Welcome to Check Your Mode

The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Friday, December 31, 2010

We Begin at the End

Long story short, The Great Catch-up was a huge mistake. Not only did it double my workload for Check Your Mode, it set me back so badly, that it left me scrambling to listen to albums I wanted to hear and rate, let alone give any written opinion on them. Coupled with the unmitigated shitstorm of new releases that was September 2010 (16 albums released in one day? Really?) I just couldn’t catch up, and for that I am sorry, because there is no way I can have the time to write about the things I’ve heard since then and give them a reason for putting them in my year end list of albums, singles and performances.

The best I can do is to list for you what I chose for the Best of 2010. I have rated quite a few albums since my last CYM posting, so I have decided, instead of limiting myself to a list of 50 or even 100 best albums and songs, I’m just going to list all the albums I’ve reviewed this year (in terms of albums, the number rated is 197 as of writing this), honestly more to prove to myself than anyone else that I was quite productive despite a sheer posting drop-off in the final third of the year. Below are the lists of The Greatest Albums of 2010, The Greatest Songs of 2010, and the winners and honorable mentions for the best vocal, drum, bass, guitar and other instrument performances on both albums and songs. My mindset is to count 2010 as a loss, but not a full-on defeat. I was still able to listen to all I could by the end of the year, so I can bring all my musical knowledge into this next attempt at making Check Your Mode work. 

Starting today, I’m going to do modern reviews as they are released; 2010 sure was a great year for music, but, if it’s all the same to you, I’d prefer it if we pretended it never happened from this point on.
So let’s start over again. Hi, my name’s Paul, and I want to be your guide through all things musical in the 2010’s. That last year was a bit of a debacle, but I got results out of it, so let’s move on. The 2010’s prove promising, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to capitalize on it in any way possible.

The Greatest Albums of 2010:

197. Skullflower- Strange Keys to Untune Gods’ Firmament
194. Wuthering Heights- Salt
193. Mi Ami- Steal Your Face
192. Merle Haggard- I Am What I Am
190. Kid Cudi- Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
184. Stone Sour- Audio Secrecy
182. Caribou- Swim
181. Lil Boosie- Incarcerated
179. Slash- Slash
178. Tame Impala- Innerspeaker
177. Actress- Splazsh
175. Yelawolf- Trunk Muzik: 0-60
173. Taylor Swift- Speak Now
170. Oneohtrix Point Never- Returnal
169. Supersilent- 10
168. Brandon Flowers- Flamingo
167. Accept- Blood of the Nations
165. Sam Amidon- I See the Sign
163. Aeroplane- We Can’t Fly
162. Teebs- Ardour
161. MGMT- Congratulations
158. Dum Dum Girls- I Will Be
157. Harlem- Hippies
156. Shining- Blackjazz
152. Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden- Jasmine
151. James Blackshaw- All Is Falling
150. Kno- Death Is Silent
146. Robert Plant- Band of Joy
145. Drake- Thank Me Later
144. Woods- At Echo Lake
143. The Mynabirds- What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood
137. Dungen- Skit i allt
136. Kings of Leon- Come Around Sundown
135. Ne-Yo- Libra Scale
132. Love Is All- Two Thousand and Ten Injuries
130. Goldfrapp- Head First
127. Robert Randolph & The Family Band- We Walk This Road
126. Scout Niblett- The Calcination of Scout Niblett
125. The Fall- Your Future Our Clutter
124. Ozzy Osbourne- Scream
123. of Montreal- False Priest
122. Brian Eno- Small Craft on a Milk Sea
121. Scuba- Triangulation
120. Rhymefest- El Che
118. The Living Sisters- Love to Live
116. Weezer- Hurley
115. How to Dress Well- Love Remains
112. Phosphorescent- Here’s to Taking It Easy
111. Band of Horses- Infinite Arms
110. Agalloch- Marrow of the Spirit
109. Erykah Badu- New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh
103. LCD Soundsystem- This Is Happening
102. Curren$y- Pilot Talk 2
101. Shakira- Sale el Sol
100. The Radio Dept.- Clinging to a Scheme
99. The-Dream- Love King
98. Gucci Mane- Jewelry Selection
97. Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings- I Learned the Hard Way
96. Gucci Mane- The Burrprint 2 HD
95. Sun City Girls- Funeral Mariachi
94. Celph Titled & Buckwild- Nineteen Ninety Now
91. The Dead Weather- Sea of Cowards
89. Alcest- Écailles de lune
88. Cee-Lo Green- The Lady Killer
87. Kings Go Forth- The Outsiders Are Back
86. Standstill- Adelante Bonaparte
85. Mar de Grises- Stream Inwards
84. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers- Mojo
83. Janelle Monae- The ArchAndroid
82. Diamond Rings- Special Affectations
73. Kelis- Flesh Tone
69. Les Savy Fav- Root for Ruin
68. Ólafur Arnalds- ...And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness
67. Girl Talk- All Day
66. Deerhunter- Halcyon Digest
65. Laurie Anderson- Homeland
64. Rihanna- Loud
63. No Age- Everything in Between
62. The Black Keys- Brothers
60. Black Country Communion- Black Country
59. Crystal Castles- Crystal Castles
55. Ali Farka Tourè & Toumani Diabatè- Ali and Toumani
54. The National- High Violet
52. Atlas Sound- Basement Databank Vol. 1
51. Emeralds- Does It Look Like I’m Here?
49. Deathspell Omega- Paracletus
48. Grinderman- Grinderman 2
47. The Roots- How I Got Over
46. Male Bonding- Nothing Hurts
45. Enslaved- Axioma Ethica Odini
44. Elton John & Leon Russell- The Union
42. The Walkmen- Lisbon
41. Screaming Females- Castle Talk
40. Guido- Anidea
39. Jònsi- Go
38. Mulatu Asatke- Mulatu Steps Ahead
36. Laura Marling- I Speak Because I Can
33. OJ Simpson- OJ Simpson
32. Joanna Newsom- Have One on Me
31. The Gaslight Anthem- American Slang
28. CEO- White Magic
27. Jamey Johnson- The Guitar Song
25. Big K.R.I.T.- K.R.I.T. Wuz Here
23. Sleigh Bells- Treats
22. Triptykon- Eparistera Daimones
21. The Tallest Man on Earth- The Wild Hunt
16. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti- Before Today
14. Baths- Cerulean
11. Das Racist- Sit Down, Man
8. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
5. Barren Earth- Curse of the Red River
4. Robyn- Body Talk Pt. 1 / Body Talk Pt. 2 / Body Talk
1. Titus Andronicus- The Monitor

