Infinite Shuffle

January 1, 2011

Best of 2010 – My list

Filed under: Best of — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Last year, I waited until mid-January to unleash my end-of-the-year and end-of-the-decade lists. But this year, I figured I’d do it at a more reasonable time — one minute into the new year.

So, without further ado, I give you my favorite music from the past 12 months. Enjoy.

By the way, rather than bogging down this post with a bunch of links and embedded videos, I just created a playlist with as many of the top songs as I could find. If, for some reason, the player doesn’t work on your computer, just open this link in a separate tab/window and listen to the goodness as you read about it.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones


  • Arcade Fire – The Suburbs … This band has yet to put out an average album. While I don’t yet consider it as strong as its predecessors, it’s still better than just about everything else that came out this year. It also includes one of my two most favorite songs of the year. … Favorite song: “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
  • Beach HouseTeen Dream … I really didn’t think this album would live up to all the hype it was receiving before its release, but it actually may have surpassed it. … Favorite song: “Norway”
  • Frightened RabbitThe Winter of Mixed Drinks … While this band seems to fill every album with the same handful of songs, over and over again, I just can’t help loving them anyway. … Favorite song: “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”
  • Mumford & SonsSigh No More … This was, hands down, my favorite album of the year. Go read last week’s post for more in-depth thoughts. … Favorite song: “Little Lion Man”
  • The NationalHigh Violet … These guys are slowly becoming one of all-time favorite bands. This album didn’t grab me right away, but after plenty of listens, it definitely stood out as one of the year’s best. … Favorite song: “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
  • The OrbansWhen We Were Wild … This is my hidden gem of the year. If you haven’t heard these alt-country boys from Austin — and I doubt you have — check them out immediately. … Favorite song: “Like a Liar”
  • Shout Out LoudsWork … Three albums into their career, these guys from Sweden are on the verge of really breaking out in the States. … Favorite song: “Walls”
  • Two Door Cinema ClubTourist History … If it wasn’t for a couple-sentences-long review on the wall of a record store in Indianapolis, I may never have discovered this ’80s-infused, electro-pop group from Scotland. … Favorite song: “Undercover Martyn”
  • Vampire WeekendContra … With easily the most-hyped album at the beginning of the year, the NYC crew managed to deliver and avoid a sophomore slump. … Favorite song: “Cousins”
  • Wild NothingBored Games … This is an album that totally caught me by surprise. A soft, dreamy, electro disc from some dudes in Roanoke? Sure, why not? … Favorite song: “Live In Dreams”


  • Hey MarseillesTo Travels and Trunks (first dropped 2008, re-released this year) … Favorite song: “Rio”
  • JaillThat’s How We Burn … Favorite song: “Snake Shakes”
  • JunipFields … Favorite song: “Always”
  • Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown … Favorite song: “Pyro”
  • The Kissaway TrailSleep Mountain … Favorite song: “SDP”
  • Kopecky Family BandThe Disaster (seven-song EP) … Favorite song: “Disaster”
  • Let’s WrestleIn the Court of the Wrestling Let’s … Favorite song: “We Are the Men You’ll Grow To Love Soon”
  • Miniature TigersFortress … Favorite song: “Rock & Roll Mountain Troll”

THE YEAR’S BEST TRACKS (that weren’t on any of the above listed albums)

