FEATURE: Albums Of The Year – 2010

2010 was one of those odd years where I can’t say I listened to a whole heap of new albums. For example Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs only got a few spins, despite how good I think it is, just because I got distracted I guess. Anyway, without further ado – my top few releases of 2010, and some not from 2010 too.

Album of the Year: Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring

I think I knew months ago that this would be my favourite. RiB displays LC!’s true talent in crafting amazingly evocative, relatable, indie-pop/twee music, and the size of the band (they’re an 8-piece) adds another dimension to their music. From start to finish this album doesn’t let up, and I really see it as the culmination of their hard work on previous releases. A brilliant album, well worth trying.

Notable mentions:

The National – High Violet

Birds of Tokyo – Self-titled

Dead Letter Circus – This Is The Warning

Delphic – Acolyte

Los Campesinos! – Alls Well That Ends [EP]

Johnny Foreigner – You Thought You Saw a Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears and That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With the Sky So Clear and the Sea So Calm – EP

There are other releases out there I listened to, but not enough to really appreciate or develop a real opinion of – so I’ll leave them out.

The rest of the year was spent appreciating Johnny Foreigner’s two albums, which are absolutely brilliant. They have cemented themselves as one of my favourite bands in the past three months, and hopefully will one day get the recognition they deserve. I also discovered the rapper P.O.S. who is amazing, with a great delivery and provocative lyrics.

For those interested, the past twelve months on Last.fm show my top artists as:

  1. Los Campesinos! – 2471 plays
  2. Karnivool – 1354 plays
  3. Johnny Foreigner – 1264 plays
  4. The National – 959 plays
  5. Radiohead – 853 plays
  6. Birds of Tokyo – 787 plays
  7. Dead Letter Circus – 664 plays
  8. Bloc Party – 523 plays
  9. We Are Scientists – 325 plays
  10. Death Cab For Cutie – 258 plays
  11. Thom Yorke – 253 plays
  12. Queens of the Stone Age – 231 plays
  13. Josh Pyke – 223 plays
  14. Modest Mouse – 198 plays
  15. P.O.S. – 182 plays

Happy New Year everyone!


REVIEW: Los Campesinos! – “Romance Is Boring”

Making good music that connects with people emotionally is like making good toast. Some bands over-cook it. Some bands under-cook it. Some bands use grainy bread, and then put a spread on top, which just tastes funny. Some bands can’t even figure out how to turn the toaster on. Well, I can at least tell you this much: Los Campesinos! know how to make goddamn good toast.

“Romance Is Boring”, their second album (arguable I know, but “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” is considered an EP by the band), came out earlier this year. So though this review is slightly belated, I can’t run a music blog and not talk about an album I love so much.

Let me begin by talking about one of Los Campesinos!’s most defining aspects: Gareth’s lyrics. Gareth has to be, without a doubt, one of the most interesting and thought-provoking lyricists I have ever heard. Often dealing with love and relationships (the album title wouldn’t be a hint there, would it?), he manages to tell a story perfectly without making the already over-saturated topics dull, which is a feat in itself.

But then again, you need only listen to one song to know Los Campesinos! are anything but dull. Whilst the dual vocals of Gareth and Aleks aren’t as prominent as they were in earlier releases, they still feature occasionally, and both of them still know how to build up tension and release it at exactly the right points.

On this album, the rest of the band have really refined their musicianship to the next level. Moving beyond what felt like a cluttered mess at times on debut “Hold On Now, Youngster…”, they’ve kept their distinct Campesinos! style, cleared up what wasn’t needed, and focused on crafting engaging anthemic indie pop. And that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Featuring grander instrumentation than previous releases (the brass on opener “In Medias Res” is astoundingly catchy) whilst still keeping their subtle and tender moments (like closer “Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State”) provides the album with the sense of maturity that it needs. Whilst staying true to their own unique indie roots, they’ve shown us that they can produce a solid album that has its musical highs and lows.

It should now be more evident than ever that Los Campesinos! aren’t “just another indie band”. Combining Gareth’s witty, often bleak, but almost always clever and engaging lyricism with the other Campesinos!’s fast, aggressive, bright, and swirling musicianship, has helped this band craft what I consider a near masterpiece. The tracks flows extremely well, and whilst some songs may take a while to get used to (“Plan A” was a grower for me), I cannot recommend it enough. Essential listening for people who like their music fun with a dash of pessimism.

Grab a free download of “The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future” here.

Verdict: Positive. BRILLIANT.