Modern Mystery Staff’s Year in Lists

Joe Paolucci

Top 3 Albums
The National High Violet- Another grower from the National. I think I’ll be listening to this one for a long time. It’s hard to beat Matt Berninger lyrically.

Beach Fossils Beach Fossils- This album may not be perfect. Many songs sound similar, but Beach fossils HAVE a distinctive sound. They stand out in this modern surf genre. Every time they release something, it’s better than the last thing they released. They are strong lyrically-emotional and yet numb. The guitars rhythmically work together so well, and I just feel they are all around tight as a band. I understand that Dustin Payseur fronted a lot of the work, but I’m just glad they all work together.

Beach House Teen Dream- Just a great album. Either you like it or you don’t.

Top 3 Songs

Toro Y Moi- “Talamak”Chaz Bundick has a great voice and an amazing talent for producing. I don’t know if half the time I’m listening to pure moods, late 80s/ early 90s hip-hop, or some kind of unreleased Steely Dan/ Fleetwood Mac, but I like it… It’s so smooth.

Beach Fossils- “Youth”- An infectious riff leads us into one of my favorite lines “ It’s not so worth getting all bent out of shape about,” which defines the song title for me.

Gold Panda –“You” If you can make a song using just the word “you”… that’s pretty cool.

Top 3 Shows

Pavement –Twice in a five day stint, and I still wish I went more.

Yo La Tengo – I remember raking my dead grandfather’s leaves and listening to “Prisoners of Love”. I can’t believe it took me this long to get up here and see them.

Beach Fossils – One of my favorite modern Brooklyn bands. They can’t seem to quite pull off what they do on their recordings, but the energy they display on stage suffices.

Andres Sanchez

Top 3 Albums:

Here We Go Magic – Pigeons
– This album pulls together some of my favorite sounds in music, fuzzy guitars, subtle keys, and groovy bass lines. It’s a delicately-crafted work of art that channels everything in your emotional spectrum.

Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
– I wish I could quantify this, but I can’t. I love this album and anything I say will more than likely fail to do it justice.

Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin
This album quenched my thirst for rock and roll this year. Yeah, there were plenty of other rocking records out there, but this one took the cake and ate it in front of me. To this day, I still fantasize about breaking shit with Tim Harrington.

Top 3 Songs:
Thee Oh Sees – “I Was Denied”
The Babies – “Meet Me In The City”
Beach Fossils – “Vacation”

Top 3 Shows:
Woods – some guy named Ben’s House @ SXSW in Austin, Texas March 18th(?)
Here We Go Magic @ Schubas in Chicago, Illinois July 17th
Pavement @ Stubb’s in Austin, Texas September 28th

Top 3 Music Videos:
El Guincho – “Bombay”
Here We Go Magic – “Casual”
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – “Let It Sway”

Aitor Zabalegui

Top 3 Albums:


3. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
 Hearing Ariel Pink referred to as the so-called godfather of chillwave makes me want to compare him to Neil Young, the godfather of perhaps the very opposite of genres — grunge (RIP).  What makes this such a stark comparison is the fact that they have anything in common at all.  Ariel Pink’s history lingers in relative obscurity, with most people not being introduced to him until Before Today.  But it was the abrupt turn to accessibility on Today that suggests Pink had this sound in the bag from the beginning and instead chose to fade in rather than fade away, to quote the phrase.  Just listen to the initial version of “Can’t Hear My Eyes,” which features none of the polish and AM sheen that makes it so immediately rich sounding on the album cut.  Pink, much like Young, seems to have unlimited tricks up his sleeve sure to prolong his newly-found relevancy in indie music.  I bought this album after listening to the first 15 seconds of “Bright Lit Blue Skies” with the assumption that it would offer me everything I liked about King Khan, and found that his crown had been passed.
2. Women – Public Strain
 Too derivate is the criticism you hear about this Calgary band and their engrossing sophomore effort, Public Strain — they don’t offer anything you can’t hear from White Light White Heat or they’re the Canadian Sonic Youth.  I can’t argue that Public Strain borrows graciously from notable influences, but from the album art down to the very last fading notes you can make out of the closing track’s magnificent coda, I will say Women have made the most complete album of 2010.  Much like their debut, listening to a single track on Public Strain individually is like reading a chapter of The Prince with no context and putting the book down without realizing it deliberately, and effectively, influenced the unknowing likes of Henry VIII, Napoleon, and Joseph Stalin to rule poorly.  The album plays out in non-sequential acts that blend together, hinged on delicate noise and disarray.  Every sound has been meticulously arranged into its right place, with Chad VanGaalen once again taking the helm as producer and enveloping the band in a bleak, cavernous haze the music distantly creeps out from.  The band manage to create something missing lately from indie music, an invigorating listen that only develops further with repeated visits.  Just to get into it a bit, “Narrow with the Hall” hints at what was so appealing about “Black Rice” then assures you that you won’t be getting more of the same on this record, “Venice Lockjaw” features absolutely stunning chord changes, “Drag Open” is a welcome box cutter to the throat, and “Eyesore” is perfect.  With no luck finding any lyrics online and the lack of any in the liner notes, interpreting Public Strain will remain an enduring and satisfying project.
1. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
In a sea of indie rock bands, Titus Andronicus is an utterly unashamed indie rock band led by a visibly shy, medicated sudo-recluse.  Seeing them live for the first time back in March, this irony was made apparent with the disparity of lead singer Patrick Stickles walking on stage declaring, “Let’s make this the best Sunday night of our lives!” and later offering a lengthy apology to the audience and staff of Slim’s for nearly getting the show canceled during sound check.  Stickles pointed towards his laundry list of mental illnesses that can sometimes lead his acute sensitivity to make him “act a fool.” Paradoxical as all this may be, seeing it in person found it making sense.  This music is medication, catharsis, emotional release, what have you… Sing along with a venue full of people repeating “you will always be a loser!” and Stickles doesn’t even have to finish the line, you already know its okay.  That’s listening to The Monitor in a nutshell.  
Top 3 Songs:
3. Deerhunter – “Revival”
2. Real Estate – “Out of Tune”
1. Weekend – “End Times”    
Top 2 Shows:
2. Pavement, June 25 @ Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA
1. Titus Andronicus, March 28 @ Slims, San Francisco, CA
Top Music Videos
3. Kanye West – “Runaway”
2. Best Coast – “When I’m With You”
1. Grinderman – “Heathen Child”
 Wesley Ambrecht
Best Albums of 2010