  • B.o.B. ft. Eminem and Hayley Williams – “Airplanes, Part II” … I seem to fall for one rap song per year. This one is it.
  • The Band Perry – “If I Die Young” … A friend suggested I listen to this song a couple of months ago. Now I am forever in her debt.
  • Cold War Kids – “Audience” … These guys snuck in an EP this year, and it included this gem.
  • Diamond Rings – “Something Else” … I’m pretty sure this song was produced in 1985, put in a time capsule and finally released in 2010.
  • The Drums – “I Felt Stupid” and “Let’s Go Surfing” … These are some fun songs from a band that’s developing a nice following.
  • Local Natives – “Airplanes” … I’ve had this song stuck in my head on multiple occasions throughout the year.
  • Loney, Dear – “Airport Surroundings” … Half of my brain doesn’t think this song belongs on this list. Unfortunately, the other half is bobbing along too much to pay it any heed.
  • Neon Trees – “Animal” … I was hesitant to include this song after hearing it constantly in the Las Vegas commercials. Alas, it’s too good not to mention.
  • School of Seven Bells – “Windstorm” … This song might be an acquired taste, but I can’t get enough of it.
  • The Soft Pack – “Answer To Yourself” … Just a good, solid pop/rock song.
  • Stornoway – “Zorbing” … This is my other most favorite track of the year. There’s nothing else to say — I just absolutely love it.
  • Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp” and “O.N.E.” … These two songs are so good, I almost included the whole album on here — and I didn’t even like the album.
  • Zola Jesus – “I Can’t Stand” and “Sea Talk” … I’m constantly trying to decide which song I like the most from this Siouxsie & The Banshees descendent, but I can never choose between the two.



  • The Black Keys – Brothers
  • John Grant – Queen of Denmark
  • Menomena – Minds
  • These New Puritans – Hidden
  • Titus Andronicus – The Monitor

Check back tomorrow when I provide a massive compilation of all the end-of-the-year lists I could find.


January 16, 2010

Best of The Aughts – My list

Filed under: Best of — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Well, you’ve read what everyone else had to say about the decade that was. Now it’s my turn. Here are my favorite albums and all the top singles that weren’t on one of the aforementioned discs.


