Last Year’s Best Albums List Revisited

The Antlers: They're Not There

Reading my Best Albums List from last year is a bit depressing and makes me wary as to what records I will include this year. From this list, only a handful have remained as ‘sustained players’ through 2010. Those are numbers 1, 2, 5, 8 and 9. I still stand by my choice of The Mountain Goats as number 1. In fact, I think it’s a criminally underrated album.

Of those on this list, I think the one that has grown most in my estimation in 2010 is The Phantom Band’s Checkmate Savage. The one which has fallen furthest is undoubtedly Fever Ray’s eponymous debut, which I was loving this time last year, but don’t recall playing more than a couple of times in 2010.

There are also some albums I’ve only really gotten around to this year that were released last. Albums that I would have included in the list with the benefit of hindsight and a bigger wallet would have been:

Amadou and Mariam: Welcome To Mali

[Amadou and Mariam – Sabali]


The Antlers: Hospice (this would possibly give Mountain Goats a run for the top position)

[Antlers – Kettering]


Withered Hand: Good News

[Withered Hand – Hard On]


Bill Callahan: Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle

[Bill Callahan – Faith / Void]


The Low Anthem: Oh My God, Charlie Darwin

[The Low Anthem – Charlie Darwin]


Megafaun: Gather, Form and Fly

[Megafaun – Kauffman’s Ballad]

As much as I love lists and look forward to the end of year influx, I know that lots of them are assembled hastily. When The Skinny asked me for my own list at the beginning of November, I was utterly unprepared! I managed to get a pretty accurate list of what I’d loved this year together, but it made me realize how much good music I’d missed out on… how many albums were on my ‘Must Hear’ list. That said, I think their list this year is their best ever… very eclectic and all-inclusive. Not just populist choices, which is nice to see.

I think when I compile 2010’s list over the next few days, I’ll need to consider the durability of the albums. Which ones will I still be listening to a few months or years down the line? I believe 2010 has been much stronger than 2009 in terms of releases, across the board.  Last year I didn’t really have to think about which album was my favourite… it was a no-brainer. This year, though, I’ve really had to think about it and it’s changed a few times over the past months. I think we’ve been really spoiled and I have enjoyed trawling back through the releases to formulate my thoughts.

I do wonder about people who post their 100 favourite albums of any given year. How much time can you really devote to 100 albums over the course of twelve months? I listen to a fair bit of music and in the past (increasingly again more recently) review a fair pile too. A couple of years back, I was reviewing maybe 40 albums a year. I probably hated around 50% of those. I could in no way have listened to enough music that I loved (or even liked) to rank them in a top 100! Perhaps I’m too skeptical.

Here’s 2009’s list:

  • The Mountain Goats – The Life Of The World To Come (review)
  • The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love (read here)
  • Fever Ray – Fever Ray
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • The xx – xx
  • Butcher Boy – React Or Die (review)
  • The Twilight Sad – Forget The Night Ahead
  • The Phantom Band – Checkmate Savage
  • Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Nurses – Apple’s Acre (review)
  • Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
  • Doves – Kingdom of Rust
  • Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
  • Monsters Of Folk – Monsters Of Folk (review)
  • Zoey Van Goey – The Cage Was Unlocked All Along (review)
  • Neon Indian – Psychic Chasms
  • Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
  • Wildbirds and Peacedrums – The Snake (review)
  • The Maccabees – Wall of Arms (review)
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