Albums I Was Unable to Rate:

King Sunny Adè- Baba Mo Tunde
Against Me!- White Crosses
Antony and the Johnsons- Swanlights
Atlas Sound- Bedroom Databank Vol. 2
Atlas Sound- Bedroom Databank Vol. 3
Atlas Sound- Bedroom Databank Vol. 4
Autre Ne Veut- Autre Ne Veut
Belle and Sebastian- Write About Love
Jay Bennett- Kicking at the Perfumed Air
Big L- Return of the Devils Son
Bilal- Airtight’s Revenge
Ryan Bingham- Junky Star
Aloe Blacc- Good Things
Kath Bloom- Thin Thin Line
Andrew Cedermark- Moon Deluxe
The Chemical Brothers- Further
Julie Christmas- The Bad Wife
Eric Clapton- Clapton
The Damned Things- Ironiclast
Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse- Dark Night of the Soul
The Divine Comedy- Bang Goes the Knighthood
The Drums- The Drums
Eels- End Times
El-P- Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3
Eminem- Recovery
Alejandro Escovedo- Street Songs of Love
Sharon van Etten- Epic
Free Moral Agents- Control This
The Fresh & Onlys- Play It Strange
Ghostface Killah- Apollo Kids
Gold Panda- Lucky Shiner
Goo Goo Dolls- Something for the Rest of Us
Gorillaz- The Fall
Glasser- Ring
The Greenhornes- ****
Halford- Made of Metal
Hot Hot Heat- Future Breeds
Jimmy Eat World- Invented
jj- kills
James LaBrie- Static Impulse
John Legend & The Roots- Wake Up!
Lindstrom & Christrabelle- Real Life Is No Cool
Madlib- Madlib Medicine Show: No. 9 – High Fi Sounds for Smokers and Drinkers
Roc Marciano- Marberg
Margot and the Nuclear So-So’s- Buzzard
Mark McGuire- Living With Yourself
MellowHype- BlackenedWhite
Nicki Minaj- Pink Friday
Motorpsycho- Heavy Metal Fruit
Nachtmystium- Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 2
Nina Nastasia- Outlaster
Onra- Long Distance
The Orb feat. David Gilmour- Metallica Spheres
Perfume Genius- Learning
PS I Love You- Meet Me at the Muster Station
R. Kelly- Love Letter
Rangda- False Flag
Rick Ross- Ashes to Ashes
Laetita Sadier- The Trip
Scissor Sisters- Night Life
The Secret Sisters- The Secret Sisters
Sia- We Are Born
The Soft Moon- The Soft Moon
Mavis Staples- You Are Not Alone
Sufjan Stevens- Age of Adz
Stone Temple Pilots- Stone Temple Pilots
Jazmine Sullivan- Love Me Back
Superchunk- Magesty Shredding
Superpitcher- Kilimanjaro
Supersilent- 11
Swans- My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
Tamaryn- The Waves
Serj Tankien- Inperfect Harmonies
The Thermals- Personal Life
Richard Thompson- Dream Attic
Twin Shadow- Forget
William Tyler- Behold the Spirit
Univers Zero- Clivages
Waka Flocka Flame- Flockaveli
Warpaint- The Fool
Wild Nothing- Gemini
Women- Public Strand
Pete Yorn- Pete Yorn
Neil Young- Le Noise