  • Arcade Fire … “Funeral” (2004) … This album was different than anything I’d ever heard before. It was among the first “indie” albums I discovered as I was beginning to make my transition from mainstream fan to indie fan. From this point, there was no turning back. Their second album, “Neon Bible,” was also amazing, but this one holds a special place in my heart. … Favorite track: “Rebellion”
  • Band of Horses … “Cease to Begin” (2007) … This was an amazing follow-up to a solid debut. There really isn’t a bad track on this album, which is loaded with great songs. … Favorite track: “Ode To LRC”
  • Bloc Party … “Silent Alarm” (2005) … I used to listen to this album all the time while sitting at my desk in Virginia, churning out pages. It’s a great mix of indie-pop and electronica, and the vocals are unmistakable. This is a breakout debut disc from a band that has continued to grow and develop its sound. … Favorite track: “Pioneers”
  • Camera Obscura … “Let’s Get Out of This Country” (2006) … They had several albums before, but this is the one that helped launch them to a larger audience, which has only grown with the release of their most recent disc. The standout singles are certainly notable, but they’re really not too much different than the rest of the tracks on here, which makes this album solid all around. … Favorite track: “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken”
  • Neko Case … “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” (2006) … I’d heard her name before, but I’d never actually listened to her music prior to obtaining this album. Needless to say, I was blown away. With the voice of a siren, she belts out one indie/alt-country ballad after another. Seeing Ms. Case live took my appreciation for her to another level. … Favorite track: “Hold On, Hold On”
  • Death Cab for Cutie … “Transatlanticism” (2003) … I put these albums in alphabetical order so I wouldn’t have to try to actually rank them. But if I had, this would’ve been the first one listed, hands down. I’ll always remember the first time I heard this disc — sitting at my desk late one night in Freeport, listening to it via Amazon, when a co-worker mentioned owning the disc. She burned me a copy, and the rest, as they say, is history. I always have a hard time picking a favorite song, because as I listen to the album, I change my mind every time I move to the next track. Maybe that’s why my unofficial favorite is one of the last songs on the album. … Favorite track: “We Looked Like Giants”
  • The Decemberists … “The Crane Wife” (2006) … If I recall correctly, the first time I heard this band, I wasn’t necessarily sold on them. Their sing-songy, pirate shanty style was definitely not like anything else on the radio. But you can’t realize the true strength of this band by listening to single tracks. For them, it’s all about telling a story over the course of an album. This one happens to take its inspiration from a Japanese folk tale. … Favorite track: “Sons and Daughters”
  • Editors … “Back Room” (2006) … One of the themes of the past decade was the obvious repurposing of ’80s music — most notably, all the Joy Division wannabes. But Editors stand out from the crowd with their amazing vocals and instrumentation. I’m not totally convinced this was my favorite of theirs, but it was the first, so I’m including it on the list. … Favorite track: “Munich”
  • Elf Power … “Back to the Web” (2006) … The first time I heard this band/album was while standing at one of those listening stations at an independent record store in Seattle. Of all the music I heard through the headphones, this is the album that really stood out. I absolutely love this disc, even if I can’t really describe the music. My brother referred to it as something of a modern-day Simon & Garfunkel sound. I don’t know if I’m totally sold on that, but I’ll go with it. … Favorite track: “23rd Dream”
  • The Gaslight Anthem … “‘The 59 Sound” (2008) … For anybody who has any sense of history when it comes to music, there’s only one name that should come to mind when you hear this album: Bruce Springsteen. These New Jersey rockers were clearly influenced by The Boss. But that’s OK. It’s a great album. And seeing these guys live in Detroit only added to my love for them. … Favorite track: “The ’59 Sound”
  • Glasvegas … “Glasvegas” (2008) … This album totally caught me off-guard. I can still remember the first time I heard the single “Daddy’s Gone” via some online British radio station. I had to memorize some of the lyrics just to search for the title. Eventually, I downloaded the album and was absolutely blown away. Easily my favorite disc of ’08, it’s full of power pop/rock with a Scottish accent. … Favorite track: “Daddy’s Gone”
  • Green Day … “American Idiot” (2004) … This was THE album of the first half of the decade. The Bay Area punks revived their career with this defiant, political rock-opera. It included a handful of great singles and even spawned a live album. … Favorite track: “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”
  • Jimmy Eat World … “Bleed American” (2001) … The powers-that-be forced the band to change the name of the album following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but this album’s greatness has not relented and neither shall I. This was my introduction to the emo-pop band — I would later discover their earlier and equally great work, “Clarity” — and it’s managed to stick with me for nearly a decade. If that doesn’t say something, then I don’t know what does. … Favorite track: “Sweetness”
  • Norah Jones … “Come Away With Me” (2002) … I don’t listen to much R&B music, but this is a special artist. Her debut album is loaded with her soft, sultry voice, that is equally good at falling asleep to or making love to. Or I suppose you could just listen to it while you’re relaxing. Your choice. … Favorite track: “Come Away With Me”
  • Killers … “Hot Fuss” (2004) … This album came out at a perfect time for me, right in the early stages of my musical metamorphosis. Equal parts indie and pop, with plenty of electronica thrown in, this disc made for an easy transition from mainstream to the alt scene. … Favorite track: “Mr. Brightside”
  • Kings of Leon … “Only By the Night” (2008) … The first time I heard songs from this album was when the band performed on “Saturday Night Live.” I was blown away by the anthemic sound but was even more surprised to discover that they were able to capture that sound on the disc. This was one of my most-played albums in ’08. … Favorite track: “Sex On Fire”
  • Linkin Park … “Hybrid Theory” (2000) … I remember first reading about this band in Rolling Stone while I was in high school. I almost feel like I’ve grown up with these guys in the periphery. They’ve provided something of a soundtrack to The Decade With No Name. I’ve liked all their albums, but this one is my favorite for sentimental reasons. Plus, it probably has the most killer songs on it. (Interesting fact: Hybrid Theory was one of the band’s original names before it settled on Linkin Park.) … Favorite track: “In the End”
  • Lovers … “I Am the West” (2008) … I absolutely fell in love with this band when I saw it live in Las Vegas. The dreamy, almost haunting vocals are enough to give you goosebumps. … Favorite track: “Wrestling Horses”
  • The Music … “Welcome to the North” (2004) … The memory that always pops up whenever I think of this band  is of me sitting in a bar in Madison, Wis., and seeing a video for one of their songs come on TV. I guess the sound must’ve been piped into the loudspeaker, because I remember going out and buying the album as soon as I got home. And I’ve loved it ever since. … Favorite track: “Open Your Mind”
  • Postal Service … “Give Up” (2003) … This was my true introduction to indie music. Sitting at my desk in Freeport, chatting with a friend online, he asked me if I’d heard the new Postal Service. I had no idea what he was talking about and was rather confused. He sent me a link to their Amazon page, and suddenly a whole new world had opened up to me. Later that night was when I found out about Death Cab for Cutie. Needless to say, that evening will go down in the annals of history. … Favorite track: “Sleeping In”
  • Rise Against … “Sufferer & the Witness” (2006) … I kept hearing a couple songs on the radio in 2006 that I really liked, but I had no idea who sang them. Eventually, a friend helped me discover that they all happened to be by the same band: Rise Against. So I went out and bought this album and was absolutely floored. This disc would definitely rank among my top 10 all-time. … Favorite track: “Roadside”
  • The Strokes … “Is This It” (2001) … This album was like something of a dawning of a new age in rock music. It was as if everyone had had enough of all the pop and crappy boy bands from the previous decade, and we were all finally ready to get back to our roots. The fact that the video to the first single, “Last Night,” was pretty cool in its simplicity didn’t hurt things either. … Favorite track: “Last Nite”
  • System of a Down … “Toxicity” (2001) … This was one of my early discoveries upon entering college. The song “Chop Suey” was getting a decent amount of airplay, so I bought this album and just loved the intense, in-your-face stylings of Serj and the boys. … Favorite track: “Toxicity”
  • White Stripes … “White Blood Cells” (2001) … Although they released some solid albums before, this was the one that put them on the musical map and started the whole garage rock renaissance. The awesome Lego-themed video for “Fell In Love With a Girl” was also a huge hit. … Favorite track: “Little Room”
  • Abdel Wright … “Abdel Wright” (2005) … Another one of those albums that I discovered while sitting at my desk in Freeport, I heard one or two songs online via Accuradio and decided to get the disc. When I eventually found it in Madison, I was opened up to another side of reggae that I never knew existed. … Favorite track: “Dust Under Carpet”

