Note: You can find my Tracks of the Year lists from 2005 through 2009 as earlier posts in this blog. 2005 through 2008 are in Hebrew. Sorry.

Note: If you can’t be (currently?) bothered to read the commentary, the full list of songs appears at the bottom of this post.

So, another musical year has passed. First years of new decades tend to “clean up” the remains from the previous decade and prepare the ground for a new sound soon to come (Please let there be something exciting during this musical decade…). 1970 was very “Sixties-ish”, 1980’s top artists were Barbara Streisand and the Bee Gees, 1990 was pre-grunge and Britpop, 2000 was pre-Strokes, Libertines and White Stripes, and this year will probably be remembered as the last hurrah for the naughties sound.

My top 40 consists of 22 British acts, 11 Americans and single acts from Australia, Canada, France, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Spain.

40. Band of Skulls – Death by Diamonds and Pearls 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEbBIswSsEA

In a word: You gotta respect the best Jack White dirty guitar riffs not actually produced by Jack White.

39. The Dears – Omega Dog

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw3ruwwewFo

In a word: A very appetizing teaser for the Dears’ new album, due for release on February 2011. A beautiful slow-burning guitar-falsetto blues.

38. Holly Miranda – Waves (Acoustic)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugaWI1gyhwo

In a word: Continuing the slow and beautiful theme. Such a quiet ballad can easily get lost in all the noise. Especially the naked acoustic version, in which you gladly invite Ms. Miranda to gently break your heart.

37. Audio Bullys – Only Man

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yD0KEi554c

In a word: Isn’t it just like me to like an Audio Bullys track five years after the world stopped caring about them? [I guess you are the “only man” who still listens to them, etc. etc. –ed.]

36. Cherry Ghost – Kissing Strangers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl6Tcqi-RFs

In a word: Too croonish to be “proper” indie, too obscure to be pop, but I wish more people would give this song a chance. We’ve all been there. Oh, and regarding the previous note: I don’t REALLY have an editor. Can’t you tell?

35. She & Him – In the Sun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ3cTwI9bIw

In a word: After crowning Zooey Deschanel (I was only one letter off trying to spell her name without Wikipedia!) as the coolest person on earth, we are left with the music. In this case, this chirpy, jumpy, uplifting tune just crawls under your skin and stays there until you have no choice but to have a better day.

34. RPA and the United Nations of Sound – Are You Ready

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8pZFjczSyA

In a word: Yeah, Richard Ashcroft is not as relevant as he used to be and, no, this is no Verve song, but there is still some value in straightforward rock anthems. Either that or my ears are getting old.

33. The XX – Crystalised (re-release)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pib8eYDSFEI

In a word: Mercury Prize winners, the XX, re-released this flagship track from their acclaimed debut album in 2010. Due to its dual release and the UK being obsessed with the XX, this is probably the track I have heard the most time out of the ones on this list, and I’m still not tired of it. That says something.

32. Katy B – Katy on a Mission

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNhPYj-5rIY

In a word: Dubstep was the most popular buzzword in music this past year. You can do anything with it, from fascinating experimental sound collages such as James Blake’s to poppy dance anthems like this track by the reigning queen of dubstep-pop, Katy B. Its sense of urgency makes it my dance tune of the year.

31. The Ting Tings – Hands

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZoPtlQMUYc

In a word: All the usual Ting Tings ingredients were there. Catchy tune? Check. A beat that makes you want to shake your rear end? Check. Glossy video? Check. David Bowie reference at the beginning? Well, that was a new element, but check. It’s a mystery why this wasn’t a very successful single.

30. Good Shoes – Under Control

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1KworDaCqs

In a word: Are Good Shoes the “last band standing” out of the mid-00s wave of “shoe bands”? Possibly. They got it under control, which is more than I can say about this column’s word count.