1.       Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More

Though it was released overseas in 2009, Sigh No More didn’t make its way into US records shops until February of this year. Because of which I, and many other critics, have decided to consider it a 2010 release. Some critics have taken to labeling Sigh No More the year’s best debut, but that’s actually a disservice to what is far and away the year’s best album period. There is nary a flaw throughout the entire runtime of Sigh No More.

2.       The National – High Violet

From the distorted opening notes of “Terrible Love,” until the very last note of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geek,” The National take listeners on sonic adventure that often juxtaposes beautiful imagery with absolute melancholy. High Violet is the type of album that offers almost instant gratification, but still continues to grow on you with each subsequent spin.  Littered with some of this year’s best songs like “Lemonworld” and “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” High Violet also houses songs gems like “Anyone’s Ghost” and “Sorrow.” This is modern rock at its finest: poetic, edgy and most importantly meaningful.

3.       The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

With American Slang, The Gaslight Anthem manage to embrace all of their influences, most notably Bruce Springsteen, while simultaneously honing their own sound. There is a sense of immediacy to their music that demands your attention. Once you give yourself over to American Slang, you are rewarded by a wave of nostalgia. This is a band acutely aware of their own mortality and the current state of music, both of which they treat with disdain.

Best Songs of 2010

1.       Power – Kanye West

2.       Cosmic Love – Florence + The Machine

3.       A Girl, A Boy, and a Graveyard – Jeremy Messersmith

4.       Radioactive – Kings of Leon

5.       Young Blood – The Naked and Famous

Best Music Videos

1.       Madder Red – Yeasayer

2.       Cooler Than Me – Mike Posner

3.       Tighten Up – The Black Keys

Special Recognition to Kanye West’s film Runaway

Michael Cirigliano II
Best Albums
– These New Puritans, Hidden.  After a spiky, punk-infused debut album, These New Puritans made a complete turnaround with Hidden; turning to lengthy song structures, woodwind and brass chorales, and an incredibly mature writing style for their follow-up album.
– Jónsi, Go. Although Jónsi didn’t break the mold here, he created incredibly upbeat music that wouldn’t necessarily find its way onto a standard Sigur Rós album. Any work that delivers his vocals over a foundation of organ, strings, and mallet percussion is a winner in my book.
– Arcade Fire, The Suburbs. Arcade Fire can’t seem to do any wrong- they are the Jon Stewart of rock music. After the grandiose Neon Bible, the group kept things more emotionally intimate, making listeners both swoon and cringe at the thought of their own childhoods in the suburbs.
Best Videos
-Esben & The Witch, “Marching Song”
-Arcade Fire, “We Used To Wait”
-Lady Gaga & Beyoncé, “Telephone”
Best Songs
-Jónsi, “Kolnidur”
-The Irrepressibles, “In This Shirt”
-Perfume Genius, “Lookout, Lookout”
Best Shows
-Mad Men
-Parks & Recreation

Nathan Collins

Top 3 albums of the year:

1) Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma – equal parts electronic, jazz and hip hop, this album reveals new beauty with each listen. Put it on shuffle to discover and entirely different album.
2) Jonsi – Go – One of those times when a lead singer creates a truly original side project. A great pop record.
3) Anais Mitchell – Hadestown – This folk opera features everyone from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) to Ani DiFranco. Sweeping epic storytelling mixed with some downright amazing folk music.

