RoundLetters’ Top 20 Albums of 2010

Here we are, the final countdown! I’ve finally been able to settle on a top 20 (it’s been an excruciatingly long process) and I thought what better day to share with you my favourite albums of the year than my birthday.

2010 has produced a few absolutely amazing albums in my mind and a ton of great ones. 2010 was also a time when I shirked away from the buzz bands and hype, not only because I didn’t have access to them in a monetary or downloaded capacity but also because from what I’d heard from any of those bands, I just couldn’t understand why everyone went so gaga over them. The ones I’ve picked here haven’t been found on a lot of other lists I’ve seen, but I can back their worth 100%. This year was one year when the music really started to make sense, unlike ever before. Words started connecting to me in new ways, different sounds and instruments caught my attention and moods took over.

So, I won’t go too in-depth, just give top reasons why these records have earned my love. Here ya go:

villagers becoming a jackal20. Villagers – Becoming a Jackal

Tearing at the heartstrings with other strings; piano keys play like it’s their last time; a voice like Conor Oberst but smooth, not raggedy; the memory-catching melodies in the guitar of the title track.

wild nothing gemini19. Wild Nothing – Gemini

New wave guitars; lazy vocals; synths that only come in on the small, right moments; like a modern- day Pretty in Pink or other John Hughes type scenario; “Drifter” and “Chinatown.”

Deerhunter Halycon Digest
18. Deerhunter – Halycon Digest

Epic sadness; bringing the sadness into beautiful poetry; haunting melodies; the feeling like each song slowly seeps into you and hits the exact point of your body that needed it most.

lcd soundsystem this is happening17. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

I never used to like LCD Soundsystem, I found it abrasive and almost immature. Now, somehow, I can party with it, move with it, understand it a bit better, which made this album twice as more fun than it already is.

wolf parade expo 8616. Wolf Parade – Expo 86

Theatrical, poetic and unique, this is another album from a band who wasn’t able to catch my attention in the past. Jaunty and oh so ripped and ragged, and yet, it’s cleaner than they’ve ever been. Their rock parade was going strong until the announced hiatus.

hannah georgas this is good15. Hannah Georgas – This is Good

This album taught me how it’s alright and totally possible to be light-hearted and heavy-hearted at the same time. I can be sipping lemonade and cursing at someone simultaneously. Confidence; pop rock; Vancouver; girls with guitars; sunshine.

teen daze four more years14. Teen Daze – Four More Years

Pride of the playlist; dreams; attaching to one or many moments with such ease that it’s scary; computers and what computers can do with humans; really working the nostalgic angle.

seabear we built a fire13. Seabear – We Built a Fire

Sweet, sweet Icelandic harmonies; birds, bears, lions, animals oh my; total cuteness; softness like rolling around in springtime grass without a care; being with friends.

Breathe Owl Breathe - Magic Central12. Breathe Owl Breathe – Magic Central

Also an incredible amount of cuteness; under the radar; music that comes out of living together, being together; story-telling; childhood and precious adulthood; playing; honest and down-to-earth instrumentation; pop; jazz.

bent by elephants this is water11. Bent by Elephants – This is Water

Made my list of 2009 with a lot of the same songs as an EP, but they came back polished and with more equally beautiful ammo; under the radar; adventurous lyrics; jazzed vocals with guitars and drums holding onto reality; brass section of fun but knows their limits; wanting to cry when seeing them play because it was just so lovely.

hooded fang album10. Hooded Fang – Album

Dance parties, pizza parties, candy, whiskey; not being able to stop smiling when listening; Oh geez, “Green River”; boy-girl melodies; spunky keyboards, bells and guitars; clapping; goofy live shows.

rah rah breaking hearts9. Rah Rah – Breaking Hearts

If I was to be in a band, I would want to be in one just like Rah Rah. Super happy party times to ensue with everyone meshing on stage and off, happy yelps of ‘badabada!’; Saskatchewan, you ruled music this year because of Rah Rah & Library Voices; Marshall Burns and Erin Passmore’s voices; the confetti, the pinatas!

the calcination of scout niblett8. Scout Niblett – The Calcination of Scout Niblett