29. The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club – Bored in Belgium

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25GzYF2W7Uk

In a word: One of the things I love the most about music is that sometimes I love a song even though I have no “logical” reason to love it. Something about it just clicks [I see no logical reason to like anything on your list so far… –ed.] TVEGC’s hymn for mind-numbness in a Benelux country, both the studio and live versions of it, is such a song. For others, it is a song that would keep their heads banging and banging and banging and banging…

28. Everything Everything – Schoolin’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0fb0G3hfjo

In a word: Is there such a thing as “progressive pop”? If there is, Everything Everything are the Godfathers of that genre. Quick multiple rhythm switches, daring falsetto, Afro-pop strumming and a trip through a unique sonic universe in all of 280 seconds.

27. We Are Scientists – Rules Don’t Stop

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmjvnU4VKaA

In a word: Being reduced to a duo didn’t stop them, not being a “new and fresh” band didn’t stop them, Even my bad review five years ago didn’t stop them, as much as I’m sure it hurt their feelings. And, therefore, it is no surprise to find out that rules don’t stop them. I won’t even be surprised if these rebels wear white after Labor Day!

26. Let’s Buy Happiness – Six Wolves

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBcw3ek95bo

In a word: Nothing witty or clever to say here. This is just a beautiful song and the singer has a beautiful voice.

 

 

25. The Coral – 1,000 Years

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baH0SWCFVzo

In a word: Retro-sounding flower power ballads will probably never completely disappear, but the Coral preceded the current wave of P-folk (to paraphrase “P-funk”) by a few years. Good to see they stuck around long enough to enjoy (?) its current bloom. Whatever you call this hippie genre, this is one enchanting tune.

 

 

 

24. We Have Band – Oh! (re-release)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQUC5WbCSrg

In a word: I only discovered this fun song (originally released in 2008) this year, so I was very excited about it being re-released and eligible for this list (although I am actually the one making the rules. I could decide that only B-sides can be charted. I can decide that Australian bands are banned. Muahaha! With absolute power comes… Well, nothing, really).

23. Tame Impala – Solitude is Bliss

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxvf7gR4-2M

In a word: Nice “prog-ish” psychedelic pop-rock gem. I first heard most of the songs on this list thanks to BBC 6Music, NME, Pitchfork and especially self-research, but I owe my enjoyment of this particular song to a fellow Anglophile indie junkie, the queen of all things Kasabian and Mika, Ms. Michal Goldman. Thanks, Mici!

 





22. Frankie Rose and the Outs – Candy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIs-NZ5Hsg4

In a word: A reminder that sometimes American bands can make good indie music. I mean proper indie music, not what American blogs sometimes call indie/alternative, which usually consists of a 17 year old taping himself sing acoustic out-of-tune folk songs in Portland. This is the first of two songs on this lists with bits that remind me of songs from Nirvana’s “Nevermind”. This one reminds me of “On a Plain”. Granted, it’s only some “oooh-oooh”s, but still.

21. Surfer Blood – Swim

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AEldiUP408

In a word: Bands I see live get a significant bump in the rankings. That’s just the way it is. I make the rules. With absolute power comes etc. etc. etc.

They sounded very promising as Interpol’s supporting band at Brixton, switching between contemporary Afro-beat, math rock and impressive psychedelic reverb symphonies.

20. Non-Tiq – Quiet

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVWaClz0ODo

In a word: This is the poppy, uplifting single Lykke Li SHOULD have released. Instead, it introduces us to her promising color-drenched compatriot. 

 
 
 

19. The Fall – Bury Pts. 2 + 4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joY8Qn0dh3M 

In a word: What’s left to say about Mark E. Smith and The Fall after 30 odd years? [I’m sure you’ll think of something –ed.]

It’s not a “song” as much as it is a reminder that a combination of stinging “rap” by the world’s oldest indie kid, plus a killer riff,

can somehow move you and feel meaningful way beyond what one could reasonably explain. Music used to mean something

and The Fall provide the soundtrack for all those feeling contempt towards these times, when it doesn’t anymore.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

18. Beach House – Norway

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHbtR8uO81M

In a word: I have a problem with this song’s intro. So much so that I used to “skip” every time I heard it on my iPod.