Jill Ettinger

Top 3 Albums of the Year 

1. joanna newsom have one on me

joanna newsom is evolving. fast. put her under a microscope and i bet scientists would discover some new genes or super DNA or something never before seen.  the 3 cd set, have one on me, is better song after better song of some of the best music ever made. note to new parents: yes it’s a really good idea to move to the woods, let your children wander in the forest by themselves on 3-day vision quests and teach them to play harp.

2. warpaint the fool

the debut from LA’s warpaint sounds almost as if someone discovered an underground city of super music geniuses living under hollywood’s walk of stars. warpaint sounds like cat power and bat for lashes had lou reed’s love children who they only let listen to radiohead and pj harvey records while spinning around and around like barefoot sufis on a bed of rose petals. the fool is absolutely addictive and prescient.

3. four tet there is love in you

four tet tapped into something bold with there is love in you. if “angel echoes” doesn’t gut you every time you listen to it, please see a doctor. the album progresses like a dream that twinkles and sparkles. if these songs were animals, they would all be unicorns. but not the cartoony fantasy unicorns; the real ones.

Top 3 Songs of the Year

infinite arms-band of horses

sleepless in silverlake-les savy fav

pray for rain-massive attack

Top 3 Shows of the Year

Faith No More Palladium Theater, LA

Fat Freddy’s Drop Music Box, LA

Amon Tobin Echoplex, LA

Top 3 Music Videos of the Year

Heathen Child-Grinderman
Enter the Ninja-Die Antwoord 
Red Lights-Holy Fuck 

Zach Yanowitz


1. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: Yeezy embraced his ego and crafted a record of pure, glamorous honesty. The scope is epic yet personal, lush yet raw.
2. Titus Andronicus- The Monitor: The New Jersey neo-punks use Civil War imagery and lots of noise and alcohol to make a soundtrack for our era of uncertainty and angst.
3. This Is Happening- LCD Soundsystem: James Murphy welcomes his mortality and crushes a dance record with pumping highs and lows, with just enough inner turmoil to keep it real.
1. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)- Arcade Fire
2. Ambling Alp- Yeasayer
3. Monster (Ft. Bon Iver, Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj)- Kanye West
1. The Hold Steady @ Republic, New Orleans 9/24
2. Wolf Parade @ The Fox Theater, Oakland 7/30
3. Girls (w/ Smith Westerns & Magic Kids) @ One Eyed Jacks, New Orleans 2/2
Music Videos
1. Lady GaGa- Telephone
2. Duck Sauce- Barbra Streisand
3. Die Antwoord- Enter the Ninja

Krista De La Rosa

Albums of the year:

01) Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
I firmly believe that I will never love a person as much as I love Halycon Digest.  I firmly believe that I will never fall this hard for an album so quickly as I have with Halcyon Digest.  I listened to this album the second it was released and I never stopped listening to it since.  Bradford Cox is a man I will always deeply admire more than many, many other musicians.  This album is just one of those that will make you say, “Jesus  Christ, this is fucking beautiful.” Every single song brings chills down my spine.  Every riff of the guitar, every key and button pushed, every word spoken; this is what a perfect album sounds like.  There is no such thing as disappointment when it comes to an album like this.  No such thing.

02) Coma Cinema – Stoned Alone
Mat Cothran of Coma Cinema will go down in history as the greatest songwriter of our generation.  Stoned Alone is an album that I have laughed to, cried to, slept to, walked around campus to, and lived to.  There is plenty of music in this world for us to listen to.  I’d choose Coma Cinema over any and every band I have ever discovered.  Why?  Because Coma Cinema is more than music.  The lyrics are more than words.  Something beyond magic is produced by this amazing, genuine human being.  He doesn’t create music for money or for publicity, but for himself.  Stoned Alone will make you feel something music has never made you feel.  That, I promise you.

03) Magic Man – Real Life Color
Magic Man is composed of two magical men, Sam Lee and Alex Caplow.  I cannot remember for the life of me how I discovered this magical duo, but the second I downloaded Real Life Color off their bandcamp, my life was changed.  I do not want to describe their sound by comparing them to other artists.  Magic Man is nothing but real, passionate magic.  I just want to repeat the words “magic, magic, magic” over and over again until you get a better idea of just how MAGICAL their music is.  I tend to listen to Real Life Color while driving.  I always seem to be driving, so I am a religious listener of this album.  It stirs up my imagination beyond belief.  Whether it be the synth pop vibes or their delicate voices, Magic Man is definitely a duo that I’d consider the highlight of my 2010 music discovering year. 


01) Twin Sister – Meet the Frownies

02) Foxes in Fiction – Lately (Memoryhouse cover)

03) Star Slinger – Word


01) I’m going to include all the artists and showcases I saw during SXSW 2010 as my #1 because they were some of the most amazing, memorable performances bundled together.

02) The Tallest Man on Earth / S. Carey

03) Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros


01) Coma Cinema – Blissed *Created by Tyler T Williams

02) Memoryhouse – Herloim *Created by Jamie Harley

03) Two Bicycles – How Real *Created by Tonje Thilesen


One thought on “Modern Mystery Staff’s Year in Lists

  1. Pingback: Top Albums of 2010 « TV Musings and Thoughts

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