The epic strength that comes from this girl and her guitar is incredible and a force to be reckoned with; I want to tremble before her and yet my eyes are wide in admiration; the depth of the lyrics from chemistry to mind reading to plain ol’ being pissed off and coming to terms with herself; the guitar is its own being.

olenka and the autumn lovers and now we sing7. Olenka & the Autumn Lovers – And Now We Sing

Lovely folk-country-rock that’s so wonderfully Canadiana; inspiration for storytelling, and storytelling itself; a velvety voice that could be old or new, we could always be fooled; mixtures and textures; being strong on their own without any Basia Bulat references; a band that is so rootsy and in tune to time and scenery.

suuns zeroes qc6. Suuns – Zeroes QC

Not understanding a word that’s said but not caring one bit, in fact, finding that thrilling and mysterious and kind of scary; so many grooves that have to be peeled apart to be grasped in a more literal, horizontal sense because they’re not just vertical at times but everywhere with grooves and blips and bleeps; just being drawn to them not having to think about anything, or thinking about everything.

arcade fire the suburbs5. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

I grew up in the suburbs, and looking back on it, not very fond of it, so I already have that connection; the sure magnitude of this band was undeniable; it was totally deserved, especially after whining about their last album and how it wasn’t as great as the rest of their work; expectations are higher and higher; Win and Regine; “Rococo,” “Empty Room,” “Sprawl II.”

aidan knight versicolour4. Aidan Knight – Versicolour

Newcomer to knock me off my feet, Aidan burst into my life in full colour right at the beginning of the year with a review and interview (in which he dangerously tackled Vancouver bridges), songs so full of heart that it makes you unaware of your own; friendship that came through in clarity of chords, vocal and instrumental; seeing him play live with equal amounts of passion and friendliness; “Knitting Something Nice For You” and “Jasper.”

chk chk chk strange weather isn't it3. !!! – Strange Weather, Isn’t It?

Many dismissed this album from the weirdos, not taken with their new cleaned-up attitude, lack of swear words and less messy instrumentation. But I found it to be their best work yet, because now we were really getting to know who !!! are and what they’ve gone through in the last year or so. The songs became some of my favourite danceable moments of the year, their shows are always sooo much fun and sweaty and the entire album became my work-out buddy.

junip fields2. Junip – Fields

The kind of album that will always let you remember where and when you first heard it: I had just moved into my new apartment, was lying on the floor of my living room trying to stream it off NPR on my iPhone. “In Every Direction” hit me so hard I could barely believe it. The album became my go-to hug and sense of relief, repeating lyrics under my breath in times of need or simply closing my eyes and swaying to the music. Plus, Jose Gonzalez is a musical wonder.

foals total life forever1. Foals – Total Life Forever

Quite possibly my favourite album ever. Never has an album affected me so greatly. I even said so to the clerk at Criminal Records in the spring when I was buying the LP that it would be my #1, and it never faltered. I couldn’t shake it, even as I played it I was still anticipating it. The deep blue underwater, icey gazes and dark mental moments sat with me as I could totally connect. It was one of those albums that got me through a rough time with confidence and I’ll forever be better for it. They’d been a band I was always drawn to and loved, but with this they just took me over. It was one of the first albums I could really discuss with a lot of my friends as well, and new friends to boot. The album feels split in two, acts I and II, I could be revved up first and then taken down after. Guitars oh their guitars have set a force for so many other bands this year, I could hear it over and over, but nobody does it like Foals. They became a voice to a younger generation, fans pledge themselves to them in body art for crissakes, and I’m not on those levels nor do I feel that’s a sense of immaturity, but of understanding and honour. Foals and Total Life Forever meant so much to me this year, no matter how many angry outbursts they had at their Toronto date in September I shook about all that day for. I’ve taken so much from the album and there’s still so much left.


If my list was to keep going, it would include records by Plants and Animals, Woodhands, Caribou, The Morning Benders, Glasser, Tame Impala, Land of Talk, Josiah Wolf, Casiokids, Tim Fite, Women, Woods, Zeus, School of Seven Bells, Efterklang and more…


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