It’s worth waiting a few seconds, though, as Beach House provide the year’s best usage of a slide guitar effect in this dreamy

tune.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

17. Oú Est Le Swimming Pool – These New Knights

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2L4IaqeVD8

 

In a word: Tragic. The tragic death of front man Charles Haddon during a festival in Belgium (see #29)

last August was the saddest indie story of 2010. It came just as OELSP (or: “Where is the Piscine”?)

were about to take off. We’ll probably never know how big they could have been, but we still have their

excellent debut album and this 80s-vibe electro-indie-dance track to remind us of a very special artist,

gone much too young.

 

 

16. The Good Natured – Your Body is a Machine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_mw5cdF4WM

In a word: Ah, the drama! The slow building tension throughout the song! Supporting Ke$ha’s UK tour! Well, OK, not the last one. That’s weird. Anyway, I believe that Sarah, AKA The Good Natured, will become big in 2011. Look out for her at SXSW next March.

15. Detachments – Holiday Romance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lZZ_oAtKDc

In a word: As far as dark 80s revival goes, Detachments > Hurts. And if I may elaborate a bit, Detachments >>> Hurts. Hurts are OK, but I think the music media adopted the wrong dark 80s “darling”.

14. Haight-Ashbury – Freeman Town

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPHYg_QPUb8

In a word: Speaking of retro acts, the 80s are way too modern for Haight-Ashbury… Good old hippie folk with a touch of contemporary indie sound and angelic female harmonies make this the perfect meditation soundtrack.

13. Crystal Fighters – In the Summer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9d9N_sR_SM

In a word: I can’t really defend my love for this song. It’s silly, it’s messy… It’s a whole lot of fun. You are all invited to listen to it, get addicted, smile and dance uncontrollably and publicly condemn me for admitting to liking it.

12. The Strange Boys – Be Brave

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hEQd-1XdIs

In a word: There has been nothing that puzzled me more about the end-of-the-year lists than everyone totally ignoring these Texan pure rock-n-rollers. It’s like compiling a 1955 list without Elvis. They are the best new act I heard all year and I can’t wait to hear new material from them.

11. Warpaint – Undertow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMkqbY0oGKQ

In a word: Taking Haight-Ashbury’s meditative female harmonies one big step further in this perfect gem of a heartbreaking ballad. This song also reminds me of a Nirvana song, this time “Polly”. I predict a huge 90s revival soon, headlined by 2011’s 20 year anniversary of “Nevermind”. Warpaint are ahead of their retro-time, if that makes sense [It doesn’t –ed.], but they clearly sound more like the unplugged version, with a pinch of 4AD bands.

10. LCMDF – Gandhi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f_DSs54MO8

In a word: Second year in a row for these Finnish sisters (formerly known as “Le Corps Mince de Françoise”) in my top 10. They have a knack for producing perfect pop hooks and my request from Santa this year is to make them a successful top 40 act (and to fire the NME writer who ranked Willow Smith in their “best tracks of 2010” list).

9. Rapids! – Fuses

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHEWANg_vlM

In a word: Math rock is not only Foals. A reminder that sometimes there are new British indie bands worth listening to, even in this day and age. 

 
 
 

8. I Blame Coco – Selfmachine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j6VoW6vv9Y

In a word: This is such a catchy pop tune, so well-crafted, that it makes me wonder whether Coco Sumner isn’t more successful BECAUSE her father happens to be Sting. Forget about that for a second and just listen. Well, it’s hard, since she sounds just like him, but give it a try, huh? The acoustic version is ace, as well.

 

7. Wild Beasts – We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkkJCSduFS0

In a word: No, I don’t like Antony and the Johnsons. Yes, I am completely crazy about this tune by Wild Beasts. Contradiction? Whatever. This is one of the most unique tracks of 2010 and a glimmer of hope for British music.





