Top Singles of 2010

1. Joe Claptrap / Level Crossing 12″
2. Portable This Life of Illusion 12″
3. Demdike Stare Forest of Evil 12″
4. Jamie Woon Night Air 12″
5. Zola Jesus Stridulum 12″
6. Puerto Rico Flowers 2 7″
7. Pop. 1280 The Grid 12″
8. Addison Groove Footcrab / Dumbsh*t 12″
9. Dino Sabatini & Donato Dozzy / Modern Heads In Vaders EP 12″
10. The Daily Void The Eclipse of 1453 12″
11. Moodymann Ol’ Dirty Vinyl 12″
12. Puerto Rico Flowers 4 12″
13. Pangaea Pangaea 2×12″
14. Eddy Current Suppression Ring Wet Cement 7″
15. Scorpion Violente Scorpion Violente 12″
16. Kurt Vile Square Shells EP 12″
17. Total Control Paranoid Video / Real Estate 7″
18. Men’s Interest More War 7″
19. Zola Jesus Valusia 12″
20. Sis Sceam / Break Down 12″

Honorable Mention:
Cosmin TRG Now You Know 2×12″
Clockcleaner Auf Wiedersehen 12″
Moonbeam Distance 12″
James Blake The Bells Sketch 12″
Vile Gash Vile Gash 7″

Top Albums of 2010

1. Matthew Dear Black City
2. Merchandise (Strange Songs) In the Dark
3. Haus Arafna You
4. Demdike Stare Liberation Through Hearing
5. Yelawolf Trunk Muzik
6. Mount Carmel Mount Carmel
7. Defektors Bottom of the City
8. Purling Hiss Hissteria
9. The Bastard Noise A Culture of Monsters
10. Eddy Current Suppression Ring Rush to Relax
11. Sightings City of Straw
12. Circle Pit Bruise Constellation
13. Demdike Stare Voices of Dust
14. Happy Birthday Happy Birthday
15. Emeralds Does It Look Like I’m Here
16. Daily Life Necessary and Pathetic
17. LA Vampires & Zola Jesus LA Vampires Meets Zola Jesus
18. Kriegshog Kriegshog
19. Slices Cruising
20. Tamaryn The Waves

Honorable Mention:
Kitchen’s Floor Loneliness is a Dirty Mattress
John Roberts Glass Eights
The Young Voyagers of Legend
Innergaze We Are Strange Loops
Vampire Weekend Contra

Seems like there are more lists than ever this year, and while it’s easy to become overwhelmed and annoyed by the ulterior motives and competitive snobbery that go into many “best of” lists, I enjoy spending a few hours each December, taking stock of all the great albums and singles that came out over the past twelve months and tallying them up as best I can. These lists are nothing more than my personal favorites, and I’m sure there are many other records that would’ve made the cut, had I heard them. There’s just too much great music constantly produced. That said, two guys stood out above the rest for my enjoyment: Matthew Dear and Joe.

Joe Claptrap / Level Crossing 12″ (Hessle Audio)
Various strains of electronic dance music dominated my favorite singles this year – I could easily survive on a diet of Portable, Demdike Stare, Jamie Woon and Zola Jesus for the foreseeable future. But it was Joe’s under-the-radar Hessle Audio 12″ that blew my mind more than anything else. Both songs utilize frantic drum-line percussion, as if a marching band was pushed to it’s physical brink, creating rhythms that are at once physically impossible yet soaked with human sweat (and in the case of “Claptrap”, various coughing and shuffling sounds). For something so rhythmically complex, Joe lives up to his understated moniker, creating music that is as easily digestable as any basic pop tune. It’s dubstep that sounds like no other dubstep, and Claptrap / Level Crossing had me smiling, bouncing and fascinated from first listen to last. That’s really all I ever want music to do to me.

Matthew Dear Black City (Ghostly International)
My favorite singles of 2010 were all so close to each other in terms of personal enjoyment that I was essentially splitting hairs by ranking them, whereas Matthew Dear pretty much towered over the full-length competition. I liked this guy in the past, especially under his Audion guise, but Black City completely took me by surprise, presenting a perfectly realized album in an age where full-lengths are often regarded as groups of songs rather than cohesive statements. The dance fixation of LCD Soundsystem, the playful funk of Beck, the sexually-deviant pop of Nine Inch Nails and the graceful electronic anomie of Tin Man are all here, squeezed into something utterly weird, beautiful and unique. Matthew Dear sings in all sorts of voices, acting like Criss Angel in one song and Klaus Kinski in the next, clearly reveling in the characters he has created. Along with the pitch-perfect production, Dear’s ideas continue to provoke new and unintended thoughts with every new spin. If Black City is any indication for what’s to come, my leather pants won’t gather any dust in 2011.