    Honorable Mention

    • Apples In Stereo … “New Magnetic Wonder” (2007)
    • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah … “Clap Your Hands Say Yeah” (2005)
    • The Frames … “Burn the Maps” (2005)
    • Forward, Russia! … “Give Me a Wall” (2006)
    • Great Lake Swimmers … “Lost Channels” (2009)
    • MGMT … “Oracular Spectacular” (2008)
    • The Magic Numbers … “The Magic Numbers” (2005)
    • The National … “Boxer” (2007)
    • New Pornographers … “Challengers” (2007)
    • Pearl Jam … “Pearl Jam” (2006)
    • Red Hot Chili Peppers … “Stadium Arcadium” (2006)
    • The Sounds … “Dying To Say This To You” (2006)
    • Sugar Ray … “Sugar Ray” (2001)
    • We Are Scientists … “With Love and Squalor” (2006)
    • Various Artists … “Garden State” soundtrack (2004)


    • Band of Horses … “Funeral”
    • Bat For Lashes … “Daniel”
    • Kelly Clarkson … “Breakaway”
    • Eve 6 … “Here’s To the Night”
    • Franz Ferdinand … “Take Me Out”
    • M83 … “Kim and Jessie”
    • Modest Mouse … “Float On”
    • Peter Bjorn & John … “Young Folks”
    • Damien Rice … “9 Crimes”
    • Young Knives … “Turn Tail”

    Honorable Mention

    • Evanescence … “My Immortal”
    • Gomez … “Notice”
    • Matt & Kim … “Daylight”
    • Nickelback … “How You Remind Me”
    • Katy Perry … “Hot n Cold”
    • SUM 41 … “Fat Lip”
    • Uncle Kracker … “Follow Me”

    One thing you may have noticed on these lists is the total lack of anything by Radiohead or Wilco — often regarded as two of the most important bands of the past 15 years. The reason for that is because, for some unknown reason, I’ve only listened to about one album all the way through from each band. This is unacceptable. I realize that.