6. The Strange Boys – Night Might

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVtZutbTXw0

In a word: Here are those Rickenbacker-jangling Texans again! This is probably the Sambol brother’s (and their gang) best work. It wasn’t officially released as a single, but it gained a lot of air time on BBC 6Music. 6Music was supposed to be shut down this year (a good enough reason to overthrow the Labour government, if you ask me), and, luckily, it was saved. If you love music, do yourselves a favor and listen to it sometimes (it is available all over the world via http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music). It’s like having an iPod that automatically adds new amazing songs you love every week.





5. Foals – Miami

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ90LRaEIt0

In a word: “Spanish Sahara” was the slow-cooking ballad everyone loved, but to me, this is the second-best song Foals have written (after “Hummer”). I like their faster math rock anthems, what can I tell you.





4. Uffie – Pop the Glock

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1v2PtoxwNo

In a word: Heavily influenced by Audio Two’s classic rap track “Top Billin’”, this minimal-house track by American-French electro-rapper Uffie was first released in 2006. It was then re-released late in 2009 and featured on Uffie’s debut album this year. To me this sounds totally fresh and experimental, and producer Feadz’s beats are addictive. However, many people compared Uffie to Ke$ha. I just don’t hear it. Can’t a track use auto-tunes AND be good? Just be good cool hipsters and admit that this is a killer track already.

 

 
 

3. tUnE-yArDs – Real Live Flesh

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwDEQWaSiEU

In a word: An experimental sound collage which is not for everyone, but if you’re patient enough with it, you’ll find enchanting beauty.

 

 
 

2. How to Dress Well – Lover’s Start

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbdeacVXbik

In a word: An experimental sound collage which is not for everyone, but if you’re patient enough with it, you’ll find enchanting beauty. [Is anyone else having a déjà-vu? –ed.] Most critics loved “Decisions”, but I prefer this emotional “ballad” instead. This very well may be the future of music.

 

 
 

1. Jónsi – Go Do

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6HjT4SQKJI

In a word: In the end, nothing could trump this perfect pro-active hymn with its bird chirping, falsetto crooning and almost-violent drumming. I see it as a call to arms for anyone who loves good, real, creative, original music. If you are talented but depressed by what you hear on mainstream radio, do not despair. Go do. Have an excellent 2011.

 

 ___________________________________________________________________________________

 The complete list:

1. Jónsi – Go Do

2. How to Dress Well – Lover’s Start

3. tUnE-yArDs – Real Live Flesh

4. Uffie – Pop the Glock

5. Foals – Miami

6. The Strange Boys – Night Might

7. Wild Beasts – We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues

8. I Blame Coco – Selfmachine

9. Rapids! – Fuses

10. LCMDF – Gandhi

11. Warpaint – Undertow

12. The Strange Boys – Be Brave

13. Crystal Fighters – In the Summer

14. Haight-Ashbury – Freeman Town

15. Detachments – Holiday Romance

16. The Good Natured – Your Body Is a Machine

17. Oú Est Le Swimming Pool – These New Knights

18. Beach House – Norway

19. The Fall – Bury Pts. 2 + 4

20. Non-Tiq – Quiet

21. Surfer Blood – Swim

22. Frankie Rose and the Outs – Candy

23. Tame Impala – Solitude is Bliss

24. We Have Band – Oh! (re-release)

25. The Coral – 1,000 Years

26. Let’s Buy Happiness – Six Wolves

27. We Are Scientists – Rules Don’t Stop

28. Everything Everything – Schoolin’

29. The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club – Bored in Belgium

30. Good Shoes – Under Control

31. The Ting Tings – Hands

32. Katy B – Katy on A Mission

33. The XX – Crystalised (re-release)

34. RPA and the United Nations of Sound – Are You Ready

35. She & Him – In the Sun

36. Cherry Ghost – Kissing Strangers

37. Audio Bullys – Only Man

38. Holly Miranda – Waves (Acoustic)

39. The Dears – Omega Dog

40. Band of Skulls – Death by Diamonds and Pearls