," "Top Ten Songs," or other additional categories that some writers included for full disclosure).
+ As per our usual tangential style, there are many references within the individual lists, from Tom DeLorean (yeah, the car guy) to big wave surfing to Henry Rollins and James Taylor (the latter two in the same sentence) and a couple of actresses for good measure. Six degrees of everything.
+ Artists mentioned in the 22 individual staff lists used to compile this composite Top 20 represented dozens and dozens of labels, ranging from big, ugly, globe-warming corporations like Interscope (what up, TV On the Radio?) to swelling independents like Jagjaguwar (who, along with sister imprints like Dead Oceans and Secretly Canadian, seems to be cornering the market) and niche labels like Anticon, with a few self-released albums in the mix to boot.
+ Both during and after the assemblage of this list, Joshua Ian Zanger was pretty much rocking everyone's world. We are all lucky to have known him, for to have had a taste of the JIZ is to have truly lived.
Until we meet again, stay positive. // THE LAS STAFF
01. Why? - Alopecia (Anticon)
In an attempt to describe it to a friend, I once said that this record was a midpoint between Steve Reich and Hip-Hop, a place where songs almost become pieces; they groove but constantly surprise. The lyrics are so personal, it's hard to keep from blushing. // PRESTON GARLAND
02. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar)
A few months of solitude in blustery Wisconsin and Justin Vernon had himself a stunning album. While his personal tribulations reverberate throughout For Emma, Forever Ago, they do so in an unobtrusive, poignant way. Vernon combines grainy falsetto and lonely acoustic guitar for spot on, lovely melancholia sans the maudlin affect. // LARA LONGO
03. M83 - Saturdays = Youth (Mute)
Unabashed and easy on the tongue-in-cheek cliches, Anthony Gonzales's homage to all things 80s hits the nail on the head by resurrecting the awkwardness that was my youth. // MARK TAYLOR
04. TV on the Radio - Dear Science (Interscope)
Dear Science ripples with the feeling that something huge is about to happen. Thus it might be appropriate to say it's the album that will come to define what 2008 was - being scared, but knowing that what's to come can (and will) be beautiful. // DAVE TOROPOV
05. (tie) Flying Lotus - Los Angeles (Warp)
At times there seems no end to the layers of samples and tracks on this album, but where the less confident producer would line that shit in neon, Ellison knows how to blend everything seamlessly. It is really quite beautiful to hear something with such a diverse flavor that feels so monolithic and natural. // ERIC J HERBOTH
05. (tie) Deerhunter - Microcastle (Kranky)
This time, believe the hype. // JONAH FLICKER
05. (tie) Portishead - Third (Mercury)
The album drips with emotion, as the band delivers its most potent record to date. Complexity and experimentation reign supreme here, and the album will leave you psychologically drained after each spin. // BRIAN CHRISTOPHER JONES
08. Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (XL)
The only Sigur Ros record that I don't have to be in a completely devastated mood to listen to. // MIKE SHEA
09. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (Modular)
Songs like "Hearts on Fire" and "Feel the Love" have become dance floor anthems. "Strangers in the Wind" and "Unforgettable Season" evoke nostalgia, especially in the summertime. With each listen, I'm reminded of the brilliance and majesty of these guys. That's what a great album should do. // GARIN PIRNIA
10. (tie) Department of Eagles - In Ear Park (4AD)
Daniel Rossen knows how to create wonderful chamber pop songs and I'm a sucker for beautiful harmonies and layered instruments. From the first time I heard "No One Does It Like You," I was hooked - and now I've been skinned, deboned and left to marinate in the sweet sounds of Department of Eagles. // BOB LADEWIG
10. (tie) Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III (Cash Money)
This was the big, technicolor blockbuster in 3-D. For a little while there it would never actually come out, but when it did, sweet Jesus-in-a-basket did it deliver. "A Milli" may well have been the song of the year, "Lollipop" took over the clubs, for better or for worse, and I bumped "Let the Beat Build" until my speakers croaked. And then I bumped it some more. And a few more times after that I just started bumping the whole damn thing. And so did everyone else in America. // DAVE TOROPOV