The Greatest Songs of 2010:
66. The Morning Benders- “All Day Day Light”
65. The National- “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
64. Love Is All- “Kungen”
63. Twin Shadow- “Slow”
62. Johnny Cash- “Redemption Day”
61. Rick Ross- “I’m Not A Star”
60. Gil Scott-Heron- “The Crutch”
59. No Age- “Skinned”
58. These New Puritans- “Attack Music”
57. The Tallest Man on Earth- “Drying of the Lawns”
55. Broken Social Scene- “Art House Director”
53. Gorillaz- “Stylo”
51. The Walkmen- “Angela Surf City”
50. Los Campesinos!- “Romance Is Boring”
49. Matthew Dear- “You Put a Smell on Me”
48. Taio Cruz- “Dynamite”
47. Kanye West- “Christmas in Harlem (feat. Cyhi da Prynce & Teyana Taylor)”
46. The Morning Benders- “Excuses”
45. Surfer Blood- “Floating Vibes”
44. Kingdom- “You”
42. Massive Attack- “Girl I Love You”
41. Here We Go Magic- “Collector”
40. Crystal Castles- “Baptism”
39. The-Dream- “Yamaha”
38. Laurie Anderson- “Only an Expert”
37. Sleigh Bells- “Tell ‘Em”
36. Free Energy- “Bang Pop”
35. Kanye West- “Runaway (feat. Pusha T)”
34. The Gaslight Anthem- “Old Haunts”
32. Broken Bells- “The Ghost Inside”
27. Vampire Weekend- “Cousins”
25. Blind Guardian- “Sacred Worlds”
24. Daughters- “The Theatre Goer”
22. Beach House- “Zebra”
20. The Tallest Man on Earth- “King of Spain”
19. Flying Lotus- “Do the Astral Plane”
18. Big K.R.I.T.- “Country Shit”
17. Pantha du Prince- “Abglanz”
16. Beach House- “Silver Soul”
15. Beach House- “Norway”
14. Broken Bells- “The High Road”
13. Japandroids- “Younger Us”
12. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti- “Round and Round”
10. Kylie Minogue- “Get Outta My Way”
9. Kanye West- “All of the Lights”
8. Vampire Weekend- “Run”
5. Hot Chip- “Take It In”
3. Laura Veirs- “July Flame”
Modicums 2010:

Best Vocal Performance on an Album (Male):

Big Boi- Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

Honorable Mentions:
Chris Chu- Big Echo (The Morning Benders)
Chris Keating- Odd Blood (Yeasayer)
Ezra Koenig- Contra (Vampire Weekend)
Himanshu Kumar & Victor Vazquez- Sit Down, Man (Das Racist)
Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Best Vocal Performance on an Album (Female):

Victoria Legrand- Teen Dream (Beach House)

Honorable Mentions:
Bethany Cosentino- Crazy For You (Best Coast)
Rhiannon Giddens- Genuine Negro Jig (Carolina Chocolate Drops)
Joanna Newsom- Have One On Me
Robyn- Body Talk Pt. 1 / Body Talk Pt. 2 / Body Talk
Laura Veirs- July Flame

Best Vocal Performance in a Song (Male):

Kanye West- “Power (feat. Dwele)”

Honorable Mentions:
Ariel Pink- “Round and Round” (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti)
Big Boi- “Shutterbug (feat. Cutty)”
Alexis Taylor & John Goddard- “Take It In” (Hot Chip)
Ezra Koenig- “White Sky” (Vampire Weekend)
Best Vocal Performance in a Song (Female):