    In order to rectify the situation, I will be launching a couple special features in the coming months in which I go back and give repeated listens to each and every album from these two bands. I’ll write a review of each album as well, so you can follow along in my musical awakening.

    Stay tuned.

      January 15, 2010

      Best of 2009 – Everyone else

      Filed under: Best of — assman41 @ 12:01 am

      If you missed it yesterday, here is what I considered the best music of 2009.

      Now, a look at what everyone else thought of the year that was.

      BEST OF 2009

      • … No. 1 album: Neko Case, “Middle Cyclone”
      • eMusic … No. 1 album: Girls, “Album” … this list should probably be taken with a grain of salt, considering it doesn’t include any music that’s not offered by eMusic.
      • The Hype Machine … No. 1 album: Animal Collective, “Merriweather Post Pavilion”
      • Metacritic … No. 1 album: Nirvana, “Live at Reading” … this page includes a whole slew of top 10 lists from a variety of sources, including most (if not all) of the ones listed in this post.
      • MOG … No. 1 album: Phoenix, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix”
      • MOJO … No. 1 album: Animal Collective, “Merriweather Post Pavilion” … This isn’t the official website, but it’s the only link I could find.
      • NME … No. 1 album: The Horrors, “Primary Colours”
      • NPR … No. 1 album: Grizzly Bear, “Veckatimest” … This is actually a link to all the various year-end lists NPR posted from a whole spectrum of writers and musical genres. The top album I listed is actually from the All Songs Considered Listeners Poll.
      • … No. 1 album: Animal Collective, “Merriweather Post Pavilion” … No. 1 song: Animal Collective, “My Girls”
      • Rolling Stone … No. 1 album: U2, “No Line On the Horizon” … No. 1 song: U2, “Moment of Surrender”


      While we’re at it, here are all the various end-of-the-decade lists I could dig up.

      • eMusic … No. 1 album: The Strokes, “Is This It?”
      • Entertainment Weekly … No. 1 album: Kanye West, “The College Dropout”
      • Metracritic … No. 1 album: Brian Wilson, “SMILE” … No. 1 indie album: The White Stripes, “Elephant”
      • Paste Magazine … No. 1 album: Sufjan Stevens, “Illinois”
      • … No. 1 album: Radiohead, “Kid A” … No. 1 song: OutKast, “B.O.B.”
      • Rolling Stone … No. 1 album: Radiohead, “Kid A” … No. 1 song: Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy”
      • … This is my favorite message board to check out. Besides the obvious sports-related topics, there are a lot of pop culture threads, including the posters’ favorite albums of the decade and their top songs of the decade.
      • Stereogum … No. 1 album: Radiohead, “Kid A”
      • Uncut … No. 1 album: White Stripes, “White Blood Cells” … They actually break down the top 150 albums of the decade. You can find the links to the other segments in a small breakout box near the top.

      Tomorrow, I shall unveil my top music from the past decade. Stay tuned.

      January 14, 2010

      Best of 2009 – My list

      Filed under: Best of — assman41 @ 12:01 am

      Now that we’re two weeks into the new year, I’d say it’s a good time to officially post my favorite music from 2009. Below are my top albums from the previous 12 months and my favorite singles that were not among the top albums.