12. Dr. Dog - Fate (Park The Van)
Fate finds Dr. Dog revisiting old territory, but their use of image and reference is a skill of almost literary technique. // JOSEPH COOMBE
13. The Dodos - Visiter (French Kiss)
Stompy with mighty doses of strumming guitar. Pairs sophisticated vocals with celebratory instrumentals. Great from start to finish. // LARA LONGO
14. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop)
I admit it was mostly the mystique of a 21 year-old songwriter writing these types of songs that kept me coming back. But from the first moment of "Sun Giant" up through the perfect vocal pop of "White Winter Hymnal" and through "Oliver James," this one-two punch certainly helped the Foxes gain a lot of ground very quickly; I'm definitely in the converted. // CORY TENDERING
15. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing (ATP)
This record is all kinds of messed up, but in its way is also extremely beautiful. Like an oppressive father, it probably doesn't make me a better person, and in fact might be messing me up a bit too, yet I can't stop loving it. // CLIFTON GATES
16. Parts and Labor - Receivers (Jagjaguwar)
These art-punks from Brooklyn have relished making noise pretty, getting pretty damn noisy in the process. They are regulars on my year-end lists for a reason: they're one of the few acts who truly bridge the increasingly narrow gap between cacophony and melody. // ARI SHAPIRO
17. Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances (Troubleman Unlimited)
Simply put, The Clash + The Pogues + The Boss = Titus Andronicus. // JON BURKE
18. The Notwist - The Devil, You + Me (City Slang)
"Good Lies" opens the record perfectly, like a distantly held note carrying over from Neon Golden, and from there the album is equal parts fresh and familiar, bombastic and brooding, cutting and strumming. To boot, "On Planet Off" is one of my favorite songs from the entire year. // ERIC J HERBOTH
19. Black Milk - Tronic (Fat Beats)
His recent mixtape "Music From The Color Purple" showed that he could carry the album format with a strictly hip-hop instrumental creation, and Tronic has officially taken his stock to another level. If there's still any doubt, go listen to "Losin Out" and "Bounce" on his Myspace page and be converted. // JOSH ZANGER
20. (tie) Frightened Rabbit - Midnight Organ Fight (Fat Cat)
I found myself belting lines like "You can't find love in a hole/ it takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm" as innocently as I would "I got my first real six string/ bought it at the five and dime." That's what kind of records this is. Although there are tinges of folk and anthemic rock, this is pop music at its finest. Brutally honest, incredibly catchy and one of the finest albums I've heard this decade. // MARK TAYLOR
20. (tie) The Uglysuit - The Uglysuit (Quarterstick)
The Uglysuit are at their best during long sonic flights of vocal harmonies and high flying guitars over piano. Their songs build from quiet Shins-esque, indie-pop into massive sweeping affairs that soar off into the stratosphere. They are certainly one of the most overlooked and underappreciated bands of 2008. // JON BURKE
As in years past, this was fun. Hopefully 2009 will be as solid a year for music as 2008 was. The outlook is good (after all, there is a Dälek album scheduled). In the meantime, be sure to check out the individual writer lists A-M and the individual writer lists N-Z to see how we arrived at our composite Top 21 albums for the 2008 Year-End Music Report. Have a safe and happy New Year.
The LAS Staff
A number of the Lost At Sea staff have worked and continue to work for various publications, both independent and commercial. Often very stifling in their narrow focus, conventional media outlets left our writers hungry for something bigger, more diverse, more communal. More active, because this is the twenty-first century and it makes sense. During it's short life LAS has accomplished many of its goals (but not all) and has in turn set new ones. Everything that we accomplish is through teamwork and cooperation, both with our regular staff writers and with our contributing writers. LAS is nothing short of a collective. Another contrasting point to some of the magazines out there is that we've checked our egos and scene ethics at the door. We welcome anyone and everyone to contribute and cover a wide range of topics. LAS does not follow your guide lines.
See other articles by The LAS Staff.
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