Nicki Minaj- “Monster (feat. Jay Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver)” (Kanye West)

Honorable Mentions:
Laurie Anderson- “Only an Expert”
Rhiannon Giddens- “Hit ‘Em Up Style” (Carolina Chocolate Drops)
Victoria Legrand- “Silver Soul” (Beach House)
Robyn- “Call Your Girlfriend”
Robyn- “Criminal Intent”

Best Guitar Performance on an Album:

Antti "Hynde" Hyyrynen & Pekka "Pexi" Olkkonen- Viimeinen Atlantis (Stam1na)

Honorable Mentions:
John Haughm & Don Anderson- Marrow of the Spirit (Agalloch)
Jason Bartell, Chris Georges & Nicholas Andrew Sadler- Fang Island (Fang Island)
Joe Bonamassa- Black Country (Black Country Communion)
Kragen Lum- The Evolution of Chaos (Heathen)
Kristian Matsson- The Wild Hunt (The Tallest Man on Earth)

Best Guitar Performance in a Song:

Kristian Matsson- “King of Spain” (The Tallest Man on Earth)”

Honorable Mentions:
John Haughm & Don Anderson- “They Escaped the Weight of Darkness” (Agalloch)
Jason Bartell, Chris Georges & Nicholas Andrew Sadler- “Sideswiper”(Fang Island)
Joe Bonamassa- “Too Late for the Sun” (Black Country Communion)
Shinichi Ishikawa- “The Summer Funeral” (Sigh)
Marissa Paternoster- “Laura + Marty” (Screaming Females)

Best Bass Performance on an Album:

Thundercat- Cosmogramma (Flying Lotus)

Honorable Mentions:
Chris Baio- Contra (Vampire Weekend)
Justin Harris- Mines (Menomena)
Tim Koh- Before Today (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti)
King Mike- Castle Talk (Screaming Females)
Olli-Pekka "Oppu" Laine- Curse of the Red River (Barren Earth)

Best Bass Performance in a Song:

Thundercat- “Dance of the Pseudo Nymph” (Flying Lotus)

Honorable Mentions:
Chris Baio- “Cousins” (Vampire Weekend)
Kevin Hendrick- “Weird Feelings” (Male Bonding)
Jeff Matz- “Snakes for the Divine” (High on Fire)
Chris McCarron- “The Hate I Won’t Commit” (Land of Talk)
Thundercat- “Pickled!” (Flying Lotus)

Best Percussion Performance on an Album:

Torstein Loftus- Blackjazz (Shining)

Honorable Mentions:
Mike Portnoy- Nightmare (Avenged Sevenfold)
Pantha du Prince- Black Noise
Marc St. Sauveur- Fang Island (Fang Island)
Jonathan Syverson- Daughters (Daughters)
Chris Tomson- Contra (Vampire Weekend)

Best Percussion Performance in a Song:

Torstein Loftus- “Exit Sun” (Shining)

Honorable Mentions:
Jeremy Kuzniar- “One Day” (Kings Go Forth)
Pantha du Prince- “Abglanz”
Torstein Loftus- “Healter Skelter” (Shining)
Torstein Loftus- “Blackjazz Deathtrance” (Shining)
Marc St. Sauneur- “Dream of Dreams / Careful Crossers” (Fang Island)

Best Other Instrumental Performance on an Album:

The Czech Republic Philharmonic- Heartland [Orchestra] (Owen Pallett)

Honorable Mentions:
Ravi Coltrane- Cosmogramma [Tenor Saxophone] (Flying Lotus)
Toumani Diabatè- Ali & Toumani [Kora] (Ali Farke Tourè & Toumani Diabatè)
Mirai Kawasima- Scenes From Hell [Orchestra] (Sigh)
Jørgen Munkeby- After [Saxophone] (Ihsahn)
Joanna Newsom- Have One On Me [Harp]

Best Other Instrumental Performance in a Song:

Jørgen Munkeby- “On the Shores” [Saxophone] (Ihsahn)

Honorable Mentions:
Ravi Coltrane- “German Haircut” [Tenor Saxophone] (Flying Lotus)
Kasper Mårtenson- “Forlorn Waves” [Keyboard] (Barren Earth)
Dr. Mikannibal- “Musica in Tempora Belli” [Saxophone] (Sigh)
The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music- “White Flag” [Orchestra] (Gorillaz)