      TOP 10 ALBUMS

      • Animal Collective … “Merriweather Post Pavilion” … A band with an experimental sound really comes into their own on this one. … Best song: “My Girls”
      • Arctic Monkeys … “Humbug” … The third album from these Sheffield lads, they really seemed to mature on this disc. After two ruckus albums, the band toned down their sound and got serious about their songs, and it shows. … Best song: “Crying Lightning”
      • Avett Brothers … “I and Love and You” … The trio/quartet from North Carolina has been rather prolific during the past decade, averaging an album a year. But its star is still rising after its latest offering of alt-country greatness … Best song: “I and Love and You”
      • Neko Case … “Middle Cyclone” … With the voice of a siren, Ms. Case has been putting out amazing record after amazing record since the late ’90s. This isn’t necessarily my favorite, but it’s definitely up there, and it may have finally helped her break through to a larger audience. … Best song: “This Tornado Loves You”
      • Decemberists … “Hazards of Love” … It tells the tale of a woman named Margaret, her shape-shifting lover, William, his fey forest queen mother and a cold-blooded, lascivious rake. What else would expect from these guys? … Best song: “The Rake’s Song”
      • Great Lake Swimmers … “Lost Channels” … As I’ve mentioned before, this is a great album and includes my favorite song of the year. … Best song: “Pulling On a Line”
      • Metric … “Fantasies” … This was just a well-rounded indie-pop album from one of Canada’s most popular acts. … Best song: “Sick Muse”
      • Phoenix … “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” … This album was somewhat ubiquitous in 2009, with songs constantly being played in shows and commercials. But if it helped this French group gain a bigger audience, then so be it. This album is a great way to greet the rest of the world. … Best song: “1901”
      • Silversun Pickups … “Swoon” … This Los Angeles group made some history by becoming the first indie band since Nirvana to hit No. 1 on the charts. Listen to the disc and you’ll see why. … Best song: “Panic Switch”
      • White Lies … “To Lose My Life” … I don’t know what I can say that I haven’t already said before. This was easily my favorite album of the year. … Best song: “E.S.T.”


      • Green Day … “21st Century Breakdown” … This was something of a continuation from their Grammy-laden previous album. It didn’t blow me away like the last offering, but it was still some great music. … Best song: “21 Guns”
      • Ladyhawke … “Ladyhawke” … Listing this album among my favorites might seem a bit hypocritical considering what I previously said about it. But those three singles are so good, that it at least deserved a mention here. … Best song: “Back of the Van”
      • Monsters of Folk … “Monsters of Folk” … When indie/folk stars M. Ward, Jim James and Conor Oberst get together, you know it’s gonna be good. Thankfully, this album lives up to the hype. … Best song: “Say Please”
      • Various Artists … “Dark Was the Night” … This might be a once-in-a-lifetime collection for indie fans. The best part? It’s all for a good cause.

      TOP 10 SINGLES

      • Bat For Lashes … “Daniel”
      • Camera Obscura … “French Navy”
      • Company of Thieves … “Oscar Wilde”
      • Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros … “Home”
      • Ida Maria … “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked”
      • The Low Anthem … “Charlie Darwin”
      • Marissa Nadler … “River of Dirt”
      • Passion Pit … “Sleepyhead”
      • Temper Trap … “Sweet Disposition”
      • Yeah Yeah Yeahs … “Zero”


      • Biffy Clyro … “Mountains”
      • The Big Pink … “Dominos”
      • Kelly Clarkson … “My Life Would Suck Without You”
      • Cut Off Your Hands … “Happy As Can Be”
      • Death Cab For Cutie … “Little Bribes”
      • Florence and the Machine … “Dog Days Are Over”
      • God Help the Girl … “Come Monday Night”
      • La Roux … “Bulletproof”
      • Lady GaGa … “Just Dance”
      • Grizzly Bear … “Two Weeks”
      • Raveonettes … “Last Dance”
      • Razorlight … “Wire To Wire”
      • Jay Reatard … “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me”
      • Spinnerette … “Baptized By Fire”
      • Frank Turner … “Sunday Nights”
      • Visqueen … “Hand Me Down”

      Tomorrow, I shall post as many links as I can find for various end-of-the-year and end-of-the-decade lists.

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